Honda CB500X Adventure (2019 - ) review
The original CB500X launched in 2013 as the ‘adventure’ variant of Honda’s A2 licence-friendly, CB500 twin family was already a great ‘first big bike’. With a host of updates for 2019 it’s better than ever
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.6
The CB500X is the taller, adventure-styled member of Honda’s purpose-built, CB500 family which, along with the CB500F roadster and CBR500R sports share the same soft, 47bhp, A2-licence compliant engine. Already a great, easy introduction to biking for larger riders, a host of updates for 2019 now make it better still.
- Brilliant, friendly, 47bhp twin cylinder platform
- Full-size adventure style suits larger riders
- Updates improve style and spec further
- Overall experience a little bland and basic
- New ‘reverse LCD’ dash tricky to read
- Not as cheap as once was
Interested in buying a Honda CB500?
There was nothing much wrong with the original 2013 CB500X, but with the same 17-inch wheels as its roadster and sportster siblings and slightly cautious styling its ‘adventure’ credentials were a little lacking. Things were improved with a mild styling update in 2015 and now it’s taken a significant leap forward again with a new 19in front wheel, longer travel suspension, 10mm more ground clearance and revised, Africa Twin-inspired styling. It’s still not quite a ‘mini Twin’ but it’s a decent introduction to the breed.
Honda are usually brilliant at getting riding positions right and the X is no exception. Better still, as an adventure-styled bike, its upright posture suits novices. The clever bit, however, is that Honda have successfully enhanced the X’s roomy, tall, adventure style, which will appeal to taller riders, without compromising its novice-friendly ease or comfort. The result is natural, roomy, easy to manage and, despite the narrow seat, comfortable over decent distances, too.
For an entry-level big bike, they don’t come much more versatile than the CB500X. It’s more than capable of long distance motorway cruising, we’ve heard of examples being toured around the USA (although, admittedly, luggage is extra), it’s slim and sufficiently nimble to be a great city bike, its decent fun for new and old riders alike down summer country roads and it’s now even better at a little bit of (gentle) off-roading. Few bikes tick as many boxes – and certainly not for the money.
Performance & braking
As the CB500X has been built specifically within the A2 licence regulations there’s little to criticize. Most A2 bikes are lumpy singles but the 471cc CB, being a twin, is smoother and freer revving, produces the full 47bhp allowed and is responsive and easy to use. Being a Honda, all the controls are slick and easy, too. On the very slight downside, more experienced or ‘enthusiastic’ riders might find the basic, single front disc brake a little lacking but for its intended purpose, it’s up to the job.
Ride & handling
Though fairly unsophisticated and conspicuously built down to a budget, the CB500X’s chassis and manners are pleasing, reassuring and without any surprises – just the sorts of things a novice needs, in fact. The longer travel suspension is plush and compliant without being over-soft, balance is good with a decently-low CofG, steering is light and neutral and, overall, it’s a reassuring doddle to ride.
As a purpose built, ‘first big bike’, the CB500X has been designed very much with an eye on economy and low running costs. So not only is the updated Honda still a decently affordable buy in the first place, it’s economical to run as well. The 47bhp twin is easily capable of returning 70mpg+, depending on use, there’s no great hunger for consumables such as tyres, brake pads, chain and so on and, having already proved to be very popular, residual values are good as well.
When launched back in 2013 there were some concerns as, first, the new CB500s were the first ‘big’ Hondas to be built at its new Thailand facility (another move to keep costs down) plus Honda seemed to be covering themselves by giving its newcomer unusually cautious service intervals. The passage of time since, however, has proved the CB, in all guises, to be extremely reliable and despite internal revisions to the engine to improve low and midrange performance, we see no reason for concern with this latest version.
Warranty & servicing
Fairly par for the course, here, for a modern Honda. The warranty is the standard Honda two year/unlimited mileage manufacturer-backed scheme for all parts and labour while service intervals, despite initial concerns, are now the usual 500-mile first, thereafter 8000 miles for minor changes and 16,000-miles for valve adjustment. Beyond all that, it’s a Honda, should you should have no real concerns.
Although a reassuringly quality-built Honda, the CB500X is also a budget-conscious bike aimed very much at first time buyers, so you shouldn’t expect much by way of luxury. That said, this latest version gets a stylish, new, all-LCD dash which displays everything you really need (although it can be a little difficult to read in bright sunlight), the screen is good and it’s comfortable. But if you want luggage or heated grips, you’ll have to shell out on the accessories catalogue.
Irrespective of style, if you’re after an A2 qualifying bike, Honda’s CB500 family have an awful lot to commend them, mostly thanks to their purpose-built, 500cc, twin-cylinder powertrains. And of the bunch, if you’re after a larger, roomier, adventure-styled offering, the X was already the best offering around. Now, with even more stature, ability and class, it’s got even better still.