Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Honda CB500X Review With Special Guests Jenny Morgan and Blancolirio Part 1

Pretty Birdie...Picture © Honda
Choosing Mr. T's replacement has been nothing if not an adventure in itself. Inevitably, I have had to expand on my list of choices including but not limited to a bike that wasn't even on my radar, let alone my initial list. I happened across the Honda CB500X by chance because I was reading about the new Africa Twin. The latter had peeked my interest largely in part of the fun I had with Mr. T. However, the Honda CB500X has to be one of the most underrated motorcycles I have ever come across and is a great way to get into the adventure cycling at a quarter of the cost of your typical BMW GS Adventure. Couple that with a Rally Raid Adventure Kit & Accessories and what you have here ladies and gentleman are endless opportunities. Cheap, lightweight and affordable with the reliability that only few manufacturers, like Honda, can provide. How can I go wrong?

Read Jenny's RR - Trans-AM 500 Here!Picture © Jenny Morgan
Jenny Morgan (and Piglet) recently completed the Trans America Trail (TAT) on a CB500X. It's an excellent read for anyone contemplating not only this bike as their next motorcycle but as well for anyone curious about taking on the TAT themselves! Granted, the CB500X was equipped with Rally Raid's Level 3 Kit. Nevertheless, for $2,500 USD via Giant Loop, it's an upgrade that has turned an otherwise 80/20 (street/off-road) adventure tourer into what Jenny herself confidently claims to be a true 50/50 motorcycle! At 430 lbs wet, the CB500X's modest specs are looking better and better.


Corbin Seat for the Honda CB500X
However, what of the bike in its stock form? Admittedly, I haven't had a chance to ride it yet. Although I did manage to sit on one at the dealership the other day. At 6 feet tall with a 32 inch inseam, it fit like a glove and I found myself thinking how the pictures do not do this bike justice. Happily Corbin makes motorcycle seats for the CB500X as well and before you ask, I always change the stock saddle. I usually find stock saddles less than ideal for long journeys. The stock tank is also 17 litres, and with its frugal 472cc Twin, its estimated to have roughly a 270/300 mile range. However, don't take my word for it, Blancolirio and Jenny Morgan gives their impression of a stock CB500X before adding the Rally Raid Kit.



Jenny Morgan Thoughts on the CB500X 

Engine & transmission: 


Smooth and Silky 472cc Twin
Picture © Honda
Certainly one of the most impressive things about the stock CB500X is the smooth and willing engine, and what I consider is a pretty much perfectly matched transmission - particularly for this role. First gear is low enough that you can essentially ride the bike like an automatic (who needs the DCT of the Africa Twin eh? ;o) in really technical terrain, while the fuelling off idle and part throttle never caused any heart-stopping (or more accurately engine-stopping/stalling) moments, even when lugging the thing at minimal revs. It isn't overly torquey (in the same way as a big cc thumper is), but the smoothness and gradual power delivery proved to be a benefit time and again where snapping the throttle might have caused the rear wheel to either break traction or hoik the front wheel up (actually I did manage that a couple of times ;o) at an in opportune moment. Basically the engine/transmission and overall power delivery flatters any clumsy input, and really inspires a lot of confidence I found.


Fuel Range: 


Picture © Fuelly.com
There were some days when the fuel light would start to flash as low as 170 miles in, but on the whole I was getting 200-210 miles before the last bar started blinking. Each time I refuelled there was always a good US gallon left in there, so I'd say the bike can comfortably travel at least 250 miles, and getting on for 300 if you're more gentle and the speeds are lower.

Windscreen: 


Picture © Jenny Morgan
With regard to the basic bike itself (and the aftermarket accessories I'd fitted), the only real criticism I have was the stock windscreen - again I have documented this already in previous posts, but essentially while I didn't find it overly noisy in an open face helmet, there was a distinct wind-roar between the screen and my helmet peak at speeds over 70mph, that really no amount of repositioning or spacers would significantly alleviate.


Seat: 


Picture © Jenny Morgan & Piglet
I found the stock seat surprisingly comfortable - even during the 1000 mile Iron Butt ride. I had the option to fit the taller Seat Concepts seat at the Expo, but decided against it as I knew I would appreciate being closer to the ground should I need to take a dab in more technical terrain the following week in Moab, and throughout the rest of the trip too of course. Without a doubt the bike would have been down many more times during the trip had the seat been any higher for me - there were numerous occasions where I was positively thankful for the low seat height and narrow width between my knees, allowing me to save (or at least stabilise) over more gnarly terrain.  Having relatively short legs perhaps, I never found the seat-peg relationship uncomfortable either - and while the pegs are a little further back than on typical dual-sport bikes, remember that Trials bikes tend to have more rear-set pegs, and similarly a low handle-bar hight too (compared to modern MX/Enduro machines), and I personally found this riding position to be very controllable for a big bike off-road.

***

Rally Raid Kit Level 3
Picture © Rally Raid
The more I read about the CB500X, the more I find myself drawn to the bike for its simplicity and ease of use. Not to mention, once your warranty expires, the Rally Raid Kit is there waiting to be applied. The latter, you might be thinking, would cost a fortune to have installed. Your probably right, but as Blancolirio shows us, why waste your money having the dealership install it? Next time we take a look at Jenny's thoughts on the Rally Raid kit and accessories and equally as important, we look at the ease of installation of said kits and accessories thanks to Blancolirio's excellent instructional videos!


Partial Write Up & Pictures © Jenny Morgan & Piglet
Video © Blancolirio

2 comments:

  1. does anyone know of a kit like this for the nc700x

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    Replies
    1. Hi, contact Rally Raid or Giant Loop directly. To my knowledge, there isn't one but perhaps with enough interests you can get them to make one. There may also be the possibility that some of the parts for the CB500X could also be used with the C700/750X (i.e. Shocks front and back, etc...)

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