Honda has set its sights on a piece of the novice riding crowd with a trio of mid-size 500s based on the same engine and chassis, but tweaked slightly to focus on specific niches. Taller and heavier than its CBR500R (sport) and CB500F (naked) brothers, the 2013 Honda CB500X ABS is the more adventurous sibling, capable of journeying farther from home on a tank of gas.
The easy going personality of the 2013 Honda CB500X makes it a natural fit for those moving up from a smaller bike, or for the freshman rider needing a larger format. From your first leg over the CB500X’s saddle, you’ll find the bike has that comfortable, familiar feeling that comes from well-designed ergonomics, creating instant rapport. Flick up the kickstand, turn the key, and off you go.
The smooth and light engagement of the clutch makes pulling away from a stop as easy as pie. While the CB500X doesn’t have big muscles to flex, the 471cc liquid-cooled parallel twin is surprisingly capable thanks to good mid-range torque and a responsive, yet unhurried, power delivery. The mid-size engine is large enough to get the job done without being a handful for anyone, and this is a welcome trait for everyday casual riding.
Commuting to work for an extended period on the modest looking bike, I had a blast. The upright ergonomics and 32-inch saddle provide a good view over the four-wheeled traffic, and the good-sized mirrors only have to dodge the larger and higher truck or SUV mirrors. Shifting smoothly and easily, and with a relatively narrow physique, the CB500X maneuvers down the channel between lanes like a commuting champ.
In fast-moving suburban environments, the Honda CB500X has no trouble keeping up with the speed of traffic. Yes, you will get caught out sometimes when you should have downshifted, but didn’t; the engine is responsive enough that you think you can get away with just twisting the throttle all the way to the stop.
Downshifting to get to the meat of the motor will keep your speed up when you’re trying to make time across a busy freeway. I did find myself trying to shift up into a seventh gear on more than one occasion, but even so, the bike easily carries a fast pace, and feels solid while doing so, thanks to its nearly 60-inch wheelbase.
One of the great things about the CB500X is how much you can get out of it. While it is simple fun at relaxed speeds, responding in a predictable and controlled manner, you can also wring a surprising amount of action out of it with aggressive downshifting and throttle twisting. I was able to keep up with larger bikes through some winding mountain roads by pushing hard.
The longish travel suspension strikes a satisfying balance; with 5.5-inches up front and 4.7-inches of pre-load adjustable travel at the rear, the CB500X feels plush around town, but is firm enough for spirited riding and affords good cornering clearance. Sure, if sport riding is your main focus, you might want to look at the CBR500R, but if you like to mix some lively sport riding into your weekend adventures, the 500X is convincingly capable.
The Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires never gave me pause, even though they’re ostensibly off-roadable tires. Feel at both ends is good, and it’s hard to imagine the Pirellis being pushed too far or hard by the intended rider.
The Honda CB500X may look like an adventure bike, but it’s pretty much a pavement machine (Honda describes the bike as “adventure-style”). Sure, you can take the Scorpion Trail tires on a dirt road and the bottom cowling will protect the motor from pit-inducing rocks, but it’s not a serious adventure bike. The suspension, while fine for fun pavement riding, is quickly overwhelmed off-road.
Additional confidence for sporty riding comes from a single 320mm disc up front that is more than capable of slowing the CB500X’s 430-pound claimed curb weight. Never grabby, the four-piston calipers provide reassurance. The 240mm rear rotor is also effective and has good feel. For novice riders, as well as experienced hands, ABS is a good idea. Because I always rode in good weather, I had to force it to show its hand, but the Honda ABS system’s behavior is exemplary. It’s not a necessity, but if you can afford it, spring for the extra safety.
With a 4.5-gallon tank and impressive mileage (over 50 mpg), the CB500X is absolutely ready to take on weekend adventures. The comfortable seat is roomy, the ride is all-day plush, and the adjustable windscreen takes the edge off the windblast.
The agreeably wide bars afford extra control over rough pavement, which happens to be the range of the suspension. The CB500X is comfortable and strong enough for light weekend touring duty. Honda Genuine Accessories offer such options as a centerstand, rear trunk, saddlebags, and a tall windscreen. However, adding those four options adds $2000 to what starts off as an inexpensive machine. Still, for touring on a budget, it’s doable.
The 2013 Honda CB500X is a surprisingly fun, versatile bike, well positioned in the mid-size sport/touring/adventure categories. Flying under the radar in an unassuming matte black (with odd digitized gray camo stickers), the CB500X’s appearance downplays its capabilities and fun factor. The Honda CB500X will confidently satisfy a variety of everyday riding duties, and will be on the short list for many new riders, those looking to move up from a 250-class machine, or a returning rider who wants to ease back into the sport.
Photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: Shoei RF-1100
- Jacket: Joe Rocket Ladies Trixie
- Backpack: Alpinestars Protection Pack
- Gloves: Cortech DX2
- Jeans: Ugly Bros Aegis-K
- Boots: Tour Master Solution Waterproof Road
2013 Honda CB500X ABS Specs:
- Engine Type: 471cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
- Bore And Stroke: 67mm x 66.8mm
- Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
- Induction: PGM-FI with 34mm throttle bodies
- Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance
- Valve Train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
- Transmission: Six-speed
- Final Drive: O-ring-sealed chain
- Front Suspension: 41mm fork; 5.5 inches travel
- Rear Suspension: Pro-Link single shock with nine-position spring preload adjustability; 4.7 inches travel
- Front Brake: Twin-piston caliper with single 320mm wave disc; Combined ABS
- Rear Brake: Single caliper 240mm wave disc; Combined ABS
- Front Tire: 120/70-17 radial
- Rear Tire: 160/60-17 radial
- Rake: 26.5 degrees
- Trail: 109mm (4.29 inches)
- Wheelbase: 55.9 inches
- Seat Height: 31.9 inches
- Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gallons
- Model Id: CB500X ABS
- Emissions: Meets current EPA standards. Models sold in California meet current CARB standards and may differ slightly due to emissions equipment.
- Available Colors: Matte Black Metallic
- Price: $6499; non-ABS: $5999