2016 Honda CB500X ABS Review |
For Commuting and Touring

2016 Honda CB500X Test - Adventure

After delivering the same reliable, uncomplicated, mid-size adventure bike since its debut in 2013, the 2016 Honda CB500X returns with new graphics and styling to go along with a handful of tweaks and improvements in functionality.

Practical upgrades for the 2016 Honda CB500X include a taller windscreen, easily adjustable front brake lever, hinged gas cap, and adjustable spring-preload for the forks. LED headlights and taillights add an updated look, along with minor changes to the exhaust and plastic.

2016 Honda CB500X Test - CommuterWhat hasn’t changed, and is at the heart of the CB500X, is its pleasing 471cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine. With an immensely useful flat torque curve that pulls off the bottom and just keeps delivering all the way to its 8500 redline, the CB500X is a joy to ride.

There is plenty of power, provided with a friendly personality that won’t get away from you. That makes the CB500X welcoming to riders who are moving up from smaller displacement machines, as well as perfectly satisfying to experienced riders (with reasonable expectations) who may twist the throttle harder.

The 500X is the adventure brother in Honda’s three-bike 500cc twin family, so it has the longer travel front suspension and most upright seating position compared to the super-sport styled CBR500R and the sporty, naked CB500F.

I expected this adventure bike to be tiptoe tall, but with my 30.5-inch inseam, I could still get both boots flat on the ground when astride the 32-inch high nicely padded seat. The Honda CB500X’s wide handlebars are a comfortable reach from the fully upright stance. This means easy leverage for controlling the 432-pound bike (curb weight, with ABS), which is definitely useful in slow speed parking lot situations.

The additional 1.2 inches of fork travel on the CB500X means you don’t need to pick and choose your line as carefully as you might; bumpy roads, pavement transitions, and under-maintained urban streets are no sweat. The bike soaks it up without getting ruffled.

2016 Honda CB500X Test - MudThe roomy ergonomics and suspension are perfectly dialed for the intended use—more miles in the saddle, including high speed riding, and over varying road conditions. Of course, not every ride is an adventure, but the CB500X certainly makes commuting or around town casual riding more fun.

The Honda CB500X’s handling is predictable and responsive, with no nervous character flaws. The Dunlop Trailmax tires give the CB500X a bit more confidence off-pavement (you won’t want to go far off-road), while still performing with poise on all sorts of pavement. Cornering clearance is generous, and the Dunlops allow the CB500X to make use of it.

The clutch lever requires a surprisingly healthy squeeze—an assist-and-slip clutch would be welcome here—but engages smoothly. The 6-speed gearbox, with an improved feel for 2016, is precise. Finding neutral at a stop is simple.

With plentiful torque across the board, and a nice amount of engine braking just a throttle-roll-off away, controlled slow-speed riding on the CB500X is as stress-free as moderate speeds. This is perfect for picking your way through crowded conditions on the street, as well as splitting lanes on the freeway, should that be an option in your state. The vantage point from the fully upright seating position is great and the bike’s mirrors sit high enough to not come into conflict with car mirrors.

The CB500X has a single disc rear brake that’s neither overly touchy nor dully tuned, so I found it to be useful in slow speed conditions. The optional ABS is quite seamless as I was unable to discern any engagement, despite stepping quite heavily on the brake pedal to trigger it. The ABS cannot be defeated, so keep that in mind when riding on dirt.

The CB500X is wonderfully comfortable at speed and the taller windscreen for 2016—nearly four inches higher than before—is a welcome improvement. It is minorly height-adjustable (tools required), has vents to reduce turbulence, and sends most of the buffeting wind right over your head preventing the fatigue that comes from longer freeway rides on naked bikes.

The fuel tank is nicely designed for a completely natural knee-gripping position that your legs settle into with a happy sigh. This is especially welcome when riding at a fast pace, as it adds a secure feeling.

2016 Honda CB500X Test - CornerAcceleration is satisfying with the wide torque range from the almost perfectly square engine, and freeway passes usually don’t require a downshift. With a wheelbase just shy of 60 inches, the CB500X feels secure on its Dunlop Trailmax tires, even on rain-grooved freeways.

Thanks to a counterbalancer, the parallel twin produces no buzz at the bars, seat, or footpegs, and the mirrors are perfectly sharp even at top speed.

Confidence for high speed riding comes from solid braking action, and the single 320mm disc up front has just the right amount of free play before it engages convincingly.

You can squeeze an extra tenth of a gallon into the 2016 tank, giving the CB500X a safe range of over 200 miles with its 4.6-gallon capacity. The bike’s thrifty engine encourages you to take advantage of the Honda Genuine Accessories catalog and deck the bike out with saddlebags and trunk, heated grips, handguards, a centerstand, and 12-volt accessory socket (it should be USB these days)—the basics for weekend adventures.

The 2016 Honda CB500X ABS is the smallest adventure bike on the market, and it fills the gap between 250 dual sport machines and the 650cc and larger adventure bikes. Honda hits the bullseye with the extremely capable and affable CB500X, giving those looking for a versatile bike that can take them on weekend explorations that might include light dirt road duties, to tank-emptying routes in comfort, while also doing weekday duties around town and commuting to work.

Photography by Don Williams

RIDING STYLE
Helmet: Arai XD4
Sunglasses: Fatheadz The Boss V2.0
Jacket: AGV Sport Xena Ladies Vented
Gloves: Racer Women’s Matrix
Jean: AGV Sport Aura Ladies
Boots: Sidi Livia Rain

2016 Honda CB500X ABS Specs

ENGINE
Engine: 471cc liquid-cooled parallel twin
Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 66.8mm
Compression ratio: 10.7:1
Valve train: DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Induction: EFI w/ 36mm throttle body
Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Transmission: 6-speed
Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS
Front suspension: 41mm forks w/ spring preload adjustability; 5.5 inches of travel
Rear suspension: Linkage-assisted single shock w/ spring preload adjustability; 4.7 inches of travel
Front brake: 320mm disc with 4-piston caliper
Rear brake: 240mm disc with 2-piston caliper
ABS: Optional
Front tire: 120/70×17 radial; Dunlop Trailmax
Rear tire: 160/60×17 radial; Dunlop Trailmax
DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 55.9 inches
Rake: 26.5°
Trail: 4.3 inches
Seat height: 31.9 inches
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gallons
Colors: Matte Black Metallic (standard); Matte Brown Metallic (ABS)
Curb Weight: 430 pounds (standard)
2016 Honda CB500X Price: $6499 MSRP (standard); $6799 MRSP (ABS)

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