2019 Honda CB500X Review: An ADV Evolution
Introduced six years ago, the Honda CB500X has been Big Red’s popular all-around ADV motorcycle that pleased riders due to its versatility. Heavily supported in the aftermarket, the CB500X has been a perfect canvas for those looking to create a lightweight commuter, tourer, and adventure-inspired steed.
Still part of the three-model CB500 family, which includes two sportbikes—the naked CB500F and faired CBR500R—Honda is seeking to expand the spritely 500X’s job description. Through numerous updates to 2019 Honda CB500X, Honda has teased out increased off-road capability, while still retaining its street sensibilities.
1. The 471cc parallel-twin engine returns with some impressive refinements. Though not a full revision, the changes in 2019 are more than just a simple spit-shine; they improve performance and rideability. Honda claims to have found seven percent more power from 3k to 7k rpm by revising the intake cam timing, narrowing the fuel injection spray, and updating the fuel mapping. Also, a new crank sensor provides more accurate readings, allowing for more precise control of internal operations. Another part of the power puzzle is a revised airbox with larger, reshaped air ducts that offer more direct airflow. Power production is modest enough to make it approachable, while still having enough gumption to crack the whip and have some fun.
2. The 2019 Honda CB500X p-twin is a linear as can be. Incredibly smooth fueling and perfectly tractable power delivery are some of the highlights when twisting the 2019 Honda CB500X grip, whether you’re on- or off-road. From the bottom of the rpm range, the 500X pleasantly pulls to redline without a hiccup or misstep along the way, making it great for newer riders. In traffic, the silky p-twin hums along without bad vibrations, unless you’re banging it off the limiter. That linear powerband makes taking the trail a snap, too. Its grunt can be put to good use, sliding to your heart’s content. The controllable performance on tap is far more manageable than larger displacement ADV bikes.
3. An updated six-speed gearbox is slicker than ever, and now features an assist-and-slipper clutch. Part of the changes for 2019 is a few tweaks to the internal gears themselves—a revised tooth design and moving to nine dogs from the previous six. The most significant improvement is the featherweight clutch pull, thanks to the new assist function. The redesign has also improved the actuation at the shift-lever a bit. Of course, the bonus of a slipper function is always appreciated, as it alleviates wheel-hop if you accidentally downshift too aggressively while entering a turn.
4. This year’s most noticeable change for the 2019 Honda CB500X is the addition of a 19-inch cast aluminum front wheel. Aiding in the 500X’s off-road transition is a 19-inch front wheel that is now part of the standard package. The larger front wheel creates far more stability in the dirt, without compromising its street handling. It’s also one of the main contributors to the 0.4-inch ground clearance increase, bringing it up to a nod-worthy 7.1 inches.
5. We used Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tires for our test. Honda wanted the US press to have a little more grip in the dirt and opted for a non-factory option for this introductory ride. The blocky trail-ready tread pattern hooked up well in the soil and broke traction predictably, while still providing more than enough grip on the street. From the factory, owners get Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour rubber, 110/80 front and 160/60 rear tires in play, which is far more street-oriented.
6. To deal with the bumps and bruises of the trail, the 500X now boasts more balanced suspension travel. In the front, we’ll once again find a spring-preload adjustable 41mm traditional fork with 5.9-inches of travel, up 0.4 inches from last year. The shock has been revised and has 5.9-inches of travel, an increase of 1.2 inches, with spring-preload being the only adjustment.
7. On the pavement and in the dirt – the updated suspension does well. Overall, the suspension is stiff enough to keep the 500X balanced on the tarmac, making it quite fun in the canyons—there isn’t any seesawing when getting on the brakes or throttle. Off-road, the damping is controlled adequately to hide most of the hits from the rider. Though, when you start getting aggressive off-road on the 500X, you risk going through the stroke. The CB500X is designed to be on groomed fire-roads and easy trails; we’ll let the Africa Twin handle that big stuff.
8. The 2019 Honda CB500X is ready to tackle just about any environment with compliant handling. The addition of a taller front wheel detracts from some of the X’s sportiness in paved canyons, but what it’s gained in terms of versatility is worth it. This year, the rake has increased to 27.5 degrees, a one-degree increase—one-degree up and the wheelbase has grown by one-inch to just under 57 inches. Combined, those changes have slowed initial turn-in rates slightly. Once the turn is initiated, the 500X tips in quickly, yet predictably. It has handling characteristics that are more ADV like than before, though it could be due to the off-road minded tire choice. It holds its line on the road and responds to trail braking well. Off-road, the CB500X tracks through gravel and loose rocks confidently, while maintaining what meager power slides that I could muster.
9. A simple braking package gets the job done. Up front sits a single 310mm rotor with a dual-piston caliper. The back gets a single-piston caliper and 240mm rotor. The front brake is not short on power and slows the 500X quickly. However, it has a bit more stiffness than I’d like, so it does lack feel. There’s room for improvement by upgrading to steel-braided brake lines and more aggressive pads if you want more braking power and feel. Again, the rear brake has a stiffer feel than I’d like for the street, though in a low-grip situation, it is suited for modulating the lever and controlling a slide. ABS is available for an additional $300.
10. The 2019 Honda CB500X’s new looks also have functionality baked in. Aesthetics are a huge part of motorcycling, whether we’d like to admit it or not, and Honda has been kind to the 500X by whittling the nose and side fairings into a more aggressive style. The side panels help redirect air from the rider, and in the 95+ degree summer weather, I rarely felt anything from the engine or radiator. The ample 4.6-gallon fuel tank is sculpted to fit the new direction, too. Also, all lighting is LED.
11. The new dashboard now features a gear indicator. Though simple in design, the LCD dash now displays gear position, fuel level, and other helpful pieces of information. However, as it’s the same dash from the CB650R and CBR650R, my single complaint is that it could be brighter—it’s a little difficult to see in direct sunlight.
12. In 2019, the CB500X’s ergonomics are even more ADV friendly. The new tapered rubber-mounted handlebar is 8mm higher and 3mm closer to the rider. The creates a more neutral, upright riding position. The change in handlebar position also allows the rider to stand and control the bike in the dirt. With the chassis changes, the 500X did increase its seat height to 32.7 inches. However, to counteract the new height, the comfortable seat was narrowed near the footpegs to create better reach to the floor. My 32-inch inseam can put boots on the ground. Wind protection is better than ever with a taller, two-position screen. Inconveniently, it’s not adjustable on the fly and requires you to break out the 5mm hex key.
13. There is a sizeable accessory catalog to help you outfit your 500X with just about anything you need. Bags, a centerstand, handguards, panniers, crash bars, heated grips, and loads of other items are being offered directly from Honda. Strangely, a skid plate isn’t offered, although several aftermarket companies do have them available.
14. The 2019 Honda CB500X is Big Red’s sleeper ADV motorcycle—fun, affordably priced, and has chameleon-like versatility. Honda seems to have gotten the recipe right with this one, as our journey through slow-going mountain towns, twisting canyons, and desolate groomed-trails highlighted how adaptable the 500X is. Whether you’re darting around urban roads, slogging a commute, getting off the beaten path, or a combination of all three, the CB500X is more than capable of tackling a bit of it all. Notably, it does all those things while being shockingly easy to ride. Those looking to dip their toes into the world of ADV without breaking the bank or having a one-dimensional bike will want to look at the 2019 Honda CB500X.
2019 Honda CB500X Specs
- Type: Parallel-twin
- Displacement: 471cc
- Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 66.8mm
- Compression ratio: 10.7:1
- Valvetrain: DOHC; 4 vpc
- Fueling: EFI w/ 34mm throttle bodies
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Final drive: O-ring sealed chain
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 41mm fork; 5.9 inches of travel
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted spring-preload adjustable shock; 5.9 inches
- Tires: Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour
- Front tire: 110/80 x 19
- Rear tire: 160/60 x 17
- Front brake: 320mm disc w/ 4-piston caliper
- Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ 2-piston caliper
- ABS: Optional ($300)
- Wheelbase: 56.9 inches
- Rake: 27.5 degrees
- Trail: 4.3 inches
- Seat height: 32.7 inches
- Fuel capacity: 4.6 gallons
- Curb Weight: 430 pounds
2019 Honda CB500X Color:
- Grand Prix Red
2019 Honda CB500X Price:
- MSPR $6699