The Honda CB500X returns for its 10th year of duty with several updates to further polish the well-dialed mid-sized all ’rounder. The adventurous personality in Honda’s three-bike CB500 line, the 2022 Honda CB500X is an unintimidating, capable bike with a broad appeal. The parallel-twin produces predictable power in a comfortable chassis that welcomes novice riders and anyone looking for a dependable, versatile ride.
From conventional vanilla to an inverted Showa SFF-BP fork, the new CB500X ups the front suspension game. The inverted 41mm fork reduces flex and sharpens the steering—totally appropriate for a motorcycle that can venture off-pavement. The Separate Function Fork – Big Piston design sequesters the spring and damping action—one in each tube—saving weight. Without riding the 2022 back-to-back with last year’s model, it’s hard to quantify the difference between the forks. However, a stouter fork leads to more confidence in the front end, allowing you to ride more aggressively. In a nod to the CB500X’s price point, the front suspension remains non-adjustable.
The non-adjustable adventure suspension does a competent job on a wide range of road conditions. On a favorite test route that includes smooth canyon slaloms, miles of tight turns, and fast sweepers on bumpy failing asphalt, the CB500X takes it all in stride. I was well satisfied with how much of the edge it took off while still allowing plenty of feedback that kept my speed in check where it needed to be.
Twin 296mm discs replace the single 310mm rotor for 2022. While the braking power from the single disc was entirely adequate in previous years, dual discs are an improvement, and they look cool. The Nissin calipers squeeze the petal rotors, and the feel at the five-increment-adjustable lever is spot on. There’s just enough play before initial engagement that no one will get caught out. The firmer you squeeze, the more vigorous the braking, and ABS remains standard. Additionally, there’s sufficient compression braking, so you can simply roll off the throttle to slow before turns in the canyons. When riding more aggressively and downshifting harder, you’ll appreciate the slip function of the slip/assist clutch to help prevent rear-wheel skipping.
A redesigned swingarm and radiator, plus thinner spokes, contribute to a five-pound weight savings for the 2022 Honda CB500X. Now tipping the scales at 439 pounds with the 4.7-gallon fuel tank filled, the 500X is easy to handle and well balanced. It’s responsive without being nervous, just what you want to kick around town on.
Further tweaks for 2022 include revised fuel-injection settings and an increase in the forward-biased weight distribution. These are changes that are difficult to recognize individually but lead to an overall improved ride. More weight on the front tire adds a tad more grip and feel, and the fuel injection mods are designed to improve torque output.
Yes, the CB500X’s mid-size engine is ‘enough.’ The DOHC 471cc motor produces plenty of power to get around town, keep up on a fast freeway, and perform sporting runs through the canyons. Agreeable in every way, it won’t surprise or disappoint you. From 2500 rpm up to about 7500 rpm, the torque output is virtually flat, giving you a nicely responsive engine with plenty of utility that is easy to manage.
The engine truly excels in its wide niche, though you don’t have much in reserve. It’s harder to make a quick move if you’re already running full bore on the freeway and are on a slight upgrade. However, if you ride the CB500X with this in mind, you will be quite satisfied.
Twisting the throttle hard allows you to enjoy a spirited ride, and the ADV ergonomics complement/enhance the experience. I ran a speed test—on a closed course, I think—to see how fast the 500X would go. The Honda cleared triple LCD digits, though the motor was working hard and benefiting from a slight downgrade. One doesn’t need to go that fast, of course, but it’s always good to know where your limits are.
Ergonomics on the CB500X are everyday comfortable and accommodate a wide range of riders. The upright riding stance is agreeable and practical, affording a good view of your surroundings. Hand and foot controls are naturally situated, with the clutch’s assist function making the pull incredibly light. Also, the 32.8-inch seat height is not particularly exclusionary. It’s slim where it needs to be to help get boots to the tarmac, so my 30.5-inch inseam has me a whisker away from being flatfooted at a stop.
Off-pavement excursions are completely viable on the CB500X. I didn’t do extensive dirt road testing as that would entail a change to more dirty-worthy tires, but I can report that my off-pavement excursions left a favorable impression. The bike is not a handful, and the low-end torque and neutral power delivery kept the handling drama free. The 19-inch front wheel helps the bike track confidently through loose conditions, and you have over seven inches of ground clearance to work with.
Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour tires on 19- and 17-inch rims are credible on pavement and dirt roads. Designed to handle both street and casual dirt roads, the tires allowed me to push as much as I wanted in the canyons with confidence, and the rubber also had no argument with the rain grooves on the freeways. If you ride on the street exclusively, you’ll want more pavement-oriented tires. For those who have regular doses of dirt, get something with knobs.
If you commute on two wheels, the CB500X has all bases covered. The upright ergonomics keep your peripheral vision wide, the slip and assist clutch enables a light pull at the lever, and the bike is narrow enough to slip through congested lanes even with its wide handlebars. The uniform torque curve provides smooth useable power perfectly targeted to around-town speeds, and the adventure suspension takes care of any road conditions you’ll find on your urban/suburban trek.
The windscreen has two height positions, but requires tools to change. Decide what suits you before you start your ride, as you’ll need a hex key to remove eight bolts, reposition the windscreen, then reinstall the bolts. The standard position was high enough to send most of the freeway windblast over me to prevent fatigue. Installed in the 1.5-inch higher position, I didn’t notice any material advantage in wind protection, but was more aware of the CB500X pushing through the air.
One of the advantages of a mild-mannered mid-size bike—excellent gas mileage. The LCD dash keeps track of the motor’s current and average fuel consumption, and it’s not uncommon to see the CB500X averaging 60+ mpg. Depending on how you ride, you might get 300 miles out of the 4.7-gallon tank. Don’t wait till that last bar starts flashing, even though you theoretically have ~30 miles in reserve—range anxiety spoils your ride on remote roads.
Cargo carrying options are available, as well as a handful of other accessories to customize your CB500X. Whether outfitting for weekend adventures, or simply needing carrying capacity for commuting or errands, Honda Genuine Accessories has a pannier set, rear trunk, and tank bag available. Other functional items include a centerstand, handguards, heated grips ($345!), a 12-volt socket, and a light bar (a lawyer-approved name for a crash bar).
There’s a reason the CB500X has endured for a decade—Honda hasn’t lost track of its audience for this accommodating motorcycle. It targets a wide swath of riders looking for an easygoing and versatile bike. Neither sexy nor dull, it is your best reliable friend—ready and willing for whatever the day calls for, whether that is weekday duties or weekend playtime. The 2022 Honda CB500X is a motorcycle you will never have a hard time justifying to anyone why you’re buying it.
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!