Now we all know that motorcycle touring is more about the rider than the ride. But there comes a point where the right machine between your legs takes you further, makes things easier and of course keeps your wallet in mind. In India we have certain realities that we need to accept. Not all places have smooth motorable roads but worst yet we still do not have that “one” motorcycle that balances – reliability, power and affordability. I am not going to talk about the current motorcycles in the market today because we all know what they are, what they are capable of. But instead lets talk about a motorcycle that has been available internationally for quite sometime and sadly still not available in India, the Honda CB500X.
With its all-round punchy performance, adventure styling, affordable price point and low running costs the twin-cylinder CB500X is a great place from which to begin a lifelong motorcycling journey. Its upright, roomy riding position, substantial tank range and long-travel suspension inject a genuine sense of adventure into every ride, and make it serve equally well through the weekly commute as on the weekend escape.
Features include a large fuel tank (17.4 L) and a claimed 29 km/l efficiency for extended range, adjustable reach brake lever, adjustable spring pre-load in the front forks, new damping rates for the rear shock and specifically designed shift drum for smoother gear changes.
It also comes with LED headlights giving the Honda CB500X a close resemblance to Honda’s bigger X machines – the NC750X, VFR800X Crossrunner and VFR1200X Crosstourer. The windscreen has two height positions.
The comprehensive dash features a digital speedometer, digital bar graph tachometer, odometer, dual trip meters, clock, plus digital fuel level gauge and fuel consumption. HISS (Honda Intelligent Security System) is built in to the ignition. There’s also a bash-plate is fitted to protect the engine underside and exhaust pipe on rough, loose surfaces.
The Honda CB500X’s DOHC, 8-valve liquid-cooled parallel twin layout offers a great combination of compact physical size and flexible output. The ‘triangle’ proportion of crankshaft, main shaft and counter-shaft is very similar to that of Honda’s four-cylinder RR engines and much of the internal structure and engineering is taken directly from both the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR.
This fuel injected engine produces a peak power of 46.9 HP at 8,500 RPM, with 43 Nm at 7,000 RPM.
Bore size of 67 mm is identical to that of the CBR600RR. The piston shape is based upon those used in the CBR1000RR to reduce piston ‘noise’ at high rpm. Friction is reduced by the addition of striations on the piston skirt (a finish that increases surface area, introducing gaps in which oil can flow for better lubrication). As with the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR, an AB 1 salt bath process, used after isonite nitriding, forms a protective oxidisation membrane.
Wheelbase is 1420 mm and rake and trail are set at 26.5°/108 mm giving an agile, yet composed steering feel. Mass centralisation, with the engine in very close proximity to the swing-arm pivot point, delivers turning agility and optimum front/rear weight distribution ensures stability. Kerb weight is 196 kg.
Seat height is low at 810 mm, making the CB500X very easy to manage and its sporty riding position will comfortably accommodate riders of varying heights thanks to a relatively high handlebar position.
The 41 mm telescopic front fork (with 140 mm stroke) has spring pre-load adjustment and alongside it the Pro-Link rear shock – which has 5-step pre-load adjustment.
Lightweight, 17-inch cast aluminium wheels employ hollow cross-section Y-shaped spokes. Tyres are 120/70-ZR17 and 160/60-ZR17. A single front 320 mm wavy disc and two-piston brake caliper is matched to a 240 mm rear disc and single-piston caliper handles the braking. This is also supported by ABS, which is fitted as standard.
By my estimates, if Honda can bring this to India and actually bring it here with a good amount of localisation, it could be aggressively priced in the 3-3.5 lakh range. This would honestly in my opinion make it one of the best touring big bikes available in India. With its versatile character and just the right amount of power, I surely hope Honda has this in pipeline.
FYI – there are couple of other interesting motorcycles also in the line up. First confirmed one for next year is the BMW G310 GS and then is the KTM 390 based adventure, which we are hoping to see unveiled in the coming few weeks. Also coming for sure is the Benelli TRK 502.