The X also shares the 500 family’s tubular steel diamond frame, but with 20mm longer forks, in turn lengthening the rake/trail and wheelbase. (Despite the ‘adventure’ styling, the 17in cast alloy wheels are unchanged, although the tyres have been switched from street Metzelers to Pirelli Scorpion Trails).
This, along with the wider bars, has the slight downside of making its steering seem a little less sharp and secure. It’s not a big deal, but if you REALLY want to scratch, the F and R are the better at it. Instead, where the X comes into its own is as an all-day, ‘man’-sized, touring capable and truly versatile machine – yet one which remains about as daunting as a basketful of kittens. It has the roomiest, most upright riding position of the three, the best weather protection and the comfiest seat all of which makes the X, if you’re either bigger than average or plan to take pillions or decent mileage, the obvious choice of the three.
Cosmetically differentiated by its silver finish (a Honda theme on its off-roaders), rather than the black units of the CB500F and CBR500R, the purpose-built 471cc twin is otherwise mechanically identical: an all-new, 8v 35kw/A2 licence optimized twin (hence 471 not 499cc) with more than its fair share of CBR600RR tech (eg matching bores, grooved piston surfaces and gear change arm), elastic delivery and decent economy.
The X, like the other CBs, still has enough pep and posture to entertain and invigorate. Sure, there’s still ultimately only 47bhp on tap (and, in bigger X guise actually feels if anything a little less than that offered by its siblings), but it’s all so accessible, so easy to ride, to thrash if need be – and all with an accompanying , pleasing gurgle – that pleasing fun truly can be had. Sure it’s never going to excite explosively or alarm, but that’s sorta the whole point, and it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
Cost-cutting has been achieved by Honda both adopting a ‘modular’ approach (similar to the first Hinckley Triumphs) whereby outwardly different models share a majority of parts, including powertrain and rolling chassis and even more significantly by developing the bike to be built in (cheaper) Thailand – the first ‘big’, multi-cylinder Honda to so be. That said, quality doesn’t seem to be lacking, although it’s probably too early to tell and service intervals are conservatively short.
All that for under £5K? We’re impressed.
As it’s built down to a price, equipment is necessarily basic, but you’d hardly tell. For your money the X is somehow the most pleasing of the three on the eye despite sharing the same clocks (albeit in different hues), switchgear and cycle parts. There’s a nicely textured seat, neat stainless exhaust cover, wavy discs and even hexbolts on the engine cases. None of them look cheap.