HONDA CB500X (2022 - on) Review
- Proper big bike dimensions to attract riders of all skill levels
- Progressive braking performance kind to new riders
- New forks, more powerful LEDs and fresh colours
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
When it came to updating the CB500X for 2022, Honda didn’t need to do a lot. It was already the class leading A2 adventure bike, made the maximum 47bhp for the licence category and has been Euro5 compliant since 2020.
However, rather than simply chucking us a few token gestures, the Japanese firm set about making the best that little bit better – adding a shiny set of golden Showa Separate Function Big Piston USD forks and swapping the old 310mm single front brake set-up for dual 296mm discs and two piston calipers.
Elsewhere, there’s a lighter swingarm that shaves just over a kilo and adds a claimed more lateral flex and torsional stiffness. The five-stage preload-adjustable rear shock has also been revised to match the new forks. But the good stuff doesn’t stop there.
The 19in front wheel has been lightened and a new radiator shaves an additional 100g without sacrificing performance. Tweaks to the fuel injection are also said to help boost bottom-end torque and the weight distribution has been tweaked for a little more ballast over the front end.
Although quite drastic changes on the face of it, the results of these revisions are subtle.
Despite the new FI settings, the burbling engine feels much the same as before – gentle enough for novices and happily revved all day long. And all whilst returning more than an indicated 85mpg during certain sections of our ride.
Through the bends , the new chassis elements work with the steel frame to provide a composed cornering package, with bags of feel in the wet or dry – despite its wide adventure bike bar position.
Riding it along Scotland’s iconic North Coast 500, it’s hard to imagine a better bike for the job – with the only real criticism stemming from the basic switchgear and LCD dash, which looks like a cheap afterthought when compared to the TFT unit on the KTM 390 Adventure. Having to pay extra for a centre stand feels a bit cheeky, too.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Honda have gone to town updating the CB500X for 2022 - adding non-adjustable Showa Separate Function Big Piston upside down forks and replacing the 310mm single front brake set-up for dual 296mm discs and two piston calipers.
Adding to this is a 5.9kg swingarm that shaves just over a kilo and adds a claimed 18% more lateral flex and torsional stiffness. The five-stage preload-adjustable rear shock has been revised to match the new forks and the bike runs on semi-knobbly Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour rubber. The 19in front wheel is now lighter, too.
Whilst numerical claims of increased stiffness at the rear are hard to quantify, the bike changes direction with predictable precision. There was nothing wrong with the old one’s set-up, but now it feels more stable – holding a line at speed and flicking from one corner to the next like a lightweight roadster – never mind a raised adventure bike.
Updated alongside the naked CB500F and fully-faired CBR500R, it’s a more engaging riding experience, with the 19in front wheel and well-damped forks providing excellent front end feel, come rain or shine. You’re also sat less in the bike and adopt a more commanding presence on the road.
Complementing the composed springs are the uprated brakes. Oddly, its 17in-wheeled siblings - the CBR500R and CB500F - both got sexier dual four-piston radial calipers in their 2022 updates, but the X’s axial-mounted stoppers offer the best set-up of the bunch.
Squeeze on the six-stage span-adjustable brake lever and the front-end doesn’t dive like a pogo stick – working with the progressive calipers to provide controlled, novice-friendly stopping power, with no intrusion from the ABS.
Along a country road, it’s hard to fault and it’ll cruise all day in top – smashing out hours of motorway drudgery in comfort. Around town it’s predicable too and narrow enough to get through the traffic. That said, the taller seat height, wide bars and slightly heftier kerb weight of 199kg may be intimidating to some shorter riders.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The 471cc parallel-twin engine remains largely unchanged for 2022. It’s a stressed member in the chassis and was actually made Euro5 compliant back in 2020.
Already producing 47bhp - the performance cap for the A2 licence class - Honda have now fiddled with the fuel injection settings to improve low-end torque. They’ve also bolted in a slightly smaller radiator, which shaves a further 100g off the total weight.
Producing a gravelly burble and spitting back at you with each blip of the throttle, the über smooth unit still feels exactly the same as before, but this is no bad thing.
It’s nicely fuelled, and the light gear change is crisp heading either up or down the six-speed ‘box – helped further by the slipper clutch.
It won’t pull your arms off as a new rider and it needs to be worked hard to get the best out of it when you fancy having some fun. That said, it’ll cruise in top gear all day long and would have no problem ferrying a rider and luggage into Europe for a spot of light touring. Whether it would do the same with a passenger remains to be seen.
It’s also fabulously frugal and actually returned a claimed 85.4mpg on the dash on parts of our ride – despite this tester making no concerted effort to save fuel.
What’s more with a bit more frontal area and a large screen sheltering the rider from the wind, the rumbly soundtrack remains audible at speed – popping and banging off the throttle and adding to the grin-factor. This is something that’s lost above 65mph on the smaller CBR and CBF.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
It’s hard to judge the CB500X’s build quality and reliability so early on, however because much of the 2022 model is carried over from the 2019 update, MCN owners’ reviews paint a fairly good picture.
Here, the old bike scores an average of 4.7/5 stars, with only one owner knocking off a star for a sticky chain. One reviewer even spoke of owning three in the past, with no complaints for any!
Our three-day, 500-mile test gave no indication that the new model would perform any differently, however the polished headers take the brunt of the road fling, so may lose some of their gleam over time.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The Honda CB500X has been a hit with everyone from novices to commuters, to globe-trotting explorers, with 75% of all buyers being experienced riders.
Looking at the spec sheet it’s easy to see why – with a claimed circa 300 miles from a tank of fuel, service intervals of every 8000 miles and a strong dealer network. And that’s before you mention the easy handling, comfy riding position and grown-up looks.
Although no pricing has been confirmed for 2022, Honda tell us it will cost slightly more than the current £6249 (2021 pricing) – making it one of the most expensive bikes in its field.
- Related: Best A2 motorbikes
That said, the CBX was already a class leader and the updates for 2022 only strengthen its hold on the crown. But what else could you consider when parting with your cash?
Starting in Europe, there’s the £5435 single-cylinder BMW G310GS – the entry point to the most iconic family name in modern adventure motorcycling. It’s got the right beaky nose, golden USD forks and the 313cc motor has some decent low-down kick, but it lacks the smooth refinement of the Japanese CB.
Following the buzzing German is the £5849 KTM 390 Adventure. Another single-cylinder go-anywhere option, the A2-friendly Austrian is actually more at home on the road, with the relatively low bars making standing up awkward and the suspension offering less sympathy than some of its rivals.
This includes the £4699 Royal Enfield Himalayan. Although much cheaper than the 500, it lacks the refinement and power output of its competition – which may deter some. You may also consider the Kawasaki Versys-X 300 on the used market and Honda’s more off-road focused CRF300 Rally is also A2 compliant.
The Honda CB500X feels very well made and the gold USD forks and contemporary design work have all the hallmarks of a bike costing double the money. However, for a machine set to be over £6250 when it arrives in dealers, it’s rather lacking in standard features.
For starters, there are no optional riding modes or electronic aids outside of the mandatory ABS. They’re not things that the bike needs, but even certain 125cc Honda scooters are starting to feature traction control to help new riders, so the option would be nice.
And then there’s the slim LCD dash, which is fairly underwhelming when compared to the mobile-connectable TFTs now emerging on KTM’s A2-compliant 390 range. It’s also fairly dull, making some details harder to spot than on some its contemporaries.
The switchgear is also basic, but that’s okay because the Fisher Price buttons feel like they’ll stand the test of time and plenty of year-round usage.
A span-adjustable brake lever is a nice touch, too and there’s great visibility from the sturdy mirrors – helped further by the gentle engine.
Reducing rider fatigue is a tall standard screen, which deflects plenty of wind for hours of easy miles in the saddle. A handy rail above the dash and thick, wide bars are also ideal for mounting a satnav.
To make the CB500X your own, optional extras include heated grips, a tall screen, magnetic tank bag, a top box and more. Although a wide range to suit most riders’ needs, certain elements like a centre stand really ought to come as standard – especially when it costs much more than its rivals to begin with.
Our test bike came with the magnetic tank bag installed, but it’s too small for anything more than the essentials and requires an external wrap-around condom to keep the contents dry.
Other changes on the new machine include revised LED lighting up front. Low beam now gets an extra LED and the indicator stalks produce a constant orange glow for additional visibility. This upgrade is also shared in the naked roadster Honda CB500F.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v parallel-twin|
|Frame type||Steel diamond|
|Fuel capacity||17.7 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm Showa USD forks, pre-load adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Mono shock, pre-load adjustable|
|Front brake||Single 240mm disc with single piston caliper. ABS|
|Rear brake||Single 240mm disc with single piston caliper. ABS|
|Front tyre size||110/80 x 19|
|Rear tyre size||160/60 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||78.5 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£69|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||47 bhp|
|Max torque||31.7 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||301 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2013: First generation parallel twin-cylinder CB500X launched to meet the new 47bhp A2 licence regulations.
- 2016: The CB500X gets a taller screen, new suspension with adjustable preload, an adjustable brake lever, revised LEDs, and more.
- 2019: The latest generation X gets Africa Twin inspired styling, a claimed 4% increase in grunt, longer travel suspension, a 19” front wheel (replacing 17-incher) for tackling light off-road trails, more steering lock, taller bars, new wheels and an LCD dash.
- 2020: Honda 500 range updated for Euro5 compliance.
- 2022: Honda update the CB500X alongside the sporty CBR500R and naked CB500F. Like its siblings, the X gets Showa SFBP forks, and a new dual disc and axial caliper set-up up front. Other changes include a lighter swingarm, revised shock settings, redesigned front wheel, more powerful LEDs and more. The CMX500 Rebel cruiser is traditionally updated at a separate time.
Watch MCN's 2019 Honda CB500X video review here:
There is only one version of the Honda CB500X, however Honda have four bikes in their A2-compliant 471cc parallel-twin range. These are the sporty CBR500R, a naked CB500F, the adventure styled CB500X and laidback cruiser CMX500 Rebel.
All use the same basic 471cc parallel-twin engine, with the Rebel getting a different frame and ancillaries to achieve its low-slung look.
Watch MCN's 2022 Honda CMX500 Rebel review here:
MCN Long term test reports
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Owners' reviews for the HONDA CB500X (2022 - on)
No owners have yet reviewed the HONDA CB500X (2022 - on).