2018 CB500X test ride

670cc

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Mods
Site Supporter
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
7,461
Reaction score
373
Points
83
Location
USA
Here is the next installment in my Honda demo truck mini reviews. This morning I took a ride on the 2018 CB500X. I don’t know why the Honda truck brought a 2018 and not the upgraded new model.

1CAAFAAB-68D4-4B2E-A430-EB682CF13FAB.jpg

As I said, this is a mini review so I’ll just hit the high points. Most importantly, I just love this 471cc engine. Honda uses it in multiple models. I suggested to Honda in the post ride review, that they build a CRF style frame with some real suspension, slide this 500 engine in it, perhaps tune it for a little more bottom end, give it a little wind protection, and there’s your mid size Africa Twin! Totally forget about the raspy CRF450L engine (which isn’t a twin anyway); use this one!

The CB500 engine is smooth at any RPM; no mirror blur from idle to over 7000 RPM. One thing I’d change is that the CB500X is geared too low. It easily runs smoothly in sixth gear at 30 mph, and it’s busier than it needs to be on the highway. I think Honda wants it to feel energetic in any gear, but they underestimated the smooth bottom end that some riders might want to use for economy. If I bought one, I’d change the gearing right away.

Right out of the crate, the seat comfort and ergonomics fit me better than the NCX models. Wind management is not quite as good, as it was a little noisier around the helmet. The fuel is carried high, in the conventional position, so you can feel the fuel sloshing side to side when you come to a stop, and of course, the missing frunk is a big detractor.

If the 500X had been introduced before the NC700X, I might well have bought a 500. But overall, the NC has a slight edge over the 500 for the reasons I have a mid size bike, so I prefer the NC.

This afternoon’s Honda test ride will be two-up on a DCT Airbag GL1800 Tour. I might try the latest Africa Twin tomorrow.
 
Last edited:

DirtFlier

Elite Member
Site Supporter
Joined
Dec 1, 2014
Messages
945
Reaction score
10
Points
18
Location
Troy, Ohio
Typically the demo truck is filled with bikes that are plentiful (read: too many) in warehouse inventory.
 

670cc

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Mods
Site Supporter
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
7,461
Reaction score
373
Points
83
Location
USA
Typically the demo truck is filled with bikes that are plentiful (read: too many) in warehouse inventory.
Well at last year’s WingDing, the whole truck was full of GL1800s, since they were pushing the new model. It was boring. Test ride a manual and a DCT, and you’re done. At least this year they’re back to having a variety of street bikes.
 

Red Rider

Elite Member
Site Supporter
Joined
Jan 25, 2018
Messages
431
Reaction score
6
Points
18
Location
Alabama
Pretty lame of them not to have the latest model. :(. But a good review! I had heard somewhere that the 500 was a little buzzy and perhaps overworked at highway speeds. That and no frunk was a turn-off to what seemed like a great “fit” otherwise. I gotta find a way to demo a new one........the 2019 sparked my interest anew.

I’ve demoed the new GW’s - manual and DCT - several times now (I never pass up a free ride) and each time I want to like it better than the previous generation Wing I owned but always come away thinking “meh”...

On the other hand, I was able to demo the new Royal Enfield twin today. (I already own a Himalayan)

So i did accomplish something!
 
Last edited:

670cc

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Mods
Site Supporter
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
7,461
Reaction score
373
Points
83
Location
USA
Here’s a mini - no, micro review of the GL1800 Tour DCT test ride. I found the DCT this time operated more smoothly than on my test ride last year. This particular demo bike had 5000 miles on it. Maybe it was more broken in?

An odd DCT behavior I noted: in (jerky) Sport mode at maybe 35 mph, the DCT in auto mode hung on to 4th gear, I attempted to up shift to 5th, which would have been well within the safe RPM range. Nope. Shifting up not allowed. I go back to Tour mode and it upshifts to 5th and beyond. Based on my previous DCT encounters, I expected to be able to do a temporary override upshift, but in this case in Sport mode, it was not allowed. Maybe I misunderstood how it was supposed to work.

My observation is that 7 gears allows the DCT to shift more smoothly, since the RPM step between each gear is minimized. However, if you like to use manual mode, flipping through 7 gears is just overkill for an engine with such a wide powerband. 5 or 6 gears would be plenty if they’re the right ratios.

20 minutes into the ride, the passenger (wife), an experienced Goldwing passenger, declares the passenger seat to be uncomfortable. ‘Nuff said there. If you want a Gen2 , add $800 or so to the purchase price to allow for a new aftermarket seat.
 
Last edited:

Griff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
1,929
Reaction score
54
Points
48
Location
Wicklow Ireland
I have ridden the 2019 CB500X and my conclusion is that I definitely see one in my future. However I would have to part with my NC derivative to get one and I am not ready to do that.

I found that the indicated top speed on the 2019 was in the region of 145kph sitting bolt upright. That's ok by me and it was happy cruising at motorway speeds (120kph). However it was on the backroads that this little bike excelled. It has a super slick gearbox and that enabled me to keep it well within its usable power range at all times. The motor is very free revving. I noted that the suspension is plush by recent Honda standards and that aspect very much appealed to me given that I spend much of my time on rough backroads. My only complaint was the limitations set by Honda's usual poor OEM tyres. Brand is irrelevant here as Honda spec the tyres to their own requirements. A couple of times in the dry I could feel them slipping under brisk riding conditions. Add in a set of Michelin Road 5's and the little CB would be a really potent backroad bike. The 19 inch front wheel also helps with regard to the rougher roads and no doubt contributes to the feeling of a plusher front end. I was seriously impressed with the little bike as I am now in that age bracket where lighter and smaller is important to me. A close friend of a similar vintage was also very impressed as was indeed a local Tour guide who uses one to lead out his tours on mainland Europe. I can see the bike being used very effectively on solo world tours.
 

670cc

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Mods
Site Supporter
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
7,461
Reaction score
373
Points
83
Location
USA
Here are comments on the final Honda demo test ride, this one on the Africa Twin DCT. Comments are given from the point of view of a non-owner. AT owners probably see things different than I would.

I was given a thorough briefing on the bike’s display and knob-ology. Despite it sharing some DCT mode logic with the GL1800, menus and terminology were different.

I can’t give specifics, but apparently there are different seat options and different seat height placement for any given seat. I didn’t note the details, just that there were options. With the seat at some mid point setting, the height was fine for my 32 inch inseam.

For the riding experience, the AT feels large (larger than I would like) with wide bars typical of a dual sport, but it was easily manageable in road environments. The engine had more than adequate power for any situation, and the DCT shifted smoothly. I guess it’s the same on the NC DCT, but I disliked the need to close the throttle to change sport modes. I was pretty sure the GL1800 makes changes on the fly, but that was 2 days ago so I may have forgot. After playing with all the DCT modes, I settled on manual mode as my favorite. Wind management with the stock screen was quite decent. A lot of heat came off the AT engine, which I never notice from the NCX engine. Throttle response was smooth, something I found not true of all Honda models. Not much else can be said about the ride experience, since the bike just works and does what it’s supposed to do.

If I owned only one bike, I could see how the AT might fill my needs, However, owning a fleet, I can’t see the Africa Twin fitting in anywhere. If I want to tour long distances with even the possibility of an occasional gravel road, I certainly would not want tube type tires and chain drive. I’d just get a shaft drive sport touring or touring bike with street tires. If I want to do some off-road (and I don’t mean a graded gravel road, I mean primitive road or no road), I could put up with the chain and the tubes, but I sure as heck don’t want a 530 pound motorcycle in the rough stuff.

In the post ride opinion survey, I suggested to Honda again that they should develop and market a mid size Africa Twin (call it CRF500L?) with less weight that could be more suitable for occasional off road use.

Sorry, no picture this time, but it did happen!
 
Last edited:
Top