We were prepared to be underwhelmed by Honda’s new 500 Twins. But riding the nimble new CB500F for a few weeks actually was a blast; it’s a motorcycle that grows on you. And the CB500X is more of the same: What the counterbalanced Twin lacks in outright power (our F put out 45 horsepower on the CW dyno), it more than makes up for in enthusiasm, and the six-speed box works well, a good complement to the smooth engine. Obviously, the X gets that adventure-bike look all the kids crave, along with a bigger, 4.5-gallon tank that should give it more than 200 miles of range at the 53-mpg burn rate we observed.
Underneath the extra plastic and windshield, the X is the same willing, surprisingly spunky bike as the F, for $500 more—$5999. Mechanically, the X gets a longer fork with 1.2 inches more travel than the F, which also serves to raise the seat an inch higher. That gives the X more legroom and provides a bike that’s more comfortable for taller riders: Executive Editor Andy Bornhop, at 6-foot-4, likes the X and its windshield; at 5-foot-8, I prefer the F and find the X shield blustery. Both bikes have 41mm fork tubes and the same nine-way-preload-adjustable shock offering 4.7 inches of wheel travel.
Beyond that, they’re both light, easy-riding machines with that certain something that just makes you eager to hop on and go. For the X, there’s only one problem. Honda’s NC700X, at $7499, is tantalizingly near in price and has a little more of everything, including that most excellent front storage compartment.
|ENGINE TYPE|dohc parallel-Twin|
|SEAT HEIGHT|32.1 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY|4.5 gal.|
|DRY WEIGHT|402 lb.|
Other Bargain Honda 500s
Honda VF500F: $2898 in 1984
Honda XL500S: $1848 in 1979
Honda CX500: $1898 in 1978