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8,000 Mile CB500X Review (& Service)

Review Date - 10 October 2017

By Pocket Pete

My CB500X has covered exactly 8000 miles. I thought I would do a similar review to my Inzuma (Brief Review Of Suzuki Inazuma 1 year on). Well it's covered the 8000 miles without any real problems. It has always started first press of the button. It has always got me to my destination. 

It had its initial service free at Hunts Motorcycles Manchester. I changed the running in oil at 600 miles then they changed the oil and filter at 890 miles when I managed to get it in the garage. They have a long waiting list.

It had an oil and filter change via my mobile mechanic (aka Ren) at 5075 miles. Also the standard tyres were swapped for Michelin Pilot Road 4s at 5480miles (Michelin Road Pilot 4 Review). The chain was completely buggered by 7100 miles. Again Ren kindly assisted with the fitting of new chain (Changing The Chain).

At 7820 I changed the oil and filter and was very proud with my mechanical skills as it went well and nothing leaked.

A couple of things have gone wrong with the bike. The rear master brake cylinder snapped off - I don't know whether I broke it or my wife sitting on the passenger seat snapped it off. The plastic mount and metal bracket are over £100 fitted by the shop.

The rear master cylinder behind the rear footrest on the Honda

Both locks on the factory fitted site panniers have packed up. The lock is held in place by a small bolt which has a lever sticking out. As the lock turns the lever rotates releasing or locking the panniers. The lock bolt is held in place by a circlip and a small bolt both bolts have snapped off. Very poor plastic fittings, the gap is small so if you use a touch of force the bolts just snaps. A new lock is £25 per side. The panniers still work but someone could steal them. A small chain now locks the handles in place.

I used the bike all winter. I smothered it in ACF50 in November and a further coating in December. It seemed OK when I cleaned it in April. There were a few bits of corrosion which I cleaned and treated.

The footpeg hangers are a very poor quality alloy which is impossible to clean. They just look cheap and your legs and boots rub against them leaving marks and scratches. The alloy is strange. I wish they had used stainless steel as the base section is stainless and that cleans a treat.

The locks are sometimes a bit stiff and I have to give them a bit of silicon and graphite spray every now and then.

This year no ACF50 as I'm using Sharon's method of cleaning. Williams waterless cleaner with carruba and the Muc-Off 94 ptfe spray. This seems a far better solution. The bikes cleaner and seems to repel the dirt.

The computer says I'm doing 76.2mpg which is mainly in heavy traffic.

When Ren did the chain he said keep an eye on the front brakes, they were wearing low. Not wanting to abuse his good nature too much I purchased a Hayes manual and decided to do the brakes myself. I watched many videos on YouTube and read the manual which I swear is written in Hebrew or similar.

Off I go to Hunts and after seeing many brake pad reviews I purchase some EBC sintered brake pads, some thread lock and copper grease. I am told the pads will not invalidate my warranty so I don't need the Honda ones.

2 packs of EBC sintered pads for the CB500X

I decide the rear must be done first. If I cock it up I could still get the bike to the shop or Ren's using the front brake 

The change went well - lots of cursing screaming shouting. I could not get the front bolt out as my ratchet would not fit behind the exhaust. So I removed the rear pipe section. This made the job so much easier.

Pin out of the caliper. Pads out. Spay brake cleaner. Rub all dirt and crap away. 
Took me 15mins. The pistons look clean now. So gently push them in and apply some copper grease to back of pads and along the pin. A touch on the back spring and on the bottom as per a couple of videos.

Reassemble. Thread lock on the bolts. Damn my torque wrench doesn't go low enough it's lowest setting is 30 in need 17nm. Ah well guess work and thread lock Press the pedal till the fluid pressure is correct. And take for a very gentle spin.

All works well and the EBC pads are twice as good as the standard pads and they are not even bedded in yet.

The following weekend I do the front brakes. Damn damn damn. My front brake is not the same ABS one that's in the manual. They must have changed them from 2016 onwards.

The front brake off the CB500X held in Pete's begloved hand

No videos for this online so I decide to do it anyway. The pin is now a 5mm Allen key instead of an 8mm bolt. I take if off and eventually figure it out. Clean and change pads. All goes well but same problem trying to torque up the bolts. Guess work and thread lock.

Both brakes are now totally amazing the EBC pads have so much stopping power I cannot believe the difference.

So if you buy a CB500X change the tyres on day 1 and day 2 change your brake pads. 
It's like a new bike.

I check over the bike and give it a clean. I also check the breather tubes are clean and water levels are correct.

Yippee service completed. Quite chuffed would have been £200 at the dealers.
I'm going to get a friend to check the bike over for £25 and he will stamp the book up once he's happy with my work.

So overall I'm pleased with the CB500X, it now handles well, stops well and is cheap to run. Reliable and fairly easy to work on. Even for a mechanical Muppet like me.

If I had a complaint about the bike I would say the quality of metal used in the bolts is just poor. The calliper bolts have been off twice and definitely need replacement, might try and find some stainless ones.


We'd love to publish your own review on your velocipede. Drop Ren a line - ren@bikesandtravels.com

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Reader's Comments

Borsuk said :-
The terrifying thing about new brakes and tyres on a vehicle is you realise how bad they must have been before you changed them.
12/10/2017 14:41:29 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I honestly have not had any issues with the brakes on my CB500X. I guess Pete's just enjoying the extra ooomph from fancy HH pads.
12/10/2017 15:40:27 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I have to agree though the OE Dunlop tyres are no fun at all. I've gone with cheap Continental Conti-motions and they're a lot better.
12/10/2017 15:41:21 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
The standard brake pads are quite good they have always stopped me. They have always felt adequate and you get a decent feel.

The back brake is rather small and I have always felt it was pretty useless unless you really stand on the pedal.

Since changing I simply cannot believe how poor the back brake has been since I got the bike. How did I put up with it for so long. Now it's really responsive. Grab the front and back together and you are really coming to a stop in double quick time.

Maybe because I'm a big fat git the extra bulk caused my brakes to struggle. Not any more lol
12/10/2017 17:34:44 UTC
Keith m said :-
On a slightly different tack and i may be blown down in flames here. But am I the only one who rarely uses the rear brake especially on a four stroke with all that engine braking. Off road (trials) I use it none stop but on road just don't seem to use it.

12/10/2017 21:52:55 UTC
Stuart said :-
When I started learning to ride a bike I was always taught it was 70% front brake 30% back so the rear brake rarely got a look in.

Speaking to another biker recently who had taken the I.A.M. test they now say you should rely on just the rear and only use the front if you have to.

Any newer riders got a view on this?

Stuart
13/10/2017 06:59:50 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
When I was instructing in the mid to late 90s the advice was 70-30 front-rear in the dry and about 50-50 in the wet. I still consider this as being sound advice.

But!

I have heard instructors say you must have your feet this way or that. You must/must not use this brake and those fingers. You must/must not apply the throttle thus and the gears this way. And so on and so on and so on.

If you are covering the miles safely and without troubling other road users then do what works best for you and your motorcycle and your riding style. Some bikes have better front brakes than rear, some bikes load up the front tyre in a stable manner others don't. Some riders prefer the ease and bite of the front brake while others feel secure in the control of the rear.

I am not a fast rider save for the occasional countryside squirt. As such I tend to be more rear brake biased with engine braking and I also use the clutch - a LOT! I'm not here to tell you that's right but it's what works for me that's all.
13/10/2017 08:11:29 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I'm shocked that anyone from the IAM should offer advice like that. For most bikes, the front brake is by far the more efficient stopper and provides most of the braking effort (which is why it often has twin discs which are bigger diameter than the rear). As you apply the brakes, weight is transferred to the front thus making the brake on that end more effective still. It's simple physics.

I don't know if Motorcycle Roadcraft is still the IAM bible but it is very clear on the issue.

For cruiser type bikes the rear is admittedly of more use due to the smaller weight transfer effect. Th ere are all sorts of wild stories about using the front brake causing headers over the front wheel etc but they are put about by people who have never actually learned to brake in a progressive fashion but just grab a handful in a panic. This will often lead to disaster.

Where the rear brake is of course essential is in low speed manoeuvring especially with bikes with little flywheel effect which also need excessive (to my mind) clutch slipping.

It is interesting that the 70/30 ratio is often mentioned but I have never seen anyone explain how exactly you measure the different braking effects front to rear. My Guzzi with linked brakes in fact is not far off 50:50 as there is no actual proportioning valve so the same pressure is applied to the (identical) calipers at both ends. Not a perfect situation in my eyes but it does seem to work quite well although the separately controlled front brake is (deliberately) given a very poor leverage ratio so is very wooden. I will be rectifying this to some extent by fitting a smaller diameter master cylinder.
13/10/2017 10:03:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I had several customers ask how were they to know what is precisely 70-30. The only reasonable answer is that you're not expected to precisely calculate the ratio, it's more of a rough guide, an estimate, a start point. "If it's dry a bit more front than rear, if it's wet then about the same."

Different brake setups would make a mockery of trying to get exact figures. How powerful is the front brake to the rear, how well maintained is each brake etc etc.

13/10/2017 13:23:53 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
In the police you were always taught the 70/30 method with another option combined and that was no gearbox down changes until you have finished braking. The idea being not to use the engine and gearbox to slow you down.
This way you wear out your brake pads and not your clutch and gearbox.

Apparently it's cheaper to replace the pads rather than the other more expensive bits.

I would expect things may have moved on in the 25 years since I did my tests. But it sort of makes sense.
13/10/2017 14:32:41 UTC
Keith m said :-
When I learnt to ride back in the mid 80s I was like most taught 70:30 in the dry and 50:50 in the wet. But after years riding 2-stokes and now jumping back on a 4-stroke I'd forgotten (surprised) how much engine braking slows a bike down. So I tend to use engine/gearbox and front brake.
But riding bikes is about balance and feel and is down to the individual to find what is right for them. I was just curious as to what other people did.
14/10/2017 09:03:02 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Quite true Keith, it is an individual thing. I do think we need a basic starting point for learners but once they've put some miles on they'll start to get a feel and make their own way.
14/10/2017 13:23:35 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
The only problem with "getting a feel" is that their own way may be a way that will end them up in trouble the first time they need to use the brakes in earnest.

I make it a rule to regularly practise hard stops so that I'm familiar with the pressure needed on both hand & foot lever (tricky of course with multiple bikes). The maximum braking force is when the tyre is just about to lock which again is difficult to assess. It is quite astonishing how short a distance you can stop from say 30 mph - a couple of car lengths is ample. But of course you have also to be ready to do it.....

What makes me smile is when people talk about laying the bike down to avoid a crash. First, that is a crash; second, brakes working through tyres on tarmac will slow the machine down far more efficiently than assorted bits of metal scraping along.
15/10/2017 08:03:23 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I take your point regarding practising emergency stops. If, as many riders do, you tend to only use the front brake then in the event of a real emergency stop the rider is immediately not making full use of all the braking available. Or the go for the long forgotten rear brake and it's either dysfunctional due to lack of use or the use it incorrectly doe to a lack of practice.

That said with more and more motorcycles having ABS most riders can just grab a fistful of both and let the computer work out what's best...
16/10/2017 13:53:24 UTC
Ron W said :-
Be careful when replacing caliper bolts with non - original items! These bolts are usually 8.8 high tensile steel in which case A2 stainless won't do as it has less tensile strength. A4 stainless has about the same tensile strength as 8.8 and what you get from reputable specialist suppliers who sell replacement SS caliper bolts. If you knew all this apologies.
17/10/2017 18:41:16 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Being a home tinkerer as opposed to a genuine motorcycle engineer it seems a bolt is a bolt. As long as the threads are right and the length is roughly the same then "it'll do".

That's fine if I'm bolting a bracket to my handlebars to hold a GPS but Ron W - you're right - when it comes to brakes despite me seeing "a bolt" I have to accept that not all bolts are equal. I'm sure there's a lot of other home tinkerers who'd say "Well I fitted XYZ bolts and it's been fine" but that's no help if you're parked in the back of a truck because a bolt failed.

Sometimes expert advice IS required.
18/10/2017 09:52:23 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
I have ordered the bolts the original honda ones. The Haynes manual states they should be replaced each time you remove them. But then goes on to tell you in great detail how to Install them back with none permanent thread lock. Ehich is what i did.

I've just ordered a small torque wrench that will go down to 10nm so that when the new ones come I can tighten to The correct settings.

The question that begs to be asked is do the new bolts require thread lock?

The shop says yes the honda service book doesn't mention it. Does anyone know what is correct in respect of bikes tgere seems to be a lot of guess work.

18/10/2017 10:24:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I have no definitive answer for you Pete but - putting a little thread lock on that surely will NOT do any harm?
19/10/2017 09:37:52 UTC
 

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