A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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CB500X Miles Per Gallon

Blog Date - 23 February 2018

Some say he's so tight he only ever breathes in. Some say he uses a candle to heat the house - if it's really cold he might even light it. We've heard he looks under the bed in the morning to make sure he's not lost any sleep. All we know is he's called...Ren - The Ed.

Ren sits on his Honda CB500X
I'm not tight. I'm prudent.

I've been to see pops this week. He lives daaaaan on the saaaaaf coast which means a 270 mile trip each way. 

Back in May 2012 I went to see him on my Fazer 600. On that southbound journey I kept to the left lane and followed the trucks. With around 235 miles of motorway and 35 miles of flowing A roads I achieved a staggering 79.5 mpg. I did it without filling up. I thought that was rather impressive for a 95bhp 600 four.

Sharon gets rather tired of my slow pace. Personally now I've covered a lot of motorway miles on the 125 and many more on larger machines I find keeping the speed down to be rather calming. I used to be hanging on to the bars at 70(+)mph, dodging slow lorries and fast executive Germanic cars, stressing over my licence and getting very tired very quickly. 

Now I serenely waft along behind a suitable truck, relaxing in the seat with a gentle breeze upon me, casually noticing my surroundings, hearing my thoughts and awaiting the arrival of my next turn-off. Oddly, counter-intuitively I find I can easily cover the miles that once troubled me. If I'm a little stiff I wriggle, if I'm tired I stop. And still my journey takes the same amount of time.

Ren's 125 loaded with luggage outside a McDonalds in Ireland
Life can't be rushed on a 125.

So this week I did the same experiment. This time on the already more frugal CB500X. The journey started badly with a local road being closed requiring a detour through Wigan at rush hour. The M6 from junction 20 to junction 15 is presently covered in road works that brought on almost 30 miles of stop start traffic and 15mph filtering. Luckily the rest of the trip was, erm, average.

And the mpg? 97. Both the average mpg on the computer and my mathematical calculations agree, give or take the decimal points.

The digital clock on the 500 shows 97.8mpg
Whoop whoop! 

There's a part of me that's impressed. And a part of me that may be just *slightly* disappointed. 

I'm impressed because it goes to show that a motorcycle capable of acceptable levels of performance can achieve almost 100mpg if ridden like Scrooge. It's a 25% improvement on the Fazer and a considerable improvement on the NTV600 Revere I used to own. Here's to modern fuel injection systems.

Ren's old NTV600 Revere again loaded with camping gear in Spain
The 'owd NTV 600 Revere was a great bike, but it liked a drink.

But then... The Fazer used to return around 55mpg on the regular urban cycle whereas the CB500X returns 80mpg. If we were to use a sliding scale then if the Fazer can be persuaded up to 80mpg with careful use then the 500 might achieve as much as 116mpg. 

Science doesn't work like that though. Even with the most precise fuelling the fact remains it takes a certain amount of energy to move a motorcycle and rider over a certain distance at a certain speed. While the 500's fuelling may be better I figure the engine's thermal efficiency would only be fractionally better than the 4 pot Fazer. 

Still I am pleased. On the return leg I indulged myself with a few squirts up to the legal limit then I re-learnt another advantage of keeping the speed down. Warmth. It was bitterly cold on Thursday and after a few miles of 70mph the cold started to really bite hard. I resumed my normal position behind a truck. The cold reduced from concentration-busting shivers to merely bloody cold. 

If you've got an interesting motorcycle related article then maybe we could publish here on Bikes And Travels. Contact ren@bikesandtravels.co.uk

Reader's Comments

Pocketpete said :-
Not managed to get my 500 over 75mpg.....

I really must be a fat git.
24/2//2018 3:56:48 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I don't think it's your greater ability to warp the space-time continuum Pocketpete. I expect it will be the traffic you encounter and the kind of riding you do.

Set your dash thingy to mpg. You will see several occasions where it will read "99.9" (because I assume the LCD display doesn't have an extra digit to show over 100). You soon learn what antics drink fuel and those which merely sip it.

That said - concentrate on the road and not the numbers. I learned this almost the hard way.
26/2//2018 8:55:03 AM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Hmm driving to save fuel.

Why would I do that. Come on ren us well off ish people wouldn't think of saving the planet or ozone layer. Let alone a bit of unleaded.

Now where's the Bolivian coffee we ordered from that none fair trade plantation...... in the cupboard with the rare Russian caviar....
27/2//2018 8:01:55 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
It's because I'm incredibly tight Pete.
27/2//2018 2:50:33 PM UTC
Latchy said :-
Only here once, I prefer smiles per gallon way hay!
12/3//2018 8:57:29 PM UTC
George said :-
That's really interesting to find that the CB500X can manage that.

I've got a CB125F which is now hitting 130 mpg on the commute (mixture of dual carriageway and the Leeds ring-road). It's been improving with each tank though, so I'm hoping the engine is still bedding itself in as I approach 5k on the clock.

Anyways, am moving somewhere rather more remote in the coming year, so if the CB125F doesn't like the rough gravel track leading to the house I was eyeing up a frugal dual-sport that I can still service myself :) CB500X or CRF250L/Rally were topping the list...

29/5//2018 7:34:29 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi George. When it comes to fuel economy I'd expect the CRF250 to be better than the CB500X, but not by a huge margin. When it comes to self servicing I'd say the 250 will be easier here too. If it's purely for commuting then the 250 in my opinion is the better bike.

The 500 is a great bike though. It offers a little more performance for not a lot less economy.
30/5//2018 5:12:29 AM UTC
George said :-
Hi Ren,
Thanks for the response, having previously had an old ZZR600 and downsized to the 125, I must say I'm preferring the less popular quiet-and-sedate style of motorcycling now. That and not having to remove half a dozen fairing panels to access anything.

It'll be for a mixture of stuff - longer trips to visit folks & shorter adventures to explore. Am used to packing light from bicycle touring.

This blog's been a great read, been trawling through the back catalogue :)

30/5//2018 11:13:21 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yeah erm... doing the tappets on the 500 is easy. GETTING to the tappets is a bleeding nightmare. I've not done the 250 tappets though I'd expect getting to them is easier.

Glad you're enjoying the blog, it's been 15 years in the making :-)
30/5//2018 5:37:56 PM UTC

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