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2019 CB500X First Look

By Ren Withnell

View Date 23 November 2018

I saw the shiny new CB500X on Honda's stand at this years NEC bike show.

The first and most obvious difference is the front wheel. It has grown in diameter from 17 inches to 19 inches. But why? There are 2 potential reasons which I can proffer.

1. 19 inch wheels are better off road. While I don't fully understand the science behind this there are good reasons why "real" off road motorcycles have 21 inch front wheels rather than 6 inch ones.

2. Style. Because real off roaders have big front wheels and the CB500X is adventure styled and apparently adventures can ONLY happen off road. In the interest of looking the part Honda stuck a bigger wheel in there.

The new 19 inch diameter front wheel on the Honda.
It's not a wire wheel so it's not seriously off-road-y.

In case you've had your head buried in a bucket of 2-pack resin I'll explain that Honda's CB500X is actually the same as the CB500F and CBR500 underneath. It just has some fancy fairings and oh-so-slightly longer suspension. As such it's really a road bike made to look adventure-y and off road-y.

Then along came Rally Raid who saw some potential either in the bike or their sales. They took the 500, upgraded the suspension, protection and most importantly the wheels. They turned the gravel track just about capable CB500X into a trail buster that easily competed with many mid-weight adventure bikes in the dirty stuff.

And what size is the rally raid front wheel? 19 inches. I suspect the truth of this matter lies somewhere in the middle. The new wheel IS a styling exercise that may offer some benefits off road. The downside? The original 17 inch front and rear wheels are shod in common as muck sizes meaning there's a plethora of tyre choices on the old model. There will be choices for the new sizes, but fewer.

The next thing I notice are the new handlebars. Adventure bikes designed from the ground up have high top yokes that give that "adventure" upright riding position. My old '16 X has long rise 'bars to compensate for it's road-going origins. The new X has almost flat bars with a fat chunky middle tapering out to allow regular size grips and switchgear.

How have they achieved this amazing feat? Huge risers, that's all. My concern with my old high rise bars is the ease by which they'd bend in the event of a heavy fall. IF...IF the new risers are strong then the fat flat bars should be a good thing.

Pocketpete managed to kick the brake fluid reservoir off his CB500X. Mine gets covered in all the nastiness from the rear wheel. Well good news! Honda has repositioned the reservoir. It looks to be a little safer in it's new position. Unless...unless your boot buckles are on the inside leg not the outside.

The rear brake fluid reservoir is not pitched inside and above the footrest hanger
Better, I think.

There is a new mounting bar for your sat-nav, phone, come-save-me system and/or any other totally absolutely completely essential tech every adventure rider needs when going to Starbucks. Meh, looks like it'll bolt onto my older spec model. This version does have a natty 12v power socket to power all the kit. Dammit, I want one of those.

The new display, nav mount bar, 12v socket all look useful on the 500
OK, yes, I wish my old 500 had these features.

Underneath the exhaust seems to be exposed, the belly pan is missing. I'm not one for unnecessary faff yet I have noticed my pan keeps the absolute worst of the crud off the bottom of the engine...just the worst mind you. Style wise I have no opinion on the matter - because I have no style.

There's no lower fairing or belly pan on the new model, exposing the exhaust and the front of the engine
I wonder if the front wheel is to bog for the old belly pan?

The linkage to the rear suspension is different too. Maybe there's a reason but I don't know it.

The exhaust at the rear gets a facelift. Again for myself this is stuff and nonsense but I'm sure someone will go "ooooh shiny new exhaust, here take my money". Actually it's not as shiny as the old one, painted in matt black. Think I prefer my plain round tubular thing.

The new exhaust is matt black with polish metal cover and ends and all angular
Call me old fashioned but I prefer my plain old tubular silencer.

The fairings and panels all around are all new. They are angular and more aggressive in keeping with the modern "transformers" trend. In spite of my proclamations that style and looks don't matter I must admit I like it, it has a certain mean and purposeful look. Of course some poor sap is going to have to learn how to get them blighters off too.

The new fairing on the 500 are sharper and more angled
GRRRR! I'm angry and mean! It won't come with the crash bars and lights as standard.

There's one more thing. When I covered changing the oil on my CB500X I griped and moaned about the position of the oil filler hole. Well - I can only guess Honda must surely read this blog. Look at the image below which was taken and uploaded to this site in September '17. Then look at where Honda has moved the filler hole too. I should be on commission.

The 2016 oil filler in an awkard position and where ren thinks it should be
Red - where it is on my '16 CB500X. Green where I think it should be. From Change The Oil And Filter
The new filler hole position on the 2019 model is right where Ren said it should be
Conclusive proof Honda is reading my blog!!! I demand a consultancy fee.

So my thoughts? Of course Honda MUST update their bikes otherwise they'd still be making CB250Ns. Style wise they are keeping up with the trends. Pragmatically the 12v socket, handlebars and mounting bar are good things. I remain undecided regarding the front wheel. I shall see what real off roaders think. I shall see if road riders think it spoils the handling.  


If you've got some first look impressions of a motorcycle you'd like to share here on Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com.

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Reader's Comments

Snod said :-
I'm all for bigger wheels, they ride over holes rather than falling into them and are less twitchy so give a much more secure feel. But I guess we'll have to wait for a test ride report on that..
25/11/2018 13:52:37 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Well at least they are trying even if the front mudguard is pants and doesn't stop anything from the road.

Funny how they moved the rear reservoir to a better position. After all mine snapped off the little crap plastic hanger. Don't know how maybe Paula's tiny feet or my big boots. Cost £ 100 from the dealer to buy it.

Overall looks pretty good. A few improvements each time will eventually make it a great bike at some point in the future.


26/11/2018 16:12:05 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
You buying a new one Pocketpete...? After all yours is nearly 3 years old now :)
26/11/2018 18:36:13 UTC
pocketpete said :-
I did give it a little thought But for some reason Im pretty happy with mine. For the use I put it to it seems just right. I think if I had problems with it then i would certainly have got rid just before MOT time. But it seems to keep going. So over the winter a quick service and shim job maybe change the brake fluid as well and all should be well.

The new ones an improvement but I think a larger engine would be my next choice of bike maybe a BMW I seem drawn to them at the moment but they do seems really expensive. but nothing seems to be that much better than the 500 for the price I paid and its running costs are pretty damn cheap.
26/11/2018 23:59:55 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I had a look at the CB500 range at the NEC too, and they do seem remarkable value to me. You can get a low mileage two year old 500F for about £3.5k. Because of the arthritis in my hands (which I've had since I was 30!) I'm finding it increasingly uncomfortable doing heavy work on my old bikes, and so in the spring I'm thinking of replacing my current 3 bikes (two of which are about 25 years old) with a newish CB500 and maybe something like a Yamaha Tricity for the winter.
28/11/2018 08:55:57 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I would say Pocketpete for the difference between the 2019 X and our 2016 Xs there isn't enough between them to cause me to actually spend money. Stick with what you've got or if the urge takes you then get something quite different.

Yeah CrazyFrog, the 500 Hondas were comparatively cheap when the came out so second hand prices are good too. Bear in mind the newer bikes will still need work. I'm sure you've seen the level of teardown my 500 requires to do the tappets. I wouldn't say there was any heavy lifting required but it's still a fair old task.
29/11/2018 09:24:50 UTC
AliC said :-
I’ve had several Transalp in the past, I’m hoping Honda have finally built a proper mid-range adventure bike for nipping around town or longer European tours. The 19” wheel actually opens up a world of adventure rubber to choose from, not available in 17”, looking forward to a test ride next year.
29/11/2018 10:25:48 UTC
Henrik said :-
Its getting better, except for the front-fork travel, hopefully they did not spoil the fine fueleconomy for the few more hp's

Btw can absolutely everything on the CB500X be repaired DIY ?

Are all tools, software, and documentation available at afordable prices ?
29/11/2018 11:26:38 UTC
 

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