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2014 Honda CB500XA Review

11-9-2014

by Pascal Bastien , moto123.com

Here comes the CB500XA, the crossover bike in Honda's 500cc trio that also includes the CBR500R and CB500FA. Clearly aimed at riders who demand comfort, functionality, and versatility, it knows how to please the eyes with quality plastics and a matte black paint finish.

One of the most interesting things about these three bikes is that each of them produces different thrills from the same platform. The CBR500RA sport bike really achieves a good balance between agility and stability while putting the rider in a slightly more aggressive stance; the CB500FA naked bike enhances handling while offering a natural riding position; and the CB500XA light-touring bike can cover a lot of ground thanks to a smooth suspension, a relaxing, upright riding position, as well as the most comfortable seat out of the three.


Friendly ergonomics
The 2014 Honda CB500XA is quite manoeuvrable, with easy steering that makes riding through the city and on gravel roads a breeze. On the highway, the small, height-adjustable windshield does a nice job of deflecting the rush of air away from the rider, making for the best protection of the trio.

The soft, long-travel suspension soaks up pretty much anything, while the larger ground clearance allows you to venture off the beaten path. The controls are precise and smooth to operate, while Honda's combined braking system with ABS improves safety and inspires confidence like very few bikes in this price range do.

The multipurpose, parallel-twin engine is remarkable in the CB500XA, regardless of conditions. Easy to exploit and just powerful enough (47 hp) to satisfy seasoned riders without intimidating beginners, this liquid-cooled, 471cc unit is by far one of the most charismatic engines in the segment. The compact, modern architecture is inspired by Honda's sport bike engines.

Meanwhile, the 6-speed transmission uses super-short gear ratios, which is great around town where precision is required, but not so much at highway speeds (100 km/h) where that sixth gear keeps the engine revving at 4,650 rpm. Fortunately, the powerplant's smooth, refined operation still makes for proper enjoyment.

2014 Honda CB500XA
Easy to exploit and just powerful enough (47 hp) to satisfy seasoned riders without intimidating beginners, this liquid-cooled, 471cc unit is by far one of the most charismatic engines in the segment. (Photo: Philippe Chamoux)

A few compromises
Developing such a low-priced motorcycle obviously means cutting some features and amenities. The 2014 Honda CB500XA lacks a centre stand, a cargo system, a hinged tank cap, and adjustable clutch and brake levers. Also, storage is limited for a crossover bike; there's just a small compartment under the seat.

On the other hand, quality is present, and actually higher than numerous competitors that cost over $10,000.

The sport bike-derived 17” wheels (vs. 19” or 21” wheels like the ones typically found on adventure models) improve handling and tire longevity on pavement, and contribute to a reasonable seat height (811 mm) despite the long-travel suspension. With the CB500XA, riders 5’4” or taller will be totally at ease and able to put two solid feet on the ground at idle.

Honda CB500XA 2014
Le bicylindre parallèle de 471 cc refroidi par liquide génère 47 ch, une puissance qui ne déstabilisera pas un novice et qui pourra faire l’affaire de plusieurs pilotes aguerris. (Photo: Philippe Chamoux)

Do you really need more?
Cheap to buy, maintain, and fill up (3.9L/100km), the 2014 Honda CB500XA shines where versatility and friendly ergonomics are concerned. It will appeal to both novices and more experienced folks looking for a safe, easy-riding bike that's good to go in any and all conditions.

Pros
  • Versatility
  • Value
  • Design
  • Size and displacement

Cons
  • Short 6th gear means high engine revs on the highway
  • Very little storage