Updated: Dec 14, 2020
I've been reluctant to give the 500X another chance after riding a 2018 model some time back and thinking how did Honda get this so wrong. Admittedly I'd jumped from my very familiar BMW G310GS onto it on a far from perfect minority mountain road but it just had really poor front end feel by comparison when pushed through the apex. Since that's the aspect of motorcycling I love the most I resigned myself that it wasn't for me.
The 2020 though is a different beast and largely due to an upgrade in 2019 to a 19 inch front wheel no doubt. First leg over this was to pick my boy up from kindy and I actually felt a bit nervous in traffic. The bars felt narrow and the ride position a bit low. The smooth engine and gearbox was a memory lane moment though, as pre millennium Honda was my riding life pretty much.
Yesterday, with a bunch of mates on a mixed bag of bikes we headed to Ho Tram for lunch. This would be its initial 300km so I wanted to test it but at the same time respect some assemblance of a run in procedure, so soft road where possible. By the time we were clear of the city I was already feeling more positive. The slipper clutch is a cracker. Even for an absolute beginner in the city commute it would be hard to get that wrong. Staying low in the rev range the torque for a half litre bike was very impressive and I was getting used to the unfamiliar geometry.
Once we hit the dirt, though still a bit tentative, I was growing in confidence with it and have to admit starting to push a little more to find fault but for what it is, I really didn't. It was far better behaved than I expected and any moments I did have were certainly my error. By the time we were fighting our way through traffic back into the city I felt quite confident and comfortable and was impressed with its maneuverability. A bit of a champion at the bowser too. Unlike a lot of vehicles true to its boasted fuel economy.
STRENGTHS Typically Honda smooth power delivery Gearbox and clutch are faultless Standing position is very good Brakes are more than adequate Like the guage display.
WEAKNESSES Front is still a bit soft for my liking but in fairness I'm yet to play with the preload. Prefer a higher seat height and wider bars but for shorter riders and in a commuting situation they may both be viewed as a plus.
All in all this is a hell of a lot of bike for the money and if not belted too hard off road will be typically Honda reliable and cheap to run. For anyone who wants a bike they can comfortably commute on but still capable of some adventure riding, even two up, I can see the appeal. For the beginner its perfect. Very easy to ride and by the time you are riding it to capacity you will be far from a beginner, thats for sure. Givin it's full rpm capability head, I don't think there'll be too many looking for more in most of Vietnam's riding environment!
For anyone interested this bike loaded with SW Motech Protection Bars, Bash Plate, Lever Protection and a Givi Mulebox and Tank Bag will be added to our fleet at $60 a day in line with the two BMW G310GS. We also have a relationship with Honda that we can sell to foreigners for 197M on road registered, ride away from our shop or delivered if out of HCM with the regular two year Honda warranty but also an additional two year roadside assist.