The CMX500 may look a bit strange at first, but the ergonomics actually work quite well. All the controls are in logical places and it takes zero time to be comfortable and familiar with the machine. A great boon for new riders as it makes the bike effortless to handle and confidence inspiring.
You might think that a learner legal 500 that looks, and acts, like an urban bobber style custom, might struggle with highway speeds. That is certainly not the case. I had the CMX500 to 130km/h in third gear, and there are another three cogs to go! It makes a claimed 45Nm of torque at 6000rpm and 45hp at 8500rpm. For comparison purposes, Harley claim 33.5hp from their best-selling Street 500 and 40Nm of torque. The CMX500 also weighs 30kg less than Harley’s Street 500.
The engine is essentially the same 471cc, eight-valve, parallel twin that has seen duty in the current CBR500R, CB500F and CB500X. It is retuned for the urban focus of the CMX500, with throttle response tailored to give a grunty feel down low. To help accentuate that impression further, the crank balancer has a slightly different phasing and mass to provide a more pleasing lilt off the bottom, and accentuate that cruiser style feel.
A tubular frame is employed for the CMX500 and the swingarm is formed in a similar fashion. However, to allow further customisation to the rear end look, and seating position, the cast alloy sub-frame is a separate bolt-on item.
Despite the massive and ungainly looking front tyre the CMX actually steers quite sweetly. I had some reservations looking at it, but once aboard and rolling I was amazed at just how neutral, and natural it felt tipping into a corner, or transitioning from side to side.
Again, despite the non traditional look of the layout, the rake and trail figures give the bike fairly conventional geometry. Trail is 110mm and rake is 28-degrees and the CMX rolls on a 1480mm wheelbase. The riding position felt comfortable and familiar right away. The handling is predictable and the bike never feels cumbersome or ungainly. So Honda…
The seat height is a very low 690mm, but it feels even lower thanks to the incredibly slim mid-section of the machine. Despite this, legroom was quite generous. The pegs are in a natural position and the bend in the leg never onerous. I am 178cm tall and while this bike is certainly tailored to give surefooted confidence to those more vertically challenged, I see it posing no problems to those much longer in the leg.
At $8999 rideaway the CMX500 is more expensive than its fully faired CBR500R cousin and the handsome CB500F. Why is it so? According to Honda it is due to the investment required in the new frame, instrumentation and the whole custom angle. In reality, I guess they are charging what they are hoping people will pay for it. Looking at other options in the market, it is priced quite well.
Pillions? While in most images the CMX500 is seen as a single-seater, a pillion passenger kit is provided with the bike, at no cost. The seat simply bolts straight on top of the rear fender, and the pegs screw into the exhaust hanger on the right, and a bracket is provided for the mounting of the left pillion peg.
Luggage? Honda already have a soft pannier system ready to go for $685. Adding plenty of useful amenity when commuting. Could you tour on it? Of course, you can tour on anything, but if that is your primary purpose you would be better off looking at the more versatile CB500X if trekking across the country is what you have front of mind.