NZ: Final thoughts about the CB500X

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A great bike for this kind of  trip

I really enjoyed this bike for this kind of trip. It was everything I needed it to be at a reasonable cost and very low fuel consumption. When loaded it was a bit sluggish in the corners but a willing hauler that could still pass slow trucks with ease when asked to. This could almost certainly be improved with adjustments to the suspension. When unloaded it was a lot of fun on twisting roads and mountain passes.

Great torque at the low end meant that a lot of roads just didn’t demand much shifting. This quality shone through in places like the Crown Range pass or Kennepuru Road near Queen Charlotte Sound.

For somebody of my size, the bike is pretty comfortable for 2-3 hours but feels a bit cramped beyond that. If I had planned on a lot of long days, I would have done well to go for something bigger: BMW GS700, V-Strom or similar mid-sized “adventure bike.” Same would have been true if the trip called for a lot of cruising at US highway speeds, but much of the appeal of this trip to me was going slower.

I cannot imagine wanting to use this bike for 2-up riding. As it was, the difference was noticeable when I left the top box off, so a passenger would have made the bike much less fun. I think the positioning of the box (high and back) causes it to have an out sized effect even when lightly loaded. If I were to do this again, I’d set myself up with a lot less stuff and skip the top box entirely.

Equipment

Navigation by cellphone proved to be adequate to my purposes. I was glad I brought my auxiliary battery because this bike doesn’t have a power port of any kind. (I believe it is an option on the 2016 model.) I never ran out of juice even when running the phone with display on all day long. At times I regretted not bringing my Garmin, but those times were rare. I was mostly on well-established roads and didn’t have much trouble even without consulting the electronics.

The luggage provided by Motorent was pretty standard and fairly adaptable. I tend to prefer more square-shaped, top-loading luggage as it makes it easier to keep essentials easily accessible on top, but eventually sorted out an arrangement that worked.

The Givi touring screen is at best a mixed blessing. It definitely meant a less water on me for the few days I hit rain, and probably fewer bug-hits. The bugs are plentiful and I think I killed thousands of them. My visor got a lot of cleaning every day.

The downside is that the Givi is just tall enough to get the airflow off your upper chest and right onto the center of your face visor. That means that your visor can be buffetted by winds. When the conditions are gusty it’s particularly bad. the forward-facing curve of the thing looks cool but probably makes the turbulence worse than it might be (Google “Von Karman vortex”). All-in-all, not a huge deal most of the time, but I have a notion that I would have liked the bike better with the stock windscreen.

Oxford heated grips were wonderful on the days that I needed them, but for the most part stayed off. My RevIt Gore-tex gloves did a pretty good job on the cold and wet days even without any help.

Motorent made it really easy to pick up and drop off, and kept my excess luggage while I was on the road. They’re one of the few companies in New Zealand who have the Hondas, which is a major plus if you don’t want the bulk and expense of bigger bikes. A very strong recommendation.

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