The Honda CB500X Adventure – Part 1: Why this bike?

This last February I spent a good amount of time in my garage, building a CB500X into an adventure motorcycle.  I never minded the winter with its cold and rainy evenings, the build of this bike in my garage was a fun process, a good portion of why I decided to buy a Honda CB500X.  This build process included preparing the shop, sourcing parts, and building some of the accessories myself.  The CB500X is relatively inexpensive and Rally Raid Products has a great plug and play kit for this bike, which helped on the decision.

How to forget about cold rainy winter evenings.

How to forget about cold rainy winter evenings.

A second reason is to have a multi-cylinder adventure motorcycle that I can use for solo rides into the the unknown.  It slots nicely between my WR250R and my Tiger 800XC.  I was looking for a bike with a good level of reliability allied with as light weight as possible so I can pick it up from the ground, or be able to turn it around on tight trails or from a down hill situation, all by myself.  The CB500X’s weight is at the upper range of what I wanted (or can handle), but it is today the lightest multi-cylinder bike for such a project.  And it carries Honda’s reliability reputation.  It was about freedom, I wanted this motorcycle to not limit my choice of roads to travel or the desire to travel solo.

The 2015 Honda CB500X - Ready for adventure!

The 2015 Honda CB500X – Ready for adventure!

An added reason for this purchase was a friend of mine from High School and College, Julio (Juca) Petersen who lived in Florida.  He was diagnosed in October of last year with cancer.  He was a Honda rider, and along his life he had an XL250, an XL350, a Transalp and more recently an NC700X.  Should the treatment he underwent had worked, I was hoping he could make it here at some point for a ride with me.  This Honda would had been a perfect bike for him.  Unfortunately the progress of the disease was faster than what the treatment could do for him.  He passed away on February 3rd 2016.  This one is for you Juca!

Purchased the bike on January 9th, 2016.

Purchased the bike on January 9th, 2016.

Turning something negative into an opportunity, working on this bike during the month of February was a source of positive energy for me.  It was about working on motorcycles, something I always had wanted to do but had never felt the energy to pursue it.  Juca’s diagnosis and its outcome hit home pretty hard.  It was about losing a friend.  It was also about someone at my exact age and with similar trajectory in life, and who lived a healthier lifestyle than I did.  Therefore, let’s not procrastinate any longer, let’s build this thing, let’s do things I always wanted to do. We only live once…

Bike came with TKC80 tires, and the I got the Pirelli original tires as well.

Bike came with TKC80 tires, and the I got the Pirelli original tires as well.

I purchased the bike in January and immediately started sourcing parts for it.  The bike had 312 miles on the clock and came with several Rally Raid parts already installed including bash plate, adjustable levers, wide foot pegs, and rear brake reservoir protection.  It also came with TKC80 tires. I could not use the front tire as I was to change the 17 inch front to a 19 inch wheel, but the rear tire was new and re-mounted on the new spoke wheel that came with the Rally Raid kit.

Practically new!

Practically new!

In the next few posts I will document the process I went through for building this bike.  It includes setting up the shop for the build, what parts I bought for it, the parts I built, and its maiden voyage in the Death Valley.  The project included setting up the shop for the build, doing maintenance work on the WR250R that I also took to Death Valley and also maintenance on the truck to transport the bikes to California.

The project included setting up the shop and the CB500X itself. Because it culminated with taking this bike to Death Valley, I also worked on the Truck and the WR250R that I took as a back up bike.

The project included setting up the shop and the CB500X itself. Because it culminated with taking this bike to Death Valley, I also worked on the Truck and the WR250R that I took as a back up bike.

There were steps of this build when the bike was disassembled to almost its core, but somehow I never doubted I could put it back together.  I was on a roll!

Working on the front forks.

Working on the front forks.

I completed the project in time to join a couple of friends for the Death Valley ride.

Somewhere along Highway 89 in California, on my way to the Death Valley

Somewhere along Highway 89 in California, on my way to the Death Valley

The bike performed well in its maiden adventure.  Its main claim to fame was to conquer Goler wash and make it to the top of Mengel pass.

On top of Mengell Pass

On top of Mengel Pass

It also survived a major sand storm, which covered the road I was traveling on with more than a foot of soft sand for several miles.  The bike did rather well on sand!  But that is a story for another chapter.

Sandstorm at the confluence of Warm Spring Canyon rd and West Side rd

Sandstorm at the confluence of Warm Spring Canyon rd. and West Side rd.

Since the bike build was completed, and I went to Death Valley and back, I’ve been enjoying some of my free time on my reorganized motorcycle shop, having fun working on my bikes.  Stay tuned for the next set of posts about the building process and a more detailed account of this motorcycle’s first adventure.

Thank you for reading.

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6 Responses to The Honda CB500X Adventure – Part 1: Why this bike?

  1. Great project and fitting tribute to your friend

  2. Fred van Grinsven says:

    What a nice shop! And what a nice story again. Looking forward to your next posts. Thanks for sharing your passion with other bikers. Greatings from The Netherlands, Fred.

  3. John Stuart says:

    Why put $3000 plus labor into a bike made in Thailand with an early valve check? Must have money to burn since the money is a complete non returnable investment.

    • cesardagord says:

      What is important is that you get satisfaction with what you are doing. Are you satisfied with what you are doing? Motorcycling is a hobby for me, not a financial investment, and building this bike has been a fun activity, and riding it has been even better. On top of that, the very fact that this bike is made in Thailand makes it a perfect choice for this project because it is an inexpensive motorcycle. I would recommend to people interested on a CB500X Rally Raid adventure bike to buy the CB500X used. I bought mine used, I know you can get a good used CB500X with very low miles for about $3,000… Add to it the price of the Level 3 kit and you still get a very inexpensive multi-cylinder adventure motorcycle. And because these bikes are made in Thailand it does not make them less reliable. I would argue quite to the contrary, actually.

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