In today's motorcycle world it isn't enough to create a fancy new model and let it ride through life as a stock machine, especially where adventure bikes are concerned. Nope, says the now-conventional wisdom, anything with "adventure" in the name needs to have traveling accoutrement available.
Honda's on it. The CB500X arrived just this year, but Honda was ready with a wide range of factory-vetted accessories sold at the local dealer—the advantages here are that you can have the setup mechanic also install your fancy new trimmings, and the whole lot can be financed in the same loan as the bike itself. Sometimes, when they're feeling generous, dealers will offer a substantial discount on the accessories as an inducement to buy the whole.
That's a long way around explaining how the CB500X you see here got dragged through the accessories catalog: It's one of Honda's pre-prepped demonstrators, so we have no idea if the parts are difficult to install. (Some, we can see, are easy; the rigid luggage might be a challenge for some.)
We'll start there. This CB-X is fitted with Honda's hard saddlebag set and top trunk. The plastic saddlebags are similar in design to those available for the CB500F and NC700X, with a clamshell lid and single lock keyed to the ignition; you need the key to open the lid or remove the bag from the bike. Because the CB's exhaust pipe is low, both bags are the same size. Added to their total capacity of 58 liters, the 35-liter top box gives the little CB plenty of room for your adventure junk. The swoopy trunk is well proportioned to the CB-X. Its latch is large and easy to grasp. One full face size M helmet will fit. Just.
The luggage is handsome, functional, water tight, and of apparent good quality. Price is the problem here. The saddlebags themselves are $600 for the pair plus $30 for each lock set, but you will also need a parts-intensive rear carrier/trunk mount/saddlebag-stay kit that retails for a throat-tightening $790. Now add the trunk for $275. Did the math? Yup, that's $1,755 before installation. Almost a third of the whole bike's MSRP. Goodness.
Other mods applied to the little Honda were variously successful. The accessory windshield ($200) is taller than stock and provides somewhat more weather coverage, but none of our riders—tall or short—found the resulting turbulence tolerable. Let's face it: ADV bikes present an aerodynamic challenge. Honda has not cracked it. We liked the hand guards (a hefty $120) but would have appreciated the heated grips more; they weren't on this bike and cost $290. In all this, the $130 centerstand seems like a fantastic deal.
So, yes, if you go wild with Honda accessories, you can balloon the price of an economical bike into the stratosphere. And it should be said that there are more, ah, value-laden options in the broader aftermarket. But the Honda equipment looks like it belongs, fits very well, and, unless you've loaded all the luggage beyond capacity, has little impact on the bike's handling. Adventure on!