Plodding around in the shires
Posted by anarchy on August 8, 2021, 8:38 pm
So I managed to get some time today to have a ride on my secondhand CB500x I just picked up. I thought some of you may be interested in my comparisons with a RE Himalayan I had through 2019.
Anyway, the skies were looking pretty angry at times but nothing some army surplus over trousers, MX boots and wax cotton jacket should worry about.
I headed off south through the villages then turned off the main roads into deepest Hertfordshire, an area of gentle valleys and farm land.
I didn't fit the Honda luggage kit that came with the bike as I planned on wandering off tarmac, so instead I put some LOMO throwovers on the bike. On the road the CB500x performs well. It's about 50bhp and under 200kg, so no problems on fast roads or overtaking, unlike the 20 odd Shetland ponies of the Himalayan and slightly more weight. As a road bike the little Honda has it covered. It probably is the easiest bike to ride you can imagine. Handling is really good and everything falls to hand and is comfortable and works well. The seat is great unlike the RE torture device. Soon enough I passed through the tiny hamlet of Cold Christmas, probably ironic now that global warming has been a game changer to our weather.
The Pirelli Scorpion tyres work well on the road and soon the heavens open and I stop under the shelter of a tree to watch it pour down.
I kid you not in just a couple of minutes the weather changes to sunshine!
I thought I'd try a ford crossing, nothing difficult, just an excuse to try the standing on footpegs position. Not that great, the Himalayan works better for that. The little Honda needs different foot pegs and handle bar risers for that kind of work.
I rode on then stopped under a row of chestnut trees and enjoyed the rural view.
Now to try the little Honda off tarmac. I dived down a BOAT and followed it up hill. The tyres were pretty useless being road biased and to be honest any road bike would be pretty similar to the CB500x. It doesn't have the feel of an enduro or even a trail bike. It's too heavy, geared oddly (too low in first and too high in second) but it can do the trails IF you go slowly...but then so can a Fireblade.
It's not that it's bad, it's the same as all these types of bikes that try to be good road bikes yet have a dirt bike image. Something has to give. This is probably a good compromise as most people hardly ever take an adventure bike off tarmac, and the mile munching touring aspect is usually more important.
The BOAT changes from Holloways to field tracks so the going is hard earth but with a slippy mud surface and wet grass. The tyres can't really do this, you have to plod along.
The skies still threaten. A good deal of the harvest is yet to be done because of the wet weather. I then detour off into another wood that has a deep track running through it.
The bike is really quiet with the standard exhaust so it all seems very civilised. I don't think many critters are being disturbed.
And so it went, plodding around in the woods wondering whether it would be worth fitting more off road tyres at the expense of it's superb road manners. Probably not. And that's the thing. The RE Himalayan was a little bit better off road, little better balanced perhaps and certainly better tyres (Pirelli MT60)....but it was a dog on the road with vague handling because of the tyres and 21 inch front wheel. It couldn't overtake cars safely on A roads and it was the most uncomfortable bike I'd ever ridden. You can't really compare these 2 bikes really, they are so different and the design aims poles apart. The CB500x will take you around the world without a fault, but don't try to take it on the TET or it will flounder in the mud. The Himalayan will do better on the tracks - if it manages to not breakdown or get there in time. I know companies like Rally raid sell upgrade kits for the CB500x to try to make it into some sort of enduro at eye watering prices, but for me it's perfect for what it is. I don't think I'll be changing much, it's a super bargain package.