Bikes 18 Aug 2017

Review: 2017 Honda CMX500 test rides the 2017 Honda CMX500.

Words: Steve Martin

Honda has dabbled in the cruiser market on many occasions, releasing varying models which have encapsulated the market and grabbed sales glory. Interest in the class started way back in the 1970s when it was observed that certain 400cc four-cylinder owners were chopping and stretching their motorcycles, creating something very different and the basis of the cruiser.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those days and although Phillip Island seemed like an unlikely candidate to launch the CMX500, Honda was out to prove me wrong. We weren’t going on the track at all, but rather a wonderful cruise around the back roads giving the ‘baby’ CMX the opportunity to strut its stuff.

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The reason I use the term baby is due to the fact that the 500 is targeted as an all-rounder, catering for younger learner riders all the way through to the elder statesmen who perhaps need a bike that’s easy to mount.

And that the CMX is, with its very low seat height making it extremely simple to touch the ground once on board, but more impressively, the way the rear-end behind the seat slopes down giving people with limited mobility a good shot of swinging their leg over and riding this bike.

Once on-board there’s a nice reach to the bars too, making it very comfortable for a machine of its style and shape. The mid-mounted pegs are in a sensible position with an easy reach that fits in with the message behind this bike – its rider friendliness.

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There is no fairing as you would expect on such a style, just a nice set of fat-looking chrome bars, a slim looking tank and the speedo with built in led display. The single round instrument cluster has no dial, although a negative LED screen keeps that clean look, but at the same time still allows the rider all the modern features. Information like trip meters, RPM, speed time and even a fuel gauge are available and selectable by the touch of a button.

It must have been a tricky job for Honda to get the ergo as right as they did, juggling all the dimensions to get a package that suits most people’s frame size. I was quite comfortable on the bike and although we didn’t do hundreds of kilometres, I was fresh when I handed the bike back.

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There’s something about the look of the CMX I like too, its proportioned well and, unlike some cruisers that have come on to the market in the past, it’s got the right percentage of tech versus cruiser to make it work well as an everyday ride.

The forks are quite raked out, but are high quality items. The same can be said about the rear ends period styled twin shock system – it looks good, and with the high quality units fitted, they absorb an amazing amount of bumps for the limited stroke that cruisers have.

The wheel and tyre package is also specifically designed for the CMX with fat 16-inch tires fitted front and rear, helping to keep the right appearance and yet at the same time, the right everyday grip and road-holding a modern rider deserves.

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The heart of the bike comes from Honda’s CB500R, meaning reliability is not compromised. The engine is modified though to suit the new nature a cruiser needs by revising the PGM-FI fuel injection mapping. The aim was to shift its character away from the high RPM-focused performance of the CBR to add bottom-end grunt instead.

The engine is housed in a purpose-built frame that holds the CMX together, allowing it to handle while providing those bobber lines. Don’t let the looks deceive you though, because the clean-looking chassis is also made to perform, bringing the working parts together and making the CMX one enjoyable bike to ride.

It doesn’t flex wobble or feel loose, but it feels rather docile and forgiving, which is the perfect nature for a bike like this. I did scratch my head trying to start the beast up for the first time, as I couldn’t find the ignition key. It wasn’t anywhere to be seen up near the dash and after a while I saw it tucked away neatly on the left-hand side near the steering head.

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With the ignition switched on, it’s a matter of hitting the starter button and letting the 180-degree engine burble quietly in to life. It’s a smooth bike for a twin, but still has enough note to remind you why you ride bikes – to feel alive.

The clutch is very light and one of the easiest to use in the business, giving a lot of confidence that you won’t stall as you start off. Its brakes have plenty of power and are easy to regulate, letting you feel in control of what the bike is up to when stopping.

ABS is fitted standard and works away in the background just in case you need a little back up or support in those unexpected situations. The throttle is light and manageable, delivering a smooth predictable power delivery, and for a LAMS bike, it’s definitely quite punchy. It was the type of bike that slowed my heart beat, made me relax and just enjoy the scenery. And that’s what a cruiser is meant to do.

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The bike I rode was standard, but there are a load of genuine accessories available for the CMX to let the buyer individualise their machine. That’s part of Honda’s grand plan to make sure things keep on keeping on, no customer mods to add problems, just add the genuine dress-up bits on and keep the reliability intact.

The new CMX is a good representation of what a cruiser should be, being simple, yet robust at the same time. It allows the customer to get on with the business of riding, and its a bike that can be bought by all manner of riders young and old. At $8990 it can be used on a daily basis with assured reliability, and that makes the CMX a definite contender when it comes time to get your wallet out. For more information, visit

Vital specifications

Engine type: Liquid-cooled parallel-twin four-stroke
Capacity: 471cc
Transmission: Six-speed
Power: 33.5kW at 8500rpm
Torque: 44.6Nm at 6000rpm
Weight: 187.8kg
Seat height: 690mm
Fuel capacity: 11.2 litres
Colours: Matte Armoured Silver Metallic, Graphite Black and Millennium Red
Price: $8990 (+ORC)
Warranty: 24 months
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