Random Roads on a CB500X

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Cro59, May 8, 2018.

  1. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Brookhaven, Mississippi

    There was a time not too long ago when towns like Brookhaven were the heart and soul of America. Now they are shadows of their former selves, rarely visited because they’ve been bypassed by the interstate system, and the trains, if they even run, are more novelty than necessity.

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    Quiet, Sunday street before the rain.

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    How many farewells and reunions took place on this platform? Once the most important building in town and now just an interesting place to walk.

    Here’s hoping the rain lets up before lunch is done.
    #41
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  2. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    David Smith rides the purple Harley in the picture above. Naturally, he asked me about my ride while we were waiting out the rain over lunch in the Georgia Blue. David was born and bred in Brookhaven. He entered the world just a few blocks away in a hospital that no longer exists. Life took him beyond Mississippi for many years, including a short stint as a contractor in Iraq, but brought him back to Brookhaven where his mother still lived.

    We talked about motorcycles, times long past, railroads, and how the world had moved on from towns like this. I said something about the farewells and reunions that the train station across the street must have seen. He thought about this for a second and told me a story. Back when he was dating a women in Jackson, she introduced him to an elderly man. Back in the early 60s, this guy joined the Marines and headed off to Vietnam. His girlfriend took him to the bus station to see him off. One thing led to another and his four year hitch turned into a career. With the shortage of USMC bases in Jackson, Mississippi, the two drifted apart, got married, and raised their kids. In time, the old Marine, now a widower, settled down the road in Biloxi, and fifty two years after leaving he reunited with his old flame. She’d kept some mementoes of their farewell, a book of matches and a cigarette pack he’d discarded the night he left for boot camp. Both of them still had a passion for life and each other, because, according to David, they are traveling the country together in a red Corvette.

    Okay, that’s not a motorcycle story, but it is the kind of story you hear about because of motorcycles. David and I wouldn’t have talked if not for bikes and the instant connection they create. David envied me my trip. His bucket list trip is to ride the length of California Highway 1, but, like so many of us, he’s seen this as a “someday” trip for so long that he stopped believing he’d ever do it. I told him that he just needed to do it and to swing through Canada and Alaska on the way. In some way, my trip seemed to make his more real, and he promised that he would do it. I hope he does.

    What is it that keeps us from our dreams? He could do the trip in a month, and I got the impression that money isn’t a showstopper for him. So what holds him back? I think we are too conditioned to keep our dreams in the future, as if they are too big for us or so scarce that we might use them up. The truth is that none of us are promised a future and life is best lived today.
    #42
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  3. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Natchez, Mississippi

    Riding westward under the late, afternoon sun in summertime Mississippi is hot, thirsty work. I won’t pretend it’s hard, but it’s damn sure hot.

    I rolled into Natchez about five o’clock. It looks like a nice enough place with a vibrant downtown and historic district. But this is the Deep South on a Sunday so my search for a cafe or coffee shop was futile.

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    I had historic downtown Natchez pretty much to myself, which was fine but I wanted a break from the heat before hitting the road again. Winding my way down to the waterfront, I saw a little spur road that I hoped would offer some good photo shots. It did that and more. I’d found my way “under the hill” or “below the bluff”, where the cotton once was loaded onto steamboats and where the river boats still dock.

    I backed in next to a Harley at the Under the Hill Saloon. It looked lively enough and a cold beer sounded pretty good. I have a rule against drinking and riding, except I’ve never been that good at following rules.

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    I hadn’t even made it inside the bar when an older guy asked, “You from around here?”
    “No.”
    “First time in Natchez?”
    “Yeah.”
    “What took you so long?”
    I think I’m going to like this place!

    The beer was great and I wished I could have another. Instead I enjoyed the company of strangers. I learned about Natchez, talked to the owner about how he ended up owning the saloon, and I learned about another kind of ADV from a guy named Kelly Phillips.

    Kelly has cancer and was given three months to live. He found himself in Hospice back in New Jersey. The cancer had cost him his business and he was nearly broke as well as dead. He decided dying penniless in a Hospice in Jersey was not to his liking, so he told his brother in Wisconsin to find him a houseboat. His brother found him one the next day, so Kelly settled his affairs and has been on the river since. Oh yeah, that was in March of 2017 and it doesn’t look like Kelly is ready to call it quits just yet. You can google “Kelly Phillips Mississippi River.” Interesting story.

    If I ever get bored with motorcycles, I might buy a houseboat and join him on the Mighty Mo.

    [​IMG]
    #43
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  4. Night_Wolf

    Night_Wolf Leg Humper

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    Please give "hard" luggage a serious look. They are not that heavy & I haven't found that they have affected the way the bike handles at all. I'm running GIVI/Shad PLX Cases which tuck in very nicely & have a Givi Maxxia 52 liter top case. Like you I also owned the Wee Strom & managed 55,000 mi on a pair of them & only sold the last one as it was "gathering" dust as I was enjoying the "little" 500X so much. I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains & feel the bike has enough power, but yea an extra 10 hp would be sweet, when I have The_Filly along. Looking forward to more of your ride & the upcoming modifications
    #44
  5. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Yup, I hear that a lot. After putting 900 miles on the CB in two days, I find it equal to or better then the Wee for the solo distance rider. If I was riding two up then I’d go with the Wee for the extra HP and space.
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  6. LateToTheGame

    LateToTheGame Been here awhile Supporter

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    A great read. It sounds like your thinking evolved rather like mine as I looked for my first motorcycle. I wanted something not too heavy, not too powerful, but interesting enough to keep my interest a year in, at least ADV-light. I ended up with a BMW G650GS single, but the CB500X was on my short list, and still is. Since BMW don't make my bike anymore, I'll be interested to read how your build develops.

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    My little GS in the foreground. Soft luggage rocks.
    #46
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  7. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Palestine, Texas

    US 84 has brought me all the way from Bainbridge, Georgia. Not a bad alternative to the interstate and definitely more interesting than I-10. One thing this route has impressed upon me is that times are tough in rural America. Vacant storefronts and faded paint are much too common. Time, progress, and entropy are relentless.

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    Sitting in the Old Magnolia Coffee Shop. The girl asked if I was coming back to see Ted Cruz tonight. I confess it took a few moments to place the name. My first thought was that he was a country singer or something. Oh yeah, he’s a politician. He must have heard I was coming through town, but regrettably for him he’s going to miss me. I’m sure he’ll give a good performance. I wonder if he knows any Chris Stapleton.

    Well, got to go. The waitress gave me a line on some pie down the street.
    #47
  8. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Out of sequence, but no matter...

    Logansport, Louisiana

    Got pulled over...47 in a 30. Well shit.

    Just another opportunity to chat up a stranger. Talked to the cop about the trip, flying overseas, how his job is probably more dangerous than mine, and about why I was wearing such heavy riding gear in this heat (I like my skin where it is, of course).

    Not sure why he let me go with a warning; maybe my military service or maybe he just needed an excuse to stop talking to this crazy guy on the side of the road under the hot summer sun. Anyway, he returned to his air conditioned cruiser while I strapped my luggage back in place and sped off just slightly over the speed limit.
    #48
  9. Night_Wolf

    Night_Wolf Leg Humper

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    I have about 3000 miles on an 01 F650 GS & IMO you have the best 650 single on the market & your 650 makes the same HP (might be a shade better) than the 500X. Can't remember the weight on the GS, but I can almost guarantee it will feel lighter due to the location of the fuel under the seat. The 500X has a slightly higher top speed IIRC than the F650. As a former instructor, I think you picked a great 1st motorcycle & there might not be a reason to move sideways to the 500X unless you really want/need the RR upgrades or get sick of paying BMW repair prices
    #49
  10. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Dallas, Texas

    A smart man (apparently not me) heading west would start early, siesta at 4:00 to avoid the worst of the sun, and ride a bit after sunset.

    I left US 84 in Palestine so I could meet a friend in Dallas. As a result, Day 3 ended with dinner at a Brazilian Steakhouse and the downtown skyline from my buddy’s apartment to go with my bottle of wine.

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    I’ve had worse evenings.
    #50
  11. juno

    juno Long timer

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    I bought a leftover 16 in May of 17. $5500 for an ABS version. Ordered my RR level 2 kit and did the TAT from my doorstep in SFL starting the end of last July.
    Some advice. The highway pegs are a must. You already noticed my biggest issue with the CB, the foot pegs. You will be wanting to stretch your legs out at every opportunity. They are a compromise between the three models and are exacerbated with the kit and off road pegs. With the larger pegs they couldn't be more in the way. OK off road but in stop and go traffic they are a PITA when you have to put your feet down a lot.
    The suspension and wheels are top notch and well designed. The cockpit, not so much. There is no perfect option for the bars and hand guards. I literally put the kit on and left on my trip. I made many attempts to get the levers and hand guards where I wanted them and I still don't like the way they are. I strongly recommend going with the shorty adjustable levers and test the positioning of the bars, levers and guards before a long trip.
    They other thing I recommend is going to the 500x forums and search for the Beaver power kits so you can add all the accessories you need in a near OEM fit. (USB, 12v, GPS, Aux lights, heated grips, etc). The SW Motech light bar and some mini bullet lights work awesome.
    The last complaint about the kit is the seat height. Mine came out at almost 35" as opposed to the advertised 34". Being 5'10, that extra inch makes a difference, especially off road and uneven surfaces, not to mention a little less stable on the kickstand. If I could get the 19" wheel on the level 1 kit I would have sacrificed the extra ground clearance.
    The machine itself is amazing. Incredibly tractable off road on steep hills and steep surprise switchbacks.
    A combo of the motor, fueling and gearbox make it great off road. I averaged 60+ mpg except for a few days blasting through OK in 30 mph winds and rain.
    As far as luggage, I strongly recommend the Mosko Reckless 80 as it fits the bike perfectly. Their tank bags are awesome too. I also recommend the RR rear rack and side racks. It helps mounting the R80, you can mount tool tubes inside the side racks for easy access and you can mount a helmet size top box for daily road use. If you keep the bike in FL you won't have to lug your helmet around and it won't get wet.
    A pic from Port Orford, OR on the Pacific Ocean, over 5k miles and 24 days of TAT from my doorstep. Loaded up with groceries and stuff for camping on my way up the coast.

    [​IMG]
    #51
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  12. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Juno, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the bike. What highway pegs did you get?
    #52
  13. juno

    juno Long timer

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    I bought some cheap aftermarket ones with a thin band that clamps to the round tube on the RR skid plate. It slips too much. I would recommend getting a heavy mounting bracket/clamp such as the cruisers use. Or go on the RR 500x thread and ask for good recommendations. You can see the left one in the pic.
    #53
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  14. LateToTheGame

    LateToTheGame Been here awhile Supporter

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    I looked seriously at the CB500X when I was shopping. The wet weight, bhp, fuel economy are pretty close to the G650GS. My one short ride at a dealer felt pretty good. Having said that, from the first time I threw a leg over the G650GS it just felt right. It feels nimble and light, and has good acceleration for traffic. I've had it up to 90 mph; it still had more there, but it didn't feel happy and to be honest I wasn't either. For the riding I like to do - backroads - it's a really good ride. I do find that it's not especially tractable at low speed, which is surprising for a big single. It's finicky in first or second, which I think is because the bike is geared rather high. I could fix that with gearing changes that sacrificed top speed (which I don't really care about) for pull at the low end.

    The one issue really is that it's a BMW. Upgrades can still be found, but the bike is out of production so that may not continue. Parts and shop time are very expensive at the dealer. I suppose that argues for learning how to do my own wrenching. Anyway, for now it's my bike. I feel the need for a couple more add-ons, a proper belly pan, a better rear rack, real hand guards come to mind; otherwise I'm happy with it.
    #54
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  15. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    The GS650 is a good platform. Sort of a modernized DR. All of them are just starting points for the build anyway because it isn’t economical for the OEMs to fit high end suspensions and such. The big advantage of the CB is that RR designed the plug and play package for us Neanderthals.
    #55
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  16. Night_Wolf

    Night_Wolf Leg Humper

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    Hear of the Chain Gang ; the folks there know everything there is to know about the bike & how to fix damm near anything. Last time I was there (2005) everything was organized in FAQ's so easy to find. IMO best resource for your motorcycle

    Sorry for the hijack Cro59, back to your report
    #56
  17. LateToTheGame

    LateToTheGame Been here awhile Supporter

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    I have heard of the site. Not as useful as before because many links are broken now, and some of the supplier links have dried up. Still, a lot of useful ideas...

    And you're right: this belongs in the G650GS forum. Sorry...
    #57
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  18. LateToTheGame

    LateToTheGame Been here awhile Supporter

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    The Rally Raid kits are really nice. Open the box(es), swap on these parts, and you get this result. Much more piecemeal for my BMW. Still, my needs are modest, and for now I can find sourcing for the parts I want.

    I am interested in your RR build though. Yes, you turn a $5500 bike into an $8500 bike, but it will be a great ADV bike - offroad and onroad. Plus, Honda engine, so basically indestructible. If my G gets flattened in a parking lot I'll be looking at the CB500X..
    #58
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  19. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    Oh, I parted with more like $5K thanks to the good folks from RR. All of those other bits add up. Too easy to click and add just one more item. :cob
    No regrets and looking forward to the build.

    If you buy new CB at full retail you’ll be pushing $9k with tax and title, plus $5k for the full kit (wheels, racks, bash plate, exhaust, etc). That puts you right around the price of a new BMW or KTM, both of which need their own mods. Fortunately there are plenty of cheaper 500Xs out there.

    No matter what you buy, you’ll be adding a few grand to bring it up to specs. I think this is one of those bikes that are worth it. Hopefully I’ll feel the same next week. :imaposer
    #59
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  20. Cro59

    Cro59 Been here awhile

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    West Texas

    Long, hot boring roads. Not much more to say.

    The one redeeming factor was watching the sunset and enjoying the cooler temperatures that followed.

    [​IMG]

    Made it to Roswell, NM. No sign of the aliens, but plenty of dead bugs.

    The bike clicked over 4,000 miles and I’m just over 1,900 miles for the trip. I have to say, the little 471 cc engine purrs right along, even at 85 mph on the interstate. The bike has handled quite well and feels very planted. No issues with the stock suspension. In fact, I’d recommend the stock bike as a budget touring bike. The more I ride it the more I like it.
    #60