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Discussion Starter #1
VerSys650 vs CB500X
I happen to own both these bikes at the moment. I’ve had the 500X for about six years, and the Sys650 for all of six weeks. Some of you may be interested in how they differ and how they are similar. Although the 500X is a 2014 model, i don’t think the bike has changed much…. still feels and handles much the same as the new ones, although there are minor changes.
These two bikes, the CB500X and the Versys 650, plus a couple of others, are generally grouped together with the idea that if you want one, you may be in a position of needing to decide which of the others might be better. Well, as usual, it is more a matter of what the particular strong points of each are.
In regard to these two:
If you are a non-demanding rider and you already have a 500X, there is probably no real reason to trade it off for a VerSys650 or a VStrom650 for that matter. With a couple of exceptions.
You may be happier with the Sys650 (and likely the Strom) if you are a tall rider… over six feet. Or if you need more power to, say, pass on the freeway during your daily commute in fast hectic traffic.
I myself am over six feet and appreciate the roomier rider triangle and overall height of the VerSys650. The extra 20HP is also nice to have, although i haven’t given it the beans yet. Otherwise the bikes are very similar. The designs are so close in fact that you carry the feel of the 500X over onto the Sys650. Save only that the Sys needs a bit more body language to toss it around. But not a lot more.
I would say at this early point that the Honda feels a bit more refined and the Kawasaki a bit more beefy.
Or put it this way... the Sys650 is the Honda 500X plus another 15 or 20%, if you get my drift.
If you don’t really need that extra beef, don’t spend for it. But, heh, heh, that’s never stopped anyone yet from going to a new bike.
Handling: i feel the extra weight on the Sys as being a bit more top heavy, which makes me a bit more cautious so that i don’t drop it. Eyeball the road surface well at stop lights because you don't want to put a foot down on gravel. Still, the actual weight difference is not that great. The Sys certainly gives you the impression it is bigger, since the tank and fairing are quite wide and you will often find yourself on your toes, not flat foot, when both feet are down at a traffic light.
The riding position, and the seats, are very similar. Thankfully the pegs are not as far back on the Sys, so your knee bend is not quite as extreme. I will give the edge to the Sys in seat comfort, but both suffer from concessions the company has made for shorter riders, in regard to the seat shape and slope. This means you tend to slide forward onto the narrower section and lose the comfort of the wider back portion.
The engines, although very similar as well, are each quite distinct, and other than the extra HP granted to the Sys, i would give the 500X the credit of having an engine that just feels more refined. Its vibrations are not as disconcerting… but that is not to say the vibes on the Sys are bad at all. For its displacement, the Honda does a very good job with its power response in all sorts of situations.
Both bikes are a bit abrupt or jerky to ride at slow speeds around town… the throttle response being sharp and the engine braking as well. Because the Sys has the bigger engine, you will feel this all a bit more when riding it. The power is there quickly and you have to pay attention to feather the throttle. Likewise when you roll off the throttle, you will get quicker and stronger engine braking. If you are used to this effect on sports bikes, no problem.
This also brings up the question of frugality or gas mileage. Its difficult to beat, or even come close to a Honda here. Besides the 500X i also ride a Honda CTX700N. Both these bikes get 75-80mpg (imperial). I’ve not been personally able to get the mileage on the Sys650 yet, but from the charts and user reports i’ve read, it is substantially lower, even when it is ridden modestly.
But that’s OK, it still gets almost twice the mileage of a cruiser that has less power, speed and comparably poor handling.
I would conclude this way. If you are average or below height, of slight build, or want to save a few bucks, buy the Honda 500X. Not only will you save substantially on the OTD price, but on gasoline as well. If you are above average height, and/or need the extra power for freeway commutes, buy the VerSys650.
 

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Thanks for the write-up. When I knew it was time to let my Rebel 300 go after only a few months, I knew I wanted an adv style bike. The new 500X (2019) had just come out, but no dealership in the area had one, and didn't know when they were going to get them in. I test rode a (2016?) Versys 650 and thought it was great. Bought a new 2018 model. But I have always wondered about the CB500X. I see some youtube reviews where they say the vibrations can be a bit much over 65mph. (this is a concern to me) But otherwise, it gets great reviews. What did you think about the vibrations of the 500X? My Versys 650's vibrations are extremely minimal. Almost nothing in the grips and seat, and just a minimal amount in the foot pegs. (As opposed to my Rebel 300 where my hands and butt would be numb after 30 minutes of spirited riding. The thing felt like it was going to vibrate apart at high rpm)

In your opinion, how top heavy is the cb500x compared to the Versys 650? The top-heaviness of the Versys 650 is about the only drawback I can think of. It makes slow speed maneuvers rather difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the write-up. When I knew it was time to let my Rebel 300 go after only a few months, I knew I wanted an adv style bike. The new 500X (2019) had just come out, but no dealership in the area had one, and didn't know when they were going to get them in. I test rode a (2016?) Versys 650 and thought it was great. Bought a new 2018 model. But I have always wondered about the CB500X. I see some youtube reviews where they say the vibrations can be a bit much over 65mph. (this is a concern to me) But otherwise, it gets great reviews. What did you think about the vibrations of the 500X? My Versys 650's vibrations are extremely minimal. Almost nothing in the grips and seat, and just a minimal amount in the foot pegs. (As opposed to my Rebel 300 where my hands and butt would be numb after 30 minutes of spirited riding. The thing felt like it was going to vibrate apart at high rpm)

In your opinion, how top heavy is the cb500x compared to the Versys 650? The top-heaviness of the Versys 650 is about the only drawback I can think of. It makes slow speed maneuvers rather difficult.
...i can comment on the vibration, but you have to remember that (1) my CB500X is the 2014 model and (2) my riding background includes a couple dozen bikes of the old world that kids today would think vibrate like roto-tillers.
So far i would say that the vibrations and engine feel, noise, busyness, is more noticeable on the Versys 650 than the CB500X. I'd imagine the new models are pretty much the same. And as i mentioned, i don't much notice vibrations because i've had many previous years on old BSA's, Triumph's, Nortons, etc. I'll also add that i don't and won't be doing a lot of freeway riding so vibration and engine stress of various sorts is not an issue. Suffice it to say that for just riding around town and on 80kph city peripheral roads, the Sys650 feels busier or at least has engine sounds accompanied by vibrations that are a bit louder and harder to ignore if you are one of the sensitive, easily offended young crowd;).
As for being top heavy, that i feel is a definite issue. If i was average height or under i would stick with the 500X. But there are more top heavy bikes out there. Even some low seating bikes like the big V-twins, feel extremely top heavy to me because they carry those big cylinder heads up under the tank, and you sit with knees bent which is not a secure way of putting a foot out to stop a drop once it starts. I'm thinking Yamaha Bolt 900 especially. That thing sits at my knee level, yet the weight is primarily at that level as well. When i'm flat footing it my knees are under my chin, so my legs don't do me much good if it starts to fall.
On my 500X, i can jab a foot out stiff legged to prop up the bike. If my foot slides on gravel i still have leg length enough to keep the pressure down and finally get a grip. Most of the time. And gravel on the road is one thing we do have lots of out here.
Have a great riding year and pay constant attention to what you are doing.
 

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Hi,
Thanks a lot for this great review ! :)
About fuel consumption : with my Versys 650 (2020), I usually get 56 mpg (no highway).
For the comparison, my previous Triumph Street 765R (2017) only made 42 mpg at the same speed.

See you later
Emmanuel
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi,
Thanks a lot for this great review ! :)
About fuel consumption : with my Versys 650 (2020), I usually get 56 mpg (no highway).
For the comparison, my previous Triumph Street 765R (2017) only made 42 mpg at the same speed.

See you later
Emmanuel
...still not bad mileage compared to some bikes. My cousin tells me his big Kawasaki Vulcan cruiser gets worse gas mileage than his small car. But this doesn't explain how Honda does so well. Over the last few years i've had three Hondas, a Forza 300 Scooter, a CB500X and a CTX700N (which is a sports/cruiser). All three of these bikes get at least 75mpg, and all three will get even more than that if ridden calmly. The Forza 300 gets 85mpg easily, but then its only a 300, while the 700N does almost as well. As for the 700N, Honda designed that thing from the ground up to get good mileage and it does so partly because of it puts out pretty modest HP (about 45, same as the CB500X).
I can't see why a Sys650, along with many others of this size, can't "polish up" their engines in the same manner. Frugality is not an issue to most riders i talk to, but for myself, i've always thought that to be one of the primary reasons to ride a motorcycle. However, there are times i'll trade off 20mpg for 20 more HP:)
 

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...still not bad mileage compared to some bikes.
I can't see why a Sys650, along with many others of this size, can't "polish up" their engines in the same manner.
Hi,
Well, 56 mpg is not that bad either :

my old XTE 600 (2001), with its double carburetor "YDIS" system, only outputs 42 hp with this consumption.
The Versys with 68 hp is quite decent from this point of view.

Anyway, I will no longer buy a motorcycle below 47 mpg.
But I think that most rider here, in Europe, really don't care about that.
(the average mileage is below 3000 miles/year for most of them).

See you later :)
Emmanuel
 

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Thanks for the writeup! I've been mulling over the idea of something a bit lighter and lower cg. 5'10" skinny 60 yrs old. The thought of having to pick up the V650 solo out in the wilds is becoming more worrisome.
 

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Yeah, I've wondered about having to pick it up myself. I tried in my garage but the tires slid on the smooth concrete. On asphalt I believe I could do it if it were level
 

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Nice writeup.

For the past couple of months, there had been rumours here in India that the CB500X would be launched within the year. Everybody was waiting for it as it would be Honda's first entry into the 500 cc twin + adv (the Africa Twin was outside the budget of 99.9% of aspirants for an adv bike) class and people were putting their Versys 650 purchase plans on hold for the Honda to come in. People who had ridden it overseas were full of praise for much of the attributes that you have mentioned and saw it as a lighter and less top heavy version of the V650 and VS650 actually.

But when it was finally launched, the price came as an absolute shock to the entire community. Immediately, comparisons were made with the disastrous intro of the BMW 310 GS and R series, with allegations of brand hubris/arrogance/take it or leave it,we are BMW etc flying thick and fast. BTW, the BMW 310 twins are more expensive in India, their country of manufacture, than anywhere else worldwide.

The price difference between the V650 and the VS 650 is even more. No wonder that in the past 3 years that I have retired from the army and settled in Pune, my hometown, the only Strom 650 I have seen is of an army colleague who in turn, bought it from a bequest left by his mother. See the details below.

Model INR INDIA /INR USA USD INDIA/USD USA
CB500X 7,93,594/ 5,41,614 10,815/7399
Versys 650 8,01,877/ 6,43,861 10,927/8779
VStrom 650 10,23,913 13,954

So, for just INR 8283 more (which, BTW, is not a large amount for the kind of gentry that thinks of buying such vehicles in India)/USD 212, one would get a 650 over a 500, 21 PS and 21 Nm more, an adjustable front suspension and windscreen over fixed etc. The INR 2,30,319/USD 3139 increase of the V Strom put it out of reckoning altogether.

What has angered people is that unlike Suzuki, which gets the VS thru the Completely Built Up (CBU) route, that attracts the max customs and allied duties, Honda has got the CB500X in thru the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) route, which is exactly how the Versys reaches India. The CKD route results in substantial cost savings and is THE most important reason for the Versys 650 being popular in India. Despite this, the markup on the Honda is much higher than on the Versys. Definitely not justified by the 19 inch front wheel.

The crazy price has caused the 500x to be declared a near failure and a bomb in India already. A significant price reduction is already being spoken about. HMSIL(Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Limited), the Indian subsidiary is in a state of shock as there have been virtually nil bookings countrywide. Internal memos are flying around questioning the rationale to get this model to India instead of the XR 650, which, BTW, had been suggested by the younger staff members of the company, which have a much closer feel of the market.

And...the Versys 650 fence sitters have jumped the home side and Versys 650 waiting periods have doubled :LOL:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Nice writeup.

For the past couple of months, there had been rumours here in India that the CB500X would be launched within the year. Everybody was waiting for it as it would be Honda's first entry into the 500 cc twin + adv (the Africa Twin was outside the budget of 99.9% of aspirants for an adv bike) class and people were putting their Versys 650 purchase plans on hold for the Honda to come in. People who had ridden it overseas were full of praise for much of the attributes that you have mentioned and saw it as a lighter and less top heavy version of the V650 and VS650 actually.

But when it was finally launched, the price came as an absolute shock to the entire community. Immediately, comparisons were made with the disastrous intro of the BMW 310 GS and R series, with allegations of brand hubris/arrogance/take it or leave it,we are BMW etc flying thick and fast. BTW, the BMW 310 twins are more expensive in India, their country of manufacture, than anywhere else worldwide.

The price difference between the V650 and the VS 650 is even more. No wonder that in the past 3 years that I have retired from the army and settled in Pune, my hometown, the only Strom 650 I have seen is of an army colleague who in turn, bought it from a bequest left by his mother. See the details below.

Model INR INDIA /INR USA USD INDIA/USD USA
CB500X 7,93,594/ 5,41,614 10,815/7399
Versys 650 8,01,877/ 6,43,861 10,927/8779
VStrom 650 10,23,913 13,954

So, for just INR 8283 more (which, BTW, is not a large amount for the kind of gentry that thinks of buying such vehicles in India)/USD 212, one would get a 650 over a 500, 21 PS and 21 Nm more, an adjustable front suspension and windscreen over fixed etc. The INR 2,30,319/USD 3139 increase of the V Strom put it out of reckoning altogether.

What has angered people is that unlike Suzuki, which gets the VS thru the Completely Built Up (CBU) route, that attracts the max customs and allied duties, Honda has got the CB500X in thru the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) route, which is exactly how the Versys reaches India. The CKD route results in substantial cost savings and is THE most important reason for the Versys 650 being popular in India. Despite this, the markup on the Honda is much higher than on the Versys. Definitely not justified by the 19 inch front wheel.

The crazy price has caused the 500x to be declared a near failure and a bomb in India already. A significant price reduction is already being spoken about. HMSIL(Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Limited), the Indian subsidiary is in a state of shock as there have been virtually nil bookings countrywide. Internal memos are flying around questioning the rationale to get this model to India instead of the XR 650, which, BTW, had been suggested by the younger staff members of the company, which have a much closer feel of the market.

And...the Versys 650 fence sitters have jumped the home side and Versys 650 waiting periods have doubled :LOL:
...very interesting update. The Sys650 is certainly a complete package, fully capable machine and the more than competitive pricing is paying off. Its one of a handful of bikes in that class that are attractive to taller riders, but i expect that will change. It has changed this year for the Honda NC750X - which would have been the bike i chose, except now they have shortened the suspension to bring the seat down, so as to sell more to riders with shorter inseams. If not for the Sys650, taller riders would have to look to way more expensive models to get the height and fit that they want.
 

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I did a post about the flash for the MK-3, here is what I said, I am running the thermo-bob #4 , special for snow bikes, on the discharge side of the motor, not water pump intake***this was posted in the fall of 2020, in lock down then;

Anyway, some observations. Warm up about 5 minutes, initial warm up I see about 195F the first time, it then settles down to 180'F. I tested these stats, they open fully around 190, they fully close just below 180'F so a 10 degree differential.
So gas is cheap and there is no traffic once you get above Harriston , the Tim's there looks absolutely weird, just 2 or 3 cars, only drive through. Traffic through is about 10% of normal.
So if I maintain 80 to 90 KM/HR I get roughly 5 to 6 KM per liter better than my average. At 100 plus KM/HR I get about 21 KM per Liter, at 80 KM/HR the computer says 26 to 27 KM per liter. Above 110 Km I get about 19 KM per liter. So I had 327 Km and my low fuel was flashing as I approached Harriston on my way home, I had my grips at 75% and my jacket at 8, overcast and cold with a cross wind until I was about 30 KM from home. I filled up in Harriston, usually the lowest price anywhwere and they have full washrooms open to the public. I filled up with 16 liters at 327 KM, which meant I had 5 liters in the tank. One observation, this is my first time with all LED lighting, I find I can run with high beam on , but chances are pretty good that with the heated jacket and grips going , my voltage may have been 14.0 VDC. The voltage does affect the gas gauge , however my average was 20.43 KM per liter, so theoretically I could have gone 427 KM at the same average speed or gone 527 KM if I stayed around 80 KM/HR.

Keep in mind this was 5 month old stabilized regular gas. Engine bypass temperature was between 180 and 185'F , all the time. So I got both front and rear ABS to fire in a gravel parking lot. I have a half liter left of #4 brake fluid and wanted to flush it a second time after getting the ABS to fire. So the #4 T Bob works great.One other note, I had a short section of 60 KM/HR riding ( less than 5 KM) low throttle and almost coasting, my gas mileage shown was around 28 KM/liter, my bypass temperature never wavered , rock solid at 180'F.
 

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For the past couple of months, there had been rumours here in India that the CB500X would be launched within the year. Everybody was waiting for it as it would be Honda's first entry into the 500 cc twin + adv (the Africa Twin was outside the budget of 99.9% of aspirants for an adv bike) class and people were putting their Versys 650 purchase plans on hold for the Honda to come in.
Hi Olive,
I also considered the CB500X, before I bought the Versys 650.
But I think the Versys is better when riding with a passenger and a full set of luggage,
especially on the highway at ~135 km/h (85 mph).

I'm surprised by the situation you describe in India.
I though this country was very "motorcycle friendly", with a lot of people using 150 cc, 200cc, ... and Royal Enfield ! :)
Is there some special taxes over Japanese motorcycles ???

Here, in France, the CB500X is sold for the price of three Chinese 125cc
(the CB500F is 10% cheaper).

See you later
Emmanuel
 

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I'm surprised by the situation you describe in India.
I though this country was very "motorcycle friendly", with a lot of people using 150 cc, 200cc, ... and Royal Enfield ! :)
Is there some special taxes over Japanese motorcycles ???
The friendliness for motorcycles is a matter of compulsion for 99% of Indians -mobikes give much better FE, can be used in rural India which has a huge dearth of roads, can be used for everything from commuter vehicle to commercial vehicle and when a Honda, carries its value very well.

Just see the figures: In FY 2018, the Versys 650 sold 62 units countrywide. In comparison, the Honda Splendour (a standard 100 cc bike, renowned for being an absolute fuel miser) and its variants sold....






wait for it.....







432,000 units.

India, to a great extent, is still a controlled economy which brings with it its own twisted logic and weird policies. Imported bikes are levied hefty customs duty to act as tariff barriers/fillip against/to (a) expenditure of foreign exchange and (b) encourage domestic players. What is ignored is that $$$ expenditure on bikes is nothing compared to other areas. And, there is no indigenous bike of more than 500 cc. So both arguments are negated. The complete focus is on social welfare and the .00001% of the population that buys such bikes have to pay...
 

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Thanks for the great write-up. When I got back into riding a few years ago, I bought a Honda 2017 CB300F ABS naked bike as a bit of a compromise over an adventure style Versys 300 or BMW G310GS with the thought that my wife might also ride it / take it over. As I walked out of the dealership I looked at (and sat on) a shiny red CB500X and couldn't help but think "That is the bike I should have just bought". All was good though because in Feb 2020 I bought a 2019 Versys 650 LT land kept the Honda which has been and continues to be a good and fun bike. Because they're totally different styles, I now have two :). My only real complaint with the Versys 650 is the choppy throttle response at low speeds and clunky transmission. While it's not a direct-ish comparison like yours, the Honda is WAY smoother. I'm betting this is true for the CB500X too. (I'm frankly annoyed Kawi hasn't ironed that out after 3 generations. There's no reason so many people should feel forced to look at Power Commanders, Booster Plugs, and ECU flashes, but that's another thread.) One thing you don't mention is riding two-up. My wife decided not to get her mc license, but loves riding on the back of the Versys. We go for multi-hour rides and as a bigger bike, I am sure the Versys 650 has a definite edge over the Honda CB500X there. That turn knob for the rear shock preset on the Versys is also wonderful when one is switching back and forth between single and two-up. I ended up buying a Sargent seat. It doesn't fully address the sliding forward issue, but it is noticeably more comfortable on longer rides and my wife says it's much more comfortable for her. The Versys also has a lot more dealer and after-market accessories than the Honda.

Thanks again. Great info.
 

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Thanks for the great write-up. When I got back into riding a few years ago, I bought a Honda 2017 CB300F ABS naked bike as a bit of a compromise over an adventure style Versys 300 or BMW G310GS with the thought that my wife might also ride it / take it over. As I walked out of the dealership I looked at (and sat on) a shiny red CB500X and couldn't help but think "That is the bike I should have just bought". All was good though because in Feb 2020 I bought a 2019 Versys 650 LT land kept the Honda which has been and continues to be a good and fun bike. Because they're totally different styles, I now have two :). My only real complaint with the Versys 650 is the choppy throttle response at low speeds and clunky transmission. While it's not a direct-ish comparison like yours, the Honda is WAY smoother. I'm betting this is true for the CB500X too. (I'm frankly annoyed Kawi hasn't ironed that out after 3 generations. There's no reason so many people should feel forced to look at Power Commanders, Booster Plugs, and ECU flashes, but that's another thread.) One thing you don't mention is riding two-up. My wife decided not to get her mc license, but loves riding on the back of the Versys. We go for multi-hour rides and as a bigger bike, I am sure the Versys 650 has a definite edge over the Honda CB500X there. That turn knob for the rear shock preset on the Versys is also wonderful when one is switching back and forth between single and two-up. I ended up buying a Sargent seat. It doesn't fully address the sliding forward issue, but it is noticeably more comfortable on longer rides and my wife says it's much more comfortable for her. The Versys also has a lot more dealer and after-market accessories than the Honda.

Thanks again. Great info.
The Honda 500X does have a slightly more refined sort of vibration and the engine's top end valve train is not as busy sounding as on the Sys650. One could possibly contend that this is bound to be the case just because of the different engine component sizes. However, the gear boxes of my two Honda's (500X & CTX700) are very similar to the gearbox of the Sys650. Its hard to avoid a heavy clunk sometimes when shifting down into 1st from N. And there are occasional false neutrals in all three bikes. As i mentioned before, the jerky fuelling response is there on both the 500X and Sys650, but not on my CTX700N. The later is a special category machine. I don't quite know where to place it since it is styled like a cruiser (feet forward) but set up a bit like a sports bike, with the engine slung real low like a scooter. That all handles very, very well, and it sits very very comfortable making it easier to ride.... for a short period. Which is when the pain in my tailbone begins. After that either of the other two bikes becomes the way better ride:)
Neither of the two Honda's has sufficient power for care-free freeway commuting in my opinion. They will do the job, but lack quick passing power when you need it. No big deal if you just adjust to the power they have and ride wisely. The Sys650 is my main bike for any ride lasting more than 20 minutes.
Riding the Sys650 is very much like riding the 500X, even the overall feel. There are no surprises, just more power and size.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
In regard to the jerky throttle response on the Sys650 and CB500X (as well as some other bikes), this has usually been attributed to the fuelling map or the electronic module responsible for fuelling. I'm wondering if the crank has anything to do with it. Maybe one of the forum members will know. Reason i say this is that while both the Sys650 and the CB500X have an 180d crank, the CTX700 has a 270d crank... and there is no jerky response on that machine. That said, i do like the exhaust note better on the 180d crank bikes, while most folk like the 270d exhaust note specifically because it sort of sounds like an old Harley. Which is a sort of stumbly, confused sound in my opinion.
 
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