We rode the X500 late last year at the Aussie launch, held at Allianz Stadium. This time, we take the bike for two weeks of solid road testing in just about every condition imaginable... Pics: H-D ANZ

Since attending the Harley-Davidson X-series launch in the underbelly of the Sydney Allianz sports stadium, bikereview has had an opportunity to live with X500 for a couple of weeks to find out what it’s like in the real world. We liked it so much, we have a long termer on the way.

Harley-Davidson X500.

The 13.1L fuel tank and claimed consumption of 4.85L/100km gives an estimated 260 – 270km from a tank.

The launch site and conditions left much to reveal about the nature of the bike, so it was an eye opener to get rolling on the street, where this little bike positively shines. The X500 is the successor to H-D’s Street 500, which although HD’s top seller during its tenure, I thought left a little to be desired in terms of engineering and build quality. The X500, I reckon, is miles ahead and is testament to H-D’s full re-commitment to the LAMS / small-mid category.

Read our launch report on the Harley X500 here… and tech details here...

H-D chose to partner with Qianjiang Motors for the manufacturing, using the 500cc platform they produce for Benelli Leoncino 500 as the donor template. The X500 is not a copy-paste job, though, and H-D provided much of the back engineering to make the machine distinctly a naked sportster in its design heritage and kerbside appeal. It is a Harley-Davidson after all, and we all know that it has a long and esteemed heritage to uphold.

The backbone of the bike is a tubular steel frame and swingarm that hold the axles apart at a short 1425mm and the front wheel at a fairly steep 24.5 degree rake. Bars are typical H-D roadster cow-horn style, with good leverage that connect to a chunky top-clamp, with minimalist gauges and single LED headlamp. Flowing rearward, the tank blends into the nicely stitched seat (at a cosmopolitan 820mm height) and through to a very typical Sportster ducktail.

Foot controls are neutral and comfortably amidships. The front suspenders are monstrous at 50mm diameter and have attached equally impressive (for class) twin discs and four-piston radial mount calipers. I doubt there is another LAMS bike that has a more formidable front-end than the X500. The rear suspension unit is mounted off-centre to provide easy access and has tool-less twist-knob preload and rebound damping adjustment.

We had a Benelli Leoncino 500 (same engine) long termer years ago. Nick Ware rode it 200km return each day, for a year, plus did track days and weekend rides, and it never stopped. A reliable little motor.

The engine is a liquid-cooled, twin-cam 8-valve parallel twin with balancer shaft. The slightly over-square 500cc engine features an 11.5:1 compression ratio electronic with computer controlled sequential port fuel injection. The resulting maximum 47 horsepower is delivered to the rear rubber through a six-speed ‘box that is driven through a wet multi-plate clutch and chain drive. Yes, it may not be the traditional longitudinal H-D v-twin but it’s still a twin.

“It may not be the traditional longitudinal H-D v-twin but it’s still a twin”…

The X500 offers an appealing but not intimidating road presence, with reasonable levels of sophistication for the money, wrapped in a genuinely flexible and easy to use package. H-D knows that build quality and reliability are essential elements when looking to attract new customers to the brand and are looking to the X500 (and X350 sibling) as a stepping stone to long-term H-D ownership.

The Ride
The X500 is quite heavy for this class, tipping over the 200 kilo mark when fuelled up. Although this sounds intimidating, once aboard it is barely noticeable as the machine is exceptionally well balanced in both motor operation and overall rider feel (balance was emphasised during the launch). This makes it a breeze to ride smoothly at practically any velocity. The motor is honestly vibration-free and lively, with no hesitation in spinning up to the limiter and produces good sounds all along the way.

The engine configuration and overall state of tune is weighted towards tractability, allowing it to drive forward from well under 3k revs without any jerky reluctance. Our Benelli Leoncino 500 long-termer has proven this engine will take any number of canings and, much like the classroom bully of old (some may remember), happy to extend hand for another six-of-the-best. This engine really provides a great spread of power and torque that makes it not only very forgiving in nature if perhaps caught in the “wrong” gear, which is so important for this class, but also capable of a surprising turn in speed.

Simon. completed over 500km on a wide range of roads to test the X500, and we are getting it back for a long term test in August, so keep an eye out for our monthly updates and social media #BikeReviewX500 and #BikeReviewX350.

The gearbox is pure silk and is a joy to use. Really. The cogs embrace smoothly and gracefully when shifting both up and down and feels very “Japanese”, with a lovely short-throw at your big toe. The ratios are well spaced and allow full utility of the powerplant that will put new riders at ease and still bring a smile to more seasoned riders. The clutch can often be overlooked, however in this case, is a two-finger affair that is very easy to modulate during take-off and when traversing the ‘box, making for a really tactile and pilot-satisfying ride.

I rode over a combination of dirty street commute, curvy backroad and dull freeway jaunts and despite the worst intentions of our roadmakers [pffftttt], the suspension does a pretty good job of absorbing most road defects without affecting trajectory, even when tilted. Although the suspenders are adjustable for rebound damping at either end, I found no need during my time in the seat to spoil the factory setup. Albeit, I could say that at sub-70kg, a bit softer on the spring preload range would be welcomed. The big brakes are up to task for the mass and provide undeniable retardation, however, with a feel and tactility at the lever that perhaps could be improved with softer pads.

Comfort is good for about two-hours according to Simon, which is not too bad for a nakedbike.

The riding position is straighty-one-eighty bolt upright, but not uncomfortable in terms of rider touch points. I did find the seat a little plank-like to my derriere after two hours continuous riding, but then it was time to fuel up anyway and ease the pressure. Speaking of which, fuel indication is by way of low level indicator light only. Not the best system, especially when you get warned to refuel only to find the tank accepting a mere gallon (deliberately imperial) of juice. Best off popping the tank cap and having a look as a double-check?

Up front, the lights and instruments are quite basic and keep in theme with the long H-D Sportster heritage, doing what is needed without fanfare. You have a couple of functions available for the tiny LCD part of the single clock dash that can be scrolled and selected on the fly, such as RPM and trip-meter, noting that certain creature comforts is not really what the X500 is about. H-D have styled the X500 to hark back to its lineage (the pictures will paint the Sporty story) and bring new riders into the Harley fray, which it will do, however, it certainly stands its own merit, too.

Wide alloy 'bars, neat dash.

Wide, raised alloy handlebars help with comfort and leverage to flick the bike from one lean angle to the other.

Freeway cruising is easy, with the engine working in the middle of its torque band and making for easy overtaking. Of course, there is some wind blast but not enough that it made me uncomfortable. When you enter the endless queues of traffic, the manoeuvrability, ample steering lock, good balance and relative narrowness makes your job of raising the ire of trapped cage drivers by tearing through the lanes efficient and rather satisfying.

The X500 styling is gorgeous, at least we think it is. It sounds pretty good too, even the standard exhaust system.

Getting to some curvy tarmac reveals another face of the X500 – it is quite a little weapon, where all said attributes combine in excellent harmony that may surprise a few riders. The ground clearance is good at plus 45 degrees and the stock tyres are pretty okay in exploring your enthusiasm. Spirited changes of direction require little effort by way of the wideish ‘bar and a bit of weight on the ‘pegs.

The Harley-Davidson X350 and the X500 are welcome additions to the Aussie LAMS market.

The seat is shaped in a way and smooth enough to allow you to shift your bodyweight should you want to. I thought the bike felt very planted, especially at the front end, and should inspire a lot of confidence. The whole bike seems well thought out and feels accomplished to me. It has nice detail touches and appears well put together, too. Better rubber along with that brake pad upgrade will make it even better.

Available in Dramatic Black, Dynamic Orange and Supersonic Silver (both pictured), and Pearl White.

You get a fair chunk of motorcycle for 11.5k bucks and the badging on the bike and 120 year history is part of this. Servicing is more regular than some at 8000km/12-months and 24,000km for valve clearances, so we will look at that with our long termer.

It is reassuring that as an H-D, it will have strong backing from a broad distribution network and likely enjoy good resale value to boot. It could be your first rung on the ladder to bigger, pulsing H-Ds if that’s your bag. Having said that, I imagine that the X500, due to its enthusiastic and broad-spectrum nature, may be more of a keeper rather than a stop-gap for many riders.

2024 Harley-Davidson X500 (LAMS)


Price: $11,495 Ride-Away (all colours)
Colours: Dramatic Black, Dynamic Orange, Supersonic Silver, and Pearl White.
Claimed power: 35kW(47.6hp)@8500rpm
Claimed torque: 46Nm@6000rpm
Wet weight: 208kg
Fuel capacity: 13.1L
Fuel Consumption (Claimed): 4.85L/100km

Engine: Liquid-cooled, in-line two-cylinder, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, 499.6cc, 69 x 66.8mm bore x stroke, 37mm throttle body, 11.5:1 compression ratio, Delphi MT05 ignition, NGK CR8E spark plugs, six-speed gearbox, wet clutch, 2-1 exhaust.

Chassis: Steel tube trellis frame, steel tube trellis swingarm
Rake: 24.5º Trail: 100.5mm
Suspension: 50mm USD forks, rebound adjustable, lateral rear shock, preload & rebound adjustable, 112mm travel
Brakes: Bosch ABS, dual semi-floating 320mm rotors, radial four-piston calipers, single 260mm rear rotor, single piston floating caliper
Wheels & Tyres: Aluminum alloy, 3.50 x 17in, 4.50 x 17in, 120/70 – R17, 160/60 – R17, Maxxis SuperMaxx tyres.

Seat height: 820mm
Wheelbase: 1485mm
Overall Length: 2135mm
Overall Height: 1120mm
Ground Clearance: 153mm

Instruments & Electronics: LCD display, ABS

Share this article
Share this article