A road motorcycle in our book should be comfortable. And three things get it there – seating ergonomics, ride quality and ease of handling.
In terms of seatergos, the Honda CB500X is a clear winner. Like the KTM, it has high-set handlebars, although it’s not as wide as the 390’s. The 500X also has the softer, lower seat. And the rider footpegs are not as far back as they are on the KTM. Overall, this immediately makes the Honda feel more comfortable and more fun to spend time on.
The 500X also seems to have the better ride quality, at least initially. It is adjusted for preload for the normal front fork, as well as for its linked monoshock rear. And once dialed in, it manages to strike a good balance between cornering handling, braking and bad roads. The 390 Adventure only gets preload adjustment for its rear monoshock, but no adjustment at all for its inverted front forks.
On the road, the difference between the Honda and the KTM is not that great. Yes, the KTM feels stiffer at lower speeds, while the Honda is noticeably more comfortable. But when you pick up speed, the Honda struggles to provide a consistent ride. Thanks to its quick damping properties, it has a hard time laying down over a series of bumps, sometimes making it feel almost hard. The KTM feels a bit more confident in comparison, which also makes it more fun to ride a twisty road.
As for commuting on the two motorcycles, we prefer the 500X. With its thicker, wider torque, super-light clutch and quite a bit of steering lock, it’s surprisingly easy to maneuver through traffic. The KTM is more hectic. And more often than not you have to be in a lower gear and higher revs than the Honda to make comparable progress. That makes it clearly more work.