The Harley-Davidson X 500: A Bold Return to the LAMS Market

Author: Peter Vorst  Date Posted:4 March 2024 

Harley-Davidson X500

In the world of motorcycles, few brands command as much respect or loyalty as Harley-Davidson. With a legacy steeped in tradition, Harley has recently made a comeback to the LAMS market with the introduction of the X™500. This is a significant return for the iconic brand, which had been absent from the LAMS segment since the discontinuation of the popular Street 500 in 2020.

So, is the X™500 any good? You bet it is!

Harley-Davidson X500

The X™500 is equipped with a 500cc parallel twin engine, delivering peak horsepower at 8500rpm and peak torque at 6000rpm. It’s a fun and enthusiastic mill, it doesn’t mind being slayed and is capable of handling various riding scenarios, whether it be casual cruising or highway speeds. It may be LAMS legal, but banging through the six-speed box to keep the X on the boil and delivering the juice is about as entertaining as it gets.

The X™500 is fairly comfortable – surprisingly so, even on a long haul, and the upright riding position, balanced feel, and wide bars make the X™500 adept at carving through city traffic as well as cruising on open roads – I know, as I assailed the X™500 of both! The chunky 50mm forks and monoshock rear suspension work well up to a point - the action is a bit harsh over acute bumps, but it’s nothing a suspension tech couldn’t sort, and if you’re riding the X™500 as Harley intended it to be ridden – screaming around town and doing the daily commute, there’s a good chance you’ll have no complaints.

The brakes are perfectly adequate and it’s only as your riding moves to the naughty category that you may wish the brakes had a little more feel and a dose of extra power. I’d be inclined to whack a sportier set of pads in which I reckon would sort the brakes good and proper.

Harley-Davidson X500

Harley-Davidson X500

While I enjoyed my time on the X™500 more and more as time went on, there are a few things potential buyers should contemplate. Firstly, the dash lacks a fuel gauge, and secondly, with an 820mm seat height and 207kg wet weight, novice riders might find the 500 a little daunting. Although, I must say that the X™500 carries that weight quite well and is beautifully balanced.

If you prioritise performance over mileage like I do, you’ll throw the standard Maxxis rubber in the bin in favour of some performance-oriented tires. Be warned, though, if you do, and you start ripping through corners, you’ll find the limits of its ground clearance. It is far superior in this regard to your run-of-the-mill big-twin Harley, but it is something to keep in mind. A disclaimer here though; I am rather well-proportioned, I like to ride hard, and the X™500 offers adjustable preload on the rear, and jacking the preload up alleviates the problem for the majority of riding you’ll do on the road.

Let’s call the X™500 exactly what it is. It’s a fantastic way to get into the iconic Harley brand while you're still restricted from owning a big thumping twin that causes small children to cry and parents to weep. But this isn’t just about a logo on a tank; the X™500 is the real deal and is an absolute blast to rip on with the chops to also do the daily grind while you learn your craft. My prediction is that Harley is going to sell a truckload of these things, and if the old Street 500 is anything to go by, the resale value should put a smile on your dial at the other end of your journey.

Harley-Davidson X500

At $11,495 ride away, the X™500 offers excellent bang-for-buck, and I only wish Harley had offerings like this available eons ago when I was finding my feet as a rider.

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