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2010 Honda NT700V: MD Ride Review

No, the front tire doesn’t have a tendency to levitate, and the acceleration won’t blur your vision. Honda’s NT700V is a different breed of motorcycle, and one we’re not too familiar with here in the States. Sure, dealers can sell it as a light touring bike— the NT is more than capable of handling weekend jaunts, comfortably—but it certainly wasn’t bred exclusively for that purpose. What we have on our hands here is a versatile motorcycle that can serve as a great commuter, and double as a recreational toy. There, I said it. Now try not to get too excited, that is unless you’re into usability, practicality, and comfort; because that’s what this bike is all about.

But first things first: In case you haven’t noticed already, the thing isn’t too sexy. Its posterior bears an uncanny resemblance to a scooter, and the view from the side isn’t flattering either. The integrated saddlebags are partly to blame, but they also give the bike great functionality right out of the box. With 26.7 liters of capacity on the right, 27.4 liters on the left, and an interesting pass-through channel that connects both, there’s enough room to lock up your riding jacket, some rolled up documents, and a bags worth of groceries, too. 

Once I mounted this beauty and started to navigate Los Angeles’ congested streets, I began to appreciate how neatly the saddle bags are tucked in. The NT’s slim profile, light clutch, and low 31.7” seat height made splitting lanes and waddling through tight spots a cinch. Even though the bike is a bit heavy at 562 wet pounds, I felt very comfortable pushing her around, despite the fact that I weigh only 155lbs.

For commuting purposes and around-town errands, the saddlebags are sufficient, but it’s too bad they’re not large enough to hold a full-face helmet. Also, for any extended or 2-up touring, a trunk would be absolutely necessary. Even then, lack of saddlebag space might become an issue. However, if you shell out $150 you can get a set of lids that boost capacity by 17.2 liters overall. The cost of Honda’s optional 45 liter matching trunk, which our test model wasn’t equipped with, comes in at $599 with all the hardware, but if you want one on the cheap, Givi will answer your call.

The liquid-cooled, 680cc v-twin that powers the NT is a gentle little workhorse with smooth and predictable power delivery. The bottom end is a bit soft, but still chipper enough to toast 4 wheelers off the red light, so getting ahead of traffic and maintaining a safety cushion is an easy task. The engine starts to liven up a bit once the needle on the tach passes the 3,500 mark, but power is definitely not this bike’s forte. The gear box on the NT is just as smooth as the engine, and the shifter requires very little pressure to operate. These two qualities, coupled with the light clutch and slim profile, made city riding on the NT easy, and quite fun, actually.

Once we hit California’s freeway system and began our 250-plus mile trip to the small coastal town of Cambria, I noticed how well designed the wind protection was. The windshield provided excellent protection without buffet, and the ergonomically correct ¾-fairing gave me a snug place to tuck my legs behind. The other thing I noticed, and quite quickly, was the lack of a 6th gear, which, in my opinion, is the bike’s only significant shortcoming on the touring front.

The NT cruises smoothly at 70 mph, with rpm’s at the 5,000 mark, but twist the right grip a little harder and the engine starts to get busy. At 75 mph, high frequency vibrations become noticeable at the grips. At 80 mph, with the engine churning 5,700 revolutions per minute, those vibrations become a little unpleasant, and the v-twin starts asking about that missing 6th. The extra gear may not be necessary in Europe, where the bike hails from, but for longer stints on America’s high speed freeways, it really is.

That said, the NT felt very solid and stable on the freeway, and the upright seating position and comfy seat made the long ride very comfortable. Of course, standing up on the pegs from time to time to give the old rump a break was still necessary. The 5.2 gallon gas tank gave the bike a range of 236 miles at a consumption rate of 45.4 mpg, a figure we calculated after a long stint of heavy throttle play. Fifty-plus mpg certainly seems possible if one were to treat the NT more gently. 

After clocking hundreds of freeway miles, I was able to take the NT into some of the twisty roads outside Cambria to see how she handled the fun stuff. I have to say, I was impressed. The seventeen inch tires and 58.1 inch wheelbase helped make carving the mountain roads my favorite part of the test ride, and to be honest, I wasn’t bothered at all by the bike’s weight. The NT felt nimble through the turns and fairly quick to lean—she must be hiding all that weight down low. The driver seat is also roomy enough to scoot back on for a more aggressive riding stance and lower cg. This extra space would also come in handy for taller, longer armed riders. The bike’s suspension is nothing extraordinary, but it handled back-road potholes and rough patches well enough. Also, preload for the rear spring is easily adjustable in case you have to pack a little weight on the rear.

At the end of the day, the NT proved itself to be a fun and easy to ride machine. For a rider like me, it’s not quite the ideal bike; I value performance over comfort and don’t mind commuting or touring on something a little sportier. To the more practical rider, interested in a multipurpose cycle, the NT offers many alluring features.

The shaft drive eliminates the need for lubing, adjusting the chain, and tediously scraping crusty gunk off the rear tire and swingarm. The ¾ fairing also keeps your jeans clean on the way to work, and makes keeping the NT presentable an easy task. The center stand comes standard, as does Japanese reliability and low maintenance costs. All these goodies come at a price though, and bring the NT’s base msrp to $9,999.00, or $10,999.00 for a model with ABS. Initially, that figure struck me as a little high, but motorcycle prices are on the rise. The weak dollar, the ever more expensive yen, and reduced motorcycle production in plants around the world have compounded to create a wave of cost increases.

Comparing the NT to other motorcycles is a bit hard to do, since it really is a unique bike. It’s not as good looking or as fast as BMW’s F 800 ST, but it is less expensive considering the extras that are included in the NT’s base price, and would serve as a better all-around bike out of the lot. Compared to Suzuki’s V-Strom or Kawasaki’s Versys it’s a bit expensive, but then again it has superior creature comforts, shaft drive, and bags. This new import from Honda may just fill a niche that those bikes don’t; great for the more rational riders among us who are turned off by the idea of a 700+ pound touring bike or cruiser, and excellent for the novice or thrifty commuter looking for a usable, maintenance-free workhorse. Whether these riders come out of the woodwork to buy up NT’s by the boatload remains to be seen, but I can’t deny the bike is a pleasure to ride.

For additional details and specifications, visit the Honda Power Sports website here.

103 Comments

  1. jon says:

    I just turned 57 years old and have never been without at least one, somnetimes tw, and rarley three motorcycles since I was eight years old.I’ve onwed about 25 motorcycles over the years.This motorcycle looks all right, but I prefer more traditional looks. I ride a 2006 HD XL883 right now. I think the price is a might high for this Honda. But the power question…..I can’t understand someone claiming any bike under 100 horsepower is too underpowered.That’s preposterous. I toured on multi state trips on my ,then new, 1975 Honda XL350 dual sport thumper and had the time of my life. I just strapped my tent,sleeping bag etc on the bike and split.

    I wouldn’t buy this Honda myself. I’d rather get a Suzuki SV650 and use soft throwover saddlebags.I rode ban early Kawasaki Ninja 500 for a time, and for a solo touring machine, that bike was actually quite good.But I still, after all these years, enjoy riding a smaller motorcycle.

    jon

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  2. I just purchased a slightly used NT700v, adding it to my Triumph Bonneville T100. I read all the report/reviews, still wanted one primarly because of the luggage, drive shaft and wind screen. Without question under powered and needs a 6th gear, but it has been fun to ride, especially on the interstates. The T100 has a whole lot more character, more power, less weight, better handling, the NT700 might be a short lived experience!

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  3. Jim Quinn says:

    Honda did a terrible job of marketing the PC800 back in the late 1980s, and it took years for it to become the cult bike it is today among riders who appreciate its virtues and don’t live for superbike performance. We Pacific Coasters have longed for an updated version with a bigger gas tank, a somewhat larger engine, and factory options, but Honda just continues to crank out bigger touring bikes, the ST1300 and the Gold Wing, both years overdue for updates . The Deauville has seemed like a reasonable PC substitute for years; time will tell whether American riders can get past the price and realize what it offers. I would have loved to see Honda develop the E4-01 concept bike (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvvLh4OVfZU), which had a scooter-like profile but featured a 903 c.c. three-cylinder engine, an automatic transmission, and other serious hardware, but they brought out the curious, overpriced DN-01 instead.

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  4. Tommy See says:

    I am late giving my 2 cents but Yamaha has the TDM 900
    I feel that it deserves another chance here in America.
    Us boomers want 90-100 HP not less.

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  5. Joey Wilson says:

    Like most motorcycles, this is a Niche Product:

    This is for guys who aren’t two-up touring, want something nice as a commuter / weekend explorer, and are willing to pay a premium for a fully integrated design with the Honda imprimatur printed large upon it. No doubt it’ll be reliable as an anvil, and it is very smooth. The price is a function of Honda’s bet that it will sell respectably coupled with the currency / exchange rates of anything built in Europe and imported here.

    I would not want a VStrom with a lot of add-ons to approach this bike’s standard equipment. The F- BMW’s are nice, but the shop rates / parts prices will get you to ten grand fast on the back side. If I want this, I’m not in the market for an FJR or ST or a Connie.

    I’d be very happy to own this ‘boring’ little piece, thank you very much.

  6. Jay Mack says:

    I dont know how you can say it isn’t good looking. It looks fine. I would say that 700 ccs is small. As long as you were boring out a cylinder block anyway, why wouldn’t you bore out 1000 ccs?

    Truth be told, with the surplus of great pre-owned cycles on the market going begging, I wouldn’t spend the money for a new bike.

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  7. zeus xarras says:

    same old boring stuff from honda, dam ugly, under powered, not enough gears, no lower fairing, low buget make belive high end tourer, and over priced!!!! well the intelligent consumer won’t fall for that! and since honda owns every magazine out there it will get a good wright up, if you ask me!! it’s just an old face with a lot of makeup

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  8. MGNorge says:

    For grins I did a little looking around. For all the Honda bashing that seems to well up here, especially repeatedly by some, I found this tidbit even in this depressed market. Obviously many people are finding Honda the place to buy their new bike.

    http://www.cmsnl.com/news/honda-sees-30-rise-in-motorcycle-sales_news649.html

    Take a look on the same page for a brief rundown on the NT700. Even at $10G might it be just the ticket for many?

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  9. Ron says:

    I looked at this bike when down at the dealership… and kept walking. The price tag is not scary but I would be hard pressed to give up the comfort of my Vulcan 1500 Classic or the power and handling of my 1st generation FZ1. In this era of ‘space age’ chains I see no compelling reason to prefer a shaft over a chain or belt drive. I have the original chain and sprockets on my ’05 FZ1 and after 20,000 on the clock they have a LOT of miles left in them. One other item… the 140HP FZ1 is lighter at 509 wet pounds and get’s better fuel economy than this 700. Puhlease! OK… so the FZ1 has to use soft luggage. Have you seen the quality of soft luggage these days? Soft luggage is not a problem. One point for the NT and taken away because it’s not removable.

    This 700 is pretty ‘ho-hum’ in both looks and performance. 70mph comfort limit? I don’t think so. The ride from Vermont to Sturgis South Dakota is almost 2,000 miles… Austin Texas is even farther… my old Vulcan gobbles up super slabs all day long and 70mph is right where she gets smooth as glass.

    Nope… Honda definitely scored a ‘miss’ with this one.

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  10. MGNorge says:

    Would seem that the biggest complaint against this bike is its price tag. Interestingly though, those people that have responded here that own them seem to like them a lot. After putting miles on them might they be the ones who are asked if the bike is worth what they paid? Sitting back and casting stones seems curious when those same responders seem to have little good to say about Honda no matter what they make. Have you seen the value of the yen lately compared to our lowly dollar. You haven’t seen high prices yet on Japanese goods!

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  11. Anthony says:

    When I returned to biking 13 years ago I bought a Honda Transalp 600V of which the 700V motor is an evolution. I loved that bike but utimately couldn’t live with the vibration on freeways. It had enough power to cruise at 90mph but the mirrors blurred and my hands became numb at anything over 70mph. It’s sad that after all this time Honda haven’t fixed this. Traded her in for a BMW R1150GS that I have had for over 10 years. The new Triumph 800 XC looks very interesting (I’m somewhat disappointed with BMWs 800). I expect Triumph to put the super smooth 800 in a mid range touring bike like this in the future and they could have a great all rounder.

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  12. Nicholas Weaver says:

    You CAN compare to a V-strom. Adding a 3-bag, goldwing class luggage setup and a centerstand to a ‘strom is less than $1K. And the strom is lighter, faster, more agile, and doesn’t make you look like a total tool…

    The Dullville would be a great bike at $7K. But at $10K? Once again, honda has shown they don’t understand how to price bikes to actually sell. The Dullville costs Honda nothing to make: the tooling is about a decade old at this point. So why do they charge so much for people to buy it?!?

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    • Tim says:

      I totally agree with you Weaver. Honda seems to produce bikes that are as bland as their car offereings. I’m sure the NT700V is a good bike in its own right, but $10,000?! Are you kidding me? Someone would have to be either A) wealthy and not care about pricing, or B) high off their ass to buy this thing. Even with ABS this thing is $2500 too high. If a 6th gear was added, a slightly bigger engine was added, or adjustable suspension was added then we might be getting somewhere. Has anyone seem the used bike market? – do you know what kind of Yamaha FJR you can get for $10K? Oh, poor Honda – I almost feel sorry for you. You show up at a gun fight with a swiss army knife.

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    • Chris says:

      I was excited when I saw this in April at the dealer but I walked out with new Vstrom 650 instead. Then added the Happy Trails/Givi bags to make it complete. No regrets.

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  13. Jeremy in TX says:

    The more expensive but faster, lighter, and more attractive BMW F800ST seems like a value compared to this. And I don’t think I’ve ever used the words value and BMW in the same sentence.

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  14. Phil Tarman says:

    I’ve had an NT700V ABS model since April. I’ve got 15,000 miles on it and it’s been a delight. I spent a good bit more money on it when I bought it to make it exactly what I want. I had gotten an exceptionally good deal from my dealer and then added those big pannier lids — not for any $150, though. I bought mine from a Honda dealer in the UK and paid about $400 for them. I added bar risers and peg lowerers, a top trunk and Throttlemeitster, and a Denali LED Lights. I’m getting ready to order a Russll DayLong saddle, although the OEM saddle has been reasonably comfortable.

    I had ridden two ’99 Kawasaki Concours for 160,000 miles and loved them. The big new C-14 wasn’t what I wanted for my next bike and I knew I wanted a fairing and shaft drive. I sat on the F800ST and could tell that it wouldn’t work for me. Part of my problem is that I’m getting older and I’ve had five artificial knees. Picking up the Connie was still something I could do, but I wondered about three or four years from now.

    I like the NT’s handling, don’t find vibration annoying, love the brakes, and just flat-out enjoy the bike. It’s a bit slower, but it goes plenty fast for me to enjoy the ride. One of the members of the NT Forum has done thousands of miles with his wife riding pillion and several of the folks on the Forum have commented that riding two-up doesn’t seem to change the performance much at all.

    It’s not the bike for everyone, but growing numbers of us are finding that it does a lot of things competently and comfortably. I’ve ridden in high winds (a regional specialty of the eastern Colorado plains, heavy rain, and can’t be too far from riding in snow for the first time. Every time I get off the bike, I’ve got a big smile on my face. What more could an old man like me want?

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    • MikeD says:

      U Sir sound like one satisfied owner(or so i read)…and at the end of the day thats all that matters. If it rocks your boat it can’t be wrong. Screw the nay sayers(including me)lol.

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  15. smokey says:

    One thing that I have determined about my next motorcycle is that it will be lighter than my Kawasaki 1500 Drifter, which I can no longer lift by myself. I would definitely consider this bike or one built on the Ninja 650 or V-Strom 650 platforms. The lighter weight would be almost as nice as the 50+mpg fuel economy. We have plenty of superbikes and big cruisers. It’s time for some practicality from the Big Four.

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  16. Ian Danby says:

    The one I’m waiting for is the NT700V with the DN01 transmission and an aluminum frame(a lightweight Deauville, what a concept..)but we all know I’m dreaming.

    What is it with Honda’s fixation on HEAVY motorcycles?

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    • abgar says:

      Why waing for DN01 ? Get one from Europe. We have them here. Be warned. DN01 looks great but is not gaining popularity. It is strange to drive. Not a chopper, not a tourist bike, not naked. I think even Honda does not know, what they did :)

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      • Ian Danby says:

        My point – who’d buy a DNO1; awaste of the development of that transmission I’d say. But it would make the Deauville the ultimate scooter, but PLEASE – MAKE IT LIGHTER…
        Ian

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  17. cubes says:

    What a pity they didn’t pull the PC’s 800 and add a 100 cc….The suspension I thought was way too stiff even after trying to adjust everything..To get back to the shop I let some air out of the tires and it still beat me pretty bad..Not enough luggage space and definately not good for 2 up riding!..I like the concept.. Shame Honda fell way short of expectations…if the price was only $8000 I still would not waste my money…

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  18. riley says:

    Doesn’t do much for me but should appeal to the PC800 crowd and they’re still out there. Nice utilitarian bike but I agree with others – biggest prob for sales of this model is going to be the price.. at least $1500 too high

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  19. Anthony says:

    I own one….after 40 years of all types of bikes I can honestly say this the 2nd best bike I’ve ever owned (I had an ’85 BMW K I liked more): Fun to ride, convenient, great on short trips around town and on longer rides (I’ve logged numerous 500 mile days on this puppy).
    It is what it is…it excels at nothing, and does everything a mc should very well (OK, not good off-road).

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    • Phil Tarman says:

      Anthony,

      Bob Higdon of the IBA (legal counsel and historian) is on an NT700V. He’s been riding it for a year now and had 22,000 miles on his at the IBA meeting in Denver in August. He says that it’s the K75 BMW *should* have made.

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  20. Mr. Mike says:

    I’d price this at about $1k above a VStrom 650, for the bags and shaft drive.

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