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Can Honda Interest Gen Y in the 2014 CTX700s?

Americans less than 30 years old seem to have substantially less interest in cars and motorcycles than their elders.  I have had this discussion with various representatives of the motorcycle industry before.  What is it that will get Gen Y away from high tech toys so that they can focus some attention on the latest two wheelers?

What if Steve Jobs had designed a motorcycle?  Unlike most major motorcycle OEMs, Jobs didn’t believe in market research, customer surveys, etc.  He believed Apple could figure out what people wanted to buy, even though they had never seen it, or imagined it.  Maybe it will take this type of approach to product design to get Gen Y interested in two wheelers.

I am not implying that the new 2014 Honda CTX700 and CTX700N, announced at the end of last week, represent the magic pill that will get young people interested in motorcycles again.    Honda is thinking outside the box, however, and combining features that will appeal to new riders, including a very low seat height (28.3″), unintimidating power delivery and available automatic transmission.

These new models are reminiscent of Honda’s poorly received (at least in this marked) DN-01 and, going even further back, Dan Gurney’s motorcycle design, the Alligator.  In addition to the low seat height, the CTX700N (naked) pictured above, as well as the CTX700 (faired, below) are powered by a 670cc parallel twin, first introduced by Honda in the NC700 bikes last year.  These are not horsepower monsters, rather emphasizing smooth, low-end power delivery.

The brakes and suspension are fairly basic.  The suspension is non-adjustable, and there is only a single disc up front (thankfully 320mm in size).  The two machines will weigh rough 480 pounds wet.

The CTX700N will be priced at $6,999 or $7,999 with the DCT automatic, and ABS.   It will be available in Candy Red or Black.  The CTX700 is a bit more expensive at $7,799 or $8,799 with DCT and ABS.  The CTX700 comes in Candy Red or Pearl White.

Honda says these models are just the first in a new line of CTX models to be introduced in the future.  CTX stands for comfort, technology and experience.

163 Comments

  1. John says:

    Is Generation Y a bunch of 80 year olds looking for a mobile barcalounger?

    • Motogrin says:

      Precisely!. The undiveded attention, coordination and general presence of mind required to operate a manual-shift motorcycle should be the price of admission. If you can’t stop looking at your phone and focus enough to shift a bike, you probably shouldn’t be on the road operating any vehicle.

  2. Johnny says:

    More proof that Honda doesn’t listen to their customers, or the dealers (also customers) These things are going to sit and get “lot rot” like the rest of Honda’s street line we have to knock the dust off of every morning. VFR1200 sat here at our dealership for 3+ years while FJR’s flew out the door. DN-01 sat for nearly as long until we sold it at a loss after all the flooring charges. NC700X as an “adventure” bike, really? Is that the best you could do Honda? Against the Super Tenere, hell the KLR! These two new Honda are just more nails in Honda coffin.

  3. Brad Jarvis says:

    This looks like it was designed by 4 separate committees that weren’t allowed to see what the others were doing. Not good.

  4. NORKA says:

    I am 73 years old and have been riding since I was 14. My current bike is a Concours. For me motorcycling has always been about fun and adventure. Today the volume of traffic, population density, and safety mandates (helmets, clothing, etc) have greatly reduced the fun factor. The Honda “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” ads would not fly today as they showed people in causal clothing with no traffic having fun on small bikes.
    One of the most fun bikes I have owned was a Yamaha RD 350 (light, quick, & agile). If I were trying to create a market for new and returning riders I would emphasis bikes like the new Kawasaki 300, low cost go any were bikes. I would add an automatic transmission though; in today’s US very few drivers/riders no how or care to learn how to shift.

    • TmaxGixxerBlur says:

      you are totally correct in your assessment. i’m an “older” rider too and i totally agree with you. the gen y kids always tell me that they don’t like “naked” bikes. they love the full fairing, supersports, with gazillion hp, that will probably seriously injure them OR kill them without the proper training or experience. so if honda wants to attract the gen y riders, then they have to do what kawasaki is doing and get some 300-500 user-friendly-full-faired bikes that looks great, but not supersport like the sports bike that they have now. although, did i see that honda is coming out with a full-faired cbr500 soon?

  5. bkowal says:

    I aready have one of these. My 1983 Honda CX650E has the same specs, and is a wonderful 30 year old bike.

  6. Jeremy in TX says:

    Gen Y wants distraction. They need a phone doc with bluetooth integration in the helmet so they can text and ride, or motorcycles are a no-go. Putting Apple graphics on the fairing will quadruple sales overnight.

  7. Russell T. says:

    I’ve been living in Portland, Oregon for the past year and have been surprised (and happy) with the prolific motorcycle culture that is here. The Gen Y population here is definitely in to two wheelers, pedaled and powered. And when it comes to style they are distinctly either high tech or old school. I don’t think this new CTX will sell very well here because it lacks practicality. It’s not going to be nimble and sporty for the old schoolers, and doesn’t look well suited for carrying stuff. Honda’s other new 700, the CN, is likely to be a good seller here in the Pacific NW for those reasons. Simply a better commuter that you can go off for the weekend with. However, for the Gen Y folks embedded in technology, they’ll wait for the price of a ZERO to be within reach, because ‘no-gas’ is the new cool and you can check on how it’s charging with your iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, I want a ZERO!… parked next to my internal combustion steed.

    • TimC says:

      Yep, well, West Coast is much more moto-centric (I was in SF for a while, parking and traffic – you can lane split remember – drive a lot of this. And no serious winter). Yes I miss it; no it’s not indicative of the rest of the country…unfortunately.

  8. pistoldave says:

    Not my cup of tea. I am one of the few apparently, that happens to like tall, high horsepower bikes that get crappy mileage and have manual transmissions. I think that perhaps the gen-Y crowd is simply too lazy and/or risk averse to ride a motorcycle, because it does require SOME effort, and it could get you hurt.

    Maybe the problem is an exposure thing. Other things I participate in such as shooting and aviation also have a hard time attracting new members. I think a lot of people just do not realize that these things are something that they themselves could participate in, or they are intimidated by the cost, or the learning curve. I have gotten people interested in shooting and flying by bringing them along with me and showing them what its all about, maybe the same can work with bikes. Perhaps its time to dust off that XL500 in the corner of the garage and drag a friend or co-worker out into the country or a deserted parking lot and get them a little seat time in a safe environment.

    I also think the comment about the manufacturers sponsoring free demo/training sessions for new riders is a brilliant idea.

    My 0.02$.

  9. Jay says:

    Have they got self-cancelling turn signals? If not, stick with Harleys.

  10. randy says:

    This is so wrong.

  11. Eric says:

    Three of my four sons ride as well as both of my nephews. They’re all in their 20′s. What are their two main complaints about current motorcycles? The seat is too high and a manual transmission. While the styling on these models looks too heavy/thick for my liking, the lower seat height and available automatic may be the ‘magic pill’ that removes those two entry barriers. My GSX riding son admitted that there are times when riding a scooter ‘would be cool’ just because it’s so easy. Hell, my 82 year old father said he might even consider the auto model so he could ‘ride again w/o having to think about shifting’. These newer Honda models are blurring the line between current motorcycles and scooters and in the process, appealing to a broader market segment – just what Honda intended.

    I’ll stay with my Guzzi (though a CB1100 would be a cool addition), but this represents the future for many riders. Just don’t take away our ‘traditional’ bikes.

  12. Mike says:

    My answer Dirck is yes but my question is did you ride the F6B.

  13. skytzo says:

    Ugly and underpowered – should sell like hotcakes!

  14. Don Fraser says:

    Encouraged by the new 500′s and F6B, but now this? More people live in urban areas now, which is a hostile environment for riding. Self driving cars, insurance, dropping fatality rates for cars is going to make motorcycle use in this country a hard sell.

    • Dave says:

      re: “More people live in urban areas now, which is a hostile environment for riding.”

      Interesting point here because this is unique to the US. All of the larger motorcycle markets in the world (Asia, Europe) are more urban and more chaotic to ride in. This is a barrier that US users are getting over. I see more cyclists and scooters all the time.

      I agree with Eric on the transmission. Shifting is like a right of passage to us older riders but it’s easy to see why others look at it and ask “why?”. Good auto shifters and CVT’s are a long time coming in motorcycling and can’t become prevalent soon enough.

  15. Foster says:

    What got us old farts into motorcycling on Hondas back in the ’60′s and early ’70′s? ADVERTISING! “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. How much bike advertising do you see from Honda, or any manufacturer, these days? Zilch! Our first bikes were sporty little singles or twins that could be bought with money saved from your paper route.

    You have to capture new riders in their teen years, when Dad is reluctant to give them the family car to take to the beach. Once they are in their 20′s and have a car to pick up their dates, a bike is the last thing they need, or want. With many young people these days still living at home until their well into their 20′s, even 30′s, like my nephew, they can ill afford $7,000 for a motorcycle.

    If Honda can’t get serious about attracting the teen riders, they would be better off to focus more on those that have money to spend, the boomers and those slightly younger, who are being neglected year after year with nothing new, speaking here of the sport touring segment, and I don’t mean a gazillion cc V6 ST. The legions of ST1100/1300 riders, which has a huge following in Britain and Europe, would love an update and even something a bit less weighty, for us old farts to handle.

  16. todd says:

    The only thing that allows Gen Ys to stay glued to their social networking device is walking and public transportation. Good luck with that one.

    -todd

  17. todder says:

    On the Technology side, the key is to figure out how to integrate your iphone or ipad as additional gauges. Map, MP3 Player and Phone display; tie it all in with robust handlebar controls for all this stuff. Make the phone or tablet lockable inside easy to access waterproof built in console. Some apps would turn this into a friendly smart bike which could be used in electric or gas 2 wheeled platforms. Maybe use this technology in ATV’s as well. I’m sure the downside would be licensing costs on Hardware and Software.

    • Bones says:

      Or perhaps the downside would be newbies on motorcycles paying attention to smart bike features rather than where they are going.

      • MGNorge says:

        +1 +1 +1 !!!!!

      • blackcayman says:

        Yah +1 on that too

        also, the iphone as a gauge cluster….in the rain – not so much

        • Dave says:

          RE: “On the Technology side, the key is to figure out how to integrate your iphone or ipad as additional gauges.”

          What for? Bikes already have the gauges they need. I could see adding GPS functionality but that’s better done with a $90 Garmin and an earpiece.

          The last thing any motorcycle needs is a distracting screen. These things fall down when the rider doesn’t pay enough attention.

          • todder says:

            If you’ve ever added these extra devices on for touring, it can be even more distracting since they don’t all integrated that well. Most of these solutions also have no remote handlebar controls. Last thing I need is to take my hand off and look at a screen or fiddle with a bluetooth headset.

            I”m not saying replace motorcycle gauges, but enhance or add additional functionality. Standard controls like digital speedo, odometer, turn signals neutral, blinker, it wouldn’t replace. It could give tach, gear position, shiftlight, multiple trip meters, temp, gas range, outside temp, etc.

  18. AFW says:

    Nice looking bikes, what modern cruisers should look like. The one thing
    Gen Y lacks that previous generations had plenty of is money.

  19. peter mc donald says:

    Honda already have a CTX, it’s been on sale in Australia for around 10 years, the CTX200 AG bkie!

    http://motorcycles.honda.com.au/Off_Road_Agricultural/CTX200_Bushlander

  20. Gary Turner says:

    That front end black headlamp plastic surround on that Honda looks to be inspired by that Alien movie creature. Maybe it’s time to move back in time with more retro styled bikes as long as the modern bloated weight factor can be solved. The British in particular got the styling & weight mostly right way back in the 1960′s and 1970′s. Most often an ‘exposed motor’ itself was the primary focal point. Unfortunately there was a downside to most of those nice looking classic bikes….oil drips, Lucas electrical problems and some vibration here and there. So yes, Honda can now do a lot better.

  21. chris c says:

    Honda you’re way off target. Don’t make ugly, transformer wannabe, heavy, low performing bikes. Instead design a lightweight bike with a clean design, with high tech features and gauges. Promote it by internet, tv and movies. Think of new girl riding a moto guzzi v7 or BMW F650

  22. chris c says:

    Honda you’re way off target. Don’t make really ugly, heavy, transformer wannabe, low performing bikes. Instead design a lightweight bike with a clean design, with high tech features and gauges. Promote it by internet, tv and movies. (think of new girl riding a moto guzzi v7 or the big bang nerds riding a BMW F650)

  23. ABQ says:

    Face it Neanderthals, you are looking at the future.And, it’s beautiful.

    • Nomadak says:

      Neanderthals????

      I’d rather be a caveman with taste than a blind imbecile. “Beautiful” like a warthog. Bwahahaha

  24. Nomadak says:

    I just vomited in my helmet looking at that atrocity.

    • blackcayman says:

      maybe it just needs a little bit more plastic…after all, I can still see some of the inner working bits.

      …forward controls on the red monstrosity??? W T Hell is it?

      I get the whole CB500 in 3 variants – these, not so much

  25. Rick says:

    Tremendously butt ugly.

  26. todder says:

    Wish the Aprilia Mana would’ve been more well in the states for GenY since its already an automatic, has cool storage and a touch on the exotic side. My girlfriend still wants one and I can’t say I wouldn’t have fun taking it for a spin. Of course this is priced quite a bit more.

    I can’t say this sparks much interest as a TU250 Suzuki, Versys or even honda’s NC700X. Whatever will work, but my girlfriend who isn’t currently a motorcycle owner loves the size and style of the old honda dream. Do a retro on that with fuel injection and some bluetooth integration and an integrated place for your phone. Now that would be cool.

  27. Honyock says:

    I certainly wish Honda the best, but I’m convinced that riders are born, not persuaded into riding. Let’s face it, much about motorcycling is a pain in the butt. It’s cold, it’s hot, it’s wet, there are bugs, car drivers try to kill you, the helmet messes up your hair, you can’t carry stuff or friends around, tires are expensive and wear out quickly, everybody thinks you’re insane and going to die, cops hate you, and other motorcyclists disrespect you loudly and publicly because you’re too fast or too slow or you ride the wrong kind of bike or you haven’t ridden all your life. A little lower seat height and an automatic transmission aren’t going to make much of a difference to somebody who doesn’t have an overwhelming obsession with riding a motorcycle, and is willing to put up with all of the inconveniences and more for the indescribable pleasure of the ride.
    I predict a very soft market for extremely low mileage examples of these bikes in about 5 years.

    • MGNorge says:

      But even if many if not most of today’s youth aren’t naturally drawn to motorcycles like many of us old farts were don’t you think that the manufacturers need to try to reach them. If not, what then?

    • Tim says:

      I mostly agree, but a lot of people who have no interest in riding would quickly change their minds if they could just experience it once.

      My suggestion for manufacturers would be to sponsor free lessons. Have a traveling training program and go from city to city offering free lessons, no strings attached, maybe 20 bikes. More people would try it without a financial commitment and a lot of those people would get hooked. How could they not?

      • Gary says:

        That is available in many States now, it’s called Motorcycle Safety Foundation classes. Bikes are provided (usually 250′s) and some of these classes are even free in some States.

      • Martin B says:

        I demand this comment be retracted!! It makes sense!! That’s not what angry ranters want to hear!!

    • azi says:

      I think motorcycling’s popularity depends a lot on cultural context, especially for affluent societies where the motorcycle as a metaphor for different values plays a greater role in market success than its practical virtues. Think rollerblades vs rollerskates. Rollerskates have become cool again thanks to roller derby, but ‘blades are a hard sell due to their implied dorkiness (despite their engineering superiority over skates). Motorcycles will always be dancing along a fine line between emotion and practicality. Strength in one will compensate in the other, but strength in both will increase the chances of sales success.

      I am of the opinion that Harley-Davidson will really struggle in the near future as they have an image problem with Gen Y (Hell’s Accountants etc) with no day-to-day practical virtues. At least Honda might have a chance thanks to its engineering innovation – but everyone knows how important the cool factor in a teenager’s purchasing decisions, and I’m not seeing that much cool in these bikes.

      • Mike Simmons says:

        I agree with your assessment that one day soon, Harley will once again lose it’s luster and will be forced to either INNOVATE or die. As to what it will take to get the younger generation to put down their I-Phones and hop on a bike, I don’t know. I for one hope to see more manufacturer interest in the sport/touring segment. I think the “cruiser” fad has run it’s course and many former cruiser riders are looking for a more comfortable, practical and sporty approach to motorcycling.

        Just my .02

        Mike

  28. Mike Simmons says:

    I think I “might” be able to get used to the styling after a bit, but what was Honda thinking with the cruiser style foot placement? I am in hopes that they will offer a model with standard foot placement like God intended!

    • todder says:

      Amen to the simple standard!

    • Gary says:

      Agreed, they make it a low seat height, then goof it up by making it more difficult to use for short legged people with forward controls. My girlfriend recently tried a Hyosung GV 650 Pro that she could touch the ground well, but couldn’t reach the forward controls unless her legs were completely straight. And this is on one of the most confortable bikes with forward controls that I ever sat on.

  29. EZ Mark says:

    All you old farts forget how intimidating it is to learn to ride.
    Many of you, me included, learned on dirt bikes in the 70′s.
    If you stalled your dirt bike, you didn’t get rear ended.
    If you screwed up in a turn, you ran off the trail, not into a curb.
    By the time we got street bikes, clutches and gearboxes were second nature.
    Most young folks today have never driven a clutch car and have no desire to do so.
    If you want the industry to survive, you should support all new riders and whatever bike they choose to enter the sport; scooters, automatics, whatever.

    • mk says:

      Times have changed. Not everybody grows up on a farm or has the extra money to buy dirtbikes for outside activities. It is difficult to find dirtbike only riding places and riding in the street isnt an option

    • Eric says:

      I agree, I need to get over my own prejudice against auto or cvt or whatever the engineers can come up with that is easier to shift than a traditional moto setup. It took me two crashes, one mini bike and one street bike, before I got the hang of the clutch/foot shifter combo. More intelligent people than me might not persevere after experiences like that. But maybe that’s why we belong to such an exclusive club.

      And if the marketing types are getting involved in motorcycle design like this article implies, then no wonder these bikes look the way they do. I have to admit I kinda like the naked version, though. Otherwise too much plastic, not enough performance.

  30. Motogrin says:

    The non-riders I know are so completely unaware of the world of motorcycling that I have no idea what would new kind of motorcycle would actually get their attention. So, maybe this ugly thing would do it. I suppose I give credit to Honda for trying to be creative, but these are so cheap-looking, so uninspired, it’s stunning, really.

  31. Walt says:

    Ugly and under powered machines. What focus group did Honda listen to?? My guess, none.

  32. Louis says:

    All I can say is I’m thankful Honda is bringing the CB1100 to the U.S.

  33. azi says:

    Gen Ys want hipster stuff. Old volvos and crappy 70s Yamaha mopeds are cool. Spend a few minutes looking at Etsy and you’ll get an idea of what they like.

    I don’t think these Hondas are specifically reaching for this demographic.

    • John A. Kuzmenko says:

      If these Generation Y types like that Etsy site, they must like some pretty gay-looking stuff.
      These Hondas will probably suit them just fine, then, as I think they look horrible.
      Not even corny-looking “bikes of tomorrow” from some 1967 documentary would look this stupid.

      I have read the engine is based on a Honda automobile.

      • azi says:

        I think retro is where the action will be for the younger generation – Triumph Bonneville, Royal Enfield Bullet, Moto Guzzi V7 etc. Deus Motorcycles seems to resonate amongst the younger crowd here in Australia – they also do fixie bicycles and a fashion label. This approach is tapping into ‘lifestyle marketing’, as opposed to a more traditional hardcore market, with probably greater potential for growth.

        • todder says:

          Yeah, that’s why I thought the dream would be perfect. Very retro and has that styling which looks like it’s between being a scooter and motorcycle. Very approachable for non-motorcycle riders.

  34. skybullet says:

    This bike is a miracle drug for a non-existing disease. Only a scooter person would be caught on one. A plastic scooter-cruiser may be cheap to build but so what if it does not sell.
    How about a modern version of the CB400-4? Not a recreation but go for that clean, simple, functional look that Triumph almost captured. Honda, you can do it!

  35. ben says:

    These bikes look like an NC700X humped a scooter and had this half breed litter. Not to my liking. I think Honda should let the young kids have their silly electronic play toys and should not try to build down to their level. At some point the nitwits may tire of piloting a virtual motorcycle around a virtual track with their x-box’s and wish to try the real thing. However, if the real thing looks like a half breed mongrel scooter bike, who knows

  36. Bud says:

    When I was a kid I lusted after those uncouth, obnoxious Kawasaki triples. Bought one as soon as I was able to save up enough money. It was crude and rude and I loved it. I can’t imagine feeling the same way about these Hondas.

    • MGNorge says:

      I think today’s kids are a different bunch. These don’t really spark much in me but I come from a different generation. The comment Dirck made about Apple made me cringe. Their success in today’s marketplace notwithstanding, their way of herding people into doing things their way and at their cost isn’t my bag. Fresh ideas are always welcome but may put off the old guard but dazzle the young. Only time will tell how these bikes are accepted but Honda has been on a roll lately. Remember that the name of the game today is to keep it affordable. Some of the extra bling that goes missing that we’ve become accustomed to would surely increase costs and put us right back where we had been. It’s good to have choice and if this is what attracts the young then so be it, just as long as we all are herded into the same direction!

  37. Crusty Kris says:

    Buell used to be the ugly bike king. Now that he’s mostly out of the bike biz, the new Ugly Bike King is HONDA!

  38. Tuskerdu says:

    I don’t like these bikes. Honda is capable of much better.

  39. dan says:

    Everybody seems to think these are aimed only at young new riders. I propose a lot of folks from 45-65 with sore knees and fond memories of riding years ago might find these bikes non-intimidating and comfortable to use as around-town transportation. Seems like up to this point bikes have been too tall, too cramped, too expensive…the only options have been cruiser style bikes.

  40. Dave G says:

    Honda must decide a direction for the new 700 parallel twin engine. The engine can certainly be tuned to meet multiple uses. However, it needs to be used in a motorcycle style platform. If they try to muddy the waters by making a bike that looks too much like a scooter they loose the bike crowd. Too much like a motorcycle, they loose the scooter crowd. If Honda can’t make up their minds, perspective buyers won’t be able to either.

  41. Kawatwo says:

    Some of these based on the CBR500 motor may be even better for beginners as they should be lighter and cheaper and maybe even quicker that the 700. Honda is going nuts these days! Got to love it.

  42. Gunderson4 says:

    Every Gen-Why? person I know is catatonic.

  43. ApriliaRST says:

    I think this is a cool looking bike. The designer(s) should be proud. It isn’t exactly the bike I like to ride, but then again, I’m not the intended demographic. First impression is I’d like to buy one but I better wait, because if Gen Y sees me on one, they’ll stay away in droves. Kidding, of course. This bike should sell to a wide group of current riders and those who just might decide to start riding. Good job, IMO.

  44. DiN0 says:

    Finally… the DN-02. This time it looks a lot better than the original and within the right price range. I own a DN-01 for a simple reason: it fits me. I lost my leg on a motorcycle crash a few years ago and the DiN0 has what I was looking for: looooooow seat (so I can “flat foot” my prosthesis), auto trans and ABS. The perfect bike? Hell, no! But those of you who have not tour on an Auto trans bike, wouldn’t know.
    The perfect bike for ME? Yep… ’till now…

  45. Philip says:

    They might like it if it has wifi and they can control it with their Ipad.

  46. George Krpan says:

    I don’t like these bikes which is a good sign that Gen Y will like them.

  47. mickey says:

    I believe you are either interested in riding motorcycles or you’re not. I would think millenials or gen y techies would be more interested in scooters that get 65 to 100 mpgs, are automatics, can be ridden without power ranger looking outfits, and have decent weather protection and storage or electric motorcycles ( better for the environment) for city riding, than motorcycles, but in truth they want street cars, subways, and other mass transit systems.

    Not sure what the answer is, and I bet the motorcycle manufacturers would sure like to know too, but the people that I talk to, that are not interested in motorcycles, can not be coerced into liking motorcycles. You either are interested, or you’re not.

  48. SETH says:

    Honda and others need to get back to “Let the Good Times Roll” ads for bikes like these, and play the green aspect e.g. using less fuel than a car. And how about a 2-up bike blasting through a puddle and splashing all the electronic-device geekers waiting at the campus bus stop?