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MD Double-Take: 2012 Honda NC700X

First Take: John Joss
Years Riding: Countless, Favorite Complaint: Fuel Range

Experienced riders are asked repeatedly: “What motorcycle should I buy?” The rational response is: “What kind of riding do you do? What’s your budget?”

The broader the needs, the wider the choice—commuter or cruiser, sport bike or sport-tourer, off-road or adventure machine, and so forth. The fewer the bucks, the narrower the possibilities.

Focused machines—say, sport bikes—may do a few things brilliantly, the rest hardly at all. ‘Do-it-all’ models may cover almost everything badly. Ya pays ya money . . .

Motorcycle uses and categories have proliferated. Choice is a conundrum. For most of us, able to afford only one ‘working’ motorcycle, and considering shaky world economics, Honda’s NC700 (NC = New Concept) line may offer a solution: doing enough, affordably. It represents an engineering/marketing/accounting compromise built for thrift in economically unstable times.

Honda’s solution: an ‘efficiency-algorithm’ power platform, the core fuel-to-motion converter. Honda’s engineers understand design efficiency—they’ve created hundreds of cars and motorcycles (plus off-road vehicles, generators, watercraft, and, and, and).  Honda’s marketeers know world markets, demographics and trends. Honda’s accountants can calibrate beans within Ångström widths.

Stir these people and challenges in the motorcycle-design pot and—voilà—the NC700X. For efficiency and minimum internal friction (mechanical friction kills economy), the result is an under-square (73mm bore/80mm stroke), SOHC eight-valve, 670cc parallel Twin, conceptually a bifurcated Honda Fit car engine with 270-degree crank. It delivers modest power (47 bhp) at low revs (6250) and plonking torque (44 ft.-lb. at 4750rpm), while emitting a hushed, throaty burble. Power/torque vary slightly depending on model—X (tested), S or D, described below.

Honda wanted economy. The NC sips gasoline—70 mpg average, more or less, they say, depending on how hard one rides, offering outstanding  200-mile (or more) range from the 3.7-gallon under-seat tank (that ‘tank’ is a big storage locker, accommodating a full-face helmet).

The power platform, cylinders angled forward 62 degrees to accommodate the storage locker, powers three models: dual-sport (the 2012 NC700X ‘adventure,’ introduced in Europe in 2011—the U.S. came late in Honda’s global release), naked (NC700S, not sold in the U.S.), and scooter (NC700D Integra, also not here yet). Optional Honda technology is available—ABS, VFR1200F-derived DCT (dual-clutch automatic transmission). Other options include a 45-liter top case, 29-liter bags, crash guards, LED foglights, heated grips and center stand. The dual-clutch DCT and ABS on the NC700X adds a whopping $2000.

You can please some of the customers all of the time or all of the customers some of the time. To succeed, you must please enough of the customers enough of the time. Thus the NC700 series. Compromises, principally in suspension, brakes and tube-steel frame, slash that base sticker. Yet the package is executed brilliantly, in typical Honda fashion. Every detail works.

That motor, cammed for low- and mid-range torque, performs well, making the machine easy to ride, ideal for beginners. It runs out of revs above 6000rpm, but delivers smooth, quiet power everywhere below. The hydraulic clutch engages smoothly; gearshifts are Honda decisive.

Ride quality? Though rear-shock preload is the only suspension adjustment, the X’s almost 6-inch travel at both ends smoothes the way, though severe surfaces push the limits of comfort and confidence.

Brakes? The single, two-piston caliper operating on the front 320mm wavy disk does a workmanlike job. Ignore the insensitive 240mm rear brake.

Handling? Bar effort is light. Corners track neutrally. The low CG promotes easy low-speed maneuvering, though at a claimed 451 pounds dry, it’s no lightweight. The seating position is comfortably upright but the firm-ish, slippery seat inflicts discomfort around 200 continuous miles. Wind protection from the stock flyscreen is minimal. Doubtless the aftermarket will address the seat and screen issues.

Economy? I saw 58.75, measured, riding purposefully (77-year-old Joss rode the bike from Torrance, California to the San Francisco Bay Area in a day—ed.)—still notable. The economy stems partly from the tall sixth gear: at an indicated 75 mph, the ribbon LCD tach shows a mere 4000 rpm.

Bottom line: does it work?

What can the NC700X do for you? Honda’s engineers have managed the compromise, satisfying the marketeers and bean counters, meeting that ‘most-of-the-customers-most-of-the-time’ criterion. It’s versatile: commute, tour, strafe apexes with reasonable agility. Will the S come here? Dunno. Viewed on the Web, the Integra’s man-sized wheels are safer than competitors’ minuscule rubber donuts front and rear. Will Honda bring it? One hopes. But avoid tram tracks, bridge grids and potholes, anyway!

A motorcycle for the ages? Yes, 17 to whatever, rookie or returner. From every indication, worldwide, Honda has a palpable hit: enough performance at the right time at sensible cost.

Will the NC cannibalize other Honda models’ sales? Probably not. It has its own niche, and faces down the competition at its friendly base price. Life is compromises. This one works.

Second Take: Gabe Ets-Hokin

Years Riding: Too Many and Yet Not Enough, Favorite Complaint: Too Much Fuel Range

Ol’ Raymond Blank, how we miss ye. The visionary V.P. for Motorcycles at American Honda Motors helmed Big Red’s moto-division in the USA for decades and now he’s gone—retired? Pasture-ized? Melted down for seat foam? We don’t know, as we haven’t heard from him, but I have a very vivid memory of sitting at a bar in Birmingham, Alabama at some press event or another and hearing him talk about Honda’s incredible engineering and design capabilities. “We can make anything we want.” Super-awesome V5 MotoGP racer-for-the-street? Sure. Electric dual-sport? Why not?

But why would it build the perfect bike for you when Honda can build the perfect bikes for everybody? Because when you sell vehicles in the tens of millions, it doesn’t make sense to build exciting niche products a relative handful of well-heeled 50 year-olds might consider buying. Instead, we get…the NC700X.

Don’t get me wrong. I really liked this motorcycle. The design is great, with eye-pleasing shapes and angles. The seat is low for an adventure-styled machine, especially with an underseat gas tank (it really took 100 years for designers to figure out the best place for the tank is under the seat, freeing up storage space and improving handling?). It’s as easy to ride as any bike in this category, with great steering radius, quick steering (those bars feel higher and wider than they are, somehow) and smooth, light gearbox and clutch. But I’ll probably skip having “NC700X 4eVr” tattooed on my chest.

John calling the 670cc powerplant half a Fit engine is very apt. Like a car, the NC bumps off the rev limiter at 6000 rpm, surprising the rider—up to redline, the motor is just a little buzzy, feeling the same at 5500 as it does at 1500. First gear is very short, but after that, the gears are well-spaced and the motor is flexy enough so that there are enough guts for passing in fifth or even sixth. Cruising at an indicated 90 mph is fine, if that’s your thing—not too loud, okay wind protection, and just a little thrumming from the engine.

I’m at a loss to imagine a better (gas-powered) commuter. Sixty miles per gallon? More trunk space than a lot of scooters? Lots more if you add the optional bags and trunk, which are well finished and easy to use. Sign me up. It’s also just fun and satisfying to ride around town or on divided freeways, a product so refined and well-engineered it’s hard to believe it can be brought to market for under $7000.

Downsides? It’s slow, there’s no getting around that. Suzuki made an honest 70 hp with a budget-priced, 649cc liquid-cooled Twin 15 years ago. Honda took tuning-for-torque to a whole new level, lopping 40 percent off the top of this bike’s powerband—and though the bike is plenty fast to keep up with traffic, I missed it. ABS without the extra 33 pounds and $2000 of the dual-clutch version would be nice, but isn’t available. The brakes and suspension are el cheap-o, even for this price range—I could feel the front brake juddering under heavy pressure, and bumpy freeways are less pleasant than they could be, although the spring rates and damping feel well-calibrated.

So, you and I and just about everybody else you’ll meet would probably rather have this bike with 20 more horses, better brakes, adjustable suspension…but then again, we already have plenty of choices with that kind of spec sheet. This kind of refinement, economy, value and ease of use has opened up new markets for Honda (and boosted sales)—and that’s what Honda wants to do.

103 Comments

  1. Don says:

    What do people think on this bike, NC700X, versus the similarly priced Husqvarna TR650 Strada? I’m 6’1″ so the taller seat height isn’t an issue.

  2. Wayne Rae says:

    It was nice to see the comment about NO ABS for the manual in the US. I see that other geographies offer it.

  3. fedtech says:

    my ncx doesn’t have a hydraulic clutch. this article is in error. I like mine and for those that don’t—– don’t buy one. the new ctx version is much lower. but I like my frunk.

  4. butch taylor says:

    I miss the PC 800.

  5. dan says:

    I saw a guy on an older Yamaha Seca 650 this morning. Seems to fit a similar category as this bike – basic, bargain, similar dimensions. Did these bikes sell well? Seems like it would be a good indicator for success of this bike

    • Jake says:

      Sorry, the old Seca 650 was a showroom flop — my local dealer, finally, got the only 2 he ordered off the floor a couple years after he put them there.
      Unlike Honda’s NC700X, they were 4 cyl, 50% more power, and shaft-drive (and, totally un-popular at the time…).
      Americans don’t (or, at least – didn’t) like that type of motorcycle. Americans seem to favor (and buy) bikes with low seat-height (really low…), high-wide-and pulled back handlebars, feet-forward riding, and loud exhaust. If they must buy a bike that isn’t like that, they spend $$$ at the aftermarket making it so.

    • todd says:

      I love my ’82 Seca 650; shaft drive, 75hp, confident handling, center stand, and 50ish mpg – it also looks much better than most ’80s bikes… maybe that’s why it didn’t sell well.

      I ride my K75S much more though, all the same as above but it’s a BMW so it looks like I actually care about what I’m seen on.

      -todd

  6. Crusty Kris says:

    This bike will sell because it offers a lot of bike for $7000 even if it’s slower than some 250’s. It carries a lot of junk and is economical. That’s all many riders expect from a motorcycle. For the rest of us, nearly every bike out there is faster with better brakes and suspension. If you don’t need to store your $600 helmet inside your bike you’re better off looking around for something else with a higher “excitement” level.

    • MGNorge says:

      Crusty, I think you’re being overly harsh on this family of bikes. Acknowledged as not everyone’s cup of tea but seemingly enjoyed by quite a few – already! Isn’t that what it’s all about?

      You wouldn’t want to know what my first, second and third bikes were. They were much slower than this bike but you know what, I couldn’t wait to get home from school to go riding! Those days magically locked me into a lifetime of motorcycling enjoyment. I’m no stranger to speed and acceleration either but these days I don’t need to live on the edge to enjoy the ride.

      If you watch a few videos of these bikes you’ll hear owners say that power is acceptable and that keeping up with traffic really isn’t an issue. The biggest change for those used to higher revving engines is how quickly this one hits its rev peak. I know what that’s like because I came from a sportbike that revved past 10k when I bought my Moto Guzzi (still have the sportbike). I bumped the throttle limiter quite a bit and soon learned I didn’t need to rev the snot out of the Guzzi. Just ride the torque curve and it scoots along just fine. Snick it down a gear going into a curve and let that borad torque band just pull you on through. Thoroughly satisfying and yet so different in intent from my sportbike.

      I guess all can be said is to each their own.

  7. mickey says:

    A friend of mine, Rick, traded his GL 1800 in on one and last fall we went for a ride and traded bikes for about 25 miles. I thought it was a very nice bike. Very comfortable to sit on. Power was more than adequate for the back roads we were riding. The power band seemed very scooter like to me, it revved up quickly and then sort of hit a plateau and stayed there, very similar to my Majesty 400. Not sure I’d want to tour on one, but I don’t think it was designed for that purpose. If all I was doing was commuting or riding around locally, one of the various iterations of this bike would suit me. I think Rick told me he was getting 70 mpg on his.

  8. MGNorge says:

    There are plenty of YouTube videos now posted..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=N7z4j7TmhUQ

    The owner’s videos seem to show them happy with the bike. In that regard these must be hitting their target, no?

    One thing strikes me with their new relatively low-revving engines and that’s just how relaxed they sound at speed from the rider’s seat. On a longer trip that’s got to be less taxing than an engine spinning twice as fast at the same speed.

  9. Michael H says:

    I don’t know whether I like it or not because I haven’t ridden it. How anyone can form a rock-solid opinion by merely looking at photos is a bit of a baffle.

    • MGNorge says:

      It more than baffles. It’s always this way, looks take such a commanding importance over everything else that soon nothing is right with it.

      I personally don’t find the looks too bad and would pass final verdict only..only after riding one. Until then you’re just blowing smoke!

    • bikerrandy says:

      I agree. I don’t buy any vehicle until I’ve had a chance of driving/riding it. Some times the thing is not what I thought it was and I pass.

    • todd says:

      We have plenty of things to compare it to just by the specs alone. Sure, comfort is one thing that’s hard to judge by the specs but everything else is basic motorcycle science and there’s a vast resource of precedents out there.

      -todd

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “How anyone can form a rock-solid opinion by merely looking at photos is a bit of a baffle”

      we’re motorcyclists. wacked out of our minds is how we roll.

  10. todd says:

    No, no, you have it all wrong; this bike isn’t designed to be less expensive for you, it’s designed to be less expensive for Honda.

    I figure the (ex) Ninja 250 has a better power-to-weight ratio, similar fuel mileage, and cost, new, $3000 less than this Honda. That’s a lot to pay for an underseat fuel tank and a backpack that is integral with the bike. If you’re OK with the level of performance of this bike, you’d be impressed by the performance of the Ninja. Now if they only did a less-sport oriented version instead of tipping it in the direction of repli-racer with the new 300 at the same time knocking it off the podium of best value bike.

    Just imagine if people weren’t afraid of the tachometer. Now they’re afraid of the left foot pedal.

    -todd

  11. Provalogna says:

    Gabe wrote: “…Honda took tuning-for-torque to a whole new level, lopping 40 percent off the top of this bike’s powerband—and though the bike is plenty fast to keep up with traffic, I missed it…” Does not the last word, the noun “it” always refer to the closest prior noun, in this case “traffic?”

    I very much like the storage. The price would be acceptable if it had better finish quality, more power, and better suspension and brakes.

    My favorite in Honda’s current lineup is the CRF250X. My friend bought it, based on my suggestion, based on MD rave. He loves it. Haven’t ridden it yet, but it looks stunning, much better than my 2008 Yamaha WR250R.

    I am past owner of about 75 motorcycles, but none currently nor for the past few years. Mountain biking has been thoroughly entertaining, costs less, is quieter, and is good exercise. Just purchased a high-end “Fat Bike,” the latest, fastest growing bicycle fad (rigid, 4″ wide tires w/ maximum 35 PSI). A couple years ago I rode 1/4 mile next to a herd of elk running to get over a wildlife fence…unforgettable.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The price would be acceptable if it had better finish quality, more power, and better suspension and brakes.”

      let’s be honest, even if those things were improved it wouldn’t matter. to “fan-sumers” who know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing, the only acceptable price for their toys/entertainment is ZERO.

      • mickey says:

        Now Norm, some of us are willing to pay a lot more than Zero for perceived value. I have 4 motorcycles in the garage and I guarantee you they all cost me a lot more than zero.

        I also just ponied up, sight unseen, $10 grand for a new chain drive, 87 HP, mostly non adjustable suspension, 3.9 gallon fuel capacity, no fairing, no luggage, 5 speed transmission, no electronics packages, air cooled motorcycle designed to look 40 years old…. and I’ve had to wait several months to get it. I’m told it should be in, in about 30 days.When manufacturers make items we as individuals perceive as desirable, we will indeed pony up many hard earned dollars for it, regardless of the value perceived by others.

        I don’t think “fan- sumers” is catching on.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “Now Norm, some of us are willing to pay a lot more than Zero for perceived value.

          yeah some, but not all. hell not even most…? unfortunately your single point of altruism (ie. 1000 points of light) isn’t going to offset a decade of entrenched fan-sumers. the data has spoken. you’re out numbered.

          re: “I don’t think “fan- sumers” is catching on.”

          you’re late.

          • mickey says:

            Dealers go out of business all the time for a variety of reasons. I worked for several dealers that went out of business in the late 70s and early 80 s..supposedly the ” golden age” of motorcycling in this country.

            Because you can find some examples of tightwads and some examples of dealers that went out of business only means that some people are tight and some dealers didnt have the business savy to stay in business. From what I’ve seen travelling around the country visiting dealerships, most of them don’t deserve to stay in business.

            When I bought my Triumph in 2003 they wanted over $400 for a set of Tors, $250 for a grab rail, and $250 for a centerstand.I thought they were pricy but those are items I wanted so I ponied up. Sure there are a lot of people who think they cant afford something, but most likley those same people don’t mind spending $ 1000 for a big screen tv, $ 175 a month for cable, $500 for an ipad, $5 a day for a pack of smokes, $6 for a drink at the local bar, spending $20 a week for lottery tickets, or dropping $500 at the local casino. People justify their spending in their own minds. Considering all of those that buy Goldwings, Harleys and BMWs, motorcycles that cost $20-$30 thousand dollars people are very willing to spend their hard earned money on motorcycles they percieve represent value. Every motorcycle model has a forum filled with people who spent their money on motorcycles that they percieved had value.

            ” you’re late”

            I’m usually late if I make it there at all

            My opinion is people just like to bitch bout things on the internet because they can do that for free. another perceived value.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Dealers go out of business all the time for a variety of reasons.”

            (redirect alert!). variety shmiety, we’re talking specifics and the knock-on of “free lunch mentalities”.

            re: “Because you can find some examples of tightwads and some examples of dealers that went out of business only means that some people are tight”

            some…?

            re: “From what I’ve seen travelling around the country visiting dealerships, most of them don’t deserve to stay in business.”

            great, sounds like someone’s been practicing. congrats, you’ve removed your own nose with near surgical precision.

            in the words of bartles and jaymes… “thank for your support”.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3LkWVqYecE

    • Gabe says:

      Me fail English? That’s un-possible!

  12. Bill says:

    Nice evaluation of the bike and its characteristics. It’s not the bike I’d buy — if I were looking for a mid-size, I’d go with Suzuki’s V-Strom — but based on my test ride and your review, it seems the bike does exactly what it’s intended to do: provide a comfortable platform for commuting and weekend trips.

  13. BarryB says:

    I did a test ride but found the upright riding position no good above about 60mph, but the standard version fixes that if you are in euroland. Very easy to ride and reasonably priced but would be more interesting if it was 100lbs lighter (which would increase the price). Honda’s own CBF500 had better performance and lighter and could also do 60mpg (if short shifted) so not real progress.

  14. Jguarfn28 says:

    I have owned Sylvia since early October and found only the windscreen lacking here in windy New Mexico. I leave most cars behind at any stoplight and since I don’t have ABS, that’s probably a good thing. I have ridden motorcycles since I was 17 and am 56 now. My get back into motorcycles after a hiatus was a GS500 Suzuki that I found on Craigslist with 715 miles on it. I rode it to 10k and passed along a great starter bike. A KLR and VStrom were my first choices, BUT seat height and top heaviness were issues. The newest WeeStrom does have a lower COG and more power, but not the mileage. I pretty much saw the NC700X in a mag and after riding a Harley Road King and hating the cruiser position decided to check out the NC. Dealer offered a good rate and I have not looked back. ABS might be an issue if you like going fast and your vision is compromised by being hunched over the tank. I have no desire to try out sliding down a freeway and take the slow way home most of the time. I’ve ridden my son’s ZX10R and that is not a bike for me. To each their own and I have mine right here, thank you very much. The Frunk is AWESOME. No lugging my helmet anywhere. I get 70mpg.

  15. RICO SWAVAY says:

    The good is Honda step into the adventure bike game and produced the NC 700X.
    The bad is the product they produced will leave most riders with a disatisfied riding experience. The ugly is Honda has the technology to produce a powerful yet smooth power train engine in a light weight frame with an ajustable suspension to swallow up anything in it’s path.Sad but true,just look at all thier factory race vehicles.
    Sometimes the bean counters get it right and then again the competion (KTM,BMW,Triumph,Suzuki,and Yamaha)might have the oportunity to close the doors on Honda.
    Just a thought.

    • Dave says:

      It costs at least $3k more to fix the ugly today. 3 of those competitors aren’t up against this if only because of their 5-digit price tags, the other two don’t offer anything similar. Honda is doing just fine here.

  16. Dave says:

    Feet forward riding position is not comfortable Jay

  17. Bud says:

    re: gas tank under the seat – Hasn’t the Vmax had this since the mid 80s?

    • HotDog says:

      Get all dressed up to go on a long adventure, pack your bags, load everything and strap it down on top of the gas tank filler, opps I mean the rear seat.

  18. zuki says:

    “The seat is low for an adventure-styled machine, especially with an underseat gas tank (it really took 100 years for designers to figure out the best place for the tank is under the seat, freeing up storage space and improving handling?).”

    Ahem… motorcycles, up until the last decade or so, utilized carburetors for fuel delivery to the engine. Carburetors need gravity for fuel intake so the traditional gas tank was a functional requirement before it became an element of beauty.

    • BergDonk says:

      But some had fuel pumps anyway to feed the carbs. A simple vacuum one does the job on my older Husaberg fro example

      • bikerrandy says:

        My `91 Suzuki VX800 has a mechanical/vacuum fed fuel pump even tho it has the normal gas tank position. You lose vacuum and it’s motor is not getting gas any more.

        • zuki says:

          The vacuum diaphragm just keeps fuel from flowing when the engine is not running but when it’s open it is plain old gravity for fuel flow to your carb(s). The engine provides the vacuum when running obviously. Ever notice the prime position on your fuel petcock lever? That’s in case the carbs are dry you can bypass the diaphragm to wet the carbs for engine starting.

        • MGNorge says:

          My ’84 Interceptor has an electric fuel pump under the seat.

    • Gabe says:

      Yeah! FZR400/600: fuel pump, Ducati Monster and Supersport, etc.

    • todd says:

      Gold wing has had an underseat fuel tank for nearly four decades.

  19. Louis says:

    I have a 650 V-Strom which I love but have been thinking about a different bike.
    What I would like is a bike that has a lower C of G and is easier to handle in slow motion or when stopped.
    This bike may be what I want but I would not buy one without a test ride first, which is not available these days, at least where I live.
    So, I’ll wait for a used one that has an accommodating owner.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I am surprised your dealer won’t give you a test ride. That is too bad. Many dealers where I live offer test rides. Most of them I suppose. I can’t think of a brand you can’t test ride here.

      • Louis says:

        Well, here in the Phoenix, Arizona area a dealer will usually tell you this when asked about a “test ride”: “Our insurance will not allow test rides, however, if you buy the bike and bring it back within 30 minutes (undamaged, of course) we will tear up the paperwork.” How reassuring.
        There may be certain bikes that can be test ridden first, such as Harley’s and I recently read that a few Kawasaki dealers will allow them, but what I have written is my usual experience. I have had 17 motorcycles in my life and test rode them all before riding. However, I haven’t bought a new bike since 1987, which the dealer actually let me test ride. It was the Honda 600 Hurricane.

    • Brutus says:

      The newest V-Strom has the same weight, included ABS, and much more horsepower than the NC.
      I went from an extremely low center of gravity BMW F650CS to a 2012 V-Strom. The BMW had the fuel economy, “stuff bay”, under seat tank, and many more niceties than the NC700X. Yet I still find the V-Strom the better bike due to the better cruising speed, seat, mirrors, and power, to name just a few. I applaud the NC700x designers, but I don’t think I can give up adjustable fork preload, much more HP and stock ABS, just to get the front storage and and lower center of gravity.

  20. GearDrivenCam says:

    I sincerely hope Honda hits a homerun with this bike. I value having more options available to all riders. If this bike inspires more new riders as well as former riders to ride – then I’m all for it. However, as it stands (at least on paper) – I have little to no interest in this motorcycle. I’m older now, and have much more disposable income. I actually WANT to pay MORE money for a motorcycle. Rather than throwing away $7000 on something that seems uninspired (but affordable) – I want to spend $3000 more on something that makes me feel awed by Honda’s engineering and technological prowess. If this bike weighed around 400 lbs wet (72 lbs less) it would likely handle better, achieve astounding fuel economy levels, accelerate much better (to the point where I might not be bothered by such a low redline), and find it much easier to pick up after a “nap” if I was actually doing some “real” adventure riding with it.

    Reducing weight to this extent is expensive. But such a bike would be unique. A relatively lightweight adventure bike with great storage capacity. Good acceleration. And better fuel economy than most anything around. Otherwise – to me – it’s just a mediocre effort on Honda’s part. But at least it boasts high quality and is affordable. That deserves at least some merit. Then again, Toyota sells a lot of Corollas so maybe Honda is onto something here. ;)

    What WOULD get me excited would be Yamaha releasing a 2014 WR450R. Use the same technology used in the WR250R. I have one. It’s a great bike. Like the WR250R, give it a great powerplant, 45 rear wheel hp, outstanding reliability, low maintenance, the same 26,000 mile valve adjustment intervals, high quality components, lightweight frame, good fuel economy, a larger stock fuel tank, and a wet weight of around 300 lbs (Heck – their YZ450F motocrosser weighs 245 lbs wet!). Like Honda – Yamaha “can make anything they want”. They could even make a supermoto version. It would be certainly more expensive. But I’d know that I was riding something that was the pinnacle of technology and progress at the time of its release. THIS – I would be happy to pay more money for.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’m older now, and have much more disposable income. I actually WANT to pay MORE money for a motorcycle. Rather than throwing away $7000 on something that seems uninspired (but affordable) – I want to spend $3000 more on something that makes me feel awed”

      i love this guy.

      • Crusty Kris says:

        “uninspired (but affordable” – good call! That’s exactly what this bike amounts to. I guess if all you want is transportation, this is the bike to get. For all other motorcycling needs…buy something else!

    • Jake says:

      re: “Reducing weight…is expensive.”
      HONDA knows the market — especially, the American market. Light weight is, generally, frowned upon — many Americans appreciate / like “road-holding-weight” (the “Buick” syndrome) and are afraid of being ‘blown around’ at highway speeds.
      Americans also like: big numbers on the side — “700” (for 670cc — regardless of the 47 HP) and, generally, love feet-forward.
      HONDA knows the market… :o

      • GearDrivenCam says:

        True. And Toyota knows the market too. That’s why they sell so many Corollas. Would “I” want a Corolla? No. And that is what I’m saying here. I’m just hoping Honda sells enough NC700x’s to fund some other more interesting bikes – and allow them to take some risks. Like Toyota releasing the Scion FR-S. I’m sure they won’t sell anywhere near as many of these as they will Corollas. However, I’d much rather buy a FR-S.

        • Gutterslob says:

          Why can’t Toyota call it the GT86 like they do for the rest of the world? I never got that.

          Can’t really comment on the bike, as I’m not the target audience.

    • Dave says:

      KTM and BMW make the bikes you’re looking for. Honda and Yamaha won’t become interested in these niche markets until they’re no longer niche markets.

  21. seth says:

    wtf’s bad about fluf?

    • johnny ro says:

      OK nothing. Too much coffee, sorry.

      This is a nice bike, they are trying for a broad niche, hope it grows the market.

      I am afraid of the valves on my Burgman, buried very deep.

      Look at this bike from the scooter view and it makes even more sense. MPG is not so hot, I get more on my DL650. My AN650 is far worse – 40 or so.

  22. Jeremy in TX says:

    I don’t quite get this bike yet. I like the “tank” storage. The fuel economy is good, but I am not that impressed. I got the same fuel mileage when I rented a BMW F800ST a couple of years ago which made significantly more power. A recent magazine test of the 650 V-Strom also posted that same fuel economy number, a bike that also makes significantly more power.

    Given that and the exceptionally low spec components, I don’t even think the Honda is that cheap.

  23. Disastrous says:

    I own the NC700X (Manual without ABS). I purchased it when my BMW F800ST was laid to rest. It fit the bill nicely as a commuter. It has all the power I need to commute in heavy traffic and cruise on the HOV at 75+. I am avraging 65mpg in 35 degree weather. I drive 37 miles each way daily and was driving a Ford F-150 (15mpg). The cost of gas to fuel that commute in the Ford pays for the bike note, insurance, and fuel for the Honda plus i have an extra 40. The forward leaning cylinder not only allows for the storage area (frunk), but it lowers the center of gravity making the weight seem less and the ride more enjoyable. It does what I need it to do well and I never feel I gave up enough of anything to make me long for another bike while riding this one!

  24. George says:

    I wonder how this will stack up against Honda’s own 500 twin line up.
    I think Honda missed the mark just slightly. Their 500s should be the entry level, basic (read cheapo brakes and suspension) and the 700s should be the next level up on performance and brakes and suspension component quality so they compete more on par with the Kawasaki 650 twins.

    As it sits, I think the Kawasakis are a step up from the Honda and that seems wrong…

  25. Chris says:

    Plus 1 to johnny ro’s comments. Nothing new in this review. Disappointing.

    Regarding the bike, I have mixed feelings. It would be nice to know something more than “Ride quality? …the X’s almost 6-inch travel at both ends smoothes the way, though severe surfaces push the limits of comfort and confidence.” How smooth? What is “severe”?

    I have to laugh at this comment. “I’m at a loss to imagine a better (gas-powered) commuter. Sixty miles per gallon? More trunk space than a lot of scooters? Lots more if you add the optional bags and trunk, which are well finished and easy to use. Sign me up.”

    I guess he should look closer at scooters then. Maxi-scooters do what the NC700X will do, and better, as a commuter. But they aren’t styled to look like a BMW adventure bike. A Suzuki Burgman 400 gets 60-70 mpg. I read how ecstatic owners/reviewers are about getting 21 liters of storage in the fake gas tank…and then think about what real storage space is. Under the seat of a Burgman 400 is 62 liters of space, and a lot of other maxi-scooters are pretty close to that…and don’t need to tack on $1000+ of optional bags to get even.

    If you must have a gas tank between your knees…or even a fake one…then this is a great commuter bike. If you can get over that image, realizing that the gas tank is moved elsewhere, then there’s other alternatives that give better protection from the elements, more storage and better comfort.

    • Ted says:

      Well said Chris. It is very difficult to compete with Maxi scooters (I have a Honda 650 Silverwing) for commuting. They may not be candidates for an “all-around” motorcycle, but they are great for getting from point A to point B and carrying a bunch of stuff with you in comfort. I have a couple of motorcycles now that I really enjoy and have owned over 30 through the years, but when it comes time to commute to work or make a run to the store, etc. — I pick the scooter every time.

    • MGNorge says:

      Remember that this series engine configuration started out as a scooter (The Integra). Not everyone wants a scooter, no matter how nice it might be. It’s more than nice to have choice and I think it’s a fine one! There are a number of YouTube videos now of these bikes and maybe not the fastest bikes but so what? Their owners sure seem to like them!

  26. Jay says:

    You can’t put your feet forward on anything and you have to sit up all the time. I don’t know why they refuse to make motorcycles comfortable other than in a V-Twin cruiser. Why the heck won’t anyone put a modern engine together with a comfortable ride?
    And don’t say Honda Goldwing. It’s huge, huge, and the flat six blocks your feet.

    • George says:

      Jay, not everyone finds feet forward position comfortable. I for one, find that torture to my back. Every bump straight up my spine and that kills me in about 2 bumps. I also can’t figure out how anyone can give up the control of sticking your feet out front as compared to being able to weight your pegs if they are under or behind you but to each his own.
      Good thing is that I am sure there will be crash bars and add-on highway pegs for those that want to stick their feet out front…

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I have never sat on a cruiser that I considered comfortable except for an HD Sportster 1200R which had a more standard riding position with footpegs bolted in the right place. Of course it was only comfortable standing still – the suspension travel much too short.

    • Bones says:

      “You can’t put your feet forward and you have to sit up all the time.”

      Comfort is no doubt a matter of individual preference, but the “feet down, sit up straight” posture is what makes purpose-built touring bikes comfortable. I couldn’t imagine an 800 mile day on a cruiser with forward controls and a leaned back posture that puts pressure on your lower back and tailbone. I’ve done many such days sitting up straight on a Honda ST1300 and a Kawasaki Versys and been comfortable. YMMV

      If you like feet-forward posture, Honda is offering the CTX700 which uses the same motor. http://www.ridermagazine.com/top-stories/2014-honda-ctx700-and-ctx700n-first-look.htm/

    • Mike Simmons says:

      I have seen many pictures of General’s Grant and Lee and not once did I see ‘em with their feet under their horses chin… sorry, but for long range touring, feet forward ain’t comfortable. Plus, as another poster pointed out, you loose a significant element of control. I’ll leave the feet forward thing to the cruiser boyz.

      Mike

    • todder says:

      I’ve got both a victory and triumph sprint. I think they are both comfortable and your going to be hurting in different ways after a six hour ride. The beauty of sit up standard is maneuverability when going slow and throwing it into the corners.

  27. sherm says:

    The Ninja 300, CBR250R, other 650’s, and the new CB500 series have the ABS option at a reasonable price. To me ABS is the new essential and auto transmission is “not on my bike”, so for this rider anyway, the 700 self disqualifies.

    • George says:

      I dread the day ABS is standard on every bike. I much prefer a simpler braking system and actually l;earning the skills to brake properly rather than the lazy grab a handful and wait for the computer designed in Japan/China/India to decide how to handle the situation in California.

      • paul says:

        Regarding ABS, no matter how skilled you are at modulating your brakes in an emergency, you are not as good as ABS.

        My ’99 Honda Accord and me are still around, thanks to ABS, twice.

        If and when I purchase a new motorcycle, if ABS is available, I’ll take it for sure.

        • George says:

          I never said I could outperform a properly programmed, properly functioning ABS system. I said I dread the day I am stuck with that lump of expensive crap that I do not need or wish to maintain on a motorcycle (ever tried to flush the brakes on an ABS equipped motorcycle? Not nearly as simple as on a non-ABS bike so the result will be less maintenance actually being performed…) again seems stupid to me and caters to the lowest common denominator (poorly skilled riders that can’t be bothered to actually learn how to ride and maintain their riding skills) but that’s my view.
          I dread the day I am stuck with ABS just the same as I dread the day I am stuck with a GPS tracker that reports your speed to the government or your insurance company.

      • Tom R. says:

        ABS is the single greatest improvement for motorcycles in my 34 years of riding.

      • todder says:

        I was in that camp for a while, but in a panic situation, ABS is a great safety feature. As for linked brakes, that’s a different story.

    • Dave says:

      TO existing motorcyclists I can see the auto shifter is a turnoff but I think manual shifting is one of the big turnoffs for would-be riders. I know Honda tried this back in the early 80’s but that was a different time.

  28. DingerJunkie says:

    I’ll wait to check out the 500 twins. This basically sounds like a neutered V-Strom 650. I may not need “more” power, but I will want power with “character.” My RD350 didn’t have more power, but it had the character…same with my SV-650.

    I wish someone would provide this level of “utility bike”…at this price point…while providing more “vehicular personality” than your average Maytag washer.

  29. Gary P says:

    folks as an older rider I see this as the CB 350 – 360 that so many learned to ride on for the world as it exists today. There was nothing great about the 350/360 other than they simply worked. The NC is light years ahead of the 350/360 but a buyer should be able to purchase ABS with the regular transmission. This is one area where Honda (America) marketing doesn’t get it, instead of including ABS on all bikes and driving down the cost they wish to keep it at a premium so for me at least I don’t buy the bike. I would like to buy it as a second bike to run errands,short trips, who knows maybe become my primary bike but not until ABS is available on the standard bike at a reasonable price. I owned countless Hondas over the years but have not owned one for over 7 -8 years, was hoping to replace my touring bike with the new VFR but they missed that target as well!

    • MGNorge says:

      I’m an older rider too and haven’t you noticed that motorcycles are much more niche machines than they used to be? This family of 700’s however would seem to be covering a lot of ground. Many current riders today seem to be more picky about what components are included on their bikes and those may be different from the guy next to them? Back in the day you picked your basic motorcycle and you adapted it to your needs. I, and many, many others owned CB350s and while not the quickest they weren’t bad and had a much broader powerband than competing two-strokes of the day. Their big trump card was their ease of use and long term reliability, both qualities that younger riders today would appreciate..just like these bikes.

      • Martin B says:

        I used to have an XL350 single, and anytime I rode with anyone on a CB350 I would leave them for dead on a mountain road. I kept in one gear most of the time – they were pounding on the gear lever like demented monkeys trying to find some power – anywhere! Engine braking made up for the off road quality front drum.

        One time I had to stop because a fellow rider on a CB350 had found the limits of his ground clearance/talent in a tight corner. I had just leaned in without a thought – he crashed.

        To me, singles offer the best combination of sinuous maneuverability and mid range torque. Some good vibration control, fuel injection and decent suspension – ne plus ultra!

        How about it Honda? A 500 to 650 single cylinder skinny bike that can go anywhere?

  30. SausageCreature says:

    I have to wonder how this would compare with the new CB500 series. The 500 weighs about 40 pounds less, costs about $1500 less, and it might have similar power. My old EX500 made nearly as much power as the NC700X, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. The naked and sport versions of the 500 look worlds better than the NC also.

    So what does the extra cash you’d pay for this ‘adventure’ bike get you? More storage space and…ummmm…a reputation for being a bit dull, I guess? Fewer compliments at bike nights and group rides? The inability to buy that guitar, surfboard or other new toy you had your eye on?

  31. Tony says:

    An excellent bike and it’s at the top of my list for new next bikes! While it’s true it’s already been reviewed other places, that’s fine. I don’t mind reading more reviews and information on this bike. I think Honda made a bike just like what I’m looking for. It’s going to be easy for valve checks/adjustment unlike some of the shim under bucket types. I do wish the gas tank was a little bigger, however with the excellent gas mileage the 3.4 gallon tank will probably be enough. I like the storage trunk where the gas tank would normally be, it basically replaces a large tank bag on other bikes. It sounds like a win for me and Honda. I’m currently riding a ’89 Ninja 250.
    Tony

    • Ken says:

      “It’s going to be easy for valve checks/adjustment…”
      While the valves are screw-and-locknut, Motorcycle Consumer News estimated 3.5 hours labor for a valve check. ‘Must be difficult to get to those valves?

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Motorcycle Consumer News estimated 3.5 hours labor for a valve check. ‘Must be difficult to get to those valves?”

        radiator likely has to be removed. see, there is an answer.

        • Dd says:

          MCN not withstanding it took me about 2 hours to check the valves on my NC700X. I am a confirmed shade tree tech and took a lot of extra time as it was the first time I did this service (8000 miles). 1 hour would be more like it next time. The radiator does not need to be removed and was not. Screw and locknut adjustment could not easier when the time comes. Do any of you remember checking valves on your old lay-down single Hondas? This is very similar. Maintenance is very easy to do on the NC just valves, air filter, and chain.

          I am 57 and started riding at 14. I have thousands of miles on bikes with less than 55 hp and the NC700x’s stablemate is a high mileage ST1300. The NC700X is a bike that will not appeal to many riders but Honda is on to something here for those it does appeal to. Despite the low horsepower output it handles great and is huge fun to ride in the twisties. It has the torque of a typical 80 hp bike and short shifted it torques out of corners and pulls strongly. It does the ton with ease and it will cruise all day at 90 if you are so inclined, back off to 80 and still get 60+ mpg. After 10,000 miles, about 5500 on rides over 1,000 miles, I am very happy with this Honda.

          A final note on the braking comments. In a previously published test the NC700X stopped from 70 mph in about 50 meters. This stopping distance is shorter than most of the current crop of 600cc supersports even the race replicas.

  32. Tom Shields says:

    People have been complaining for years about the offerings by the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers. Price creep on sportbikes, Harley-clone cruisers, and no affordable entry-level plain-old motorcycles.

    Well, here’s your affordable entry-level bike. It looks user-friendly, has all the power it needs (if not all you may want) and is just – a motorcycle.

    Maybe there’s an audience for it, maybe there’s not, but now we can’t complain that we can’t have it!

  33. Billy Bob says:

    What’s Old is New Again. Many motorcycles from “back in the day” had similar characteristics as this Honda. And what about Honda’s Dullsville? Fully optioned NC700X will cost about same as the Dullsville. Just about all the current parallel twins offer a better balance of cost, performance and fuel economy. The NC700X is a stone.

  34. Crusty Kris says:

    This is a 10′ bike. Looks great from a distance but is completely plastic up close with a finish that mars extremely easy. Saw one with just a few miles on it and it already looked old and skuffed up. I guess a plastic bike is all you can get these days from HONDA.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I guess a plastic bike is all you can get these days from HONDA.”

      like the man says, “ya pays ya money…”

  35. GP says:

    Well, I really wanted to like this bike. I went to a Dealership and sat on one. It felt small, which I liked, and I absolutely *loved* the storage compartment, but I just could not get over the relatively low power output. I was ready to buy, and I did. I bought a V-Strom 650. It cost a bit more, but I just felt that it would keep me happier, longer. The V-Strom had better wind protection, better passenger accommodations, more suspension adjustments, and much more power. I will miss that storage compartment, though.

  36. MGNorge says:

    I don’t know, it may all sound the same as something because it may just simply come off the same way to a number of people? I always like perspective. It may not be mine but if honest then I can throw it on the great heap of data collected to use in my own.

    I truly believe Honda has something here. I think especially that if I was in the market for an entry-type bike these would at the very least make me want to get a test ride. There are other bikes that are faster but you know, I’m not so sure that always appeals to me anymore and my lack of donations to the local law enforcement agencies attest to that! If a bike gives me a pleasant ride, is made well and proves to be reliable then it certainly would earn its keep.

    How about a video ride review of these?

  37. ABQ says:

    A dual purpose bike that really doesn’t go off the street…
    I like the other new bikes in the 700cc line up. They are lower to the ground.

  38. johnny ro says:

    Sorry but as written, this article belongs in a place such as the NYTimes not a site where people who know and care about motorcycles go to read. There is nothing in this article, facts or knowledge, that has not been published elsewhere, long ago.

    As far as fluffy fill, I am unaware of all-around bikes that do everything bad.

    Again, sorry, maybe I had too much coffee, but I usually find great stuff here.