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Honda NC700X First Impressions article


fourteenfour

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The funny thing is Honda is either already trying to kill it off or they have some internal communication issue.

They just launched the CB500X.

 

91d6da1d31c834c1fb084dc71fe1a081.jpg

 

Same power (35kW), smaller displacement (cheaper to insure in most European countries), 20kg lighter and 600€ cheaper than the not-DCT NC700X.

Throw in it comes with ABS as standard (not bundled with DCT) and uses a newly build parallel twin instead of a chopped car engine (read on) and tell me why I should buy the 700 over the 500.

As I said the 700 engine is really a Fit (Jazz on some markets) 1400cc engine chopped in half and mated to a transmission. An engineer friend of mine took the time to do some measurements and it's exactly the same as the car engine, down to to the inlet and exhaust tracts.

Fuel consumption is not such a marvel: both the BMW-Rotax 800 and Kawasaki 650 are as good (if not better in real world-conditions) and are much gutsier to boot.

 

I always had the distinct feeling the 700 was a stop-gap model introduced while the 500 was being developed: Honda dealers in countries such as Italy and France had been clamoring for such a bike since the CB500 twin (great bike) was phased out without replacement and Honda tried to fill the niche with mediocre CBF600.

 

 

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The funny thing is Honda is either already trying to kill it off or they have some internal communication issue.

They just launched the CB500X.

 

91d6da1d31c834c1fb084dc71fe1a081.jpg

 

Same power (35kW), smaller displacement (cheaper to insure in most European countries), 20kg lighter and 600€ cheaper than the not-DCT NC700X.

Throw in it comes with ABS as standard (not bundled with DCT) and uses a newly build parallel twin instead of a chopped car engine (read on) and tell me why I should buy the 700 over the 500.

As I said the 700 engine is really a Fit (Jazz on some markets) 1400cc engine chopped in half and mated to a transmission. An engineer friend of mine took the time to do some measurements and it's exactly the same as the car engine, down to to the inlet and exhaust tracts.

Fuel consumption is not such a marvel: both the BMW-Rotax 800 and Kawasaki 650 are as good (if not better in real world-conditions) and are much gutsier to boot.

 

I always had the distinct feeling the 700 was a stop-gap model introduced while the 500 was being developed: Honda dealers in countries such as Italy and France had been clamoring for such a bike since the CB500 twin (great bike) was phased out without replacement and Honda tried to fill the niche with mediocre CBF600.

 

 

I think you are complicating matters.

 

The 700 is an experiment by Honda to gauge market reaction to a low-revving. high-torque commuter motorcycle that can be mated to an optional automatic transmission . Personally, I really hope it succeeds. I am pleased that your engineer friend managed to prove that the engine is precisely what Honda said it was. You also seem to miss the point that under the new driving licence regulations that come into force in Europe on 1st January 2013, riders who may be able to select the Honda 700 will be banned from riding the BMW and Kawasaki unless they have restrictor kits fitted.

 

The CB500 is a completely conventional high-revving 500cc twin and it will be a different riding experience to the 700.

 

You pays yer money and takes yer choice. One is not better than the other - just different.

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I suspect that may have been the original intention (read on though) but sales tell another story.

Make no mistake about it: apart from the DCT version (very few are ready and willing to pay a hefty premium for it), the bike sold reasonably well in its first year, almost meeting sales projections by Honda. However, according to Honda Italia, the average buyer is not a commuter interested in an economical, low revving hack to use every day, but a "casual" rider who will mostly use the bike for leisure once or less a week. In short the NC700 (both S and X) are catering to customers who used to buy four cylinder 600cc machines like the Honda Hornet and the Yamaha FZ6. The main attractive is not the low revving engine but lower ownership costs.

 

As per the engine... I have some good contacts at Honda Europe and it appears the bike was "cobbled together" in a hurry in response to desperate pleas from dealers. Already in 2005 dealers from France, Italy and Spain had asked Honda for different models to curb over-reliance on 600cc machines and especially scooters (both well known to have very low returns for the dealer). They were scoffed off because overall sales were so good. In 2008 sales of low-return vehicles crashed in most of Europe and Honda dealers were left holding the bag, with both no budget conscious middleweight bikes like the old CB500 and no truly marketable high-end models like a BMW boxer. I have been told in no unclear terms Honda was caught "with their pants down" by this downturn.

Many dealers have closed down (including the one I used to buy Honda's from: they had been around since the early '70s) and in response to a highly dramatic situation Honda initiated a "crash program" whose products were the 1200cc V4 and the 700cc I2 engines. Both engines were build using already available tech and both were fast tracked to get new bikes in the dealerships as soon as possible. The choice to build the new engine from a car unit was dictated by the need to have a bike ready as soon as possible, bypassing the usually lengthy Honda R&D process. That's how off guard Honda was caught. I could say many, many more things about how they put their dealers in the present position but that's not something I want to talk about now.

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I think the NC700 is a very interesting new bike for the market. I know older riders (R1200RT) who are interested in them as well as I know a new rider who bought one. The magazine reviews have been overwhelmingly positive about the bike, re: handling, fit/finish, price point. Everything.

 

I'd love to try one... If my wife would look at a bike for herself I think that would be one of the first bikes I'd steer her too.

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I think the NC700 is a very interesting new bike for the market. I know older riders (R1200RT) who are interested in them as well as I know a new rider who bought one.

Count me in that group — the NC700 looks like a a nice transition from my 99 RT some years down the road.

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Reminds me of the Honda Deauville.

Not really. The Deauville used a 52°V-Twin engine that Honda has been developing since the 1980's, whereas the new NC700 engine is (reportedly) half a Honda Fit engine, engineered for high torque, low fuel consumption, and low maintenance. The Deauville had shaft drive; the NC700 is chain drive.

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I think the NC700 is a very interesting new bike for the market. I know older riders (R1200RT) who are interested in them as well as I know a new rider who bought one.

Count me in that group — the NC700 looks like a a nice transition from my 99 RT some years down the road.

 

+1 ... what he said!

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Kakugo,

 

Despite your impeccable sources inside Honda Europe, I find some of that stuff difficult to believe.

Firstly Honda is a global company. It is building scooters in India and selling for exactly twice the retail price in the UK than it does in India. If the dealers are not making a profit from this venture then certainly Honda Japan are.

As for the NC700X, again I find it hard to believe that this machine and the Integra scooter (with ABS and DCT) were "cobbled together". I don't believe that you can rush the development of an advanced engine like the VFR1200 either.

I do believe that Honda and Yamaha and others have been caught napping in Europe with a lack of successful high-end profitable models. BMW, Triumph, Harley and Ducati seem to be weathering the recession very well if the sales figures can be believed.

 

I think your friends in Honda Europe are peeved because they appear to have been somewhat abandoned by mighty Japan as it goes in search of global growth by building automobile and motorcycle factories in South America.

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After reading a similar quick review in Road Runner, I've been thinking of this bike, with the dual clutch, to get my son started in riding. Any chance anyone knows more detail on how the dual clutch is holding up on the VFR1200?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I personally like the direction Honda is going with their new models. The chopped Gold Wing looks very cool and I think that bike is going to sell better than most think. Many Cruiser guys I know are privately very jealous of the creature comforts the more "modern" bikes have. More than a few will cross over. The "new" CB1100 pulls my heart strings look you wouldn't believe. This bike should sell decently, stirring back fond memories in those of us going a little back in time. That bike would just look so cool in my garage.

As far as the NX700, I'm not crazy about it. I bought my V-Strom 650 in June, right before the NX came out and my heart sank when I first read about it, including the price. But after reading actual test reports on the Honda, I am glad I got the Strom. Seems a little foo foo to me. JMO.

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After reading a similar quick review in Road Runner, I've been thinking of this bike, with the dual clutch, to get my son started in riding. Any chance anyone knows more detail on how the dual clutch is holding up on the VFR1200?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following is a very personal opinion: If I would get my son or daughter starting to ride, I would start with a regular shifting bike. That way they are good to ride anything, and make up their mind later on what they want.

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After reading a similar quick review in Road Runner, I've been thinking of this bike, with the dual clutch, to get my son started in riding. Any chance anyone knows more detail on how the dual clutch is holding up on the VFR1200?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following is a very personal opinion: If I would get my son or daughter starting to ride, I would start with a regular shifting bike. That way they are good to ride anything, and make up their mind later on what they want.

 

I'm with Paul on this one. It doesn't take much more effort or time to learn how to use a clutch on a bike or in a car/truck. The skill quickly becomes second nature. If you limit yourself to clutchless bikes you will have a very short list to choose from.

 

In addition, starting a new rider on a new bike might not be the best idea. New riders are much more likely to suffer a few drops, and if they find they don't like the bike that was purchased a new bike can prove to be very costly.

 

On edit: My comments assume there is no physical reason for wanting a clutchless bike.

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Nice bike, but I think all the talk of it being for starters because it has an automatic transmission is nonsense. The bike is far too big for any beginner. =/

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