Honda NC700X - Urban Adventure in a Concrete Jungle?
There has been much hype going around the local biking circles about this bike since its launch in 2012. Many dealers and agents usually have orders backed up for this parallel twin engine. From the specifications, it seems Honda has made this bike as an introduction model for riders seeking to savour the "adventure" series. It has the big brother the Crosstourer 1200 for those wanting to go all out.
When I personally came across a couple of biker friends who actually owned this, it made me wonder what the actual appeal would be for me. Just before getting my hands on the NC700X, I was riding a Yamaha FZ6 and my trusty BMW R1150GS. Both these bikes propelled me from 0-100kmh in about 5 seconds. They both had enough torque to yank me out of slumber once I mount them.
Pricing in Singapore for this bike is very competitive. It is in fact slightly lower than a CB400 Revo. There are three models to choose from with the same power plant, the NC700S, which is a naked version, Integra scooter, and NC700X which is reviewed here. With the NC700X there are also three models, one basic model, one with ABS and one with DCT and ABS. I purchased the model with ABS.
So, what could this 670cc, 47hp, half a Honda Jazz offer me? Read on to find out.
It took about 2 weeks for the bike to be handed over to me as I heard there were many orders for this machine. I chose not to purchase a parallel import machine like my friends as I preferred a local dealer backup in case anything seriously wrong happened to the bike. From what I hear, there are many local bike shops in Singapore who bring in the bikes themselves and recalls aren't that big an issue. Well, to each his own.
On the day of collection, I filled my car trunk with all the accessories which I pre-purchased and headed down to the bike shop. This bike has many after-market accessories, almost rivalring BMW and Yamaha Super Tenere. I added the Hepco and Becker engine guard, rear top case rack, SW Motech side pannier racks with H&B adaptors, Honda touring windshield, Palmer windshield adaptors....... and the list goes on. You can see that this bike is great for those wanting to pimp up their rides and do be careful not to over-spend as you will quite easily.
After a quick walk around the bike, I noticed that the meter cluster was tiny and offered the basics. There was no temperature gauge, no gear indicator & no voltmeter. You get a speedometer, an RPM meter, a couple of trip meters and thats it. This goes to show that the bike was designed for budget conscious buyers. Now, do not get me wrong, I have no real objections to the bike per se, but it would be nice to have a voltmeter or temperature gauge built in at least considering that it is a 2012 model.
After I collected her, I decided to take her out for a spin. As the engine was still running in, I did not want to stress her out too early. So a slow ride it was.
This is a parallel twin tilted at a strange 62 degree angle. It allows for the faux fuel tank to house a largish compartment big enough for my open face helmet and a tool kit. Pretty interesting and it is a nice addition.
The exhaust note is similar to a low soft growl. Due to the timing of the engine and tuning for fuel efficiency, you will not experience mad torque, out of your pants, mad demon rush of adrenaline like the Fazer or GS. What you do get however is a constant pull of energy at a lower curve. The power band is adequate for local Singapore traffic and with fuel consumption rated at approximately 30KmL, I think this is why many riders are flocking to this bike.
Another thing to note is due to the tuning and mapping of the bike, I do not see much use of the 6th gear in local traffic condition. Only at 92kmH can I shift up to 6th without any knocking. So I guess most riders will be happily cruising at 4th or 5th most of the day.
What you do get with this bike is a nice smooth ride once you get used to the lower power band. I took her on a 70km ride during the day in moderate traffic on the expressway and it was indeed a joy to ride. You get to feel the engine in a different way compared to other bikes. This engine is great for those not seeking a mad ride, but more of a smooth cruise.
This is my pet peeve with most small and medium bikes. I am 6ft tall with 32" inseams. Out of my 45 bikes owned till date in the last 3 years, I think the only motorcycle I have ridden which is truly honestly comfortable is my BMW R1150GS. That was also only after some modifications to my seat. So when I took the keys and sat on the NC700X, the first thing which I was looking out for was, "Is this ride gonna hurt?".
In short, if you are my height of taller, I suggest you try it out before you decide to put your money down. If you have owned a CB400 before, it will be similar except that the handle bar height will be more comfortable.
I have read online that the rear suspension was soft and needed adjustment to stiffen it up. I do not find it worrying enough for me to bother about it at this time. But if would think that once you load up the bike with your touring gear and pillion, the rear end may be a little vague.
What I do like about this bike is that the rider's seat is firm and wide. It makes for a comfortable ride. The handle bars are angled pretty well and vibrations were minimal from the twin after swapping out the grips and end weights.
I also took the liberty to swap out the puny stock windshield for a Honda touring screen and Palmer windshield adaptor. It allowed me to use a hand guard without obstruction and reduces buffeting. The metal holder for the windshield is also good for mounting handphones and GPS. I would not recommend that you mount your video camera on it as there is some movement when on the move.
Ride handling is also pretty good. Although on tight turns, it pales in comparison with my GS, the NC700X basically goes where it is pointed. I was fortunate to get Bridgestone Battalax tyres as stock on my machine and there are no complaints from that department.
I suspect that the brakes have not broken in yet as I feel that it isn't as responsive as I would like them to be. I shall update this issue at a later date.
The big question about this bike would be, who would this bike be suited for? My answer to that would be that this machine would be best suited to those who are seeking a comfortable commuting bike with just enough punch to take you across the causeway without making your family worry about your safety. It would also be best suited to those wanting an affordable "Adventure" styled bike with great fuel economy.
If however, you are seeking for a mad rush, I suggest you look elsewhere as the NC700X will not deliver. For me, is this a keeper? I think it may be. Its much lighter than my gangly GS1150. It handles pretty well and for daily use, I think its good enough. There are lots of after market options available for those seeking retail therapy for their bikes.
So go plonk your monies down if you want, with the right expectations, this bike should satisfy your needs.
Here are more pics of my NC700X. Enjoy !