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2012 Honda NC700X

Honda side viewCar Bike lust, lust, lust. I have it now, and I have it bad. Ever since the Kawasaki EX500 died, I've been searching for a sporty replacement bike. But the used crotch rockets I've been looking at have mostly been junk, and selling for $4,000 or better. A new CBR600RR is about $12,000, plus tax, tags, title, and license (And maybe more), so that's definitely at the high end of my motorcycle price range.

But maybe six months ago, Honda introduced the NC700X (NC stands for "New Concept"). And any time Honda declares a brand new category of bike, you can bet it's a milestone.

When I first saw "NC700" on the bike, I immediately thought "NCC-1701." So did the sales manager, and we shared a laugh. But then, he's trying to sell a bike, so any joke from a customer is funny, I guess.

2012 NC700X Overview - Honda Powersports - Mozilla Firefox 1082012 90339 PM.bmpHonda calls this an "Adventure" bike, and says you can use it all week as a frugal commuter, then boldly go explore some country or canyon roads on the weekend. It's not an on/off road bike, though I kind of wish it was. Maybe new tires would make it so.

And after giving the design elements of the bike some thought, I've come to the conclusion that it's either a sportbike for an older person (Anybody over 19), or perhaps the ultimate scooter. Or maybe both.

The bike's engine, a 670cc twin-cylinder, fuel-injected SOHC design, is brand new as well. Whereas the CBR 600 redlines at 12,500, this bike says Whoa! at only 6,500 RPM. The useful torque is there from 2,000 to 5,000 spins per minute, and doesn't sound like a rabid bee coming down the road at Warp Factor 5.

Seventy horsepower isn't a lot from a 700cc bike. But Honda does say the NC700X gets 64 mpg, so I guess that's a fair tradeoff. And the low-end torque should get us relics around quick enough.

An NC700X DCT ABS model is available; it has Honda's latest double-clutch automatic transmission system and, of course, ABS. It does not have a clutch lever. But it's also $2,000 more, and personally, I like shifting gears almost as much as I like taking a sip of Aldebaran whiskey.

Honda gas tank Honda NC700 gas fillerOne great idea of the New Concept is to use the area above the engine as a storage compartment rather than a gas tank. Honda says the space will hold most full face helmets or even a few Tribbles. The lid also locks, and if somebody isn't aware of this space, they probably won't mess with it anyway.

So where's the gas tank? Well, just pop the seat up, and the filler is right there. The tank is lower in the frame, and well protected.

2012 NC700X 360 Spin - Honda Powersports - Mozilla Firefox 1082012 94338 PM.bmpAnd that's where I think the "scooter" part comes into play. But it's so cleverly cloaked that nobody should think it's a scooter, except for maybe a little plastic overhang right below the headlight.

The only option they offer that I'm interested in is a $149 "light bar." It mounts between the forks and radiator, and allows auxilliary lighting to be easily bolted on for them to beam down on the road. I've seen these on European bikes, and I have to say that every motorcycle headlight I've ever had was barely adequate, at best. Plus, should the headlamp fail, spare bulbs in the front are never a bad idea.

However, there is a little fly in the ointment. Seems Honda makes the NC700X in colors other than light silver, but does not import them into the USA. That means that any other bike you'll see like this will be, well... like this. The other colors include white, black, and red; maybe more.

White Honda New NC700X 001I want a white NC700X like this one so I can put some red and blue stripes on it. I've had red, white, and blue bikes for quite a while, and the color scheme just fits. Also, those are also usually Team Honda's racing colors.

Oh, the price... it's just $6,999. That's a steal compared to the CBR 600, though I've heard that some dealers like to add setup fees, paperwork costs, and anything else they can think up. Hopefully they will negotiate some.

But if I can get a white NC700X out the door for $7,000 plus taxes, tags, and title, they have a deal. Maybe the 2013 models will expand the color palate a bit, and I'll get my wish and explore some undiscovered country or, after work, have a nice ride on the voyage home.

One way or another, I have a feeling there will be a sequel to this story.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credits: I "appropriated" all of the silver NC700X images from Honda's site. The white NC700X photo is from BlogSpot.com.

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Yup, it's a different kind of bike. People are going to compare it to the V-Strom 650, but I think it's better to directly compare it to the Aprilia Mana (also automatic) and the Kawasaki Versys. Which, come to think of it, would be a logical upgrade from your EX500, along with the ZZR600.
There's some scooter DNA in there, maybe a bit of the old PCH800 too. The price is reasonable for a new machine, and you really do get a lot for the money - but with anything under $10K I always find myself looking at Craigslist (where I scored an immaculate 2000 Monster 750 for my wife for $4500) or the local enthusiast website.
Of course, I favor Hondas, but I see myself on a 25th Anniversary VFR800 or a 1990 VFR400R; the NC700X just isn't the ride I'm looking for at the moment. That being said, I might change my mind a few years down the road! And honestly, the NC would be my pick ahead of the VFR1200. I say go for it!

Palette?

Oops, misspelled a word. Got in a little hurry there.

Eric, the 25th Anniversary Interceptor (5 years old now) is my pick for a used bike, but they are selling for about the same price as a new NC700X. I had a 1985 700 Interceptor, which the 25th is styled after, and I miss it.

But after the EX500 experience, I'll never own anything but a Honda again.

Waitwaitwaitwait wait a minute.

What happened with the EX500?
Was there a post that talked about its demise?

And Chuck, when you say, and I quote: 'But after the EX500 experience, I'll never own anything but a Honda again' are you comparing the EX500 to its 1990 peers or to this 2012 NC700X in terms of build quality, parts availability, etc.?

I guess I could have done a post about the EX500, but I really didn't want to open any old wounds.

I spent two years and lots of money trying to get it working. The bike would start (sometimes), then run for a few miles. It would then die, acting like it was out of gas.

I changed the petcock, carbs, all fuel lines, and had others work on it... the last mechanic who worked on it fixes secret military aircraft.

But nothing worked. It ran about 10 miles after the last "going-over," then died. I had replaced everything I knew to, and nothing helped. Then I decided to stop throwing money, parts, and time into the thing, so I junked it... got $400 for a bike that was worth maybe $1,000 if it ran well anyway.

There are YouTube videos of people with these bikes that have the same problem ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX4SOSSknss )... but I never saw a fix. So I'm going back to Honda, as I never had these problems with one.

And instead of buying a used bike for $5,000 or more, I'll get a new one for $7,000 with a warranty, good reputation, etc. If Honda imported a NC700X in white, there would be one here already.

I agree they are a very nice bike. I still want more power though, but the torque + light bike nearly makes up for that. My favorite feature on the bike are the rims. I like the open/airy feel they have.

Styling is somewhat BMWish, which I like as well. I'd prefer the larger faring the BMW's have though for bug/wind/rain protection. But then again, I'm spoiled behind my Goldwing's bay window...

You know how to tell a happy motorcycle rider, right?

By the bugs in his teeth.

Ha!

I don't know why, but an automatic tranny belongs in a scooter, not a motorcycle. Rather drive a Vestpa.

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