2012 Honda NC700X
Car 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.
Honda 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.
One 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.
And 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.
I 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)