Honda has announced a product called “Integra,” which is a light-duty-touring-style motorcycle with super-scooter overtones, powered by a high-efficiency, 700cc parallel-Twin, driving through either a second-generation Dual Clutch Transmission or a six-speed conventional transmission.
To ensure excellent stable idle and good low-to-mid-speed combustion, this engine has been given the car-engine-like longer-stroke dimensions of 73 x 80mm. With its primary balance shaft, the engine is said to achieve “a slightly rough throb” and “a ride to suit mature tastes.”
Is this just another “What is it?” machine, like the Pacific Coast, Rune or DN-01? But wait: In its release, Honda repeatedly used the word “global,” emphasizing low fuel consumption and ease of use. Even the engine displacement carries a message; at 700cc, no one will compare it with established displacement segments.
Now, I’m getting a glimmer. This is not a machine for the U.S., where motorcycles are so often for “entertainment purposes.” It’s a machine for the global developing markets to which the industry has turned in these hard times. It is aimed at countries in which the new middle class is expanding and gaining buying power. What will they buy? Something useful and economical but also good-looking and fun.
With an automatic-shift, dual-clutch transmission, the Integra would be easy to learn to ride, even for those who learned to drive only on automatic-transmission autos. With its emphasis on low fuel consumption (63 mpg, a claimed 40 percent improvement over “other sports models in its class”), it makes economic sense in developing markets.
Honda also refers to Integra’s powerplant as a “next-generation mid-class engine,” as if there is more to come. There is, of course, as motorcycles are increasingly shaped to suit markets other than the U.S.