How much longer could Honda ignore this category in the U.S. market? The answer is: no longer. Yes, with adventure bikes grabbing increasing sales and the category itself constantly broadening to include a wider variety of machines, Honda has finally jumped back into the stateside fray after a longtime absence. But this time around it has come armed with a machine that is really hard to pigeonhole. Styled to fit the adventure profile, the 2012 Honda NC700X could also be called a commuter, a sport-tourer or even a quasi-sportbike/scooter.
First shown at the EICMA motorcycle show last fall, the NC700X is the adventure-oriented version of Honda’s new “crossover” family of 670cc parallel-Twin machines. The naked NC700S and scooter-like Integra, also shown in Milan, are unlikely to come to the U.S.
The brand-new engine is a 670cc liquid-cooled, parallel-Twin with a single overhead cam, four valves per cylinder and a counterbalancer for smooth running. Honda’s trademark PGM-FI fuel-injection system mixes air and combustibles through a single 36mm throttle body. One of the most notable options is the second-generation DCT transmission, a follow-on to the gen-one version that debuted on the VFR1200F sport-tourer. As before, DCT allows fully automatic operation or paddle shifts in manual mode, but with expected improved operation. Honda hopes DCT will attract new riders who may be intimidated by the standard bike’s manual clutch and six-speed gearbox.
The tube frame is very low-slung (see the body-off photo in the gallery) and the parallel-Twin packages nicely, offering what appears to be a very low center of gravity. Speaking of packaging, both versions feature a watertight, locking storage compartment located where the fuel tank is normally found. Fuel is instead carried under the long, stepped seat, with the filler accessed by flipping up the passenger pad.
Suspension isn’t Dakar-ready, but its longish travel should be up for at least a bit of adventuresome riding. The 41mm fork offers 6.0 inches of travel, while a Pro-Link shock delivers 5.9 inches at the rear wheel. Brakes consist of a single 320mm disc squeezed by a two-piston caliper (three pistons on the C-ABS model) up front and a 240mm disc/single-piston-caliper combo out back.
Accessories include beautifully turned out color-matched side cases and a top trunk, plus crash bars, LED fog lights, 12-volt DC power socket, tall windscreen, heated grips and a centerstand.
Expected in dealerships this summer, the standard NC700X is priced at $6999, while MSRP for the DCT/Combined Anti-lock Braking System bike has not been set.