To face the challenge posed by the current worldwide economic crisis, Honda has developed a flexible
design plan that creates two families of models: the NC700S/NC700X duo and new Integra maxi-scooter. In
our November issue, we tested the urban/touring-crossover NC700X, the most-spirited and better-selling of the two bikes in Europe. More recently, I spent extensive time riding the new Integra.
With the Integra’s styling and general layout, it’s hard to believe that its protective and aerodynamic
bodywork hides the very same engine and chassis of the NC700X. Technical commonality extends to engine tuning, frame geometry, suspension and even to the wheels, tires and ABS-equipped brakes, the last featuring the same 320mm front disc and three-piston caliper.
But the Integra is a full-dress scooter of imposing size, with a large fairing. An aggressively sculpted profile helps reduce its visual impact a bit, but the Integra still looks more massive than its NC700 siblings. And, in fact, it is. Whereas the Integra tips the scales at 525 pounds, the NC700X we recently tested weighed 472. But if you add ABS and DCT (dual-clutch transmission), which are standard on the Integra, plus a few accessories, the NC700X balloons past the 500-lb. mark to 502.
Because of its “scooterized” configuration, the Integra has no “false gas tank” cargo compartment like the
NC700X that’s able to hold a full-face helmet. Its underseat compartment is adequate to store a rainsuit but not much more, so most Integras are sold with side bags and a top case. The bags and case are top-quality pieces, solidly built and easy to lock and remove, but they add significant weight. Though this extra mass is biased toward the rear, it did not upset the balance of the excellent chassis, either in terms of stability at high speed or steering response when pushing the Integra hard on a twisty road.
In fact, the very good riding qualities of this Honda chassis remain substantially unchanged in the Integra, which handles and rides way better than any maxi-scooter in production today. The engine is a highly innovative sohc, 670cc parallel-Twin, with a substantial 11.7:1 compression ratio. Honda lists output as 51 hp at 6250 rpm and 45.7 foot-pounds of torque at 4750 rpm, even with the six-speed DCT.
Once you are aboard, the Integra offers a rational and comfortable riding posture. Floorboards are set
forward, and the consequent positioning of the rider’s feet partly compensates for the extra weight of the
bags and top case. The seat, set at 31.1 in., is ample and comfortably contoured for two. The fairing proved highly protective, making even a ride in the cold northern Italian rain a pleasant experience. Heated grips, available as an option, would have been greatly appreciated.
For some reason (structural rigidity, perhaps?), the inner upper section of the fairing assumes a
sudden “dogleg” profile that puts any riders taller than 5-foot-5 at risk of banging their knees if they sit as far forward as the seat allows to improve weight distribution.
Honda’s proprietary DCT is perfectly teamed to the flexible engine. In D mode, the midsize Twin is smooth
in everyday riding conditions and easily delivers more than 65 miles per gallon. In S mode, the DCT
becomes a high-performance transmission, capable of holding gears to peak power rpm and downshifting
under braking. The feeling is brisk and sporty, and the Integra hits 85 mph quite quickly. Manual shifting
via the left hand is possible, but it’s best to set the transmission to Sport and simply appreciate the spirited performance. The fairing ensures very good stability at speeds of up to 100 mph, about the performance limit of the Integra. On a similarly positive note, braking, as on all late-model scooters, is controlled by two hand levers, which is very instinctive.
The only real criticism I have is the Integra’s accessibility, particularly in this bags-equipped edition. I tried both scooter step-through and motorcycle-style boarding, but in both cases, my 5-foot-10 frame couldn’t do any better than “clamber” aboard. It probably takes longer, thinner legs to fit between the seat and steering head. Given the specific engine/frame layout, there’s little room for improvement. Extending the floorboards farther back would allow the rider to step on them and easily throw his/her leg over the seat and bags.
Nevertheless, thanks to its agility, ease of handling and agreeable nature, the Integra was quite pleasant in town and on the open road. If it were a bit easier to climb aboard, I would call the Integra the ultimate maxi-scooter. American Honda currently has no plans to sell the Integra in the U.S.