Honda is taking the bull by the horns and doing all it can to ensure motorcycling’s future. Over the past three years, Big Red has developed multiple points of entry into motorcycling. The first wave started with the CBR250R, which was followed by the NC700X and a three-bike, 500cc lineup that includes the CB500F, CB500X and CBR500R. Wave two begins now with the new CTX shown here, plus some additional models we’ll learn more about soon.
If these bikes don’t inspire you to run down to your Honda dealership and slap a down payment on the counter, that’s fine. Not all bikes are intended for a seasoned, possibly jaded, motorcyclist like you. Remember, Honda still builds everything from its potent CBR1000RR, CBR600RR and CRF450R models to its flagship Gold Wing. And now, for the new, re-entry or female rider, the CTX is represents an unintimidating option designed to get these people on two wheels.
Honda had three primary goals with the CTX700: Comfort, Technology and a great riding eXperience, hence the CTX name. To meet these points, the CTX needed to have a low seat height (28.3 inches), low center of gravity, unintimidating power delivery and an optional Dual-Clutch Transmission to capture those riders unfamiliar with operating a manual motorcycle transmission.
Two primary versions of the CTX are available: the fairing-equipped CTX700 ($7799) and the naked CTX700N ($6999). Each is available as a DCT/ABS-equipped version for an additional $1000.
If attracting new riders is the goal, it’s hard to argue with the execution of the CTX. I started the day on a DCT/ABS 700N, and was instantly impressed with its low, easy-to-mount seating position. The bike feels far lighter between your legs than its 500-pound curb weight (the non-DCT models weighs 478) would suggest. The moderately feet-forward footpegs provide a relaxed bend to the knees without making you feel stretched out. Handlebar placement is good, as well; your hands rest comfortably on the pulled-back grips to create an almost-vertical upper torso. The wide, well-cushioned seat is designed for light touring and all-day comfort.
In motion, the CTX has neutral steering, which is especially noticeable at slow, parking-lot speeds. Feet-up U-turns are a snap, thanks in part to the bike’s very low center of gravity. On the road, the CTX’s handling is much better than you’d expect of a bike with an urban-roadster appearance. The light and easily manageable steering you sense when pulling out of driveways remains intact around town and even on fun, twisty roads. Who would have guessed that the CTX would handle this well? I wouldn’t have, and the only thing holding it back are footpeg feelers that scrape when there is plenty of tire left to be used. To be fair, there is far more lean-angle afforded than a bike like this typically would deliver. In reality, though, there hasn’t ever really been a bike like this before.
Like the chassis that accommodates such a broad range of rider skillsets, the engine provides a wide swath of performance. Torque that seems like it’s always on tap makes leaving stoplights incredibly easy, especially so on the DCT model. The second-gen version of this multi-mode, fully auto or manual-shifting (via left-bar mounted paddles) transmission is a great fit with the 670cc parallel-Twin’s power characteristics. In Drive mode, you can turn your brain off and ride the bike like a scooter and let it make the decisions. For more aggressive shift points, simply switch it over to Sport. Or, if you want total control, simple use the paddle shifters. If there was ever a bike seemingly perfect for a DCT, the CTX is it, and even more so than its NC700X cousin.
Another bonus to the engine’s character is its efficient use of fuel; at the end of a spirited day on the road, I calculated the fuel mileage on a bike with the manual transmission at 61.7 mpg. And that would be much better had this not been a press event where aggressive riding is par for the course.
Even though the CTX is perfect bike for the DCT, its standard six-speed transmission is incredibly good. Riders who don’t care about the novelty of DCT can lop $1000 off the price, leaving some money for accessories like Honda’s color-matched saddlebags. The only drawback when you don’t order DCT? ABS is not available on the non-DCT model. This was done to keep the price on the base model as reasonable as possible, but it’s a real shame that riders who want the security of ABS are forced to get DCT.
The faired CTX700 feels almost identical to the naked CTX700N, and the only noticeable difference is how the airflow hits the rider. The short, fairing-top windscreen causes light buffeting at helmet level, but otherwise provides good protection from the wind. A taller accessory windscreen from Honda likely will eliminate this gripe entirely.
Breaking down the barriers to motorcycling is the goal here. And with the new CTX700, Honda has succeeded in doing just that, opening the door to future generations who’ll get addicted to the awesome world of riding. At the same time, this Honda manages to be fun and entertaining for those of us lucky enough to have been riding for years.
|2014 Honda CTX700/CTX700N|
|Price:||$7799 (DCT/ABS: $8799)/$6999 (DCT/ABS: $7999)|
|Engine:||Liquid-cooled, parallel-Twin, sohc, four valves per cylinder|
|Seat height:||28.3 in.|
|Fuel capacity:||3.3 gal.|
|Claimed curb weight:||494 (DCT/ABS: 516 lb.)/478 (DCT/ABS: 500 lb.)|