Honda plans naked adventure

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Looks like Honda’s jumping on the tease bandwagon too. This is the second sketch of a new bike that Honda now says, “will have the flexibility and exciting attitude of a naked performance machine, with the upright riding position and rugged appearance of an adventure bike.” It also looks like this model will use a smaller capacity version of Honda’s new V4. The production version of this bike is destined for EICMA on 2 November, where Honda will also unveil a concept preview of another V4 model, this time using the 1200cc version of that engine.

This sketch shows the front fairing and headlight of this “crossover” motorcycle, something Honda claims it designed to foster both engine cooling and high-speed stability. Note the “floating” instrument cluster placed unusually high within the windshield, this arrangement should better enable the rider to use peripheral vision to monitor the instruments.

It’s sort of amazing how many takes on the adventure touring theme we’re seeing this year. The R1200GS that essentially invented the segment soldiers on, still dominating in both sales and performance, but literally every other bike maker now thinks they can twist its theme just enough to muscle into the segment. The Ducati Multistrada 1200 attempts this with superbike power, light weight and push-button electronic adjustability of its suspension, power delivery and traction control system. The Yamaha Super Tenere is also a more road-focussed bike, falling a bit flat with reportedly un-exciting performance. The Triumph Tiger 800 takes the novel approach of offering two versions pushed to the polar extremes of the segment: the Triumph Tiger 800 XC should be very capable off road, while the non-XC ditches the tubes and knobs for presumably superior on-road performance. Aprilia is even rumored to be getting in on the action.

The problem with all the above is that they push expanded features, complication and, as a result, reduced utility without offering anything fundamentally different to or better than that GS. Could Honda be playing a different game with this “crossover” malarky?

The word evokes lame car-based SUVs with more cupholders than off-road ability, but it’s no more revolutionary a concept that any of the above competition. The Ducati, Yamaha and non-XC Tiger are already essentially sports tourers with upright ergos more than they are bona fide dirt-capable machines. This teaser gives us no idea what Honda will be bringing to the segment other than some intrinsic Hondaness. In other years we’d applaud its mid-size engine, but the Tiger already appears to have that sewn up with the added advantage of a characterful, torquey, fast three-cylinder.

This machine appears to have been designed by Honda Italy, also responsible for the oddly-styled Honda CB1000R. If that hints at European production, it may also indicate that it’s unlikely the bike will make it across the Atlantic. Like the CB1000R, production in Europe simply makes bikes too expensive to sell with the currently deliberately depressed dollar.

In addition to this production machine, Honda also plans to show a concept based 1200cc V4. Here’s the official statement that accompanied this sketch:

Honda today released a second design sketch of the mid-range crossover motorcycle that expands its V4 engine configuration offering.

The image shows the front face of the motorcycle, with a fairing design that improves high speed stability as well as engine cooling; and an innovative ‘floating’ instrument panel to put the gauges in the rider’s field of vision for improves safety.

This crossover is a midrange capacity motorcycle – Honda will also reveal at EICMA a new concept motorcycle using the 1200cc V4 engine first seen in the VFR1200F, to further prove leadership in this evocative and powerful  engine configuration.

This mid-range machine is an exciting new approach – a crossover machine that represents the best aspects of two separate biking genres.  It will have the flexibility and exciting attitude of a Naked performance machine, with the upright riding position and rugged appearance of an adventure bike.

This mid-range machine is an exciting new approach – a crossover machine that represents the best aspects of two separate biking genres.  It will have the flexibility and exciting attitude of a Naked performance machine, with the more comfortable upright riding position and design cues inspired by adventure bikes.

With the low centre of gravity of a performance bike it is great fun to ride, and because of its wide handlebars and upright riding position it is both easy to manoeuvre and comfortable .

Honda research had revealed that customers want a machine that has both a unique style and is also fun to ride in all conditions throughout the year. Honda has delivered this customer request.

The final production motorcycle will be shown for the first time at the EICMA show in Milan from 2nd November 2010, when pictures, the date for production and date of availability in dealer will be revealed.

via MCN

  • Beast Incarnate

    I have to wonder: is this the plan? Skip the naked performance market which hasn’t sold well in the US, focus on “do-it-all but look like adventure bikes,” and hope that pans out better?

    It doesn’t bother me with Triumph’s Tiger, as they already have excellent cruisers, sportbikes, and naked bikes – they might as well go after it. But I look at Honda and Yamaha and think, “Really, guys? All the holes and pitfalls in your lineups and this is your direction?”

    I’ll be happy to have great performance and good looks, but none of the adventure bikes really grab me so far. Perhaps because I know that my riding doesn’t take me off-road, so the pretense of it just makes me feel like a douche in disguise.

  • swfcpilot

    I’m just waiting to see what the VFR1200T looks like. Come on Nov 2!

    • Wes Siler

      Yeah, the Pan European replacement promises to be the best possible application for this engine and a big Tourer seems to fit with what Honda’s doing with its bikes right now much better than Shamu or this “adventure” bike will. Weight and features are welcome on a big tourer.

  • markbvt

    Oh great. The CR-V of motorcycles. Just what we needed. Thanks, Honda — Soichiro would be proud.

  • andehans

    Sick of all these bikes communicating a lifestyle way beyond what they’re actually used for most of the time. A V4 Honda I would be very interested in would be a “simple” road bike inspired by the VF750F Interceptor. Simplicity in concept; Simple construction, lightweight, great handling, great looks.

  • stickfigure

    I don’t understand the complaint. As little as three years ago, if you wanted an adventure bike bigger that wasn’t going to make you sterile with vibration you had two choices – the BMW or the KTM. Or you could squeeze the Wee-Strom into the category with enough aftermarket parts.

    Now there’s a fair range of options with a wide range of bias between dirt and street. I’m especially glad to see the 800GS and baby Tiger on the market… and if most owners don’t ride them to their fullest, that just means a lovely future resale market full of lightly-used bikes for me to buy on the cheap.

    I’d personally like to see more lightweight, well-balanced thumpers like the KTM 690 bikes but can’t we at least cheer because manufacturers are finally taking the adventure market seriously?

    • MikeD

      HURRAY, they are trying to do “something”…there…said it. lol.

  • EddieSmith29

    I like the concept; typically you can have performance on the pavement or performance on the dirt, but not both. Now if I could just find a nice 190/50/17 knobby to tame the ~100hp of a naked adventure…

  • mchale2020

    I’v had it with Honda. What it’s going to take for a NC30 revival?

    • MikeD

      Pixie and unicorn horn dust in industrial quantities.

  • 1chi

    I love naked adventures!

    I’ll echo the other comments. What niche of what market is a 1200cc V4 ‘adventure’ bike going to fill? I’m sure it will be capable in all sorts of ways but seems like its an ass-backwards concept. I’m clearly not in the age/earning bracket that this bike will be marketed to but then, I doubt many others are either.

  • tropical ice cube

    Pass the sick bucket:

    Hurry up, please, I’m going to redo the graphics of this thing right here on my screen. Not that it’ll make a difference.

    • MikeD

      Thats just a lame prediction work. Yes, it is Hideous.
      Let’s wait and watch,make some PopCorn, November is just around the corner.