Honda NC700X comes stateside

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Starting at just $6,999 and available with an optional Dual-Clutch transmission and ABS, the 2012 Honda NC700X is going to be an extremely practical entry-level all-rounder. That’s $1,300 cheaper than its nearest competitor, the 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 and $900 cheaper than the Kawasaki Versys. Over the Suzuki, the Honda brings that optional transmission, as well as way-more-practical 17-inch wheels. This is a lot of bike for very little money, even if does make less power than either rival.

Update: The DCT and ABS package brings the price up to $8,999.

Comparisons will also obviously be drawn to the $11,199 Aprilia Mana GT. That bike also fills its tank from under the pillion seat, shifts gears itself and has a full-face sized storage compartment where the fuel tank normally goes. Unlike the Italian bike, the NC700X doesn’t come with ABS or that fancy transmission as standard though. They’ll need to be available as a cost package, with the price for that model not released yet.

I was actually prepared to dismiss the NC as the product of American Honda being stuck choosing least evils with a model line up out of Japan heavily skewed towards either Boomers (witness the VFR1200) or European commuters (the whole NC-series). That was until I saw the price. $6,999 is crazy cheap for a bike in this class and is spec’d more appropriately for its intended use. It may sound like nit-picking, but it’s great to see Honda shunning dirty trends in favor of a good ol’ 17 inch front. Bikes like these are never made to venture beyond the occasional fire road, so the 19 and 21 inchers that come on similar mid-capacity ADV bikes are too often less-than-ideal. The road-size wheel will facilitate greater tire choice at lower prices, decrease unsprung weight and just generally work more like a regular motorcycle.

On the VFR1200, that fancy DCT transmission carries a $1,500 premium while ABS adds $1,000 to the price of a CBR600RR. If Honda is able to package the two together for around $1,000, they’ll be able to continue undercutting the ABS-standard Suzuki, offering the clear advantage of DCT too.

You can read more about Honda’s DCT (albeit the 1st gen, not this later system) here. We like it.

The NC700X weighs 472lbs in standard guise and 505 with DCT and ABS. Those figures sound relatively high until you compare them to the 454lbs Versys and 472lbs Suzuki. Honda does run into problems when it comes to power though. The NC700X makes just 47bhp and 46lb/ft (the DCT model makes 51bhp). In comparison, the Versys makes 63bhp and 45lb/ft while the V-Strom manages 68bhp and 44lb/ft.

The thinking is, the NC700X will cater to riders more concerned with practicality, price and features than they are numbers comparison. The 65mpg fuel economy will help too. So what we have here isn’t an epoch-defining shift in thinking or capability, but it is an extremely well-priced, practical, do-it-all motorcycle with some neat features both standard and optional.

  • Charlie

    That’s a step in the right direction…a lot of value as an urban assault vehicle. I forget which bike it was – maybe even this one? – that was referred to as the CRV of bikes. I like the utility of the CRV in my fleet – and the new one looks even better. I think I might go Triumph XC over this – but that’s hypothetical because I NEED the Brutale 675

  • michael uhlarik

    Honda are, more than anyone else, making a focused return to accessible motorcycling. Witness the sales topping CBR125 and 250, Europe’s embrace of the CBF150 and CBF250, the Brazilian market CB300 and now these excellent machines aimed at us in North America.

    I have never been a “Honda guy” but credit where credit is due. These are fun motorcycles that make sense in today’s economic paradigm.

  • stempere

    There’s an issue with the lenght on the homepage.

    • Grant Ray

      Fixed it the second I logged on this morning. Some sleep-deprived editor forgot to add a page break when this got readied to publish sometime late, late night.

      • stempere

        Oh yeah, late night caffeine sustained uploads are always a good idea… fucked up a few myself.

  • JR

    Kind of the same thought as Michael: I’m not usually a Honda guy, but Helmet storage + enough power + 65mpg! + luggage capacity + ABS + other goodies, for a great price!… sounds like a really solid product. I hope it sells well. I’d get the ABS and a manual trans.

  • markbvt

    This makes excellent sense as a commuter bike or even a light-touring bike. Nice to see Honda investing in stuff like this instead of answers to questions no one asked like the DN-01. But I still say they’re missing out on a massive opportunity by not offering an updated Africa Twin worthy of the name (yes, with 21″ front wheel). Many of us buying ADV bikes actually do ride them on dirt occasionally…

    • Murat

      +1. I can not, for the life of me, understand why Honda is leaving that segment to BMW (F800GS) and Triumph (Tiger 800XC). A close friend of mine has a ’98 Africa and it still is a fantastic bike. It handles solidly even with the 21 inch front wheel. It needs to be updated for the 21st century, that’s all. with NC-X covering the value segment, perhaps Honda may focus on the more premium part and create a new Africa Twin. Here’s hoping.
      By the way, the NC-X looks much much better than the Crossrunner, what do you guys think?

  • Chris

    I’m not the customer they are marketing that bike for. I don’t like the aesthetics of it at all, but the features and price look nice.

    • Eben

      There’s also the NC700S, which is a more traditional naked bike. Not sure about that one coming to the US, though.

      • Roman

        The whole “tall-rounder” genre really is the SUV of motorcycling. The look hinting at rugged offroad capability without any of the function. I guess that makes naked/bikes the station wagons of motorcycling? Man, give me the station wagon every time, at least it’s honest.

      • BigRooster

        That version is much better looking in my opinion; however the underseat fuel tank makes it look too much like a scooter. Id rather a conventional fuel tank and no helmet trunk but that little cubby is a pretty slick idea. A very practical motorcycle if nothing else.

      • JR

        Now THAT is a sweet bike!

  • Gene

    Well, it’s better than a Rune or a DN-01, but less power than a vstrom? That’s like saying less bite than my chihuahua. I always considered my vstrom to be more than a little underpowered for commuting. It’s why I got rid of it.

    OTOH, if they can keep the price sane, they do have something worth buying, especially if it’s in the same general ballpark as a Burgman.

    Hopefully they’ll have demos at Bike Week.

  • Devin

    I’m with you, everything about this bike is so right, except the power output. I drove a EX500 with similar specs, (though lighter) for five years, so it will do just fine. But I find the 70hp category to kind of be the sweet spot for a commuter. Gusto without accidental wheelie-oh.

    I hope ABS can be bought separate of the automatic. I don’t care if technology can do it better than I can, I love to shift for myself.

  • R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    I’d rather the Versys, but then I suppose this bike isn’t aimed at me.

  • Matt

    Looks like the transmission and ABS are a $2K package:

    Base MSRP $6,999
    Features & Options
    670cc Parallel Twin engine
    21-liter integrated storage
    Underseat fuel tank (centralizes mass)

    NC700X DCT ABS
    Base MSRP $8,999
    Features & Options
    670cc Parallel Twin engine
    Combined Anti-Lock Brakes
    Automatic Dual Clutch Transmission

  • BMW11GS

    I have heard (I think from kevin ash) that the fuel econ modes achievable are even higher. Also the power comes on really early and most of it appears right of idle.

  • Beale

    The Honda Finch. I’m not a big fan of the beak trend.

    OTT, I actually kind of like it. There’s nothing wrong with a good town bike that gets good mileage and can be used for 2-3 day trips.

    • Ax

      According to something I read in a description of the yet-to-be-released VFR1200T (the touring version of “Shamu”), those beaks are supposed to prevent the bike from catapulting the rider into the stratosphere when t-boning a cage. Though I imagine most of these beaks are “non-functional”.

  • Holden and Annette

    So it’s the Honda Versys, with similar displacement but much less power.

    If it has a low standover height (which I doubt), it would make a nice first bike for my wife. For riders who can put both feet flat on the ground at stoplights, this seems like a non-intimidating, friendly commuter, with Honda’s reliability and fit-and-finish.

    I hope they market this to new riders. The United States needs relatively low-powered, practical, affordable bikes like this to attract new riders. You know — the kind of people who are mystified when they hear about how fun motorcycling is, yet every model in the Cycle Gear catalogue is a frowny-face.

    • pplassm

      Ever see the Allstate ads? Every one of those folks must hate getting on a bike.

      • Holden and Annette

        Exactly! Motorcyclists in ads look like they’d rather fight than get laid! I dunno about you, but I look blissful, not pissed off, when taking off my helmet.

        Think of the Progressive commercial from last year, in which the Grizzled Motorcycle Guy makes fun of Flo’s 500cc ride, when instead he should have said to her, “You wanna wrap your legs around something even more powerful?”

  • Eben

    It’s definitely worth looking at Kevin Ash’s review before making any judgements. The parallel twin in these bikes is pretty unusual, being based on the Honda Fit/Jazz inline four car engine. It supposedly doesn’t act like a motorcycle power plant at all, for good or for bad.

    • Gene

      Wow. That article screams “DO NOT WANT!” about the motor. My SV might not be much, but the few times I get to spin the hell out of it on an on-ramp or whatever make it worthwhile. It’s one of the many reasons why I commute on a bike instead of a car.

      • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

        Agreed. Why take a motorcycle and make it heavy and boring? Shave 40 kilos off it and then try again, Honda.

  • Uncle Fluffy

    I think I’d rather drop the adventure bike pretense and have the NC700S, but who knows if they’ll even bring that one to the US…

  • Raubert Van Harris

    Something about this bike really reminds me of my old Honda Sabre V4…

  • Mark D

    I thought this bike looked pretty iffy at first, but the factory hard luggage, plus the storage compartment for a full-face helmet, makes this kind of awesome. Not sexy, not desirable per se, but awesome (and functional). Plus, nobody is going to complain about 65 MPGs!

  • Ben NYC

    I’ve been wanting to get a scooter for driving around NYC for ages, but the small tires freak me out with our war zone roads.

    Manual transmission in heavy, urban traffic is a real drag. This is exactly the kind of bike I have been wanting for ages.

    It is very basic looking, but the size is PERFECT. Bikes like the V-strom are just way too large. Kawasaki bikes, with the exception of their single cylinder bikes, are just made for short people. The Versys is just way too uncomfortable for this 6′-2″ man.

    This bike fits perfectly.

    • Rob

      Well, looks like we found him. It took 40 tries, but here he is.
      I have a Versys, so obviously I can appreciate practical virtues in my moto-steed, and as for the looks, well the best angle is from the saddle. Fuck it, I wear a ‘stich and have an OSHA Yellow Box affixed to the Motech Rack: just be glad I’m not messing up the image of a faster/cooler bike.

  • Russ Gunn

    I’ve test rode the NC700X here in the UK and have written a quick review over on Ash on Bikes. If you can get out of your usual way of riding and adapt it is one fantastic bike. Try to ignore the weight and power specs. It makes no difference with enough torque to compensate. Anyway, go read.

  • Dana Seero

    “Over the Suzuki, the Honda brings that optional transmission, as well as way-more-practical 17-inch wheels.”

    Yeah, they’re “way more practical” for those of you who live in the sun belt and don’t get frost heaves and potholes. One of the reasons Adv Touring bikes are growing in popularity is that they handle holes in the pavement a whole lot better than the 17″ fronts, but aren’t as skinny as 21″.

  • fasterfaster

    Isn’t the Kawasaki Ninja 650 a more apt comparison with its 17″ wheels and $7500 retail price? Sure it has fairings, but if the naked sister Er-6n were still imported it would be virtually a direct comparison with the base nc700x. On a spec sheet, it kicks the Honda’s ass, and in real life it sets a pretty high standard to beat.

  • rvltng_bstrd

    Uh, let me think things through … no, it’s just too ugly