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.
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.