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Honda NC700X

An innovative addition to motorcycling's sweet spot

by Evan Orensten in Design on 24 January 2012

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Honda's NC700X, the newest addition to the Japanese manufacturer's line, is a crossover bike designed to give riders the best of both worlds. Highlighting efficiency while retaining sports performance, the motorcycle is equal parts commuter, street racer and weekend warrior. The bike is what you make of it—an open platform approach to transportation that is sensitive to rider demands. In a sign of its universality, the bike will be distributed globally—a rarity in the motorcycle world—with the idea that this model can handle remote country touring and European cities alike.

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In the development of the new engine platform, Honda leveraged design elements from their Fit automobile's 117-hp 1.5l, 16-valve SOHC i-VTEC engine. This mechanical cross-pollination significantly reduces development and production cost, which explains the motorcycle's very accessible price point. Other innovations include an impressive built-in 21-liter compartment for helmet stowage where the gas tank is typically located—resulting from moving the 3.7 gallon fuel tank under the seat, and installing the engine with a slight tilt. The digital LCD instrument panel presents operating data in an easy-to-use format that sacrifices analog looks to communicate information faster than traditional dials. While the standard version sticks to manual shifting, The NC700X DCT ABS version features optional automatic dual-clutch transmission with two automatic modes, as well as a paddle shifting mode that makes for easy control of the bike, especially in high traffic driving.

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The NC700X is styled like an adventure bike, but overall the model is suited to city dwellers. Loads of accessories make it easy to convert this narrow-body bike into a respectable touring bike, with extra-large wind screens and 29-liter saddlebags on offer. The chassis design keeps weight centered and low, allowing for spry handling through turns. While the small size and multi-functionality will appeal to newcomers, the 670 cc bike remains respectable. Focused on efficiency rather than power, Honda is able to boast 60+ mpg fuel economy in the new model.

The price point for the NC700X promises to mix up the middle market, starting at $6,999 ($8,999 for the automatic transmission and ABS package). This lowers the barrier of entry of a full-featured bike for first-time and commuter buyers, promising to open the market to a new group of riders. The NC700X will hit dealers summer 2012.

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