I like to ride all things two-wheels, not just dirtbikes, so the blog will include a street-bike post now and then. We are now in the season of manufacturers demo-days. I recently attended a Honda ride at the dealer in Milton.
My first test ride was the Honda Africa twin. When I first saw this bike in person, I was impressed. It seemed to have the correct mixture of street/dirt/size/power to be a fun bike. The Internets were loving the beast and I was excited to give it a ride. I signed up for the manual, not the automatic transmission version. I'm not really interested in the DCT. I would have ridden it if that was the only one available, but as luck had it I got the manual shift version.
First impressions are that this is a comfortable bike. Lots of room to move around on it. It is also surprisingly light feeling. It appears to be somewhat top-heavy, but that is an illusion. The balance of the bike is excellent and very flickable. The bars are VERY wide, and I am used to dirtbikes! An inch cut off each end of the bar would fix that problem.
The bike is very easy to ride. Excellent clutch, gear box and brakes. At the first stop light, I gave it a stab of throttle on the green light and the bike immediately went into some kinda self-induced stutter. It seems the on board computer didn't like my attempt to get the front wheel off the ground. There is a "traction control" adjustment button on the left handlebar, so I set it to the lowest setting for the remainder of my ride.
The engine is adequate but uninspiring. It goes about its business without issue and I’m certain it would provide many years and miles of service, but it just needs a bit more juice. Power is smooth and linear, but for a lightweight 1000c bike it should pull harder. The next major gripe I have is the dash/gauges. The entire setup is horrible. First, the contrast on the display is very low and it’s hard to read at the best of times. The display is also almost vertical, and has a shiny surface, so the glare off the screen is terrible. This is a big fail on Hondas part, it took me all of two minutes to determine what a crappy design it is.
Overall impressions? I think it’s a great bike. I would love to get the beast off-road, I think with decent tires you could do so awesome things with it. However, its 20HP and a better screen away from being an amazing machine. And maybe throw some Brembo brakes on it or just get a KTM 1090.
My second ride was this beast, the NC750X. I wasn’t expecting much, it’s sold as a basic commuter bike, and that pretty much what it is. I rode it thinking it was the modern equivalent of my current street ride, a 1983 Honda CX650E. Well, in short, it’s not. Everything about the bike was acceptable, but the engine. I know Honda had the idea of building a fuel efficient, reliable mill, but its intentions are misguided. The motor down right sucks. Its seems you are hitting the rev limiter at every stop light. It redlines at 6000, which for a mid-size twin is exceptionally low. It wouldn’t be a big deal if there was gobs of torque under that limit, but there simply isn’t.
Lets compare it to the bike I rode immediately after the NC750X, my trusty old CX650. Both are twins. The NC has a 15% displacement advantage over my antique, yet the old CX has tons more torque under 6000RPM (and I really mean tons!). Feeling sporty? Get the CX engine over 6K and it springs to life all the way to the 9500RPM redline. Wanna move out on the NC750? All you get is rev limiter. So it seems in the past 34 years, Honda has moved backwards in their engines, disappointing.