A friend of mine happened to glance at my computer screen while I was researching the Honda NC700X today. He spotted its picture on the laptop screen and after a moment of admiring it exclaimed: “That’s a pretty sharp looking bike! I like the “beak” on it. Yeah it’s nice! Is that a good one?”
His hunch was right on the money. It is what it appears to be, but it’s also a lot more.
Firstly, here are the numbers to show what it is.
- Engine Type: 670cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin, SOHC
- Fuel Injection: PGM-FI with 36mm throttle body
- 51 horsepower at 6250 rpm, 46 ft lbs of torque at 4750 rpm
- Seat Height: 32.7 inches
- NC700X with 6 speed manual transmission
- NC700XD with Automatic Dual Clutch Transmission
- Optional heated grips
- Single disc front and rear brakes with combined ABS technology on the NC700XD
- Average Fuel Economy 64 MPG (NC700X) / 61 MPG (NC700XD)
- Curb Weight 474 pounds (NC700X) / 505 pounds (NC700XD)
- $7699 for the NC700X and $600 more for the NC700XD (2016 price of new)
- Pricing for the 2018 NC750X has yet to be released
The NC700X first appeared in the US in 2012 and has remained much the same until 2018 when it will morph into the new NC750X. Both models have been available in other markets like Canada and Europe longer.
The difference in performance is surprisingly small in the new NC750X despite it gaining three more horsepower and 75cc more displacement over the 700X. The 750 does gain the HSTC (Honda Selectable Traction Control) feature which is a bonus.
Flexibility and Technology
Honda built this motorcycle to fit the needs and wants of a demanding “do-everything-well” set of criteria. While primarily an on-road, commuter-styled machine, the NC is equally able to go on longer touring trips or even some light off road riding if dual sport tires are installed.
The NC engine’s power is tuned to be most available at lower rpms and is a near perfect amount for predictable, reliable, and efficient riding. That’s why it’s widely regarded as a beginner-friendly motorcycle. Additionally, its upright seating position, sub 500 lb curb weight, narrow frame, and low seat height make it even more palatable to learners.
Best of all, it doesn’t look like a beginner bike. It has a legit, adventure style front end that woos riders wanting to have their proverbial dual sport cake and eat it too.
What is behind the allure of adventure class styling and the “beak” my friend pointed out? I believe that it makes the motorcycle look like a horse and that feature inspires more credibility for off highway riding even if not justified by the actual ability of the bike.
A couple of the NC700/750X features make this motorcycle stand out among the competition. The large storage area located in front of the seat is the one of them.
This 22 litre capacity, “frunk” as it’s commonly nicknamed is big enough to house a full face helmet or the equivalent in rain gear, tools, a portable compressor, a picnic lunch for two or even five loaves of bread.
It’s waterproof and locks shut to keep your valuables safely stored out of sight – a practical way to store a lot of gear without worrying about kicking panniers or saddlebags draped over the back of the bike when swinging a leg over the saddle getting on and off.
It also eliminates the need for a large set of luggage on longer rides even though Honda offers a set of factory gear as an option for the bike.
In order to make room for the frunk the actual gas tank is located under the rear seat. Storing the fuel lower in the frame sets the weight closer to the ground. Thus, the bike feels lighter and more maneuverable than it would otherwise.
Dual Clutch Transmission
The other big feature is the optional DCT that behaves like and is often described as an automatic transmission.
This is the future of motorcycling transmissions in my opinion, because it allows riders to focus on the road instead of on what gear they’re in or when to clutch. Any technology that enables riders to be more aware of hazards is something everyone should embrace. The bike’s computer monitors wheel and engine speed then selects the gear to best match the two.
- There is a sport mode a rider can select to activate a more aggressive riding style where the computer waits for revs to go higher than normal before shifting.
- Riders can alternately do all the shifting themselves using buttons on the handlebars at any time to override the computer, if they so choose as well.
DCT is absolutely brilliant technology on any motorcycle and a huge leg up for beginner riders getting into the sport.
I did a lot of researching and spoke to a couple of NC owners about their bikes with very little success in flushing out complaints. Yes, you can find some owners online discussing some minor starting issues and others learning about how the DCT system can sometimes lose contact with the speed sensors and need rocking back and forth to reset.
On the whole though, it really seems like the 700 and 750 are as close to flawless when it comes to reliability as it can get.
This page from lemonlaw.org really sums it up nicely showing a total of 0 complaints to the website over all years of Honda NC700X production!
Regular service intervals are typical of many other motorcycles at 8000 miles along with the first valve clearance inspection. Unlike many other bikes the NC engine has a screw and locknut style adjuster on the valves making the job way easier to do when necessary.
The NC750X engine valve set intervals have been doubled to 16000 miles and many 700 owners have opted to wait that long without issue to check theirs.
Owner Testimonials and Reviews
A coworker of mine named Daren bought an NC750X last year for his first motorcycle. He’s quite tall at 6’4” and notably didn’t find the bike uncomfortable as I may have suspected. Among other things, one standout he mentioned was the great low end torque being a confidence-building attribute on the bike while he learned how to ride.
His wife joined him on the Honda as a passenger on two long trips in Arizona and California in comfort and without any issues.
Daren did take his NC750X off road to see how it would perform, but didn’t get some proper dual sport tires installed on it beforehand. The result was very poor traction and him dropping the bike a few times in the dirt before he decided to retreat back to the asphalt.
Even when equipped with decent tires everything I’ve heard or read is that the rims on the Honda aren’t going to hold up to serious adventure riding off road, so proceed with caution.
The only gripe with the bike for Daren was that he outgrew it in only one season (after 4400 miles) and this year moved on to a KTM 1290 Adventure. He found the Honda’s power a little wanting for his liking when riding with a passenger and full gear.
Interestingly, Daren and other people like him who own multiple motorcycles say that when it comes to zipping out to run a quick errand will most often lead to them choosing the NC model bikes over their other rides.
It’s irresistibly easy to ride and has a handy place to put whatever you pick up at the store in for the ride back home.
Here’s a link to a Honda ST1100 forum where an owner lauds his NC700X over the ST! What nerve!
I appreciate his insight on the fuel efficiency capabilities of the NC reaching up around 94 mpg under ideal conditions and the low about 50 mpg with a head wind. There’s no doubt just how practical, yet fun these bikes are.
If nothing I’ve mentioned yet has impressed you, don’t worry I’ve saved the best for last. What amount of miles accumulated on a bike would impress you? 60,000? 80,000? How about 124,000?
A Japanese owner (DSYOUKO) posted a video on YouTube two years ago of his NC700X odometer registering a butt-numbing 200,000 kms. Certainly there are BMWs and other very reputable builders whose machines have racked up those kind of miles too, but those typically have larger displacement engines than 670cc.
This NC700X in question definitely has some top end noise in the video that sounds as though it’s high time for a rebuild… but it’s still running, and the guy is continuing to rack up the miles even now. Wow!
Here’s the gist of the NC700/750 bikes:
- Good looks
- Good options
- Good flexibility
- Good comfort
- Good features
- Good ride
- Good power
- Good braking
- Good storage
- Good efficiency
- Good, good… GOOD!
Honda has managed to reincarnate the soul of their Civic line of automobiles into a near perfect motorcycle from what I can tell. It clearly mimics the Civic’s reputation for reliability, efficiency and user friendly design.
There’s good reason the NC bikes are very popular with riders in Europe and it should be no different in North America. The smart design and level of practicality alone regardless of any other positives should put this motorcycle at the top of anyone’s list of great beginner bike choices without any doubt.