Something interesting happens when an existing type of motorcycle suddenly gets a new name. There’s a mad dash for everyone to come up with their own definition and make it their own. We’re delighted now that Adventure bikes have a name. Now we can be called “Adventure bike riders,” whereas we used to be known as “Jerks who abuse street bikes in the dirt.”
Now that Adventure bikes are a mainstream category and what we do is more respectable, even Honda is using the term for its new NC700X. This is a bike that can be taken on dirt roads, but the real mission is something much more simple. It’s designed to be a very inexpensive street machine to eliminate the “budget” excuse for staying away from a new bike purchase. The NC is priced at $6999, which makes it cheaper than a Kawasaki KLR650 and far, cheaper than a new motocross bike. It’s manufactured at a Honda plant in Japan, and it gives you a lot for the money. It has a frame-mount fairing and there’s a cavernous storage compartment where the fuel tank usually sits.
We’ve only had the bike briefly so far, but here are five things you should know:
1. The quality is on par with anything Honda makes. The twin-cylinder motor was designed to be inexpensive to produce, but it’s still well built. It only turns 6500 rpm before the rev limiter stops it in its tracks. That isn’t enough time to make serious power, but it still runs about like a powerful 650cc single, such as the BMW F650GS.
2. It has a very low center of gravity. This isn’t something you see often in an Adventure bike. Usually, long suspension travel pushes the seat height very high. The laid-down cylinders of the Honda and the location of the fuel tank under the seat make the whole bike easy to handle.
3. Its off-road capability is very limited. It uses a 16-inch front wheel, the suspension is crazy soft and the ground clearance is nothing to get excited about. But there’s something to be said for that light feel. The NC never scares you on a dirt road, even when you probably should be scared.
4. Honda has a long list of accessories. This has become a defining trait in the Adventure bike category. Our has the saddlebags ($750), the travel trunk ($300), the centerstand ($180), the hot grips ($230), the light bar ($150) and the tall windshield ($180). All of it good stuff, though not priced as attractively as the bike itself.
5. We’re going to ride the wheels off of it until Honda finds out what we’re doing and where we’re going. Then the bike will be repossessed immediately. To find out how it went, get the February 2013 issue of Dirt Bike.