Wrist: Marc Cook
MSRP (2012): $6999
Mods: SHAD comfort seat
Without a doubt, I've been a titch hard on the NC700X in my care. Not as in failing to take care of it or abusing it physically—as though you could abuse a motorcycle mentally—but in the way I've framed its performance capabilities. Bottom line: This is a crossover kind of bike, designed with a few key points in mind, including superb fuel economy, ease of operation, and the ability to take great care with riders fresh from the MSF course. That means it's not a fire-breathing beast, and definitely not something to keep experienced riders jonesing for more.
No, it's something else: a fantastic commuter/daily rider. If I seem a bit cranky just after a long trip or a weekend strafe of my favorite backroads, just the opposite is true at the end of my daily commute. I arrive where I'm going at ease, happy to have been conveyed there on a motorcycle instead of cooped up inside a box. (Although with summer here, I'm a bit jealous of air conditioning.)
As a transportation piece, the NC has few peers. The laydown engine runs so smoothly and produces such a spread of usable torque that you spend little time managing it. And that's with the manual transmission—had I opted for the Dual-Clutch Transmission autobox, it would be even more twist and go.
Even though Honda is ready to close the books on its model year-2012 testbikes out in the wild and so is calling for my NC to come home, I'm going to try one last mod. Reps from the U.S. arm of SHAD got in touch saying they had a new comfort seat set for the NC700X (www.shadusa.com; $399). Barcelona-based SHAD produces seats and luggage for a wide range of bikes, and even makes original-equipment items for several manufacturers, including BMW, Honda, and Triumph.
The company's one seat option for the NC comes with a choice of seam colors (gray or red) but no option for heating. (My timing is perpetually off. Once I got the heated Corbin in place, summer arrived with a sweaty thump.) SHAD's seat is dramatically softer than the Corbin—no surprise since I think the Corbin has a Rockwell number—and is even a bit softer than the stocker. It's a big improvement in that the seating surface has much more grip than the Teflon-like original saddle, and has much less of the forward rake that makes long trips uncomfortable. Right out of the box, the SHAD's fit is right up to OEM standards.
Comfortable? Yes, so I can say after a week's worth of commuting. But the stock piece felt fine that way, too, so I'll reserve judgment until I complete my one last long trip on the NC before Honda takes it back.