MSRP (2012): $6999
MODS: Home-brew hand guards, real hand guards, tires
To support our epic sport-touring comparison this month, photographer Kevin Wing once more got assigned to pilot the NC. Fifth man, fifth bike, fifth wheel—good thing we pay him well. Packed like a Bangalore bus, the NC ran with full side cases and top trunk, a tripod case across the passenger seat, and Kevin wearing a massive backpack. Total weight of rider and gear: just shy of 300 pounds. Additional frontal area? Don’t ask.
Barkbusters has a more sophisticated solution than Kevin’s roadside setup. The Storm defle
Over dinner each night, Wing told the tale of a modestly powered, overloaded bike trying to catch four big-inch, properly loaded STs. “I would pin it, tuck in, and watch the speedo: 88, 89, 90...oh, then a hill, 89, 88, 87. It’s just not fair,” he whined. Nevertheless, the NC punched way above its weight, carrying the Wingster and his junk far faster and with less drama than should be expected. Kevin’s efforts to keep up resulted in shameful mileage: 48 mpg during the tour, which dragged the overall average down to 53 mpg. I’ve a lot of work to do just to get the average to a more respectable figure, like something above 60. Sheesh.
When not wasting gas, Kevin chafed at the NC’s incomplete fairing coverage—not the bike’s fault, just part of the adventure-y design. Because Kevin had lightly insulated gloves and his fingers were icy (despite the really warm Honda heated grips), he improvised. At a fuel stop he bought and carved up a couple of gallon water bottles then taped them to the bars. They looked like something out of Moonshiners or maybe Junkyard Wars.
Extended commuting, a 2200-mile trip dramatically over-loaded, and a few smoky burnouts sp
The X made it back to me a few days after the trip, plastic jugs still in place, New Mexico dirt on the fenders. Under the muck, the NC was undamaged, though the chain was ready for a good cleaning and adjustment, and the rear tire was flat enough across the center to call for a set of replacements. It’s hard to complain about getting nearly 6000 miles out of a fairly sticky tire under these conditions, though I did see Kevin performing a few smoky burnouts to vent his frustrations. Can’t really blame Metzeler for that.
Soon after, a set of Bridgestone’s BT-023 sport-touring tires appeared, which were quickly levered into place (www.bridgestone.com; $188.50 front/$225.91 rear). Ah, better: The Honda’s sweet steering returned with the ‘Stones, though it seems the tire, notably stiff during the installation, is slightly less willing to absorb small bumps than the soft-carcass Metzelers. We’ll see how they do with time. Maybe the BTs will like lower pressures than the OE tires did.
Kevin Wing will be selling these custom, high-coverage hand guards any day now. Couple of
The guys at Twisted Throttle sent a set of Barkbuster VPS hand guards and Storm plastic protectors to replace the water jugs (www.twistedthrottle.com; $129.99 for the backbone, $65 for the plastic deflectors). Relatively straightforward, the installation took an hour once I figured out which bar was left and which was right. (Hint: The support angles down from the bar end.) Clearances are tight to the Puig windscreen, but with some minor trimming I got everything to fit. Protection from the setup is good—not as ample as a full fairing, and probably a bit less than Kevin’s plastic fantastic, but I’m fine with that.
Other tweaks include clipping an inch off the Puig shield. I’m trying to balance weather coverage with wind noise, and so far that slice off the top has been a useful improvement. I’m tempted to try another inch and see how it goes. I’ll let you know when I’ve gone too far.