2012 Honda NC700X | Doin' Time

Photography by Reg Kittrelle, Marc Cook

Wrist: Marc Cook

MSRP (2012): $6999

Miles: 9984

MPG: 57

Mods: Replacement fork seal, heavier-weight fork oil

I was happy to see something when MC contributor Reg Kittrelle returned the NC700X after taking it to the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in May: The left fork seal had continued to weep but hadn’t turned into a tire-wetting gusher.

Reg owns a perfectly serviceable Triumph Tiger 800, but he wanted to run the NC in the Vetter Fuel Challenge held during the Quail event. In it, he managed a 70.2-mpg average over 116 miles. Over the course of the 1011 miles he had the bike, it averaged 61 mpg, with the Challenge figure the highest and 54 mpg the lowest. Kittrelle confirmed what I have seen already, that headwinds had a significant impact on mileage. Adding Reg’s travels to my historical record of fuel consumption brings the average to 57 mpg.

Overall, Reg appreciated the bike for what it does well. “It’s very smooth and sophisticated, but it’s not a motorcycle I found myself really wanting.” Owning a charismatic Triumph triple will do that to you.

Now, back to the fork seal. Honda had sent a replacement seal set—the main upper seal and the wiper ($16.04 at your local Honda dealer)—a few weeks before, and I had everything else I needed in the shop to complete the repair, so it was just a couple of hours from start to finish.

Ah, but you know I can’t leave well enough alone. While I had the left fork leg out, I drained the stock 10-weight fluid and cleaned everything really well. I couldn’t detect any chips or nicks in the fork slider to explain the leaking seal. After reassembling the fork leg, I poured in a load of Maxima’s 15-weight Racing Fork Fluid (www.maximausa.com; $13.95/liter) to the stock height, 104mm from the top of the tube with the fork spring removed. I also crafted a new preload spacer 10mm longer than the stock piece. The idea was to increase damping and raise the front end slightly to counteract the two turns of rear-spring preload I twisted on a few weeks prior.

I won’t say the transformation is magic, but the NC’s front end feels less soggy than before, and the chassis attitude is improved. I was pleased to learn the damping-rod fork was no harsher over sharp-edged bumps, which probably proves only that I could have gone thicker on the oil. Note, also, that the stock springs are progressive and a relatively low rate, so true improvements are on the other side of new straight-rate springs and, perhaps, a set of Race Tech Cartridge Emulators. But you can’t beat the price, especially as I was already in there fixing the seal.

I tried again to fit the passenger portion of the Corbin saddle this month. Success required shimming the two latch plates on the seat and a dose of patience. Corbin warned that the seat sections need some “bedding in,” and so it is. After a week together, the seats fit better now, though closing the passenger portion still takes a hefty push, and it’s imperative that you apply downward pressure before attempting to unlatch it. The release mechanism is at the end of a long, thin cable, and it seems like breakage is a real possibility. I like the shape of this saddle a lot, and am getting more used to its dense foam, but the Corbin doesn’t fit the NC anywhere near as well as the stocker. NC owners with the Honda accessory top box should look for interference between the Corbin passenger saddle and the bottom of the trunk.

In other news: The rear Bridgestone BT-023, on the bike now for 4500 miles, is squared in the center of the tread, but the handling has yet to go south. It may be time for a new chain by the next report because the stocker has a bunch of tight spots despite regular care.

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