First Look 2010 Hondas

European Vacation - Up To Speed

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Honda

Honda drops a new (to the U.S.) light tourer, and bobs a Shadow, too
Honda makes plenty of cool, practical motorcycles exclusively for the European market, including the CB1000R and CB1300S super-standards and the Transalp and Varadero adventure-tourers, all of which are unavailable in the U.S. Honda will bring one of its best-selling European bikes stateside for 2010; unfortunately, it's none of the above. We're getting the NT700V lightweight tourer instead.

Sold overseas since 1998 as the Deauville (better known to some as the "Dullville"), the NT is enormously popular with police departments and other utilitarian-minded users looking for a versatile, reliable mount for commuting or light-duty touring. Powered by the same 680cc, SOHC, four-valve, 52-degree V-twin as the DN-01, the 566-pound machine claims similarly modest performance, to the tune of 65 horsepower and 49 lb.-ft. of torque. The chassis is low-tech conventional, consisting of a steel frame and non-adjustable 41mm fork, though the shock boasts a remote preload adjuster to accommodate occasional two-up riding. Shaft drive will be a huge selling point for the intended market.

Convenience features abound. The generous windscreen features five-position adjustability, and the integrated, locking hard saddlebags feature a novel "pass-thru" connection that accommodates long, skinny items. Linked brakes are standard, and ABS is an available option. The base model will sell for $9999, and the ABS version will cost $1000 more. The NT700V should prove to be a solid platform for practical-minded riders, but with a price tag $2000 to $2500 above the comparable Kawasaki Versys and Suzuki V-Strom 650s-and roughly equal to BMW's F800ST-it will face stiff competition in the marketplace.

Middleweight cruiser fans, meanwhile, will look forward to the Phantom. This is the latest variation of Honda's venerable Shadow, now with stripped-down, bobber-inspired styling. Available only in black, with a flat-black drag bar and a rear fender that looks like it was lifted directly from the Fury chopper, the Phantom also features a blacked-out motor and matte-silver trim that reinforces the backstreet-chopper look. The 745cc V-twin gets an upgraded version of Honda's Programmed Fuel Injection for improved performance, and the price remains well within a beginner's reach at just $7999.

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