2012 Honda NC700X | First Look

An automatic—and affordable—adventure bike

Last year at the Milan show Honda introduced a new range of middleweight crossover motorcycles that prioritized practical fun over outright performance. American Honda announced today that one of these three new bikes-the adventurous-looking NC700X-is coming to America for 2012. Powered by an all-new, 670cc parallel twin engine with either a 6-speed manual or optional auto-shifting Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT), the NC700X represents a new breed of versatile, user-friendly two-wheeled transportation. And with a base price of just $6999, the cost of entry might be the most accessible part.

The ultra-compact engine features a radical, 62-degree cylinder angle to create lots of open space above the engine. Low-friction coatings, lightweight materials, "branch" intake porting and optimized valve timing deliver exceptional fuel economy-40 percent better than similar-sized engines, Honda claims-and extremely low emissions. The second-generation DCT transmission-available in an option package that also includes Honda's Combined ABS-delivers improved shift action and a new "learning function" that monitors driving conditions and alters shifting action accordingly.

The NC700X seems conventional until you look closer. The nearly horizontal engine is carried in a low-slung steel-trellis frame, creating a low center of gravity that should provide confident, stable handling. The unique engine configuration leaves room for a full fuel load and enough room to carry a full-face helmet in a storage area under the tank. Equipped with the optional DCT transmission, the NC700X will deliver twist-and-go drivability that will be appreciated by novice and casual riders alike. Long-travel suspension and 17-inch wheels should provide a smooth ride and responsive handling, and a full line of available accessories, including hard luggage, larger windscreen options, heated grips and more will make the machine ready for any paved adventure you can come up with.

Thoughtfully designed and cleverly engineered, the NC700X fills an interesting niche. It's more fashionable and functional than Honda's NT700V, more novice-friendly than the Kawasaki Versys or Suzuki V-Strom 650 and, when equipped with the optional DCT and C-ABS, more sophisticated than all of the above. It's also remarkable affordable-the $6999 base model, at least; DCT/C-ABS pricing is still TBD-especially after you factor in class leading fuel economy. All of the above should make the NC700X an attractive option for American motorcycle buyers when it surfaces in Honda dealerships this coming summer.

The NC700X looks like a conventional motorcycle, until you notice the nearly horizontal engine that leaves enough room to hide a helmet under the fuel tank.
Honda offers a full line of accessories for the NC700X, including sidecases and trunk, a taller windscreen, fog lights, crash bars, wind deflectors and more.