I have a pretty good idea of what the new Honda NC700X will be good at, but this much I absolutely know: it’s a fantastic commuter. In the week since it joined our long-term fleet, I’ve put 165 miles on it, wearing a thin groove into the infamous 405 freeway between our offices in El Segundo, CA, and my home in Long Beach. By the end of the first week, I finally had to put gas in it. First mileage recorded? 61 mpg. And I wasn't even trying!
There’s more to it than gas mileage. With the optional side bags removed, the bike is really narrow, with the bar ends and mirrors by far the widest part of the bike. (And I think I can trim an inch off each side...) Fortunately, the bars are in exactly the right spot for negotiating traffic: above the side mirrors of cars, below those of trucks. The upright riding position gives you a splendid view of the road—not quite the helicopter view from a BMW GS-Adventure but still really good.
And the NC is as docile as can be, with enough power to keep pace with traffic allied to creamy throttle response, a super light clutch and fine shift action. (Yes, I opted for the manual-trans version in search of a little more performance. It remains to be seen if I end up missing ABS.) There is nothing more this bike requires of you than to simply be awake.
A bike that demands so little allows you to watch the floor show twice a day—the horrible cab drivers, texting-addicted 20-somethings, smoking Mercedes diesels with chewing gum for tie-rod ends (or so it seems), hyper-aggressive males (always guys) in their Chevy Avalanches aiming to keep you behind them…no matter what.
All week I’ve been contented to sit there, enjoy the humanity and think very little about controlling the machine beneath me. For some enthusiasts, this description may be the ultimate turn off. But ride my ride for a week and tell me the NC isn’t one of the best ways to do it.