Honda Integra and NC700 | First Look

Redifining the Motorcycle

By Aaron Frank | Photography by Honda

[The NC700S 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 has introduced the next chapter in its ongoing effort to redefine two-wheeled “mobility” with a new range of crossover motorcycles powered by an innovative parallel-twin engine mated to the auto-shifting Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT). The maxi-scooter-like Integra, standard-styled NC700S and adventure-light NC700X all combine attributes of scooters and motorcycles to create a new breed of versatile, user-friendly, two-wheeled transportation.

The ultra-compact, 670cc engine features cylinders laid down at a radical, 62-degree 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, offering improved shift action and a new “learning function” that monitors driving conditions and alters shifting action accordingly, provides twist-and-go riding simplicity.

The Integra’s tall, protective fairing and bolt-upright ergonomics are straight scooter, but full-size, 17-inch wheels deliver motorcycle-like steering and stability. The Integra isn’t a step-through like a true scooter, but the low-slung engine allows a low seat height and even lower center of gravity, and there’s still room to store a helmet under the seat.

The NC700s, on the other hand, seem utterly conventional—until you look closer. These use a tubular-steel trellis in place of the Integra’s twin-spar aluminum frame, but the low-slung engine position remains, leaving room for a full fuel load and a helmet-sized storage area under the tank. DCT also appears here, paired with the same chain final drive as the Integra, to provide scooter-like drivability and practicality in motorcycle clothing.

American buyers are notoriously averse to sensible, practical motorcycles, so the Integra and NC700s will only be offered overseas in 2012. Pundits predic that rising gas prices are going to increase demand for cheap, efficient two-wheeled transportation. If that's the case, the U.S. might soon become a viable market for these machines.

VFR Turned ADV

Honda has officially released its Crosstourer adventure bike, and the production version looks nearly identical to the concept that debuted at the 2010 Milan Show. Essentially a rebodied VFR1200F perched on long-travel suspension and 19-inch front/17-inch rear wire-spoked wheels, the Crosstourer maintains the same twin-spar aluminum frame and single-sided, shaft-drive swingarm. Power comes from a retuned version of the 1237cc V4, offered with optional auto-shift DCT, switchable traction control and combined ABS. Tourists of all types will appreciate the more supportive saddle and larger, 5.7-gallon fuel tank—two points of VFR criticism. A full selection of off-roadish options are available, though a claimed 630-lb. curb weight will keep all but the most adventurous riders on the pavement. Big-bore trailies are best-sellers for BMW and Ducati in America, which makes the decision not to offer the Crosstourer to U.S. buyers puzzling.