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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Next week I'm off to do another test ride on Honda's latest releases: the NC700 series. Similar in design to the BMW F800 R the NC700 is a standard type with a flair for the sporty side in a mid-size package. Communting and solo touring are likely to be the strong suits for these two new offerings from the new Kamamatsu plant. Pictures and a riding impression after the test on Wednesday next week. Also means I have to spend a few more hours in the saddle of either the Wing or the RC51 to get from here to Red Deer and back. Jeez I hate my job sometimes...NOT:rolleyes::cool::D
 

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from what i,ve been reading the new 700 series is all bark and no bite. i think the nc700 will end up in the same warehouse that honda put all those nv700's
 

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Next week I'm off to do another test ride on Honda's latest releases: the NC700 series. Similar in design to the BMW F800 R the NC700 is a standard type with a flair for the sporty side in a mid-size package. Communting and solo touring are likely to be the strong suits for these two new offerings from the new Kamamatsu plant. Pictures and a riding impression after the test on Wednesday next week. Also means I have to spend a few more hours in the saddle of either the Wing or the RC51 to get from here to Red Deer and back. Jeez I hate my job sometimes...NOT:rolleyes::cool::D
I may need to play hooky some day & come visit you.:D;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
from what i,ve been reading the new 700 series is all bark and no bite. i think the nc700 will end up in the same warehouse that honda put all those nv700's
Wouldn't surprise me at all detdr. All the lastest bikes I've tested leave me wanting more even considering what class of bike they are. I know DF loves his VFR1200 but I'm still cool on them on a couple fronts. A 700 cc parallel twin isn't my idea of soul stirring so it's going to take alot to impress me, and as many of you know I don't sugarcoat the findings...if it's a sow's ear and not a silk purse I'll say so:D
When you think about it, these two bikes should seriously out perform an old Bonneville but I doubt they will. Not the new 855 milled unit, the former 650 that we all love so dearly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
My apologies first off, I had no time for pictures but you can get decent pics from the magazines.
As I mentioned I was prepared for disappointment from these two bikes with parallel twin engines. I can remember the buzzy twins from days of yore and the resultant tingles and lack of view in the mirrors. while there are some shortcomings in each of the NC models, there's a lot to be quite excited about. The engines are smooth, power is more than abundant (but these are not stoplight drag racers, no mistaking that) for real world use, and they are smooth. No kidding they are almost silky in most of their rev range. S is the leaner feeling more nimble one, but the X is a tad taller, wider at the bars, and a bit more 'adventuresome' than it's sibling.
Just so that you all are aware, we didn't just ride the two NC offerings, but were able to compare them with the two closest rivals in the market to them: the Suzuki V-strom 650, and the Kawasaki Versys, both 2012 models. The Suzuki gets the nod in the hp and power specs, with a higher rev range (where it gains the advantage in hp) and the Kawi gets the curb oohs and ahhs with it's out there in your face looks. The NC700X has a more substancial presence but the S is also intriguing if not outwardly attractive looking. The NC700S has the lowest seat height of the four (31") and is downright flickable compared to the rest. The V-strom looks porky, but it is actually the second lightest of the bunch, the Kaw is the feather-weight.
The Suzi has a great instrument cluster, with plenty of pertinent and useful info readily visible, and a windscreen that rivals a BMW GS that provides a decent still air envelope that none of the others have. Both the Hondas have 'adequate' instrument clusters, but the lack of a gear indicator for the torquey power plants would be a benefit to just about any rider. The Kaw has a more comparable layout in frame and engine (the V-strom is the only v-twin) but the lack of ABS (and specifically "combined" ABS [more on this later]) is a definite point loser) hampers the rider's confidence factor.
The V-strom and the X share similar ergo attributes (adventure style) and the S and the Versys are more commuter types.
In a slow race competition (we all sampled a choice of two bikes back to back) teh two NC's quickly showed their lower weight bias (C of G) and the very easy to hold slow stability aspects. Not that the Kaw and Suz were bad in any way, just less stable at a crawl speed. The keyhole test (in through a pair of cones into a tight turn and then exit through said cones) showed just how important that low Cof G would be to a novice rider in a praking lot or very slow traffic. The Kaw would have seemed to be the better of the four in this section due to it's inverted fork set-up and compact chassis, but it actualy was the least favorite of our group and the results proved it. Both NC models were more agile and easier to negotiate in the tight turnaround.
The biggest difference in the bikes is the brakes. The lack of ABS on the Versys is it's achiles heel and is the definite rear-ender looking for a place to happen bike. You cna have the tightest chassis in the world and if the back brake locks up in a heart-beat, and novice or less experienced rider is going to hit a stopped motorist before they know they're in trouble. The NC combined ABS stopped the bike from 30 mph using only the back brake in a remarkably short distance. The V-strom's rear ABS helped, but the lack of additional help from the front end almost doubled the stopping distance. The Versys was downright frightening: smoking the rear tire almost immediately after lock-up and the acompanying fishtail action made the bike almost a washout. The extra 30 or so feet of stopping distance (remember this was from 30 mph) was staggering.
So that's enough of the parking lot, cone type tests where there are no other influences or surprises in store, what about real world, out on the mean streets performance? I think you'll be surprised at the next segment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
On the street, the Versys comes into it's own. With the inverted fork and the non-restricted use of front brake power, the Kwacker is the street fighter of the group. It's quick, nimble and fun. The Suzi is ok around town, but it seems to beg for the open road with it's seeming huge appearance (not mass just bulk) it seems to clamour fo the backroads and highway. the tow NC's are light handling, comfortable and would be ideally suited for commuting (the cavernous faux-tank storage would be a boon to any commuting rider, even if it won't hold a full size laptop. All four bikes have plenty of streetable power to contend with any traffic situations, and slipping in and out of gaps is easy and effortless.
Out on the open road, things change however. The Kaw quickly loses it's street appeal, and the free reving motor soon punishes the rider with unwanted vibes (ok ugly) and feedback interference throught the bars and seat. Bearable yes, but very unwelcome.
The Suzuki at first seems to beg to be unleashed and let the wonderfully powerful v-twin and slick transmission shine (easily one of the nicest gear boxes in any midsize bike, RR types included) so typical of Suzuki. Sadly it isn't so. Vibration at 'legal' highway speeds is ever present. Not like the Versys, but still it detracts from an otherwise near perfect machine, with great power and wind protection all rolled into one package. The seat is likely the best of the four, but I'd still give it no more than a 6.5 over any distance. It is also a bit of a handful in crosswinds, something the other bikes didn't exhibit. Likely a factor of it's larger physical profile.
The NC700S and the 700X share identical frames and millsbut there are differences in the suspension systems/travel, wheelbase, and seat height. Now is when the lack of a gear indicator makes itself known. The engines rev easily, and hitting the rev limiter under hard accelleration and open throttle comes up quick. It's very easy to have these bikes in 4th gear on the open road and then a handful of throttle bumps the limiter to fast. There's enough torque available to accellerate quickly in almost any gear from 60 mph on, although brisk passes could certainly benefit form a drop of a cog or two depending on the rate of speed. What is most noticeable is the lack of vibration at the bars at high rpm in almost any gear. And only at extreme high rpm near redline is there any tingling coming from the seat area. Mirrors on all bike have good view and little fuzz in the relfection, but the NC has vitually no distortion at all. what disappointed me was the seats on both NC models. This isn't uncommon on all the newer Hondas I've tested, the seats are just not what I like. The Versys is bearable, and the V-strom is better (but I found myself trapped into a single spot for my body type on it, not an uncommon trait on any mid-size bike IMO), but the two Hondas are barely adequate. I didn't get a chance to try the rear pegs for a change of position on any of the bikes, something I'll do even on my Wing on a long solo ride, and certainly on a sportbike for a change of foot/knee angle. Wind blast on the two NC's and the Versys is an issue on the highway, but there are aftermarket solutions for those that want to tour the open spaces. The V-strom is fine just as is. Only it and the NC700X would be what I call suitable for one-up pseudo adventure runs, the lack of decent dual purpose rubber being the caveat for the Hondas. The Suzuki's intrusive vibes would deter me from one for any major distance.
The NC exhibited a bit of fuel mapping stutter at very low speed, 1st gear is rather tall (2.81 vs 2.438 Kaw and 2.46 Suz). Not bothersome considering the torque of the engine but I'd like a shorter ratio for first. Braking is vastly superior to the other two in both feel and performance, and the NC is way smoother running. The seat is bothersome, and I found the transission a bit rougher than either of the other two. No rebound or compression damping is a bit of a bummer on the spec sheets as well, but it didn't prove to be much of a detriment on the bike's performance in either guise; it's not like our Wings have it either. No price info to compare the four so that's an unknown, but seat of the pants feels like there is reason to consider the two NC's as viable competition for the other two. Better seat, a gear indicator, and suspension adjust are my biggest complaints, but overall I'm very impressed at the total package of the NC700. Smooth, agile, fantastic brakes, and typical Honda build quality, better than what the Kaw and Suzi show in that dept. I was skeptical of these two new offerings, but I can't find fault with anything major, and I think I secretly wanted some significant failing in them so I could cry out "look at this crap" to my reps, but I really can't. Are they spectacular? No. But damn, they are very good. Especially compared to what we rode in conjunction with today.
 
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