Drag site icon to your taskbar to pin site. Learn More

2012 Honda NC700X First Ride

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The 2012 Honda NC700X is available with either a six-speed transmission or Hondas DCT automatic transmission.
A steel frame wraps around the 2012 Honda NC700Xs engine for a low center of gravity.
The 2012 Honda NC700X is build to appeal to the widest cross section of riders possible.
Far too often terms such as “unique”, “revolutionary” and “game changing” are thrust upon the motorcycle world to describe the latest and greatest from the marketing wizards responsible for grabbing your attention. It is always a full frontal assault on the buyers with more and better and faster. This is a yearly cycle we’ve come to expect as new models are introduced and touted as the next level. We’ve become accustomed to expecting more horsepower and more extreme performance from our two wheeled machines. But where does that leave the new or inexperienced rider? Sadly, many may give up before they begin, frustrated with learning the coordinated dance of controlling a motorcycle that's become second nature to seasoned riders. Honda has recognized this and has an answer, the 2012 NC700X.

But here’s the deal – Honda knows that the NC700X also needs to be fun as the rider’s skills grow and needs to still attract those that have years under their belts. What a new rider needs and what a seasoned rider wants are for most purposes worlds apart. The beginner needs something that is easy to control in order to harness the aptitude of piloting a two-wheeled conveyance, but experienced riders want a machine that will deliver that adrenaline fix when asked. Everyone wants excellent fuel economy. That is the Cliff’s Notes of Honda’s NC700X concept. So did Honda hit the mark? We hit the road in the mountains of Ventura County to find out.

Just about every aspect of the NC700X is unconventional, but the heart of this adventure bike-styled machine is different from anything Honda has offered to date, in a motorcycle at least. The 670cc Parallel Twin lays forward at 62 degrees and features a long stroke design with a 80mm stroke and 73mm bore diameter. This gives the NC’s powerplant a linear yet torquey engine character. In order to gain efficiency, the pistons have a low-fiction coating and the valvetrain features lightweight aluminum roller-rocker arms. A single 36mm throttle body meters out the combustible air/gas mixture straight through the downdraft style intake tract, for a claimed 64mpg. That’s approaching scooter fuel economy territory.

Honda offers two transmission configurations for the NC700X, a standard six-speed and the next generation of the automatic Dual Clutch Transmission. The DCT uses two hydraulically controlled clutches that can do the shifting for you in a standard drive mode or sport mode, or riders can choose to shift through the gears via paddles on the left bar sans clutch. This
A thumb switch on the allows the rider to choose either drive or sport modes on the DCT equipped 2012 Honda NC700X.
Thumbing the paddle on the left bar downshifts the DCT transmission when in manual mode.
The transmission of the DCT/ABS version of the NC700X is controlled via switches and buttons on the handlebars. A standard six-speed transmission is also available.
new-generation set-up “learns” by allowing the ECU to detect the riding conditions in the automatic modes and tailors the shift points to suit the riders riding style. Riders will shell out $6,999 for the six-speed, and $8,999 for the DCT model. A big difference in price to be sure, but Honda throws in combined ABS for that extra two grand.

The chassis is just as unconventional as the engine design and DCT transmission, with a compact steel frame that wraps around the engine for a narrow cross-section. Without its brawny adventure-styled bodywork the NC700X could easy be mistaken for a scooter. The low-slung construction allows for a massive 21-liter storage compartment where the tank would usually be, while the 3.7-gallon steel fuel tank resides under seat. The 41mm front forks have 5.4 inches of travel, and the rear has 5.9 inches of travel through a Pro-link equipped swingarm.

Swinging a leg over the NC700X finds a fairly compact cockpit. Although the seat height is 32.7 inches it feels lower and most riders should be able to find flat ground with both feet. The seat is firm and slim – but not narrow like a dual sport seat. The reach to the riser bars feels just right while the seat to footpeg relationship is tight for my 5’10” frame and could get uncomfortable if you surpass the 6-foot mark.

Honda had both the six-speed and DCT equipped models on hand for us to sample. I jumped right into the DCT game first to get a feel for the system as I’ve had only a few stints on the VFR equipped with the first generation of the same technology. At first it is a bit unnerving not having a clutch or shift lever on the left side of the bike, but you quickly adapt. In no time you are enjoying the torquey character of the long-stroke mill as the auto tranny does all the thinking for you. In regular drive mode the power character is not much to write home about from a speed-freak’s perspective, but it gets the job done in silky smooth fashion. This mode is all about fuel economy as it shifts early and keeps the revs low.

The power output of the 2012 Honda NC700X is mellow yet fun.
The 2012 Honda NC700X will entertain any skill level in the corners with its light handling and low center of gravity.
Experienced riders will be impressed with the light and precise steering of the 2012 NC700X.
Thumb the right bar mounted switch to the Sport mode and the shifts firm up ever so slightly. The engine is also allowed to rev out further before the next gear is selected automatically.

Going to manual gives you control of when you grab the next gear with a squeeze of the trigger finger switch, but be quick! The limiter kicks in at 6500 rpm, and if you are used to a wringing a bike’s neck to get that rush, you’ll find that limiter often. Adjust the shift points to the meat of the power, right around 4500 to 5000 revs, and the acceleration is better than expected.

The standard transmission is, well, standard. Shifts are Honda reliable and solid, just as you would expect. My only criticism it the reach to the clutch lever could be a stretch for smaller hands.

While the engine performance will not hold the attention of experienced riders for long, the low center of gravity and well-sorted chassis will. Steering is light and almost dirt bike-ish. Just think about turning and you are. The NC700X falls into the corner with the lightest of bar input and once in it holds a line with composure that you wouldn’t expect from a bike that has a frame resembling a scooter.

Only the biggest of road imperfections upset the suspension balance. The tighter the road the more fun the NC gets, especially as you learn to use the bike’s momentum rather than horsepower to get out of the corners.

When it’s time to slow the NC700X’s roll the brakes are not as stellar as the handling, and one must be careful not to come in too hot. The response is predicable, but the power could be better for those that like to divebomb the corners. For beginners, grabbing a handful of right lever won’t be a complete disaster, and the combined ABS on the DCT model will keep even the most ham-fisted brake applications downright civil.

I am truly impressed with the 2012 Honda NC700X, but not for the usual reasons. I’m impressed with Honda’s ability to create a bike that will be one of, if not the most friendly beginner mount on the market. But it can at the same time entertain any rider out there. It looks cool, has useful storage, a gratifying chassis and user-friendly motor; a new rider can’t ask for much more than that. For me this “unique” bike might not be completely “revolutionary,” but I think it could be very well a “game changing" motorcycle.
2012 Honda NC700X Photo Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Slideshow
2012 Honda NC700X Technical Specs
The 2012 Honda NC700X is a bike that is designed to appeal to a large group of riders.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 670cc Parallel-Twin
 Bore and Stroke: 73.0 x 80.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI, 36mm Throttle Body 
Clutch: Wet multi-plate or Hydraulic Dual Clutch
Transmission: Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain
Frame: Steel
Front Suspension: 41mm Telescopic Fork, 5.4 in. Travel
Rear Suspension: Pro-Link, 5.9 in. Travel 
Front Brakes: 320mm Single Disc with Twin Piston Caliper / 320mm Single Disc with 3-Piston Caliper and Combined ABS (DCT Model)
Rear Brake: 220mm Disc with Single-Piston Caliper / 220mm Disc with Single-Piston Caliper with Combined ABS (DCT Model) 
Curb Weight: 474 lbs / 505 lbs (DCT Model)
Wheelbase: 60.6 in.
Rake: 27.0 deg. Trail: 4.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal.
MSRP: $6,999 / $8,999 (DCT Model)
Colors: Light Silver Metallic 
Warranty: One Year
Related Articles
Recent Street Bike Reviews
2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Track Ride
The Beast gets nastier… KTM provides a race-prepped version of its 1290 Super Duke R for some track time.
2015 Middleweight Sport Twins Shootout
Ducati’s Monster 821, Suzuki’s SFV650 and Yamaha’s FZ-07 battle it out for top honors in our Middleweight Sport Twins Shootout.
2015 KTM 390 Duke First Ride
MotoUSA heads to Thailand to sample KTM's 2015 390 Duke, which shares the same mill as KTM's more sporty RC390 but features relaxed ergos, naked design and all the fun of a small-displacement machine.
Street Bike Dealer Locator

Login or sign up to comment.

gregsfc   March 30, 2013 04:06 AM
I'm a new PTW consumer and I got in this world for adding a little fun to my 53-mile-per day commuter life along state highways; to save fuel; and just basically to be more practical about how I move myself to work and back each day. I must be in the extreme minority based on what is available for basic transportation in this PTW market, and the comments related to this article. I've been riding a BV350 scooter since last June, and it fits the bill perfectly from a performance standpoint, but I'm not happy with what I'm learning about service on the CVT components of scooters, which will be too frequent for highway commuting. I have been very frustrated with the market and don't quite understand all the focus on performance and the lack of focus on usability, long service intervals, and economy. This review is just full of little hints about a near 700cc bike being a beginners' bike. I don't get it. Shouldn't two wheels be about less; not more. I'll be looking at the new CB500s, or something along that line for my next ride; not as a beginners' bike, but a right-sized and powered commuter bike. I guess that I just don't understand why some folks think that transportation along public roads is considered a sport. To me, something like a BV350 is plenty fast to have fun and do the job of transportation. I just need a scooter-type vehicle that doesn't need a new rubber band (and all the components it contacts) every 10K; something that will give relative comfort for all four seasons; something that will cruise all day @ 75 mph; something that will go a couple of hundred miles using only 2.5 gallons of fuel; and something that doesn't need components or repairs every few thousand miles.
enntense   November 13, 2012 09:59 PM
Definitely an interesting bike, but I have to question Honda's market research. I ride and a lot of my friends ride, frankly I just know a lot of riders period....And there's not 1 of them that rides a bike because they HAVE to...Every single one rides because they want to and love bikes. Not a single frugal commuter among the mass of em. So I can't see anyone I know buying a generic high mileage, low power commuter bike. In a different market I'm sure it has appeal. Best of luck to Honda.
woodco100   September 28, 2012 01:58 PM
UJMs used to be good looking bikes. That is why they appealed to everyone and sold so well in the 70s and 80s. These modern "bug bikes" are just plainly ugly. Don't expect to see a lot more in your area. I will be suprised if it sells well.
cutterduke   September 26, 2012 12:52 PM
I just got mine and I'm loving it. It's not a $10,000+ motorcycle and its not an enduro. Its just a standard UJM like we all used to love before someone did a focus group and said that we all wanted nothing but race bikes and wannabe choppers. Honda seems to have designed what the UJM would have become if the market had stayed here in the U.S. Its not perfect, but no standard bike ever was, yet it does alot and does it well enough that it has become my new favorite ride. I've got the only one in my area and it draws alot of attention, I expect to spend a few extra minutes at every stop to answer questions from other riders.
Ishkatan   September 16, 2012 11:13 PM
I think you should include Maxi Scooters in your shootout if you keep it on the street. I love my o6 Silverwing but want something that can also go on dirt/gravel so I am looking very actively. Find me a daily commuter that can work well in Washington D.C. 75-80 mph traffic (turns to stop and go), that I can take on a 3 hr commute on highways to West Maryland / PA for some fire road and trail riding - without my back an butt being desperate to get off the bike.
jokermtb   September 3, 2012 08:09 PM
geez....I've gotten 56mpg from my 2006 Suzuki Vstrom 650, with just average mellow commuting with the occasional wringing of the neck. Bonus is, that I have a bike that if I abandon my miserly tendencies, I can cane into a frenzy, and still enjoy mid-upper 40's in the MPG wars..... I commend Honda on such an interesting, affordable, and compelling bike - but, there's bikes already on the market that have proven to be this Honda's equal MPG-wise, yet are far more capable.....
hunter69   September 2, 2012 05:37 AM
Well I bought a red one (manual transmission) ...... previous bikes include BMW R1200GS, Ducati 999R, BMW K1200S etc... Only done about 350km so far and this is the first impressions: Brakes - adequate at best - you have to use both brakes if you need to stop in a hurry - but still miles better than a Harley Nightster. Fuel consumption so far about 56mpg. Combined city, highway, single and two up riding with speeds up to 90mph. Acceleration - Change up early and often and you will be surprised - it accelerates better than the horsepower suggests. Seat - It could be better and is on my list of modifications. Handling - it loves corners, just no big bumps. Is it a keeper? I think so...
Poncho167   August 31, 2012 02:54 PM
The Hyosung 650, Suzuki 650 Gladius, and Kawasaki Versys would be in the same class as this Honda.
knockabout   August 31, 2012 01:50 PM
A common comment is one disc brake up front is probably not enough but brake testing from 70 to zero gave stopping distances for 3 to 6 feet shorter than either the Versys, the WeeStrom, and the 650r as well as a few other modern 600cc and 1000cc sport bikes. The Honda is built to a price to be sure, both in the showroom and to own and maintain over time. When it comes time to repair and maintain the brake system the NC700X has fewer wear components yet it gives up nothing in performance. One disc and caliper is less unsprung weight. I think that is smart engineering.
Justin Dawes   August 31, 2012 09:43 AM
j0seph - unfortunately on first rides like this we are riding with several other magazines at the same time. This limits our ability to gather performance data such as 0-60, 1/4 mile times and fuel economy. But don't worry! We plan to get all those numbers when we conduct a head to head comparison with it's rivals. Stay tuned...
j0seph   August 30, 2012 01:12 AM
Please review the Hyosung GT650 ($5,600) and include acceleration numbers (0-60mph), comfort for rider and passengers, and some pictures of a passenger on the bike.
Poncho167   August 29, 2012 03:25 PM
This is a street bike not a dirt bike. There is nothing dual sport about it. Why not call a Ducati Monster or Kawasaki Ninja a dual sport while your at it. Funny how most anything is a dual sport if you change the tires. The scrambler bikes of the 1960's and 70's (Honda CL series, etc.) are street bikes with high mufflers based off of British bikes before their time. Taking this off road would be a joke.

I will stick to a KLR or like bike for such a venture though a new KLR is pushing it off road because it is 85% street and marketed as a street bike with a little dirt bilt into says Kawasaki. I know because I have one.
GreenRocket   August 28, 2012 10:57 AM
I took a look at a 6-speed NC700X the other day and noticed a few things. The seat was a little high for me (30" inseam) and I couldn't flat foot it as well as with my 2009 Ninja 650R. The levers aren't adjustable and there was a general feeling of cheapness with them. Okay for a $7000 bike of this size, but not for a $9000 one with DCT & ABS, which is what I'd prefer for my 75% city riding. It's also sounding like a 2nd front disk needs to be added. The MPG numbers are sounding great (I only see 40 mpg average in the city) and I love the idea of on-board storage. Is there an electrical outlet or lighter plug in there? 2 comparos of bikes in this price range in the new MC magazine this month. But once again, don't just compare the numbers. We need a report on how it is to live with a bike like this, what mods are needed (a tail bag will cover access to the gas tank) and what are the city mpg results (and is that premium or regular?). Maybe compare this to the maxi-scooters, the 500's and 650's, but not on some canyon run, but a real world, going to work, running errands, weekend trips, etc.
phxrider   August 28, 2012 10:51 AM
Probably should include a Mana in a comparo as that's the most similar bike from any competing brand.
royalman   August 28, 2012 05:17 AM
Us average Joes need bikes just like these--sub 9k bikes that can do it all for us--commute, weekend backroad burning, carry a passenger comfortably for an hour, etc. We need comfy ergos. We don't need to necessarily run the quarter mile in less than twelve seconds, but need to be able to get out of our own way if needed. It amazes me the few mounts qualify following these parameters. You have all the dual sport 650's, the Versys, V-Strom, NC700x. An interesting comparison would include carrying a passenger (related to their comfort and space), utility of the rack/rear seat, and some performance numbers. If anybody can pull off such a comparo, it's you guys!!
j0seph   August 27, 2012 12:24 AM
What is the 0-60 mph time for the DCT version and standard? I love numbers. Thank you!
j0seph   August 27, 2012 12:19 AM
Hutchy -Yes, please do a comparison of new practical bikes you move up to after riding a Ninja 250 or CBR250R. Something like this site's "Road Sport Shootout" with sport/streetbikes but where the winner isn't $16,000 but more like $7,000 to $10,000. Thanks.
509MXFan   August 25, 2012 11:38 AM
Hutchy - a comparo with this, a VStrom, Versys 650 would be great. Maybe mix in some Euro bikes, the F800R (more standard, less enduro) Hypermoto 796, Dorsuduro or Shiver 750, etc. The thing is to not try and compare it to a "real" enduro with a 21" front wheel. A group of them with all 17's (except the Strom) would be a cool comparo.
Hutchy   August 24, 2012 04:34 PM
So you guys want to see a test of the NC700X, Versys 650/Ninja 650, V-Strom 650, FZ6 and what else?
twowheels   August 24, 2012 01:47 PM
I've been looking at this bike and the Vstrom 650, but the only thing that I think it really has going for it over a new Vstrom 650 is a handful of mpg and that storage compartment....neither of which is a reason to buy this bike. The Vstrom has dual discs, ABS (not counting DCT Honda), aluminum frame...just seems to be more of a "serious" motorcycle. Sure, it's $1300 cheaper, but once you consider ABS is worth about $500 it cuts down the savings to $800. For the money the Honda just doesn't compute. The Vstrom is proven and also has an endless aftermarket.
woodco100   August 23, 2012 08:11 AM
This thing won't sell in America, Too bug ugly. $7000 are they crazy, you can buy a used sportster for that. You know, a real motorcycle!
Simao   August 23, 2012 03:26 AM
I can see a great motorcycle platform here that could easily be made into a real adventure tourer, with longer suspension, 19 or 21 inch front spoke wheel, dual sport tires etc.... Now that would be interesting....
Raphael   August 23, 2012 02:35 AM
Riding an average of 10k miles annually here in Portugal, I needed a more economical bike than my ´07 R1 when I entered a Honda dealership in Feb 2012. The NC700X impressed me then and it keeps impressing me now, after 4k miles on it including a 1k mile trip with some light trails mixed on it. Less than half of the R1´s fuel consumption, not a lot of power but more than enough for 99% of the time, great fun on the twistiest mountains due to the lower center of gravity, great low end torque... What more could I wish?! Ah! A more comfortable seat for the long strides, please! It´s not so bad, but far from best too... With such long service intervals, great fuel economy (here Gas is about $7,50 a gallon!!!), this is the perfect bike for a guy on a budget!!! Just forget about the trackdays...
motorboy   August 22, 2012 07:17 PM
Being that I have one and have had a Suzuki Dl650&1000 I can say if you took the 650 gave it a lot more low end and gave it the 1000 gearing you would have the NC700 3000rpm's at 60 mph averaged 73mpg since new.The bike is like nothing I have had in 48 years of riding it's really something..........
royalman   August 22, 2012 10:58 AM
Love it! Been waiting for you guys' article--how would you say acceleration (non DCT) feels seat of the pants to its main competitors', the V-strom and Versys? I'm in the market!!