Bikes don’t get much more user-friendly than Honda’s NC750X, says Insidebikes’ Phil West.
In a world where huge power, complicated electronics and baffling gizmos seem to grab all the headlines, it’s refreshing that bikes like Honda’s easy-to-ride, simple to understand yet practical and affordable NC750X still prove popular.
First launched as the NC700X in 2012 then updated and enlarged two years later, Honda’s novice-targetted, adventure-styled all-rounder has become a Europe-wide best-seller – and with good reason.
With a combination of its flexible, unthreatening yet still 54bhp-sufficient 745cc twin-cylinder engine; idiot-proof, semi-automatic DCT transmission (which renders the NC a virtual ‘twist and go’); easy ergonomics; practical, scooter-style luggage compartment in its false tank, affordable price and great economy – and all with Honda’s usual polish and quality, the NC ticks an awful lot of boxes. So much so that whether you’re after a ‘first big bike’, affordable commuter or a gentle Sunday toy, few bikes do it better.
The X was introduced, along with the NC700S roadster and NC700D Integra scooter, as a deliberate ‘New Concept’ attempt by Honda to bring scooter-style ease to middleweight motorcycles. All were based around the same, low-revving (and thus economical), car-derived parallel twin, which also uses Honda’s so-far-unmatched ‘Dual Clutch Transmission’ – or DCT. It’s a system that uses two synchronized clutches to provide virtually seamless gearshifts and, in turn, allow a smooth, automatic changing of gears. So, although it’s very different from a scooter-style ‘Constantly Variable Transmission’ (or CVT), where a system of cones and pulleys changes speed albeit without actually changing gear, the easy, ‘twist and go’ effect is effectively the same. An added bonus of DCT, meanwhile, is that, if desired, you can also choose to go up and down through the gears with a simple prod of a thumb switch.
Once acclimatized to having no conventional clutch lever you quickly realize the system works brilliantly. And while Honda have also rolled DCT out on its big 1200 V4s and, most recently, on its all-new GL1800 GoldWing, it’s arguably on the NC750X where it works best. While its NC750S roadster brother is equally effective, it lacks the attractive adventure styling and weather protection of the faired X. While, being basically a big scooter, the related Honda Integra, though impressive, seems expensive.
The X, however, while lacking the excitement of other affordable middleweight adventurers such as Suzuki’s V-Strom 650 or Kawasaki’s 650 Versys, more than compensates with incredibly easy manners, extra practicality and added economy. Ride gently (as most are) and that lazy twin will return over 70mpg.
As you might expect, the X is no raw sportster in terms of handling either. Natural, neutral ergonomics, partly due to the use of 17 inch road wheels, which help keep the seat height low, combine with simple, intuitive controls and a flexible, smooth, unintimidating delivery to form a bike most people’s mum could ride.
And although suspension and brakes are also fairly basic, the ride too is smooth and comfortable, while steering and all-round manageability are as easy as pie as well.
Motorway cruising is no problem thanks to the reasonable screen. And once you’re at your destination you can lock your helmet in the luggage compartment, scooter-style.
If all that sounds a little like a two-wheeled car, for good and bad, and an automatic one at that, then you’re not far wrong, but the X still delivers plenty of two-wheeled fun and style.
And at this price, and with the Honda badge on the tank, that, as the sales figures prove, makes the X tempting indeed.
|ENGINE TYPE||Parallel twin, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, liquid cooled|
|BORE X STROKE||77 x 80mm|
|MAXIMUM POWER||54 hp (40.3 kW) @ 6250 rpm|
|MAXIMUM TORQUE||68Nm @ 4750rpm|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||41mm telescopic forks, no adjust|
|FUEL TANK||14.1 litres|