As is usually the case, Honda owned the Tokyo Motor Show with a range of futuristic concepts that give a glimpse into the future of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer.
As well as the new GoldWing and Monkey 125, which you can read about elsewhere on Insidebikes, the Big H rolled out what it called the Neo Sports Café Concept, ahead of the official launch of a new model in Milan next month.
The NSC is an important model for Honda, which has seen Yamaha (and to a lesser extent Kawasaki) rack up big sales with their MT and Z model line ups. Where Honda’s CB range has been seen as a little dull, Yamaha has injected a whole heap of excitement back into the mid-priced naked class with the MT series, which start with the learner friendly MT-125 and run through to the brilliantly bonkers MT-10SP.
The idea of a ‘naked Fireblade’ has long been mooted, especially as the current CB1000R is in the process of being phased out as it doesn’t meet the latest EU emissions regulations. Honda has already said that the Neo Sports Café concept will be productionised and officially unveiled at the Milan Show in November, and the bike shown in Milan, while not production ready, most likely gives an indication of what the finished article will look like.
Most obviously, the production model will need the various road going paraphernalia required to go on sale, such as indicators, mirrors and a number plate hanger, not to mention footrests for the pillion, but overall the NSC (or whatever the production model will be designated) looks sleeker and more elegant than the aggressive and muscular MT-10.
Unlike the Yamaha, which is to all intents and purposes is an R1 with the fairing ripped off, the Honda concept appears to share little with the current generation Fireblade. The concept bike appears to use a previous generation CBR1000RR engine housed in a dedicated chassis.
Of course, it’s not just in the styling that the Yamahas have been aggressive. The tuning fork brand has also been very keen with its prices for the MT models. If Honda’s accountants have sharpened up their pencils for the new naked, Yamaha’s reign as the king of the nakeds may well be over.
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