Honda is keen on finding radical new approaches towards motorcycling and the 2009 DN-01 model is probably the best example of them all. Some people love it and others can certainly live without it, but despite the anticipation of critics, the DN-01 carries on being produced in 2009. Even more, it goes for the North American market and creates an entirely new category in the Japanese manufacturer’s lineup, something that tells us that there’s plenty where this came from as long as the market is positive and responsive about the first crossover motorcycle ever made.
This revolutionary motorcycle is the result of Honda continuously looking to expand their offering and because they’ve pretty much reached a dead end a few years ago, the idea of combining different styles soon came. Practically a stepped up scooter with a low seating position and aggressive design, the DN-01 stands as a combination between sport and cruiser bikes.
At its base sits the Deuxville 700-derived, 680cc, liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-Twin engine that is fuel-injected in order to maintain more than a fair share of potency both for commuting and more aggressive riding (even though the engine develops around 60 horsepower and the curb weight is 595 pounds), but the best of this bike and the reason why riders seriously take it in consideration, is the Human-Friendly Transmission featuring two automatic modes (Economy, Sport) and a six-speed Manual one with a push-button for a shifter and no clutch. The classic belt is now replaced by a system of hydraulic pumps and motors that deliver torque and power smoothly through the variable gear ratios of the innovative tranny.
Testimony of the fact that different riding categories are being blended in the form of the DN-01 gather under a series of key features such as the use of a sporty, light versatile chassis with all goodies included – the low seat height (27.2-inches), sport 17-inch wheels, 41mm telescopic fork and Pro Arm single-sided swingarm as well as both front and rear ABS brakes – and the presence of cruiser-characteristic floorboards indicating a laid back riding position.
Honda would have first presented the DN-01 as a concept at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. The ease of operating of the then all-new automatic sports cruiser concept destined both to experienced and inexperienced riders was the key point while the strange design gave the motorcycling press a hard time positioning the bike in a specific category and that is why it was, until now, considered a scooter.
Two years later, at the same motorcycle show, the Honda DN-01 was presented as ready to hit the streets and so it did starting March 7 2008.
The next logical step for Honda was to go for the U.S. market with their innovative and futuristic model and 2009 is the year for that to happen.
Because of Honda DN-01’s automatic transmission, people tend to compare it with the Aprilia 850 Mana Auto, but what’s there to compare apart from that? Indeed, Aprilia offers a CVT transmission with three auto settings (Touring, Sport and Rain) and a pseudo sequential seven speed manual set up, but that happens on a European naked motorcycle which can never be confused with a scooter, neither considered a crossover.
We give Aprilia all the credit for being the first manufacturer to come up with an “Auto” motorcycle, but Honda certainly didn’t aimed there.
2009 Honda DN-01
Designing the DN-01, the Japanese manufacturer made an incursion into the future and brought a piece of it in the present days. They imagined a long (the wheelbase only is 63.2-inches), low and sleek piece of two-wheeled machinery that would accommodate the rider in complete comfort and simply built it around the V-twin engine and automatic transmission.
Clearly, the center of gravity was supposed to be low and that part turned out very good, but an aggressive design wasn’t out of the question either and that is how that great white shark nose ended up being a major distinctive feature of the DN-01 motorcycle. The aggressive look is enhanced by the integrated headlights, the almost too low positioned windshield and the wide fairing. The mirrors are fitted on the fairing, just like they were positioned on the front fenders of cars a few decades ago so it has a retro touch too.
Furthermore, the fairly small gas tank (4.0 gallons) is low positioned into the frame allowing the pulled-back handlebar bend to make the ride more comfortable for the biker which, from the 27.2-inches seat height and those nice, spacious floorboards, has no reproaches to bring in the comfort heading. Also, like on a veritable cruiser, the V-Twin engine is there for everybody to see and the passenger seat is flat and spacious, completing the overall tamped feel that is inculcated from the very first glance.
The straight-out exhaust positioned on the right rider side blends perfectly in with the lower fairing from around the engine in a note of harmony and compactness.
Colors available for 2009 are Candy Dark Red and Black.