A Pragmatist’s Approach To Two Wheels

Honda looks to solidify its position in the adventure-commuter market with the new-to-the-U.S. 2018 NC750X. Like its predecessor, the new sled is built for comfortable riding with a capacity for touring, but the new engine lends it a sportier attitude with 54 horsepower on tap and a two-level torque control to help you keep it under control. Yeah, that’s an improvement of a mere three ponies over the previous gen, but that’s hardly the end of the yummy-goodness Honda packed away on this standard-on-steroids. It won’t be available in U.S. dealerships until mid Summer, but we can take a closer look and make some educated guesses based on the info so far, ’cause after all, our Euro buddies have had access to this ride for a hot minute now and have plenty to say about it.

Continue reading for my look at the Honda NC750X.

  • 2018 Honda NC750X
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel-Twin
  • Displacement:
    670 cc
  • Price:

Design

2018 Honda NC750X
- image 771519
The fuel-tank bump is a lie; it's actually dry storage that will hold a full-face helmet.

The NC750X may technically be Honda’s next-generation mid-size adventure bike — it does replace the NC700X — but visually, this is one acorn that didn’t fall far from the tree. An adventure-bike layout greets the eye with the characteristic bird’s-beak fairing and recessed LED headlight topped by a vented windshield. A central vent relieves the vacuum behind the glass for smoother slipstream re-integration and reduced head-buffet effect, plus a set of slits that provide a bit of wind-noise abatement for an extra layer of comfort. Good stuff if you want to arrive fresh for work after a two-wheel commute.

Though the X certainly has plenty of that adventure-bike DNA, it’s kind of the equivalent of a soccer mom’s SUV, never really intended for off-road work. It’s not really an attempt at deception, but closer to the truth to say the design just really works well for long-distance work. The upright rider’s triangle promotes a proper self-supporting posture with pullback bars and low footpegs that should allow most riders to stand up if you need to execute some highly technical maneuvers or just need a butt break.

As for the adventure-style fuel-tank bump; it is a lie. Fuel storage actually lies lower and to the rear in order to help lower the overall center of gravity, so the faux tank actually opens up to reveal a 22-liter dry-storage unit large enough for a full-face brainbucket. Unusual? Maybe, but it gives the line enough built-in storage to act as a commuter right off the floor, and of course, the accessories catalog offer hard-sided panniers and a top case for those with a need for greater storage capacity.

The tapered tank-storage area meets a narrow waist and saddle for comfortable ground access in spite of the 32.7-inch seat height. A scoop shape and short pillion rise serve to cup and cradle the pilot’s fifth point of contact with a wide pillion pad and J.C. handles for passenger security. Tucked underneath, an LED taillight contributes to the clean look of the slightly-upswept subframe, and the combination mudguard/tag-holder/turn-signal takes care of the rest for a really nice look; proof that utilitarian bikes don’t necessarily have to look boring.

Chassis

2018 Honda NC750X
- image 771526
Engineered for easy handling, expect a ride that strikes a compromise between agility and stability.

A diamond-type, tubular-steel frame sets the tone for the ride quality with engineered-in rigidity for eager handling. The mid-size, 60.6-inch wheelbase works with the 27-degree rake and 4.3-inch trail to strike a compromise between agility and stability, because you want long-distance sleds to be stable so they don’t wear you out, but you don’t want it to feel like a chore to lumber about around the bends.

Honda also sought a balance in the suspension; rather than running with plain vanilla stems or some kind of adjustable system, the factory opted for Showa’s Dual Bending Valve forks that run with fixed values that are also variable according to demand due to the clever spring-valve damper control. Out back, the monoshock comes with the obligatory spring preload, but nothing else. Suspension-travel numbers look good with 6 inches up front and 5.9 in back, so you can count on enough travel to take on some of the nastiest road conditions.

At 474-pounds wet, the 750 gets by with a single, 320 mm disc and two-piston anchor up front and a 240 mm disc and single-pot caliper out back. A twin-channel ABS stands overwatch to allow you to get the most out of the brakes when it’s time to haul it down. Cast aluminum rims round out the rolling chassis with 17-inchers at both ends and a 120/70 hoop up front opposite a 160/60 that brings up the rear.

Suspension, Front/Rear: 41mm telescopic fork; 5.4 in. travel/ Pro-Link® single shock; 5.9 in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single 320mm disc w/ twin-piston caliper (DCT model w/ ABS)
Brakes, Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ single-piston caliper (DCT model w/ ABS)
Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70ZR-17 radial/ 160/60ZR-17 radial
Rake (Caster Angle): 27º
Trail: 110mm (4.3 in.)

Drivetrain

2018 Honda NC750X
- image 771520
A beefy bottom-end allows for effortless low-speed maneuvers.

Honda knows you’re liable to be filtering through traffic (safely I’m sure, right?) or otherwise pulling some low-speed maneuvers on a regular basis, and nothing helps that quite like a nice, beefy bottom end (no giggety). So, you can expect 50 pound-feet of torque at 4,750 rpm with 54 horsepower that comes on at 6,250 and a newly-increased redline at 7,500 rpm.

An 80 mm stroke and dual, 77 mm bores give the engine a 745 cc displacement with a 10.7-to-1 compression ratio in a parallel-twin configuration. A SOHC times the eight-valve head with a water jacket and radiator to deal with the waste heat; just what you want if you have to navigate heavy traffic. Whether you’re commuting or touring, the 3.7-gallon fuel tank and 67 mpg rating give it a range in the neighborhood of 240 miles.

In addition to the ABS, Honda includes another contact-patch integrity feature with its self-named Selectable Torque Control that essentially sets the levels of intervention to favor soft surfaces or inclement weather, plus there’s an “Off” setting for the full-real feel. While the base model comes with a six-speed manual transmission, buyers can opt for the Dual Clutch Transmission that sports two modes of automatic operation and a manual mode that provides seamless, push-button shifts. The Adaptive Clutch Capability Control gives the response a more natural feel as you transition between driving and engine-braking, sort of like the feel you get from feathering a clutch.

What does this give us? Well, it provides the market with a bona-fide, mid-size motorcycle that delivers an almost scooter-like, twist-and-go riding experience; a no-brainer ride for grownups that is well-suited to life at interstate speeds. Great stuff if you want/need an automatic tranny and would rather take a beating than ride a scooter.

Engine: 670 cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
Bore and Stroke: 73.0mm x 80.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI; 36mm throttle body
Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Valve Train: SOHC; four valves per cylinder
Final Drive: Chain; 16T/43T
Starting: Electric
Transmission: 6-speed (DCT model w/ 6-speed Automatic DCT)

Pricing

2018 Honda NC750X
- image 771525
Expect MSRP to fall somewhere above the NC700X, which should put it around $8k or a skosh higher for the DCT model.

Still TBA at this time. The 2017 NC700X rolls for $7,699, and since the NC750X replaces it with some extra goodies bundled aboard, I’m going to say it’s probably going to set U.S. buyers back around $8,000 for the base model and $8,600 for the DCT version, or something thereabouts.

Competitors

2018 Honda NC750X
- image 771522
2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT
- image 771527
Without brand loyalty, the Versys might suffer up against Honda's mid-size entry to the market.

When I think about mid-size adventure-type commuters, Kawasaki’s Versys 650 comes immediately to mind, so I’m going to use the ABS version for my head-to-head here. Kawi leads the way with a split-headlight, bird’s-beak fairing for a bit of contrast to the cyclops Honda visage, and inverted front forks against the standard, right-way-up stems on the Honda.

The Kawi’s windshield is adjustable, and that may be a selling point for some, but it’s only a slight variation between very similar front ends. Honda takes a hit in the face of Kawi’s front suspension that boasts adjustable rebound and preload. Yeah, the SDBV forks are nice, but so is the ability to dial in your own values.

Kawi, on the other hand, has a hard time against the NC750’s powerplant. The Versys 650 leaves a few cubes on the table with a 649 cc displacement and torque somewhere in the low forties against a solid 50 pounds of grunt from the Honda. To compound Kawi’s woes, the Versys has no answer for Honda’s traction control, to say nothing of the automatic transmission. At $8,099, price is unlikely to save the Versys in this competition since our projected price on the superior NC750X is somewhere in the same neighborhood.

He Said

“It’s a standard with attitude; a commuter/tourer for the rider who needs a multipurpose ride for use primarily in civilized (read: paved) areas. The “urban jungle” if you like. I like the flyline and the tank-storage-thing, and that alone gives the bike some utility without cluttering up the look with the extra baggage out back. All good moves by the Red Riders as far as I can tell, but the proof will be in the sales-pudding.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I do like the fuel tank lower in the chassis, putting the center of gravity down low. That’s a big contributor to handling. The faux fuel-tank storage is a plus being able to stash your helmet without having to hang bags on the sides. As a commuter, this seems like a proper purpose-built bike, especially with the DCT. It’s really a big scooter that isn’t a scooter. It’s just that easy to ride.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 670 cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin
Bore and Stroke: 73.0mm x 80.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI; 36mm throttle body
Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Valve Train: SOHC; four valves per cylinder
Final Drive: Chain; 16T/43T
Starting: Electric
Transmission: 6-speed (DCT model w/ 6-speed Automatic DCT)
Chassis:
Suspension, Front/Rear: 41mm telescopic fork; 5.4 in. travel/ Pro-Link® single shock; 5.9 in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single 320mm disc w/ twin-piston caliper (DCT model w/ ABS)
Brakes, Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ single-piston caliper (DCT model w/ ABS)
Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70ZR-17 radial/ 160/60ZR-17 radial
Rake (Caster Angle): 27º
Trail: 110mm (4.3 in.)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Ground Clearance: 6.5 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Wheelbase: 60.6 in.
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal., including 0.8 gal. reserve
Curb Weight: 474 lbs. (DCT model: 500 lbs.)
Color: Candy Red
Price: TBD

References

Kawasaki Versys

2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT
- image 684425

See our review of the Kawasaki Versys.

Honda NC700X

2015 - 2017 Honda NC700X
- image 701244

See our review of the Honda NC700X.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: powersports.honda.com, kawasaki.com, honda.co.uk

Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: