Honda updated their baby Africa Twin to make a capable commuter

LISTEN 08:53

Honda’s adventuresome NC750X got a facelift ahead of the 2021 model-year that includes refined front fairings for improved penetration and an enlarged cargo space to contribute to its utility as both an adventure bike and a commuter cycle. The engine also enjoyed a few mechanical tweaks along with an improved electronic-control system, and the lump lost some weight so even more of that power is converted into acceleration. A new slipper-type clutch and re-calibrated transmission completes the MY2021 package with a concurrent gain in safety. Shorter gear-ratios for the first three gears let you come out of the hole like a champ while remaining in the usable powerband.

2021 Honda NC750X Design

  • LED lighting
  • Updated styling
  • LCD instrumentation
  • Expanded storage
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976249
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976257

In spite of its decidedly adventure-bike mien, Honda means for its NC750X to wear several hats. Sure, the ADV angle is obvious, but there are subtleties to consider. First is the expanded storage under the tank cover. It’s one liter larger for a total storage capacity of 23 liters, shaped to fit an adventure bucket, and this year, it comes with a USB-C socket that’ll power/charge your mobile devices under way so you can arrive charged up and ready to go.

The entire front fairing looks like it went to fat camp with a narrower visage than before and a new windscreen to match, great for low-drag penetration, not so good for overall coverage and protection from the elements. Also gone is the lower section of the front fairing to leave the bash plate on the chin all by its lonesome and to give us a tantalizing glimpse of the framework.

In spite of the increase in storage under the faux fuel-tank hump, the flyline, and indeed the rest of the bike, remains visually much the same as before. One subtle difference is found in the stock saddle height that rests your rear at 31.6 inches off the deck, down from 32.7 inches high on the previous generation.

Large gussets frame-mount the flip-up footpegs that pair with beefy J.C. handles to accommodate a passenger, and out back, a redesigned taillight boasts LED technology with similarly-equipped turn signals to complete the rearward lighting. Even the LCD instrumentation was spruced up for this year to make it easy to monitor the mundane metrics and adjust the higher electronic functions.

2021 Honda NC750X Chassis

  • New diamond-type frame
  • Lower seat height
  • Showa Dual Bending Valve SFF-BP front suspension
  • Improved handling and performance
  • Stock ABS
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976281
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976258
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976277

Tubular-steel members on the NC750X give the new diamond-type frame its strength, and the factory took full advantage of variable-thickness material to drop 2.6 pounds from the frame’s total weight as part of an overall lightening effort. There was an apparent effort to lower the seat as well, ’cause it’s been dropped 1.2 inches down to 31.5 inches off the deck for a bit of added confidence when you have to put your feet down at a stop.

Rake and trail are set at 27-degrees and 4.3-inches, respectively, to place handling at the nimble end of the spectrum. Front suspension travel is limited to 4.7 inches at the axle, down from an even 6.0 inches, but the forks are now of the Dual Bending Valve, SFF-BP variety from Showa so they deliver a superior, demand-driven ride to that of the previous generation. Travel out back was reduced as well to 4.7 inches of travel, down from a 5.9-inch stroke, but is supposed to deliver a superior low-speed ride.

Cast-aluminum wheels round out the rolling chassis with a 120/70 hoop ahead of a 160/60 – both in a 17-inch diameter and with a “Z” speed rating that will take any kind of speed you care to dish out. Dual, 320 mm discs and twin-pot calipers slow the front wheel with a single-piston anchor out back that bites a 240 mm disc and a stock ABS feature that lets you safely get the most out of the brakes.

Front Suspension/ Travel: 41mm Showa telescopic fork/4.7 inches
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Pro-Link® w/ single shock/ 4.7 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 27.0°
Trail: 4.3 inches
Front Brake: Single 320mm disc w/ hydraulic caliper; 2-channel ABS
Rear Brake: Single 240mm disc w/ hydraulic caliper; 2-channel ABS
Front Tire: 120/70ZR-17 radial
Rear Tire: 160/60ZR-17 radial

2021 Honda NC750X Drivetrain

  • Liquid-cooled 745 cc parallel-twin engine
  • Optional twist-and-go Dual Clutch Transmission
  • Switchable Honda Selectable Traction Control
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976263
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976255
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976248

Honda powers its NC750X with the same liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine as before, but with some important differences. The single over-head cam comes in a new grind that differs between the bores and the mill can now be wound up a bit tighter to an even 7 grand. Horsepower tops out at 6,750 rpm with 58 ponies on tap that’s backed up by 51 pound-feet of torque at 4,750 rpm.

A 77 mm bore and 80 mm stroke gives it a 745 cc total displacement with a medium-hot, 10.7-to-1 compression ratio. The new cam actuates a quartet of poppets in each combustion chamber. A 270-degree offset in the firing order gives this vertical-twin a lope that sounds much more like a V-twin at idle.

As before, the drivetrain offers a choice between a slipper-clutch and six-speed combo, or Honda’s proprietary Dual Clutch Transmission that delivers automatic, twist-and-go operation or can be push-button shifted up and down the range. The latter sports four separate shift patterns for various riding conditions, including inclement weather. No matter which drive you pick, this bike rolls with the switchable Honda Selectable Traction Control feature that prevents spinout, and a quartet of preset profiles that let you set up both systems at once with just the push of a button.

Engine: 745 cc liquid-cooled four-stroke 55º parallel-twin, SOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 77 mm x 80 mm
Induction: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection (Throttle By Wire)
Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Transmission: Six-speed Manual, DCT: six-speed automatic DCT
Final Drive: #520 Chain; 16T/43T
Clutch: Multiplate wet

2021 Honda NC750X Price

2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976250
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976251
2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976254

The base-model 2021 NC750X rolls in Grand Prix Red with the manual transmixxer for $8,199. If you just gotta’ have that DCT yummygoodness, you can expect to fork out another eight Benjamins.

Model ID: NC750XA, DCT: NC750XD
Warranty: One Year Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty, Extended coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®
Colors: Grand Prix Red
Price: $8,199, DCT:$8,999

2021 Honda NC750X Competitors

2021 Honda NC750X
- image 976261
2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT
- image 771527

There’s no shortage of adventure-bike competition in play at the moment, but I expect Honda’s entry will most likely be butting heads with the likes of Kawasaki and its Versys 650 ABS, even within the U.S. market.

Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS

2015 - 2019 Kawasaki Versys 650 / 650 LT
- image 822735

The Versys is a straight-up adventure bike, but like most platforms that are thus labeled, it also makes for a dandy commuter, especially with some ex-sale bags added on. Honda comes out the clear winner in stock storage with its faux fuel-tank compartment, so you’ll have to add bags to the Kawi just to break even.

In profile, the Versys displays the typical flyline with a tall fuel-tank hump and deep swale for the pilot’s tukas, so these two could be brothers from another mother in the looks department. Kawi starts to fall behind in the engine department, which is unsurprising given that it surrenders almost 100 cubes to the Honda, and it puts out a claimed torque of 47 pound-feet to fall behind in performance as well.

The pain continues for Kawasaki in the ride-control electronics, namely that the Versys doesn’t really have any beyond its proprietary Dual Throttle Valve feature that helps smooth out the transitions. Since Kawasaki is asking $8,399 for its entry, two Benjamins more than the base NC750X, it’s really pushing its luck and/or loyal base to the max against the tech Honda brings to the table.

He Said

“Ya know, I never was really interested in the wimp-shift transmission Honda uses on so many of its models, but I’m starting to see the merits as I get older. There’s a lot to be said for not having to squeeze that clutch lever 237 times every time you leave the house, and since it has a “manual” shift feature a la pushbutton, you can theoretically hit the shift points where you would with a standard tranny.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “So Honda’s baby Africa Twin was brushed up quite a bit for 2021 and suggests they plan on keeping it around for a while longer. Never really a serious competitor for off-road action, Honda focused the updates on making the NC750X more commuter capable. The optional DCT gives you twist-and-go operation and it also gives you better traction control and ride modes, further enhancing the commuter vibe. Gear ratios in first, second, and third are shorter for better acceleration and fourth, fifth, and sixth are longer for better cruise-ability and fuel economy. By cutting the ground clearance down to something just over four inches, the seat height is lower making the NC750X more attractive as a commuter for a wider range of riders, me included, though the 31-plus inches are still noteworthy for the height-challenged folks. Overall, I feel like Honda did a good job updating the bike and steering it clearly into the street-oriented side of the adventure market.”

2021 Honda NC750X Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 745 cc liquid-cooled four-stroke 55º parallel-twin, SOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 77mm x 80mm
Induction: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection (Throttle By Wire)
Ignition: Full transistorized ignition
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Transmission: Six-speed Manual, DCT: six-speed automatic DCT
Final Drive: #520 Chain; 16T/43T
Clutch: Multiplate wet
Chassis:
Front Suspension/ Travel: 41mm Showa telescopic fork/4.7 inches
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Pro-Link® w/ single shock/ 4.7 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 27.0°
Trail: 4.3 inches
Front Brake: Single 320mm disc w/ hydraulic caliper; 2-channel ABS
Rear Brake: Single 240mm disc w/ hydraulic caliper; 2-channel ABS
Front Tire: 120/70ZR-17 radial
Rear Tire: 160/60ZR-17 radial
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 60.1 inches
Seat Height: 31.6 inches
Curb Weight: 472 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 3.8 gallons
Fuel economy: TBD
Details:
Model ID: NC750XA, DCT: NC750XD
Warranty: One Year Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty, Extended coverage available with a HondaCare Protection Plan®
Colors: Grand Prix Red
Price: $8,199, DCT:$8,999

Further Reading

Honda

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 794666

mot291>
Read more Honda news.

Allyn Hinton
Allyn Hinton
Writer and Associate Motorcycle Editor - allyn@topspeed.com
If it had moving parts, it had Allyn's interest from a very early age. At age 11 when bicycles were too simple to hold her interest any longer, her father found her taking apart the lawn mower. When he asked why she was doing it, she replied, “I need to see how it works.” That curiosity and mechanical drive served her well over the next 40 years as she pursued careers in both the automotive and motorcycle industries. Having shared her love of motorcycles with her now husband, biker TJ Hinton, Allyn brings that love and knowledge to TopSpeed as writer and associate motorcycle editor.  Read full bio
About the author

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

Press release

Related Articles

2022 Kawasaki KLR 650

2018 - 2020 Honda NC750X

2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700

2017 - 2020 Suzuki V-Strom 650 / V-Strom 650XT

2020 Moto Guzzi V85 TT Travel

2020 Honda Africa Twin

What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: