‘On fast, flowing roads, the benefits of the DCT system are clear’
onda’s NC750X was always an easy-to-ride, solid performer – but the new 2016 version has added a massive dose of fun into the mix and improved on the outgoing model in almost every regard.
Key changes to the suspension, the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), front brakes, exhaust note and styling all add up to a comprehensively improved bike.
The NC isn’t designed to set your hair on fire in terms of performance, but the new model works so much better in key areas that the overall package is a lot more attractive.
While the DCT retains its D (Drive) mode, which changes up to the highest
Hpossible ratio to conserve fuel, it is now joined by three S-modes (Sport) too. S1 is mildly more sporty than D and designed for town riding; S2, the same programme as the single S option on the old NC, is sportier still, holding on to the revs longer and down-changing earlier too; and S3 is for when you want to press on.
The clutch set-up has been tweaked to give the NC a smoother launch from a standing start and this was particularly noticeable around town and through busy Malaga traffic, the location for its press launch.
At the heart of the NC750 is a mildly updated version of the 741cc paralleltwin motor, a low-revving engine designed to churn out bottom-end torque and sip petrol. The bike is now Euro4 compliant, which means a new exhaust with a denser catalyst and ugly side-mounted orange reflectors are now mandatory.
Suspension changes to the NC750X (and mechanically identical naked S model) see the introduction of 41mm diameter Showa Dual Bending Valve front forks for the first time on any production bike. These give a much improved and controlled ride compared to the outgoing model; particularly under hard braking, when the amount of dive has been reduced significantly.
The Showa rear shock has also been improved for 2016, with a more controlled ride and a preload adjuster fitted for the first time. Even when the pace was upped, on lovely Spanish mountain roads, the NC, while no sportsbike, was easy to ride at a swift pace.
On fast and flowing roads, the ben- efits of the updated DCT system and software were clear. Clicking the DCT into S3 mode and leaving the bike to choose the gear ratio worked well for 90% of the time. Only occasionally did I think I’d rather be in a lower or higher gear, which represents a huge improvement compared to the older, slightly frustrating, DCT set-up.
I did manually change gear for a while, but it felt like a waste of time after a few miles, so I clicked it back into S3. There were still those moments when, even in manual and with raised revs allowed by the new programming, the NC wouldn’t let me change down early enough, leaving me jabbing the button until the revs dropped enough to let the gear ratio change.
Away from the technical updates, the main changes to the bike have been
‘The NC isn’t designed to set your hair on fire in terms of performance’
centred around the styling, with a new ‘tougher’ adventure bike makeover aimed at bringing it more into line with the likes of the VFR800X Crossrunner, range-topping VFR1200X Crosstourer, CRF1000L Africa Twin and others like the CB500X too. Honda have gone all out to try and provide an ‘adventure bike’ for all sectors of the market. Honda even claim that the NC is an adventure bike. It isn’t. It might have faux-adventure Bridgestone Battlewing tyres fitted, but anything more than light gravel tracks is going to cause serious issues.
The NC remains a fairly hefty bike, with the DCT system adding 10kg to the 220kg kerb weight of the manual bike, making it as heavy as a Ducati Multistrada. It carries its weight well, though you do feel it when attempting to thread through gridlocked traffic.
There is a new and larger windscreen for 2016, which is now 70mm taller, an extra one litre of capacity for the front storage compartment, which was already capacious enough to store a full-face crash helmet, LED lights front and rear, and a full-colour dashboard.
Honda pitch the NC750 as a ‘fun, crossover commuter’ but, marketing spiel aside, this is mainly a bike aimed at those who want a super-economical bike for commuting and everyday riding. A significant number are owned by riders who have other bikes and simply use the NC as a weekday tool to get them to work.
What the NC750 is not, however, is an exciting motorcycle, though it is now a fair bit more interesting and rider focused.