‘On fast, flow­ing roads, the ben­e­fits of the DCT sys­tem are clear’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Andy Downes SE­NIOR REPORTER

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.

The NC750X’S up­dated DCT sys­tem is a ma­jor fac­tor in the new bike’s ap­peal The al­ready roomy front stor­age space is now even big­ger LED lights at front and rear There are four screen colours

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