THE HONDA IS not a supernaked. That much is true. The MT-10 has dished out a beating, but in honesty we could have included just about any bike in the class – even the ‘entry’ level nude ’n’ rude machines like the GSX-S1000 and Z1000, never mind the top-spec Euro missiles.
No matter how you change your way of thinking to adapt to the bike, it doesn’t fit. Treat it like a retro and it doesn’t have the torque or character you’d want. Match your riding to the sharp, aggressive engine response and the rest of the bike gets out of its depth and feels limiting. It isn’t especially comfortable, or so stylish that it makes people stop and stare. Lots of motorcyclists saw it while we were on test: a few questions were asked, but no one was really struck by it.
And that’s the problem: it just doesn’t have a real identity or reason for being. Buy an MT-10, Z1000 or Speed Triple and you know you’re getting a fun, fast road bike. Buy a Z900RS, R nineT or XSR900, and you’ve not only saved cash, but it’s also a more pleasurable experience. Ultimately, it’s as underwhelming as the old CB1000R, because Honda have pulled their punches and gone for the safe option, rather than being bold and giving us a bike to remember. It could have easily been a brawny, modern interpretation of Freddie Spencer’s AMA CB900F, or put the Fireblade DNA to good use and made a supremely competent and accessible naked sportsbike. Without that sort of commitment, it’s just a forgettable motorcycle. Honda needs to take a leaf out of Yamaha’s book: whether you think the MT family are stunners or mingers, the bold approach on well-developed mechanicals has paid dividends, and they’ll continue to sell out for the foreseeable future. I don’t think the Honda will do the same.
Yamaha’s bravery was rewarded by universal acclaim and through-the-roof sales. Honda need to grow a pair...