Performance Bikes (UK) - - IDENTITY CRISIS -

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...

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