AFFORDABLE OLD BIKES: AGAIN!
I read with interest the article about Michael’s Honda Bros 650 in RC175 and felt that I should write to humbly propose an alternative bike for consideration by the gentle readers of RC. The bike of which I speak is the Bros 650’s portlier but very stable cousin, the Honda NTV650. Made between 1993 and 1997, the NTV650 is the model that sits between the expensive and rather poorly selling Revere 600 and the NT650V Deauville, which is definitely a bike that splits opinion. The NTV650 has the same grunty yet smooth engine as the Bros, but rather than the sexy aluminium beam frame it makes do with a rather longer steel equivalent. The NTV also ‘makes do’ with an excellent shaft drive (no mess) and a fuel tank holding over four gallons (great range).
The biggest challenge in NTV ownership actually involves finding one that hasn’t got 100k miles on the clock or has been (not so) tastefully café racerised. Mine was effectively a one-owner bike with 35k on the clock, but was cosmetically challenged, although the original silencer had survived. Given their reputation, I expected the NTV to be boring and uninvolving, but far from it; they are excellent all-rounders. This was proved during a recent trip to the Pyrenees, where I was riding with a friend on a VFR750. The 650’s excellent handling and good engine braking were a great bonus in the twisty switchbacks of the mountain roads, whereas the stability of the ride and the tireless engine (unlike the rider I might add) were well suited to that final blast across France for the ferry.
Sure, the NTV isn’t perfect. What is? The riding position can seem rather strange with the feet well up and back, like laying on the bike, but fitting slightly higher bars has improved this. The rider’s seat is narrow and has a curved profile: it can seem like an instrument of torture on longer trips, which is why you will see mine with a gel pad fitted for the long stretches. Looks? Well, the NTVs are not exactly classic yet but the early models are over 25 years old if VMCC qualification is an issue. As Michael reports, while the engine is excellent, the gearbox is neither the smoothest nor most silent around.
The NTV performed faultlessly during the 1500-mile Pyrenees trip, often returning 60mpg in the process; not bad for a bike which cost under £1000 to buy and recommission. So if the Bros appeals to you, but you cannot find one or want shaft drive then think of trying the NTV. You will not be disappointed.