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HomeZA BikersBike ReviewsHonda NC750 X – The Quintessential Lifestyle Motorcycle

Honda NC750 X – The Quintessential Lifestyle Motorcycle

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Honda seem to know more about human behaviour than we do. When the original NC 700 came to market all those years ago, in 2012 it was, many scratched their heads, wondering what Honda was thinking. The basic specs were not flattering in a world seemingly obsessed with power and speed. The single overhead cam parallel twin with four valves per cylinder churned out a mere 51,1 hp at a lowly 6250 rpm. Torque was significant at 62 Nm at 4750 rpm. Honda’s typically thrived on revs, but the NC was a huge departure from their norm. This motor was all about real-world accessible power and capable of fuel economy hitherto unknown in the 750 class.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

On reflection, I believe it is fair to say that Honda’s NC 700 was not only a departure from their norm, but it was also the most revolutionary production motorcycle built by any manufacturer this century. It is another masterstroke by the manufacturer that has probably impacted modern motorcycling more than any other. Let me support what some may consider an outrageous statement by expanding on the brilliance of the NC 700\750. Sometimes when a bike has been around a while, we forget what makes it such a compelling choice.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

The NC is like nothing else. What are the features that make it unique? Consider the tank being located under the seat. Not unique, BMW do that too, but Honda designed a motor to compliment the tank placement to truly get the most benefit from the tank placement. They lay the engine forward to such a degree that the fuel injection and airbox placement still leaves 23 litres of lockable weatherproof storage space where the tank would typically be. Dynamically, the heaviest parts of the bike are very low in the frame, with all the obvious benefits that a low centre of gravity brings to a motorcycle. Loading the storage space also locates the weight lower than in a tank bag.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

This design brilliance is taken a step further by the engine characteristics. This utility motorcycle provides everyday convenience with an absolute labrador of a motor. Smooth, torquey, and relaxed, it has the most marvellous demeanour, effortlessly punting you along without fuss or bother. Pull into the pumps and be amazed at the phenomenal real-world economy on offer. Ergonomically the NC is also spot on. Time in the saddle is a pleasant experience. Performance is more than adequate. It was never meant to blow your hair back. Honda have other bikes that will do that. It was built to be the most fiendishly clever and effective two-wheeled utility transport on the planet, and in that Honda literally reinvented the wheel!

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

But wait, there is more! How could Honda make this utility success story accessible to everyone? Even to those who typically think that you can’t teach old dogs’ new tricks and to whom bikes, although appealing, are just a bridge too far. But what if I could show you a bike that carries its weight so low it feels manageable, and then, as the kicker, offers twist-and-go automatic transmission convenience? Welcome to the wonderful world of DCT! My mate Loy was just such a potential motorcyclist. When he discovered the option of automatic transmission that would do away with the shlep of learning clutch control and throttle coordination, he was sold. Over 130,000 trouble-free and economical k’s of daily use and touring later, he still enthuses about his NC700 DCT as if he got it yesterday.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Over the years Honda have refined the NC even further. The motor is now 745 cc and power has grown to 57,8 hp at an even lower 6000 rpm with torque also up to 69 Nm at 4750 rpm. The first three gears are shorter, for more punchy performance off the line, and the next three gears are longer, enhancing the relaxed cruising ability and fuel consumption. The NC still sports only a single 320 mm disc brake up front and a 240 mm disc at the rear, but the feel is now much improved and there is ample power if you apply decent lever pressure. ABS is standard.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Suspension travel is slightly reduced but quality has improved with a big piston Showa front fork and revised rear mono shock. The NC handles predictably and is fun to hustle down a winding road. The fuel capacity is 14,3 litres and the storage cubby has grown to a cavernous 23 litres.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Instrumentation is LCD and comprehensive. No Laverne, it doesn’t need a more costly TFT display to give us the same information in technicolour! Lights are LED front and rear and adequate for sedate night travel. Engine modes are Rain, Standard, Sport and User which allows some customisation. Overriding the modes are paddle shifts on the left-hand switchgear allowing shifts at will.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

I rode the NC 750 X FROM Pretoria to Howick in KZN, choosing to go via the more scenic and interesting alternative route through Standerton and Volksrust, over the lovely Majuba mountain pass and through Newcastle and Ladysmith. On the open road, the NC is comfy and relaxed, turning a leisurely 4,000 rpm at just shy of 130. Keeping the bike in Standard mode, it holds its speed perfectly uphill and down dale, with power in reserve. Quick overtakes can be made even quicker by prodding the thumb-operated downshift paddle. The motor drops a gear instantly, punts you past the obstacle and then as you run at a constant throttle, snicks the gearbox back into sixth. Effortless.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Running through the Majuba mountain I selected Sport mode and played in the pass. The motor holds onto the gears for longer and downshifts when you roll off, keeping the motor in its sweet spot. This is a satisfying and fun activity. The chassis does its bit, and whilst no Fireblade, it is stable and predictable, holding your chosen line perfectly. The NC was delivering riding enjoyment way beyond its ‘commuter’ label. The trip was done almost completely in Standard mode, apart from over Majuba but it was entering the outskirts of Jo’Burg that it showed a different side to its amiable nature.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

I arrived in Jo’Burg at peak hour, negotiating the traffic to and onto the R21 on my way to my home in Pretoria. I had had enough riding for one day and wanted to get home. A fellow who I recognised from my estate on a pristine 1200 Triumph Trophy was riding ahead of me and obviously familiar with the R21 commute judging by the smooth and fast way that he was dispensing with the slower traffic. Perking up, I switched to Sport mode and joined in the fun. Using the paddle shifts to good effect I dropped a gear when going for a gap in the wake of the Triumph. We ran a high-speed game of tag all the way to our turn-off and then through the traffic to the gate of our estate. The Trophy had a slip-on pipe allowing me to hear how hard the rider was leaning on the motor. In the cut and thrust of suburban traffic, the NC torque and power off idle were brilliant and made for much easier progress.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Riding up to my gate I marvelled at how the NC had carried me far and wide and then showed its class as an urban warrior par excellence! In the space of 1200 k’s I had become a firm believer! I have used the NC as a daily ride for a couple of weeks now and it makes life just so easy! Dyed-in-the-wool bikers may be quick to diss the idea of DCT believing that they, with their experience and skill, can do it better. That is fine. For you boys, the NC is available in a conventional manual.

Having owned a manual NC700 for a while and now having experienced the DCT I am sold on the automatic cog swapper. If I feel that the gear is not perfectly suited to my riding circumstances, I can remedy that with the literal flick of a finger. I must say that this is seldom the case. The DCT NC has an uncanny ability to change up and down at the perfect time. The changes are also smooth and seamless, further contributing to the generally relaxed and effortless vibe of the bike in general use.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

This is a bike you buy primarily with your head. If you have a short list of potential bikes to fit the purpose of commuting ease, brilliant cost and time saving, decent touring and two-up ability, ease of use and with almost unparalleled reliability, the NC is in a class of one. Riding my Honda VFR 800 to the Lowveld recently and thinking about the overall experience as compared to my Howick trip on the NC, I simply had to rule in favour of the NC. A lot has to do with the state of our roads and the crazy traffic volumes that we contend with daily, but the physical demands of sporting bikes are undeniable.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Obviously first prize is to own both genres of bike and use them appropriately, but if you can only have one, and it needs to be a Jack of all trades, make it an NC. It could just be the smartest move you ever made. It will pay for itself with your fuel savings and open a whole new world of weekend and holiday pleasure.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

In the coming months, I will be embarking on ‘Project NC’. I am going to accessorise the NC to be even better as an all-round urban and touring weapon. With the DCT version coming in at around R150,000, the NC offers superb value and lends itself to some thoughtful pimping. Watch this space…

Honda NC750 X

For more information on the bike featured in this article, click on the link below…

2023

HONDA NC750X (DCT)

Pricing From R149,699 (RRP)


Brand: Honda
2023

HONDA NC750X

Pricing From R139,199 (RRP)


Brand: Honda
Dave Cilliers
Dave Cilliers
My name is Dave Cilliers, from as far back as I can remember I have loved travel. Africa provides salve for the gypsy in my soul. My best trips are done travelling to unlikely places with unlikely vehicles, keeping it as simple and basic as possible.
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