2014 Honda NC700X DCT ABS Review

Automatic transmission for the people

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2014 Honda NC700X

Editor Score: 87%
Engine 16.5/20
Suspension/Handling 13/15
Transmission/Clutch 9/10
Brakes 8/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9/10
Appearance/Quality 9/10
Desirability 9/10
Value 9/10
Overall Score87/100

When Honda released the 2012 NC700 series of motorcycles with an optional Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), some members of the riding public scratched their heads. To an experienced rider, operating a well-engineered clutch and gearbox is seen as an asset, not a negative. What the naysayers couldn’t wrap their heads around was that Honda was trying to attract new people to the ranks of riders.

2012 Honda NC700X Review – Video

Honda’s engineers made an effort to appeal to seasoned riders, reentry riders, and not-yet-riders by designing a bike with real-world economy and accessible performance. Available in either red or black, the NC700X has thoroughly modern – yet unintimidating – styling that will appeal to many people. Available with a traditional clutch/gearbox, the NC700 is also available with Honda’s second generation DCT to ease the learning curve of new riders.

Made for the urban jungle, the NC700X offers a great platform for negotiating the tasks of a daily rider.

Made for the urban jungle, the NC700X offers a great platform for negotiating the tasks of a daily rider.

Since proper clutch control can be a major hurdle to new riders, the dual-clutch tranny eliminates the clutch lever and can provide fully automatic shifting as on some sporty automobiles. Rolling away from a stop requires nothing more than twisting the throttle. In the DCT’s Drive and Sport modes, gear choice is left up to the ECU, with Sport providing quicker responses while using a higher portion of the engine’s rev range. The ECU’s “learning function” monitors the engine to determine the riding environment (throttle and gear positions, speed, etc.) and anticipate what action will be required next, allowing the shift points to vary within the same mode.

The shift buttons are comfortably located and increase the fun of the NC.

The shift buttons are comfortably located and increase the fun of the NC.

For times when more rider involvement is desired, Honda’s DCT has given the rider the ability to temporarily override the DCT with the shift paddles on the left grip. A short period after utilizing the shift paddles to select a gear, the Engine Control Unit (ECU) will return to the automatic mode. As a rider’s experience level increases, the DCT’s paddle-shifting manual mode gives more control and can be easily engaged via a switch on the right handgrip.

While the DCT’s Drive mode is focused on user-friendly performance and fuel economy, rolling on the throttle still moves you past traffic without drama. Whacking the throttle open causes a quick downshift (or two) to occur before strong acceleration begins. In order to avoid the shifting delay after the throttle is opened, experienced riders will prefer to preemptively override the DCT by downshifting manually and thus shortening the reaction time significantly. Sport mode changes the gear selection, and downshifts come sooner, giving the benefit of a little engine braking entering corners. Experienced riders will grin as they thumb a couple quick downshifts on corner entry, roll on the throttle, and let the DCT do all the upshifting work. With the DCT arrangement, changing gears is amazingly seamless.

Motorcycle Beginner – Year 2: 2013 Honda NC700S Review

The smooth fuel metering from the NC700X’s EFI supplies both fun and practicality. The power delivery is tuned to get the most bottom end and mid-range from the 670cc parallel-Twin. Torque comes immediately off idle and peaks at 4750 rpm with 44 ft-lb, as recorded on the dyno during our comparo of the non-DCT version against Kawaski’s Versys. Horsepower weighs in at a relatively sedate 47.6 hp at 6250 rpm.

Fuel efficiency was designed from the inside out, beginning with the friction-reducing coatings on the walls of the cylinders, each carrying an undersquare 73mm bore and 80mm stroke. The intake and exhaust ports branch within the cylinder head, enabling the use of a single 36mm throttle body. Engine compactness is improved through a camshaft-driven water pump and the centralized location of the catalytic converter. In addition, special attention was paid to making the mill as compact and light as possible.

To achieve the desired mass centralization, the engine’s two parallel cylinders are canted forward 62-degrees to make it shorter and flatter. Honda filled the space normally reserved for the gas tank with a handy, waterproof compartment large enough to hold some (but not all) XL full face helmets.

The riding position is comfortably upright, giving the pilot a good position for viewing the road ahead. The adjustable windshield offers decent protection.

The riding position is comfortably upright, giving the pilot a good position for viewing the road ahead. The adjustable windshield offers decent protection.

Out on the interstate, the engine turns a comfortable 3500 rpm at 65 mph. Engine vibration is minimal, starting around 4500 rpm. In our somewhat greedy hands, the NC yielded an average fuel economy of 54.9 mpg for a mathematical range of 203 miles from its 3.7-gallon tank located under the seat, low and forward next to the engine.

Around town, the NC700X feels balanced and stable. The rider’s upright position is perfect for negotiating traffic. Thanks to the wide handlebar, steering response is immediate and predictable. The Bridgestone BT-023 tires offer plenty of grip given the NC’s job description. While the styling and long-ish-travel suspension (5.4 inches front and 5.9 inches rear) may look like they’re ready for light off-road use, the NC has no such aspirations but is more than capable at handling the road irregularities found in the concrete jungle. The soft front end dives under the initial application of brakes, but not excessively so. As long as the pace is kept within the parameters for which the suspension was designed, it works well, though mid-corner bumps do occasionally upset the chassis.

Honda’s use of textures in the detail work on the NC700X delivers a higher perceived value in person that doesn’t show up as well in photos.

Honda’s use of textures in the detail work on the NC700X delivers a higher perceived value in person that doesn’t show up as well in photos.

As part of the DCT package, Honda’s Combined ABS links the front and rear calipers to the brake pedal. When the pedal is depressed, the rear brake is activated and a proportioning valve varies the percentage of power delivered to the front wheel’s 320mm disc in an effort to optimize the use of both brakes. Lightly applying the brake pedal feels as if the proportioning valve is initially only sending power to the 240mm rear, but increasing the pedal pressure causes the front end to dive slightly, reflecting the effects of both brakes being utilized. The front brake is controlled independently by two of the caliper’s three pistons. ABS kicks in if either wheel reaches a threshold for impending lockup. While not as powerful as more sporting brakes, they are more than capable of getting the job done with a firm pull at the lever.

The bike feels much lighter than the claimed ready to ride weight of 505 lbs which can be attributed largely to the NC700X’s extremely low CG, thanks to the engine’s inclined cylinders and the low position of its fuel tank. Although the 32.7 in. seat height may give shorter riders pause, the narrowness of the bike combined with its low CG keeps the NC700X from feeling top heavy.

The NC700X’s fashionable styling and fit and finish doesn’t look like that of a motorcycle whose base price is $8,799. (If you’d rather have a traditional transmission and no ABS, the price drops $1,000.) Honda has managed to deliver a great combination of fun and efficiency at a reasonable price – even with the cool DCT/ABS technology.

The NC700X delivers a good value for the money – one new and reentry riders should take a serious look at.

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  • DickRuble

    Nice, practical, affordable (with regular gearbox). What’s not to like?

    • Rick Vera

      The $7,799 price tag when Suzuki’s SFV650 is $8,149 and Yamaha’s FZ-09 is $7,990. Now I’m not one to champion the “horsepower:dollar is all!” mantra as I know there are many attributes besides engine output that give value to a motorcycle, nonetheless, a clever built-in storage tank (but ho-hum fuel capacity) isn’t enough to offset that price.

      If the NC700X was $6,500, it would be brilliant, but there’s simply not enough content to justify its price tag. Without more clever bits—if not horsepower—like shaft drive, standard ABS on the lower-priced model, or LED headlights as on CTX-1300 or Interceptor, the $7,799-8,799 price tag is simply asking too much.

      • DickRuble

        The Suz 650 specs are indeed compelling. 70lbs lighter than the honda, lower seat height (i prefer the taller, but the plebae may like the lower seat). I guess just the Honda quality and finish might be compelling to some.

        As for a bike should cost …knowing that Honda sells some 110cc models for $700 in Africa it’s hard to believe that manufacturers are not price colluding to a certain extent. Prices have been climbing pretty fast for motorcycles.

        • Ted

          Apparently yamaha broke the collusion last year when they came out with the MT-09. Cant wait to see what the price is going to be for the MT-07! It is sure to give Honda’s nc-700 and Suzuki some very serious problems with there pricing! :-)

      • Ser Samsquamsh

        I had an SV, nice bike but the production quality on the NC is way higher. As mentioned you can’t really see it in the photos but it’s is amazingly well put together for the money. It pulls hard to highway speed limit and then is done. So it’s actually super fun to ride around the city.

  • michael franklin

    The’re releasing the 750 version of this bike in the rest of the world….. what about the USA?

  • Craig Hoffman

    With peak hp delivered at only 6,250 rpm, I doubt this engine will ever wear out. My FZ1 is not even on the cam yet at that engine speed. Then it occurs to me. My 450cc dirt bike has more horsepower than this thing. Would have to ride it to give a final verdict, but I can’t imagine this bike would not bore me to tears.

    A 70 hp SV650? Now that is a fun bike in this displacement class. SV, or even the damn Gladius if Suzuki insists, for me. The ‘Zook mill is a gem. The top end for this bike is apparently a sawed in half Honda Fit car engine. Not exactly awe inspiring.

  • Kevin

    This bike is obviously intended for bringing new riders to motorcycling. To that end it is excellent in design and function. The 2nd generation DCT works seamlessly and the power output of the motor is smooth, linear, and dumbed down just the ticket to keep new riders from crashing while learning to use their hand to meter out the power rather than their foot. Long legged types will probably like this bike a lot.
    My complaint with this and most Hondas is the stupidity of forcing people to buy options they may not want in order to gain the benefits of ABS brakes.

    • Jason

      I agree 100%. I want to buy a NC700X. However, in 2014 I will not purchase a motorcycle without ABS. I also have not need or desire for the DCT. If this was any other market in the world I would be fine. I would just order the base model that comes with ABS standard. But this is the USA and American Honda has decided that I can’t have ABS without DCT. And so I don’t have a NC700X.

    • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

      I believe that’s American Honda rather than Honda corporate’s fault. American Honda decides what they want to import and in what configuration. I haven’t looked, but Honda probably offers this bike with ABS and no DCT elsewhere in the world.

      • denchung

        In Europe, ABS will soon be required standard equipment in a few years, so both DCT and non-DCT versions are equipped with ABS. As far as I can tell from a cursory search, the U.S. market may be the only one offering a non-ABS option for 2014. (It’s also worth noting Europeans are also getting the updated NC750X version with the 745cc engine, as well as the similar NC750S and Integra models.)

  • Guest

    I PREFER SCOOTER INSTEAD….

    • Evans Brasfield

      Then you should check out our 2013 Uber Scooter Shootout (http://bit.ly/1kmmDrl).

      • Guest

        i did but yamaha t-max wasnt there.
        i look elsewhere for a more complete comparison.

        • Evans Brasfield

          The TMax isn’t sold in the US where this publication is based.

  • Kevin

    Hey Evans, where are Kevin, Tom, and Troy and that this is a better ride than a Grom why didn’t you go with them?

  • fastfreddie

    Couldn’t they just have put that engine into a hawk frame?That would have been a bike worth waiting for.Instead we get this concoction designwise:(

  • Tim Quinn

    What does Honda have against using belt drives on their motorcycles?
    My last two new motorcycles have had a belt drive and unless I buy another new dirt or sport bike, I’m not going back to a chain drive.

    • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

      Chain drive is the most efficient and least likely to break. And maintenance if you don’t ride in the rain, is comparable to a belt. Belts usually last longer, assuming they don’t break.

      • Chris_in_Kalifornia

        Less likely to break? I watched a guy do a burn out with a big sportster with the belt drive. I don’t think they’ll break very often. I don’t believe that side by side testing has ever been published of two identical bikes one chain and one belt. That would be the only true comparison but I doubt the belt is less efficient than a chain. If the chain was really more efficient don’t you think they’d be using them in the modern engines instead of belts in light of the ever increasing fuel economy standards?

        • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

          I wasn’t saying a belt _would_ break, just that the chain is more durable. Belts stretch on ever revolution, whereas chains stretch over time. If belts were more or equally efficient, you’d see them in racing, but you don’t, so that pretty much tells you which is more efficient because those guys are looking for ever advantage. As for where each appears in commercial application, that goes more along with the purpose of the bike, because any of the modern methods of power transfer will work well in the commercial space. Many touring/sport-touring bikes are shaft drive, many cruisers are belts, and most sport bikes are chain drive.

          • Chris_in_Kalifornia

            You are using old information. Plus, chains do stretch a bit on every revolution, well not really stretching, as the bushings wear and leave a gap the chain gets effectively longer. To me the benefits of the belt far outweigh the possible benefits of a chain. Yes my chains lasted about 35K miles on my Vstrom but the belts on a Harley recommend you change them about 80K miles if I remember correctly. I could hear my chain drive over traffic noise when I was in the car pool lane next to the K rails. Belts are silent for the most part. I had to lube my chain every day, belts require no such lubing. I believe they aren’t used in racing because it’s so much easier to change the gearing when you are using a chain and sprockets. They are also slightly less bulky than a belt. Heh, I found out my Escort had belt driven cams by one breaking as I was heading home from work one day. It ran 135,000 miles when the expected service life was way under 100K. Never been changed before. Fortunately the Escort used a non-interference engine or I’d have had new pistons and valves to replace as well as the belt.

  • michael franklin

    No ABS unless you buy the auto trans? I don’t think so, whose wise idea was that? Everyone else gets a 750? Sometimes I really think honda does not want to sell bikes in the US

  • Chris_in_Kalifornia

    Not interested in the auto trans and I don’t like the idea of a dual clutch tranny unless I have full control. Not sure about losing some braking power in order to have abs. Wouldn’t be one of my priorities. Road a 650 Vstrom 87,000 miles to and from work and loved having that 5.8 gallon tank. Changed the countershaft sprocket to a 17 from the stock 15 and lowered my cruising rpm a lot. Got 55mpg afterward 49 before. Still rode like a bat out of hell. Like my Vstrom the new honda is chain drive. BLEH!!! it’s a street bike put a belt or a shaft on it. No newbie is going to like lubing the chain or getting a new one if you don’t. Dang too, 700cc and not even 50 hp? Are they brain dead???

    • Dkapulsky

      Well, I am the happy owner of a 700 DCT, and I really think it’s a great bike.

      No, I am not a beginner either, 63 years, and been riding since 16.

      Some people don’t like the way forward, which this bike is striving to find.

      Most of my riding is in the city, changing gears, looking for neutral at the lights, engaging the clutch over and over again is no great fun.

      Chain? well some say it is still the most economical way of transferring power.

      50 HP? that’s more than plenty for those of us who want to stay out of trouble.

      One criticism though, it should have been at least 40lbs lighter.

      • Chris_in_Kalifornia

        What do you mean about “the way forward”? Heh, shifting is fun for me. if you have to “Look for neutral” something isn’t right. First bike I rode was about 48 years ago, a 650 BSA Lightning. “MY” first bike was a 90cc Kawasaki. I’ve ridden everything in between that and my fastest bike was a Suzuki GS1100. I liked the Vstrom best of all. Good seating, great torque, 55mpg after I regeared it by putting 17 tooth countershaft sprocket instead of the stock 15. I rode 4 different bikes while working at LAX and living in Quartz Hill and later Rosamond. Goldwing, Kawasaki 650, BMW R80 and the Suzuki. Did that for 12 years interrupted a couple of times by driving a car for various reasons. I got excellent mileage out of my chain drive, only 3 over the 87,000 miles I rode but the chain was noisier than the exhaust. Sprayed it down thoroughly with WD40 after arriving at work. A belt is quieter, cleaner and no less reliable. Probably more so. I still drive a manual trans mustang as my run around car. I have a Dodge dually named “Tom” (Tom Dooley), Cummins diesel and 6 speed manual trans for towing and a 69 Mustang with a manual trans. I am just not a shiftless person.

        I’d probably love the 700 if I had one, but I’m just a manual kind of guy. Oh yeah, the car I interrupted my bikes with? A Ford Escort, ZX2. Fun little car and great in traffic. Would do 115 against the speed limiter in 4th or 5th. 33 mpg commuting to work. on paper, no guesswork. Oh yeah, that reminds me, When you break a chain it can ruin your engine cases. When a belt breaks it won’t do that. I had to get a the rear cases replaced along with the transmission output shaft, bearings and countershaft and bearings from breaking a chain on my CB750 K0 Honda. Oh yeah, Do you have self adjusting valves. I got no reply from the author on that question and since you have one you’re the right person to ask.
        Thanks

        • Dkapulsky

          The valves need manual attention @8K.
          No big deal, though, I suppose it could have been different.
          but as u know by now, if u been riding for 48 years, life is full of compromises!
          Automatic bikes? well what’s wrong with it? u know some of us like apples and others would rather have pears?
          in other words, each to his own.
          I hate riding in traffic, and not having to change gears makes it so much easier.
          I started on a Honda 50 in 1965, I had and rode so many bikes since, the list will bore u.
          At the moment I own the Honda, an old BM 750, and 2 Honda scooters.
          o yes, and an old toyota rav 4.

          • Chris_in_Kalifornia

            Hmm, I thought I was agreeing with you to a certain extent. I did say “for me”. Listing the cars was to show that yes, I really do prefer to shift for myself. Like you I’ve also owned so many bikes that the list would not fit on this page. Even a 650 Burgman for 6 months. See, I tried one. Good bike. Just not for me. I like to sit up straight. Not leaned backwards or forwards. Maybe forward enough to let the wind carry my weight instead of my hands. Best seating position ever, for me, was a 1971 Honda SL350. (I’m a short guy). Anyway, happy riding to you.

  • Richard Quick

    Okay I get it, but here’s my 2 cents. I bought the 700 DCT after selling my GoldWing!
    I love the DCT because I have arthritis and the GW’s clutch, especially in city driving, made my left hand and wrist swell up like a softball!
    The DCT is smooth and when I get into twisty roads I flip it into Manual and use the paddle shift just as effectively as ever, and NO Clutch! Yes this is a good thing for new riders, but there are many experienced Riders that will more than welcome the DCT.
    I do agree Honda’s marketing plan, tiering options, so to get what you want you have to get something you don’t want Sucks, Big Time!

  • 670ccc

    One of the best damn bikes in the market that has broken sales records globally for a reason. Truly lives up to the hype and is made for real riders, not journalists.

  • Chris Hoerenz

    I bought the CB500XA which addresses a lot of the complaints listed –
    $6,400 with ABS, same riding position, 430 lbs, about the same HP, 50-60
    MPG, bigger tank, easy to ride, comfortable and it is more spirited
    than the NC. Only thing missing is the storage upfront, which I have to
    admit I love in the NC. I would have gone for the NC750XA, which unfortunately didn’t make it to the US but I have to say the CB500X is a great bike.