2014 Honda CTX700 First Look
Honda's new utility cruiser starts at $6999
First things first: this is not a reincarnation of the DN-01, Honda’s overpriced, oddly styled scooter experiment. What you’re looking at is the 2014 Honda CTX700 and CTX700N, the latter of which, at the right angle, reminded me of a poor man’s Ducati Diavel when I first laid eyes on it during its unveiling at the Chicago International Motorcycle Show last Friday. Short for Comfort, Technology and Experience, Honda’s hoping the CTX will lure new and re-entry riders into the moto world.
Two versions were unveiled in Chicago, the standard CTX700N ($6999), and the CTX700 ($7799), the latter with a bikini fairing separating it from the naked variant. Both share the same frame and 670cc parallel-Twin with the NC700X, and are also available with ABS and Honda’s second generation DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) for just a grand more, though the two options can’t be separated.
Both are world models, meaning they will be built to the same specification regardless which market they’re sold in. Combine this with the shared cost of engine development with the Honda Fit automobile, cross-pollination of parts between various models, and production in Thailand, and the result is a motorcycle able to bring DCT technology to the masses for well under $10,000.
Honda is hoping the modest cost of admission will light a fire in the proverbial arse of an industry “that’s been a little stale lately,” says Bill Savino, Honda Powersports Press Manager. And while the engine and much of the technology is the same as the NC700X, the obvious difference comes in the CTX’s styling and intent.
With its feet-forward design, pulled back handlebars and low 28.3-inch seat height, the cruiser-esque CTX, “is going after new riders, or people who've been away from the market for awhile,” Savino says. Meanwhile, the CTX700, complete with accessory saddlebags and tall windscreen, is ideal for “that touring customer who's been riding a Gold Wing for 20 years and may want to downsize to something more manageable.”
Either way, with the available DCT package and its ability to change gears automatically or at the push of a button, Savino hopes “this will reduce any anxiety someone may have about shifting.” Despite the engine’s forward slant in the frame, the CTX’s 3.17-gallon fuel tank is located in the traditional location, as opposed to the NC700X which places the fuel under the seat.
As such, the CTX doesn’t enjoy the same convenient storage compartment as the NC. In fact, without the accessory saddlebags, there’s not much storage space at all.
To help keep costs down, suspension consists of a traditional 41mm fork and single shock. Neither are adjustable. Rake is a little lazier than the NC700X at 27.7 degrees (vs. 27.0 degrees), while trail is nearly identical at 4.4 inches, 0.1-inch more than the NC.
Sitting on the CTX, the low seat height is extremely inviting and non-intimidating. Ergonomics feel very cruiser-like, with the hand controls placed directly in front of the rider. Reach to the pegs is natural too, even for my stubby 30-inch inseam. The seat is broad and the cockpit roomy, meaning riders of various body types should find their comfort zone quickly and easily on the CTX.
Both bikes feel relatively narrow and carry their weight low, but the display bikes were sans fuel, so we’ll save judgments on weight and agility until we get to ride one. Still, curb weights start at 478 pounds for the standard CTX700N, with DCT/ABS adding 28 pounds. Weights for the semi-faired model were not available as of press time.
Seeing as the NC and CTX platforms are adaptable and can be repurposed into several iterations, Savino admits the possibilities for the NC and CTX platforms are virtually endless. “There could be bigger or smaller versions with different displacements or engine configurations to meet demand or certain markets.”
Speaking of the CTX700 specifically, “these are just two of the first models of CTX. There will be more products in the future.” He refused to elaborate but mentioned the long-in-the-tooth ST1300 sport tourer as a model worthy of a successor from the CTX family. “There’s a lot of different ways this series can go.”
Along with the NC700X and CB500 series of motorcycles, the CTX line, which is due in dealers by Spring 2013, is poised to be one of a number of reliable, inexpensive models forthcoming from Honda. “The 2014 model year is going to be exciting for us, as we’ll be introducing even more new products,” says Savino.
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