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What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

What I want: Honda NC700X

Pictured is the DCT model. (Note the missing clutch lever)
I think I'd prefer the manual version.
It's nowhere near as sexy as a Bonneville or Speedmaster. That's true. It's unlikely to be the sort of machine that would result in having to fight off the ladies. But still, it has something. A kind of geek cool, perhaps? The sexiness of efficiency and reliability.

Whatever the case, the NC700X still manages to tick that all-important box of putting a big grin on my face. It is a bike that's been on my wish list from pretty much the beginning of this whole obsessive episode –– in part because I've never seen it given a bad review. Sure, it occasionally gets labeled as slightly dull, but the articles all seem to agree that it is efficient and effective. The NC700X is capable of doing just about everything pretty well.

It gets upward of 60 mpg (1), it can actually hold its own against proper adventure bikes, it has more storage than any other motorcycle I know, and it has the respectability and presumed reliability that comes from being a Honda. This is the sort of thing that is infinitely appealing to a new rider: a reliable, predictable bike that can do a little bit of everything. A perfect fit because a new rider doesn't yet really know what he or she wants to do.

I mentioned in my previous post that I got a chance to see the NC700X in the flesh recently. It looked a little bit cooler in real life than in pictures, has a comfortable seat and a more natural riding position than on the CBF600 to which I've grown accustomed. But the thing that really struck me was how light it was.

Or, rather, how light it felt. The machine weighs in at roughly 218kg (480lbs), which is some 20kg (44lbs) heavier than the CBF600. But it feels so much different. The weight is low in the frame, so when you sit on the thing you can shift the bike from thigh to thigh as easily as you would a 125. It is amazing!

There are a handful of low-mileage used NC700X bikes out there, so if/when I finally come across the money (2) it's a good bet this will be my first bike. True, it does not quite match the image of motorcycling that I seem to love (check my Tumblr and I'm usually posting videos of bearded dudes riding greasy old bikes or hipster Harleys). Rather than blue jeans and a leather jacket I might look more the part wearing a Roadcrafter. But I'm pretty sure I'd still feel cool. Maybe I'd keep a few Kriega bags strapped to the thing at all times to communicate to the world: "Hey! I'm on an adventure!"

Because, in a way, I always would be.

–––––

(1) CycleWorld managed 73 mpg on their non-DCT version.

(2) And actually pass my Mod 2 exam.

Comments

  1. Chris:

    It's a bit of a dilemma. I would suggest getting the model with the ABS brakes, but they only offer it with the DCT. Part of the fun of riding is manually changing gears, but I don't think you can get the ABS for it, unless Honda changes their mind.

    I'm not suggesting that you don't consider a purchase of a brand new bike, but I would urge you to get something more modest for your first bike as you will be sure to damage it, or it may fall over, or you make make some stupid mistakes and it would be better to have a machine that comes "pre-dented". Once you have more road experience, then you can move up . . .

    There have been good reviews on the NC700, and coupled with Honda reliabilty resale should be good and it is economical too

    doesn't hurt to dream and want . . . it gives you a goal to strive for, and makes working more bearable

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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    Replies
    1. I agree that I wouldn't want a brand new bike. I've seen a few used NC700X around, though, and that's what I'd go for. Fortunately for us in Europe, we have the manual version with ABS.

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  2. NC700X in Chicago28 April 2013 at 02:33

    I've got a NC700X and it's extremely fun to ride, fast, nimble and also exceedingly practical for just about everything outside of track racing. And the DCT tranny is a a thing of beauty, and dare I say makes riding more relaxing and safer. If you look at riding as any other process, anything you can do to make a process simpler allows the user to focus on other things — like the pure joy of twists and turns.

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  3. That's a sweet bike.

    All-arounders make perfect first bikes. Also, that thing looks Mad Max, and there's no such thing as "too Mad Max".

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  4. Been looking for a mid-sized bike to use for around the town and 100 mile trips. Having a gamy left ankle the idea of an automatic is very appealing. having been a car driver for over 35 years this will be my first bike where I need a full motorcycle licence, I have owned two small 125's that I used for work. is this a good bike to relearn on and how will having an automatic gearbox effect any licence I receive.

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    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure that riding an automatic won't affect your license at all, but I think you'd have to take the exams on a manual transmission.

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    2. That is a problem as after 5 mins of changing gears my ankle will be twice its normal size. Thought I had found a solution, but...

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    3. If you can't ride a bike with a manual transmission, who cares that your license won't allow it? Unless you plan on magically fixing your ankle that is!

      I own a NC700S with the DCT (and I own a bike with a normal transmission as well), and I say go for it. The DCT will take care of shifting for you, but it still *feels* and rides like a proper bike, not a scooter. It looks the part too. If you end up not liking the DCT you can still ride big scooters, which can be a lot of fun as well even though they have a different ride. In any case it doesn't help to have a license for manual bikes if you can't really enjoy riding one anyway.

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  5. I purchased a 2013 NC700X non-dct in late May, I have about 900 miles on it so far and for the most part love riding it. It's too bad ABS was not available with the manual transmission, but I have never owned a bike with ABS so maybe I don't realize what I am missing. Unlike other Honda bikes I have owned the rear brake seems weak and the front break seems touchy. The bike overall feels really light and at highway speeds almost too light, but it's really not built to be a long distance highway cruiser. I find the seat to be uncomfortable after about 60 miles and the windshield does not provide enough protection from wind blast, but I am experimenting with a few aftermarket options. The fuel economy is unbelievable, I average 71mpg and I really like the storage where the fuel tank traditionally is. In my opinion, this bike's sweet spot is for a rider who takes 50 to 75 mile rides at speeds between 45 and 65 mph. It is a really fun bike to take out on a country road to feel the twists and turns for short distances. It's not a rocket nor a long distance cruiser, but is so economical, reliable, good looking and fun to ride you can't go wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good to hear from someone who's really ridden the bike. I had wondered how much protection that tiny windscreen would offer. It's interesting you say it's not good for long rides, though. Still sounds like an amazing bike. I am riding a CBF600 at the moment, of course, and if I could trade up, I think I'd still definitely consider the NC700X.

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    2. Any bike is not great at highway speeds unless you have a huge windshield. I have a 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan im thinking of trading in for the NC700X. The seat on the Vulcan is complete garbage, on long trips im stopping every 40 miles and I hurt big time.

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    3. I have been updating my comments on the bike at the following link if you are interested:
      hondanc700.blogspot.com

      Delete
    4. The taller windshield does help. The rump will get better for longer rides and a Air Hawk can ease some discomfort. My long ride is 745 in 13 hours including stops all Interstate and my longest day is over 16 hours of riding mostly back rodes for about 650 miles, the 2 days happen to be back to back. After 6 days of 10-12 hour days and camping.

      I've looked at customizing my seat and changing the foam. The comfort on INterstate running over 75 is much different than a crusier but with the modular helmet and Sena intercom I can make phone calls, listen to music.

      8000 miles since Jan 2013 on the bike , I think that says it for me. I do have another bike.

      Has anyone bought the wind fairings? My feet get cold and wet and I wonder if the fairing help?

      Delete
  6. This bike will take you from coast to coast. Put a Corbin seat on it and an aftermarket touring windshield ( the OEM touring shield is crap ) and take off. You want power. Kick it down to 5th gear to pass an 18 wheeler and then 6th and you will blow around it-- your up to 90 MPH. Honda's through the years have worked on shifting gears to build speed. This ain't no beginners bike like it's made out to be. .I've been riding since I was a pup, and I'll keep up with any other bike on steroids. 67 miles a gallon, my friend, and priced too low to pass up.

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  7. Had my 700X for two days now and already 738km on it. The seat is not bad but for all day comfort I strongly agree with fitting a Corbin or similar. Ditto with the windshield. Its not slow either. After 500km I opened her up a bit and saw 185km/h (115mph)on the gauge quite easily.It feels solid, handles well and the front brake is great. Rear brake needs a heavy foot though.

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  8. I did purchase and install the Givi windscreen and it made a huge difference! Now I need to look into replacing the seat...

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  9. I rode a demonstrator yesterday and put 100 miles. Effortless was my view. An excellent all round machine. I'm going to get one for my daily commute. No seat of your pants acceleration but perfectly adequate. The storage is awesome and the economy brilliant. I had no problems with the screen and I'm 6ft 4. My 20 year old son is going to learn and share it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I test rode both the manual and automatic.

    I'd buy the manual.

    Very nice product.

    Half a Fit engine too. Perhaps on the road a Honda car mechanic could fix you up if you need it. But with Honda reliability.........may never need it.

    I would own this bike.

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  11. Hey you guys...did you know there is a 750 version due out march next year SO I for one am going for the 750 DCT in white with a tall screen extra bars and a white Givi box and leather white tank cover all included with a thatcham cat 1 of course :-)

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  12. Hi everyone, I have the manual version with abs in the UK, I have done 1100 miles on it so far, and I love it. Agree with comments about the seat being uncomfortable after about 60 miles, but I can't fault it otherwise. Im only 5'8" with 29 inch inside leg, but I can manage this bike no problem due to its low centre of gravity. I have also made some aero mods after 1st service, I moved the oem screen to its higher setting, and fitted the Honda wind deflector kits for legs and feet, this has made a massive difference and has made the bike much more comfortable with less wind drafts. I guess a taller rider wouldnt benefit as much though. I have the centre stand, Honda heated grips, and black fibreglass hugger made by Skidmarx fitted too. My next mod is a Beowulf titanium silencer with a k&n filter, which should release a few horsepower and make it sound much more throaty. Hope these comments help, cheers guys
    Mike G

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    Replies
    1. Hello Mike,
      I'm the same height and inseam as you so your comments on the NC700 were of great interest to me. I will be picking up my 2012 NC700 DCT next week and have been thinking about the windscreen, etc. Was the OEM you referred to the original short windshield or the Honda high screen? If it was the short one - did it actually keep the wind off your face and chest or was it just a bit better than at the lower setting? Thanks for the info on your other comfort modifications. Rob A. (Wrentham, Massachusetts)

      Delete
  13. Anonymous- Tex - previous take on adding a Corbin seat. V-Stream windshield now available. Best on the market.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I got the NC the first of 2013, equipped with the roadtec tires, bags, after market exhaust and a after market motor/crash protectors. As of Aug 2013 I've wore out the tires and put on around 7900 miles. It traveled from Georgia around Lake Superior with the longest day of over 745 miles of interstate, but that was the only interstate day out of 8. Most traveled road was Hwy 127 and smaller roads, only a few dirt or graveled roads were traveled. We camped, so we were loaded pretty heavy. The only aggravation is the gear over my fuel tank, so it had to be moved every fill up but the extra compartment in front of the seat over compensates the fuel tank, two straps disconnect, roll forward and its done takes an extra 2 minutes than my buddy on his VStrom which by the way uses an extra gallon or more at every fuel stop.
    On the seat for long trips I use an "Air Hawk" it will add 150-200 miles to your daily ride
    I use non ethanol 87 octane when I can and get about 70+ gpm and 92 non ethanol I have got 79 gpm on a 380 trip in the mtns of Tenn.

    I have a V-Star also but I am enjoying this nibble bike it is a fun bike, I wish it had a few more horses but then the fuel mileage would lose.

    I recommend this bike to commuters, it is pretty much my daily driver. The long trip wasn't bad and it manage fine carrying all my camping gear as well as tools etc, I figured I carried around 100 lbs of gear and my 215 lb body. I didn't lose some fuel mileage but still in high 60-70 were obtained. I run around 8 over the speed limit and it will run 70 at under 4000 rpms.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I bought my new NC700x last year. Waited 6 months for delivery. Since then, I have logged 6k on the od. I love this bike. I have owned over 75 bikes of all brands in the last 48 years. I rate this bike close, if not on the top. Mpg is unblievable. No issues have been noted. I do agree that the brakes feel a bit weak. I have owned a number of superbikes, of which the Nc700x is not. At 64, it's time to slow down and smell the roses, not have them on me.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Got mine August 2013 the DCT version. My first trip was 1100km (south Africa) in one day and took 12hours. The auto box is just magic, one less thing to worry about and thats changing. I got 25km to the litre (Still new). Power is suffient and so is overtaking big trucks. Drop two gears and power up and all is done in a few second safely. I dissagree that this is a bigginers bike, however it is very easy to settle into. The ABS brakes are good and the seat is a bit uncomfy but nothing to write home about. The only down side to the bike is the small wind shield, it does not give sufficient protection from the wind. Ive since changed it to a larger after market shield and its made a huge difference. The bike is an awesome bike. Could do with a few more horses but its not a must. At the price this bike is a give away. Must say that the bigger wind shield has actualy given the bike better performance as there is less drag.

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  17. Can you tell me if it's comfortable enough for the passenger? My husband wants to buy this bike but i'm not sure about it. Thanx in advance for your answer.

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  18. Bought this bike last spring and couldn't be happier. It's amazing how controversial this bike became, because Honda built it for us and not journalists. It does not fit any preconceived notion of what a journalist thinks a motorcycle should be. The tremendous sales success speaks volumes, and the new 750 will unfortunately remove the cost/value awards the bike earned at its original $6999 price as the price goes up yet again. It's not comfortable enough for a passenger long-term, but for shorter trips it's fine. The power band makes two-up cruising around town much more pleasant than typical designs.

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  19. Bought this bike over the summer and couldn't be happier. It's not the most exciting thing out there and I occassionally look at beemers and triumphs longingly. But I commute on mine and the storage and reliability is what makes it. The ABS is very predictable and cruising position comfortable. Also, I know everyone is always ragging on the automatic clutch but sitting in traffic you will be so glad to have it. That being said, in fairness to its critics, I view mine as transportation, kind of like a Prius, incredibly reliable, efficient and effective, but I find I'm not dying to jump on it during the weekends.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hey Chris

    Almost a year, and now the 750x is out. Did you manage to get one?
    I ended up choosing a used cbf600s after I went to the dealership to buy a 750x. Strange turn of event, still enjoying it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interestingly enough, I also ended up with a CBF600S. I like it enough that I won't get rid of it for at least another year, but I'll admit it doesn't really set my heart on fire. To that end, I've somewhat fallen out of love with the NC750X. Maybe I'd like it if I rode it, but on looks alone it doesn't make me excited.

      Delete
  21. Hi Guys,

    I bought mine NC700X at the end of 2012, brand new. My wife went out to look for a used CBR600 for her self. I laughed at the NC at the shop, saying who would want one. That was until they showed me all the tricks like the low CG engine, storage and the funny frame. All build to be simple and reliable. That was right down my street. I had hard to sleep that night. Next day, came back and asked for a test drive. Came back and bought it on the spot!

    We've been inseparable ever since. Now some 16k miles later, I love the bike just as on the first day. Drove all over Europe with my wife zooming around on a CBR, laughing at me that I ride like a princess. But when she had to stop due to pain in knees, I just rode past by with a big smile.

    I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind that it's not a fire breather.

    Oh and the seat - for me seems to work that on longer trips or as I cruise I sit at the back/far end of the seat (higher) and when needing to maneuver I sit closer to tank. This way I don't seem to need aftermarket seat.

    Get a Givi higher screen, that does the difference and fit a 12V socket in your Frunk. Go anywhere!

    Happy sMiles everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Only came across this thread now. I own both a manual and dct 700x. The wife mostly using the DCT. The DCT is in no way bland and an absolute dream in traffic. Will I trade up at some point? Yes. Have my eye in the vfr1200x. But as long as Honda builds and supports the NC. I will have one around. A true pleasure to ride. And the weather in the northern part of South Africa allows a near 365 days a year of riding. Keep the rubber on the tar.

    ReplyDelete

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