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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 NC750X

Honda NC750X
I try not to look at the stats for this blog too much. I've been blogging in one form or another for a decade now and experience tells me that wandering too deep into the dark woods of blog stats can be detrimental to one's mental health. You start to feel that the incalculable whims of the internets are somehow a reflection on you, your ability to write, etc. If lots of people are reading you feel good, and you become miserable when the opposite is true.

Soon, like the Southern preacher who gets money pressed into his hand at the end of sermons, you find yourself trying to chase after the topics that you think interest people, rather than what necessarily interests you. And thereafter your blog starts to suck.

That said, I want in this post to return to something I've written about before and which has turned out to be one of the more popular topics that brings people to this blog. According to my stats, here are the top three search terms that lead people to this site:
1) boss hoss
2) honda nc700x
3) nc700x

That first one, of course, is inexplicable. And inexcusable. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. Like Orange County Choppers, Boss Hoss are representative of much that is wrong with motorcycling. These are the Bright Young Things painting themselves gold and swimming in Champagne whilst great lines of unemployed workers starve to death (a). That is to say they are fascinating, excessive and ultimately detrimental –– almost entirely lacking in quality. Or, as I previously described them: abominable hunks of prematurely ejaculated patriotism.

No, forget that noise. What I'm interested in is the NC700X. I wrote a post about that motorcycle roughly seven months ago, and still there are people showing up now and again to comment on it. Indeed, it's become something of a tiny forum, with many people showing up to report their experiences with the bike. And I can't help but notice that the feedback is almost entirely positive.

I still have yet to ride an NC700X, in part because I'm afraid I'll find myself signing a purchase agreement as a result of it. Having read extensively about the machine, and having sat upon it at Thunder Road I know that it possesses all the features I like about my beloved Aliona with a number of added perks: considerably better gas mileage, a lower centre of gravity, and a whole lot of storage space. 

Admittedly, Aliona's engine delivers 21 bhp more than the 51-bhp NC700X (Aliona has 76 bhp in total), but the NC700X has (just) slightly more torque and I've come to realise that my riding style may not demand all that much power. Whereas other people see an empty road as an opportunity to push a bike to its limits, if no one else is around I gleefully slow down to about 25mph and weave.

But now there is at least one thing (apart from the obvious thing, i.e., lack of money) keeping me from buying an NC700X: Honda has announced it is soon to upgrade the bike and it will become the NC750X. An extra 75cc will deliver a whopping 4 bhp more, but more interestingly, the gearing has been adjusted to make it even more handy at highway speeds.

I use the What I Want tag to yammer on about all types of motorcycles, but in my mind the list splits into two categories: bikes I wish I had, and bikes that I am very legitimately considering within the confines of existing circumstances (i.e., bikes that I don't need to win the lottery to own). I can honestly see the NC750X becoming my next bike. Well, unless Triumph produce a Speedmaster with ABS tout de suite

Maybe they will; I don't really see myself being able to get another motorcycle until late 2015 (b). But those two machines –– the NC750X and the Speedmaster (assuming it has ABS [c]) –– are at the very top of my Legitimately Considering list.

They are certainly different machines, and that gives you a clue as to my main issue with the NC750X: it doesn't look terribly cool. I have, as I say, seen the NC700X in the flesh and although I am totally in love with its features and practicality, I'm not at all that jazzed about its plasticy plasticness.

The NC750X is not a bike that's necessarily going to get you laid. Sure, it will efficiently, reliably and comfortably transport yourself and your hookup to a hotel room. But the act of convincing said pareja de amor to get on the bike in the first place is going to be solely down to your individual charm; the bike is not going to help out.

Everything on the NC750X is plastic. That makes it lightweight and durable, and means scratches are less cause for concern (when you scratch plastic it doesn't result in rust as with metal), but, you know, it's plastic. 

Plastic doesn't gleam in the sun, nor is it the sort of thing that ages well. Or, rather, the look of plastic –– its aura. Plastic belongs on a new thing. Name me one plastic-laden item from 1993 that still looks cool. Although technically timeless and inclined to last roughly 100,000 years, plastic doesn't have a timeless feel. Within a decade or so, it makes an item look cheap.

And certainly that was my impression of the big storage cover on the NC700X. Its plastic looked a little too easy to break into. Easier to access than the tank bags and dry bags that I use otherwise? Not so much, but you get my point.

Overall, I like the NC750X a lot. A whole lot. Enough to pay money for it. But I'm not sure I could ever really love it.

__________

(a) EF Morgan was of similar circles. He famously tormented Aldous Huxley by releasing a baboon into his room. Crikey, the inter-war period was fascinating.

(b) But hey, hope springs eternal. A year ago, it was pretty damn unlikely that I'd have Aliona by now.

(c) ABS will be required on all motorcycles sold in Europe from 2016. So, assuming Triumph doesn't ditch the Speedmaster, it will eventually have ABS. The question is whether I'd be willing to wait that long.

Comments

  1. I've ridden the NC700X and I have to say it is a nice bike to ride....but it is not terribly fun. It revs low and you don't get the pick-up-and-go feeling you get on a sportbike. It also doesn't have a terribly alluring or outlandish sound like a Ducati or many cruisers. It's a UJM that gets the job done without any bells and whistles.

    I'm a little disappointed they are changing the NC700 to a 750cc motorcycle. I thought the 700cc engine made it stand out against other bikes. It also puts some people in a cheaper motorcycle insurance bracket. It shared the unusual cc gimmick with the Kawasaki Ninja 300.

    One last thing - the fuel tank being located at the rear makes it annoying to gas up if you have something tied across the back.

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  2. This is "on my short list of bikes I want to buy" as well. I've not ridden it yet but I've talked to a few people that have and they generally seem happy with it. The fuel tank issue came up a few times in those conversations as well.

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  3. Have you looked at the NC750S? Now that's the bike that I'm lusting for. Of course since i live in the United States (Murica), I don't have access to such a gorgeous machine. But why would Muricans want a sporty bike that can offer everyday practicality with that smooth naked look? Not when they can boss hoss their fat asses in gaudy recreational riding while posing as a rebel who lives only on two wheels (but only on warm weekends. oh, and not if it's raining). But as you say, hope springs eternal, and the 750S may someday grace the shores of this, the greatest country in the world. Until that time any income short of a high profile professional athlete's will not be enough for me to import and own this bike which would sit unchallenged at the top of my "want to buy" list. For now, it can only be the crown of my "want to have the chance to want to buy" list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They will be sold in Canada, which means they will meet US emissions and the import fees are reasonable - especially if you're the one doing the importing (ie, you buy it and ride it home).

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    2. Well, a big "thank you" to my northern neighbors. Any idea if Canada will get the DCT/ABS version?

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    3. No clue. Here's their website, though: http://motorcycle.honda.ca/sport/nc750sa

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    4. Thanks for the link, and this is a damn good blog. I really like how you balance admiration for a bike's style and speed with a genuine appreciation for the technology that can make it an everyday companion. That's definitely a European mindset, and it's refreshing to read it from another yankee (even a transposed one).

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  4. I purchased a very low mile 2012 NC700S and love it. Once i got the hang of short shifting & getting comfortable on the bike I haven't looked back. I find it nimble and easy to flick, its great in city traffic and have enjoyed cruising down the highway. It was economical when purchasing and very cheap to run. Is it my forever bike, probably not, but for my purposes it serves me well. I love the frunk too.

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  5. I traded my old Harley for a new 2014 NC750X with the manual transmission this past spring. This is indeed a great bike. Coming from a low-revving hog, the low redline didn't bother me one bit. Like a Harley, you ride this bike on the torque, of which it has plenty in the low and midrange. I equipped mine with a topcase for commuting with the old laptop, but for most situations the frunk is all the storage I've needed. In 6600km it has averaged 3.8L/100km on regular unleaded. It's light, nimble, fun. I love it. Drawbacks ? a couple: it's chain driven, which means cleaning and lubing, though it hasn't needed any adjustment. The biggie is the tires. In 6600km, the rear is all but dead, with the front following closely. That's half the mileage of the 2nd worst tire user I've ever owned . Next week the OEM Dunlops are being replaced by a set of Shinko Ravens. That's about it for negatives. Btw, the Honda dealer let me test ride it, which led to me purchasing it. If you're curious about this model you should try to road test it, but be prepared to make an unexpected purchase.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I owned and rode a Piaggio BV350 scooter for one year. That scooter will really go, especially off the line. I was a new rider; ended up on a scooter as I decided to start riding for a 30-mile, one-way commute. Could not flat-foot that scooter. When I stumbled upon the NC700X, I thought, how did I miss this bike that doesn't cost too much more than the scooter, up to 10 more mpg, more torque, no expensive and complicated CVT parts to wear out and pay to replace. I went to a dealership to sit on one, and I had to tip toe on it as well, so I kept the scooter but dreamed of owning an S or something else with that engine and standard shift. Then Honda announced the CTX. I sat on a naked version in June 2014. This bike fit me perfectly an it had this sate wonderful power train. I took my scooter to a dealership, made a trade deal and put my name in for the first fairing model that arrived. Got it in August 2013. It's an amazing bike. I can get upper 70s in the summer. I just strap an oversized milk crate to the seat and carry everything I need. I don't have a riding background, so it's hard for me to understand what others complain about with the short shifting and all of that. My car is a manual shift diesel with only 100 horsepower but 177 peak foot-pound torque. Both vehicles like to be upshifting while accelerating, even up hill. I don't want or need a vehicle that needs to rev for performance.

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