Practicality, flexibility and rideability make for a superb all-rounder
WORDS AND PICTURES: MICHAEL COWTON
As a cricketer, my main duty was to open an innings as a pace bowler, then be placed in the field anywhere the captain wanted me, and finally bat as a tailender, usually number nine. To hear those balls fizzing down was, to say the least, disconcerting.
In fact, I have no idea how today’s cricketers even see a red or white lethal projectile heading towards them at between 80 and 90 miles per hour. So, in essence, I was not an all-rounder, but rather considered a ‘specialist’, a player skilled in only one of the two disciplines, those, of course, being batting or bowling.
So, with that in mind and taking a completely different tangent altogether, according to Mike Kazimer (Outside Online, February 14, 2023): ‘Trail bikes are intended to handle a huge variety of terrain – these are the generalists, the all-rounders that can take on just about anything.’
So, what of the NC750X, you may well ask? Nope, of course it’s not a trail bike, but it does sit comfortably in the all-rounder category as a road bike. I discovered this after an enjoyable few days’ of riding a variety of roads across Lincolnshire, from the flatlands of the Fens to the rolling hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds. Comfort, economy, practicality and effortless riding sprang easily to mind as I settled into the saddle on each occasion, easily growing accustomed to the DCT automatic transmission.
I first came across Dual Clutch Transmission on the Honda 1100 Rebel a couple of years ago when I had one on a week’s test, followed by a visit to the Wheels & Waves festival in Biarritz last year, when we headed out of the city and on to some stunning balcony roads in the Basque Pyrenees, swapping between the DCT and manual shift/clutch 6-speed transmission models. It’s been a while since Honda first introduced the DCT gearbox, 13 years, in fact, of tweaks and refinement to achieve this latest iteration, and it speaks volumes for Honda’s obsession with perfection.
There are four riding modes: Standard, Rain, Sport and User, the latter allowing the rider to configure power, throttle response, traction control and engine braking to their specific needs. Having blipped my way through all modes and seeing how the four interact to change the character of the motor, I settled for Standard, which offered superb, frugal fuel consumption. In fact, when I handed the bike back, it showed 78.9mpg on the display. Now that’s impressive.
Sport, Standard and Rain modes require little explanation, although each is noticeably different. Use the aggressive throttle response of Sport, and the DCT delays upshifts to offer the best in terms of acceleration. When I say ‘aggressive’, it’s in no way a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants ride, but perfect if you want to make some pace rather than tootling around the countryside at a modest pace.
Riding mostly in Standard mode offered good throttle response, although the DCT upshifts came on noticeably sooner. It was quite amusing actually. Because the bike comes with manual paddle shifts front and back of the left grip, riding through villages at 30mph, the bike was happy in fourth. At first this felt unnatural to me, so I would manually downshift to third. It was if the DCT was talking to me, no, berating me, suggesting, ‘I know what I am doing, so stop fiddling!’
I was fortunate not to encounter any rain, although I did test this mode once. Throttle response was very gentle. The mode offers maximum traction control, and the transmission shifts up rapidly to reduce torque sent to the rear wheel.
I own a Honda 1100 Rebel (not the DCT version), and ride mostly in User mode. As with this and the NC750X, you can mix and match to achieve the perfect balance to personalise power delivery.
And it’s not every bike I ride that offers so much storage capacity. Where you would expect the fuel tank to sit is a 23-litre ignition-keyed storage space, which will accommodate a full-face helmet, waterproofs, shopping, etc. So how to access the 3.8-gallon fuel tank, I hear you ask? Ah, that’s under the pillion seat, which pops up using the same ignition key barrel as the storage compartment. Clever stuff, this. Then there is the cavernous top box which came with my test bike.
Yes, practicality is one of the key factors to the NC750X. Whereby some manufacturers have concentrated on design and performance, Honda has remained focused on all-round versatility and it shows with the NC750X. Yes, we have seen chassis updates, and those riders who look towards a more urban and/or rural daily commute will be happy with the lowered seat height to 31.6 inches – that’s over an inch.
Sit on the bike and you have a natural upright riding position. One quirk was that I tended to slide slightly forwards on the seat and found myself intentionally trying to shift my bottom back, only to slide forwards again, my nether regions pinned against the ‘false tank’, although my knees naturally hugged it. Should I get round to purchasing an NC750X, I would look to trying to add a bit more comfort to the seat, as my bottom did get a tad uncomfortable after an hour or so of riding.
The lightweight, tubular steel diamond-style frame makes the bike extremely agile and beautifully balanced on corners and with the low centre of gravity from the forward-inclined engine, makes the NC750X even easier to handle. The non-adjustable windshield offers some wind protection, but I believe you can accessorise with a slightly taller screen if that is what you want, although mine didn’t cause any real issues. As for the brakes, up front there’s a single 320mm disc with twin-piston slide-pin caliper, and when used in conjunction with the single rear 240mm disc and single-piston caliper, you are going to benefit from a strong response.
Whilst the SOHC 8-valve parallel twin-cylinder engine offers a considerable level of power, it combines effectively with fuel efficiency. The Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) levels have been expanded, with refined traction management. And, for improved safety, the Emergency Stop Signal (ESS) system operates the rear hazards lights under hard braking.
I haven’t quite figured out why Honda has it listed under the Adventure model range, positioned alongside the XL750 Transalp and CRF1100L Africa Twin, but there will be some logic to that. It could be about the adventurous look if you decide to accessorise the bike with cowl guards which wrap around the front and sides of the fairing and which can mount dual, bright white LED fog lights to improve all-round visibility. Then there is the option of the Urban Pack, creating the ultimate commuter look with a rugged 50-litre top box providing useful extra storage alongside the NC750X’s built-in luggage compartment. Oh, and then there’s the Travel Pack for those extended weekend rides. Whilst the top box attaches to the tailor-made rear carrier, durable panniers attach to purpose-built mounts and provide carrying capacity without excess width. And let’s not forget the fixed screen, while the main stand makes for easy maintenance of both the rear wheel and drive train.
Yep, pretty much an all-rounder then, don’t you agree. With a choice of Matt Ballistic Black Metallic, Pearl Mud Gray, Mat Jeans Blue Metallic, and Candy Chromosphere Red, and a price tag just shy of £8,000, this is one hell of an impressive package.
- Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke, 8-valve parallel twin SOHC parallel twin
- Displacement: 745cc
- Power: 43.1kW/6,750rpm(35kW/6,000rpm)
- Torque: 69Nm/4,790rpm(65/4,000rpm)
- Bore x Stroke: 77mm x 80mm
- Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
- Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed DCT automatic/chain
- Frame: Tubular steel chassis
- Front Suspension: 41mm telescopic fork, 120mm stroke
- Rear Suspension: Monoshock damper, Pro-Link swingarm, 120mm travel
- Tyres: (F) 120/70 ZR17 ® 160/60 ZR-17
- Brakes: (F) 320mm single wavy hydraulic disc with 2-piston caliper ® 240mm single wavy hydraulic disc with single-piston caliper
- Seat Height: 31.6 inches/800mm
- Fuel Capacity: 3.8 gallons/17 litres
- Wet Weight: 224kg/493lb
- Contact: www.honda.co.uk