20,000KM's Later - A Year with the Honda NC700X
A lot has happened in the last year since I collected the Honda NC700X, both professionally and personally, but let’s get to the meat of this and just focus on what it has been like living with the NC700X. It is worth noting that the 700 has been replaced by a 750 version, so if buying new chances are that this is what you will be looking at, however there does not seem to be a huge difference between the two models so the older 700 should serve any potential owners well.
I love it. It is a fantastic workhorse and has never let me down once over the course of the year. If I was to start with the negatives then the only two things I would complain about are the brakes and tires. The brakes are not 'great', it is a single disc setup front and rear, and the version I have is non-ABS. What this really translates to is needing to think a few more seconds ahead than normal when riding on the twisty bits, but that is only when you are trying to push. At a more relaxed pace the brakes are not an issue and thus are adequate, especially on the commute and filtering through traffic. The rear can feel very wooden at times and is only useful at very low speeds or to smooth out hard braking when the bike may want to see-saw. It is only when you get caught out by a car that has pulled out on you that you wish you had a bit more stopping power, but then you always want more options in those situations.
As for the tires, this may be just a personal thing and will be sorted when the life on these are up. The NC700X came with Metzler Z8's fitted as standard. I did not like them at first, but just figured it was a new bike and needed getting used to. I had just come from 5 years with the Pirelli Angel family of tires and had loved them. What made up my mind about the Metzler's was wet weather riding, and here in Ireland you get lots of that. Compared to what I was used to they just would not give me anywhere near the same level of grip in the wet. Every roundabout needed to be approached very cautiously once the wet weather began, otherwise the rear would start stepping out. In the dry I have no complaints, they work well, but for an all year biker like me the wet weather abilities were very disappointing. I plan to try out the new Michelin Pilot Road 4 range, though also tempted to go back to the Pirelli's. I am not sure if the braking and tyre issues are related, but will find out sooner rather than later.
Okay, enough with the negativity, and let’s face it these are not huge issues. Both sorted by a tweak in riding style and a change of rubber. The NC700X is extremely well built, this is my first Honda after 17 years in the saddle and now I get what people mean by 'Honda quality'. It is superb. The engine is as smooth as silk, almost silent and vibe free when running. This bike has spent a year going through it all, sun, storms, snow and everything else Irish weather could throw at it with me in the saddle. But every morning and evening she starts instantly and runs perfectly. I spent over 5 weeks travelling for work over May/June, went into the garage, dusted off the battery charger, but when I hit the starter she fired into life first time.
I had been waiting to write up this review as one experience I had not tried on the bike yet was two-up touring. Within a few weeks of getting the bike last year I was off on a 1,000km camping trip, which was excellent. It was a solo trip and on a 50bhp bike with some camping equipment strapped on it, which is not much more challenging than the average daily commute. I wanted a taste of two-up touring and that finally happened when the better half and I got to spend 1,000km in the saddle traveling to and from, then around, the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. For anyone wondering the simple answer is YES, this bike can tour two-up, and also save you a small fortune in fuel thanks to the crazy MPG figures (my average over the year is 74.2mpg or 3.8L/KM). When Honda first released the bike they made a big fuss about how they designed the engine to be useful for riders 90% of the time, it would only be in that 10% that it would be found wanting. It has to be said that they nailed it. Loaded up with 2 30ltr side cases, 45ltr top case, 21ltr front trunk, rider and pillion, the NC700X pulled away just like she always did. As with any bike with extra weight your braking distances change, and obviously those quick overtakes need an extra few seconds of planning, but she performed flawlessly. The pillion comfort was more than adequate too. I had brought along an air hawk seat cushion, but we had stopped using it before the end of the trip, the pillion seat was doing a fine job.
My odometer has just ticked over 20,000KM now, next service is due at 24,000KM and she is just over a year old. Like anyone of course you would like a little more here and there, but overall this bike has proven to be a great investment, a brilliant workhorse that just keeps performing to my expectations, and then some. I am really looking forward to the next year in the saddle with her and at least another 20,000KM of happy miles under her.