Review: 2014 Honda NC 750 S DCT - Good At Everything
Posted at 02:00:00 PM
File under Product Review Honda
Author: David Morcrette
Location: Paris, France
Since this is a translation directly from French, some of the colloquialism may seem a bit strange at times, for which I apologize. It's not easy to translate. Any mistakes below are mine, and mine alone.
Good At Everything
Honda brought the concept developed in the car industry in the 90's to the motorcycle world; using the same base and platform to create several esthetic variations of the same motorcycle. The NC 750 is the first example of this philosophy brought to the motorcycle world, with a roadster, a trail and a maxi-scooter with another feature - almost - borrowed from the car; an automatic transmission and in our case with the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) double clutch. After a first version in 700 cc, with the NC 750 S the manufacturer has increased to 745 cc the engine for the perfect motorcycle? The future of two-wheelers? Here is the test ...
By far, the NC 750 is a roadster, motorcycle full, opulent and rewarding. Compared to the CB650 and the Hornet, it is even bigger, more massive. Yet, its price has nothing to do with the other models, just 7.499 euros, the cheapest in the category despite the bawdy electronics and technology.
The Honda line here is undeniable and yet relatively modern from the headlight surmounted by a small windshield to the rear LED lights. The two layer high double saddle is large enough to promise comfort. The matte black engine fades in a trellis framework, but discreetly displays the automatic transmission and Dual Clutch Transmission logo in carter housing. Only the exhaust seems basic and not very discreet but it disappears in the accessorized version with perfectly matched to the color of the bike panniers and top box, especially in its matt white version.
In The Saddle
Feet touch the ground for a 1M70 biker, but not as good as the CBF 1000F (except of course with a pillion where the pillion weight is enough to compress a little bit the rear shock absorber). Just goes to show that the engine sizes or type of motorcycles do not necessarily affect the saddle heights.
Under the eyes, the rider finds the same dashboard as the previous 700 cc version. Fully digital, the counter clearly shows including in the direct sunlight; gear indicator, speed, engine revs in bar graph form, five bar fuel gauge, clock and alternately: odometer and dual partial trip. With automatic transmission and therefore no gear engaged when stopped, there is a parking brake, accessible on the handlebar and lined with a red indicator on the dashboard.
The rather thin saddle makes it possible to properly grip the false fuel tank ... which turns out to be a mini-safe. Hands rest naturally on the handlebars, close enough to the rider with arms slightly bent to form a natural triangle.
At the column stalks, we find those of the Integra 750 with at the right, the 'normal' & 'sport' mode switch, and on the left the possibility to switch manually using paddles. A push on the paddle on the right and the first gear snaps with a characteristic clonk. Accelerator and off we go...
The first meters are carried out smoothly. At most, the left foot tries to find the gear selector and the left hand does not find the clutch either. On the Integra with a scooter position, we do not think about it, but on this bike, these absences shock at first. And then we made it, especially in town ... where the 750 is quickly gotten used to like a basic 500 cc. More importantly, without having to put your hand on the clutch, the two hands are placed on the handlebar and thus provide better guidance and overall control.
In The City
For the NC 750 is operated easily starting at the lower speeds, further helped by the absence of a gear selector, which allows for the hands to be permanently on the handlebar, with a much higher control for those who are used to having two fingers on the clutch and two on the brake. We forget completely the fully fueled 215 kilos with faultless handling that makes it easy to sneak into the circulation. Even the Luggage version makes you forget. As usual, luggage corpulence means more width and experienced riders can be quickly fooled with the prominent panniers. But on the 750, contrary for example to a CBF1000F, the panniers are particularly thin. It certainly loses a bit of storage capacity, but you can completely forget them in daily use in town, since they are narrower than the handlebars, they always pass with a wide margin.
In the 'normal' mode the NC 750 is soft or even lax. Inevitably, the gearbox goes to the next gear before it has time to say 'ouf' and you almost always find yourself in the city in fifth or sixth gear and therefore almost always in too low revs. At this rate, acceleration is a little slow, because we must not forget that there is only 40.3 kW and 68 Nm of torque. But we must recognize that fuel consumption matches and it is not uncommon in the city to ride 275 km before seeing the reserve fuel indicator start flashing. This explains it. Now to start having fun riding it almost always in the 'sport' mode. Here, the gearbox switches later and stays longer in a lower gear in order to be more responsive to the solicitation of the throttle. And it is then that you find between your legs a more dynamic and much more enjoyable engine.
On The Motorway
The NC 750 engages quietly on the motorway, purring at 4,000 rpm at 135 kph in top gear. However, if you need to accelerate a bit stronger, the gearbox automatically drops a gear if you very suddenly turn the throttle, giving pep to the recovery and propel the roadster to 165 kph only 1,000 rpm higher and still at 1,500 rpm from the red zone ... thus allowing a theoretical maximum speed of 200 kph. But at that speed, your head unscrews, besides you will have lost your license. Directional stability is impeccable, including in the large curves and on degraded surfaces. One might have feared that the panniers and top box encumber the heading of an accessorized version but it is nothing and suddenly, we can consider going far away and with a pillion. But the above mentioned extreme speeds will quickly make you stop at the next gas station to lessen its thirst. Even at an average 155 kph (real or 165 kph on the meter) the indicator lights up at 175 km reducing autonomy to just 200 km ... an incentive beyond security to stay at a more reasonable pace. The wind finally, depending on the road, may even further reduce the turning of the right handle, the protection offered by the windshield is limited. In the end, it may be sufficient depending on the wind and staying in a comfortable ride between 130 and 140 kph (real, between 140 and 150 kph on the meter).
Secondary and Country Roads
Want a bucolic stroll? The NC 750 is readily satisfied with the 'normal' mode to admire the scenery. Want to attack a little and you will be taken directly into 'sport' mode. With higher revs, the pick-ups are immediate and you do not stay too long in the same gear in between two sequences. The roadster swings around without difficulty and is suitable for all the antics of its rider without fuss. Following the example of many Honda models, the NC750 is a model of neutrality, reinforced by a reliable and accurate front end. If the pace should still go up a notch, you must not hesitate to switch to manual, the essential way to extract the required watts for pick-ups times. Because the twin is more at ease in the torque than in the revs, especially with a red zone at only 6,500 rpm which is reached relatively easily if you are not careful. There remains the possibility to get in 'Sport' mode, but also to play with the paddles to go down one or more gears. It is thus forces the NC 750 to pass from the 6th gear to the 2nd gear, to strongly re-accelerate in linked curves. Otherwise, with an emphasis on low rev rates, especially 2000 to 3500 rpm, the twin barely is able to pick-up in full automatic mode and especially if you want an "attack" mode.
The rear brake was soft enough at the start of the test with a sinking pedal without giving the impression of wanting to help stop the motorcycle; a phenomenon that has significantly reduced thereafter to become a very honest stopper. The ABS, non-intrusive, does not even put in its two cents and will not intervene even if under maximum braking, at least in the dry. Conversely, the front brake provides a good feeling and a good power, more than enough to stop all the attempts of the model. The shock absorber is somewhat flexible and can lead to a forward movement during hard braking.
The first contacts with the saddle offer a good feeling of comfort for both the rider and the pillion. The relative thickness will relativize somewhat the overall comfort for the category, with the same comfort for the rider and pillion and the imperative need to stop after 200 kilometers to be able to ride 300 km in the day. Further than that, you will need to purchase a specific comfort saddle. However, the NC 750 absorbs quite well the defects of the road and does not at all kick the rider on degraded roads.
Originally, the NC 750 is already a model of its kind with its false fuel-tank-trunk, which can store a tablet, a long anti-theft, a big camera and rain pants or even a full face helmet (however not a modular helmet). So when also placing a top case and panniers, the motorcycle is ready to cut thousands of miles with everything you need for Mr. and Mrs. thanks to 93 liters of storage. The top box itself is a model of its kind that allows you to store two full or even two modular helmets without any difficulty. We may regret the opening of the trunk or saddle (to fill the fuel tank) located on the left side of the motorcycle.
Note the discreet and well placed but effective parking brake located on the handlebars.
With a normal mode having a tendency to favor lower revs, the NC 750 offers a range of up to 300 km in mixed use, especially when there is a lot of city (the gearbox is regularly in the 5th or 6th gear in town) . The average consumption then turns around 4.3 liters per hundred kilometers. On motorways within the legal speed limit, the fuel consumption amounts to 4.9 liters per hundred kilometers, and more than 5 litres/100 km if we instead ride over 150 kph, with an autonomy which can then be reduced to 200 kilometers. In fact, there is a gap of 100 km before going into reserve. The reserve indicator was already on after 175 km on motorways at a high pace while it was lit at the end of 265 km in mixed riding.
The fuel tank under the pillion seat is noted; the latter being placed on a jack, thereby allowing you to fill the tank without having to remove or hold up the tip of the saddle. The handling is easy and so convenient.
The DCT Box
With or without DCT? Previously, the version of the DCT box was noisy and moderately pleasant on the previous 700 cc version, it has greatly improved on the 750 cc version and is now forgotten in everyday life, especially in the city. The gear changes are done automatically and smoothly. The 'Normal' mode is rather a rain mode that favors low rpm and that does not give you all the daily pleasure of the NC 750. The 'Sport' mode optimizes quite well against the dynamics and possibilities of the engine, especially knowing that we can even in automatic mode force one or more lower gears to quickly pick-up the flow of traffic. It is thus quite possible to descend from sixth gear (60 kph) to the second at almost the same speed, but suddenly tickling the red zone. At a red light, the gearbox will automatically go into first. So, for the very urban user who wants a fulfilling but easy to get started motorcycle and does not want to bother with multiple downshifts every few hundred meters, the DCT box is a must since its NC 750 version; without having to use a scooter. For the user who takes his motorcycle on weekends only for country rides or small rides between friends, the DCT box loses a lot of its interest, despite the small price of 300 euros required for the additional benefit. While it has become difficult to do without ABS today in view of the progress made and more in terms of security it brings, the NC 750 is then an excellent machine itself that may very well do without the automatic gearbox.
The NC 750 is a great Honda, that is to say an easy bike to come to grip with, reliable, pleasant on a daily basis, cut for the open road and especially economic, including fuel consumption level. It is open to all bikers, including perhaps especially beginners who find a pleasant machine, useful, even utilitarian and capable of bridging the large gap between urban and everyday use and long journeys for the holidays. Good everywhere, it may lack a bit of soul, esthetically or engine, which would increase the heart beating of its owner to higher levels. But at only €7.199 in its ABS version, but without DCT and €7.499 in its DCT version, the rider will find in it a more accessible price level motorcycle, a true adventurer, loyal, able to take him very far.
|Strong Points||Weak Points|
- Getting Started
- Practical and storage
- Fuel consumption
- DCT Box
- Elegant in its white livery
Via: Le Repaire Des Motards