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Online Sonny

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A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« on: June 18, 2018, 05:10:16 PM »
As some may know, I looked at Honda's NC700X DCT as a possible accommodation against my growing aging and creakiness, and as an option for simplifying future riding, keeping me in the game for some extra years. (I have looked at some of the higher performance CVT scooters as well.)

I approached looking at and test riding the bike from a balanced standpoint: I don't have any issue with standard clutch shifting; I like it; I consider it an integral part of motorcycling. But I also wondered how it might be to concentrate purely on handling, braking, cornering, and the riding environment on a bike where the transmission manages itself. I don't consider this to be some unspeakable anathema or sacrilege, just a question worth exploring.

I test rode a used 2014 NC700X DCT and got a first impression, though the bike's condition was rather rough. I climbed off thinking it was boring, not under-powered but under-exciting. I didn't have time to get used to the DCT and so to quit grabbing a clutch lever that wasn't there. But I thought, shite, this would be a difficult step down from my thoroughbred Versys 1000 sport tourer.

So. Now US riders await the introduction of the 2018 NC750X DCT, incorporating a long list of tweaks and improvements that have come to the basic NC700 design which has sold heavily around the world since 2012, establishing a reputation for reliability, economy and utility.

Last night I came across the linked article from a writer who was cruel and harsh against a 2014 NC750 he rode. The piece perfectly lays out the controversy this bike has stirred and at the same time reveals a closed-minded rider's take on something radically different from what he knows and takes for granted.

For some reason, despite being underwhelmed with a test ride, I can't let go of an interest in this bike as a possible future choice. The local Honda houses are on notice to call me when the new 750s come in. I'd be interested in forum members' take as to the idea of DCT and this writer's response to one several years back:

http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/2014/09/article/memorable-motorcycle-honda-nc750x-dct/

Be advised the writer made several errors: the engine is not half a Honda Fit motor, and the DCT doesn't just "get the next gear ready", it actually transfers the torque from one gear to the next gradually, producing uninterrupted power to the rear wheel. 

The writer did, in fairness, include the comments of the owner who loaned him the bike for review, and who likes the thing. Those comments are telling.

And in defense of the writer, I know what he's getting at with his ruthless criticism. Just not sure he wasn't having some kind of emotional over-reaction.

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Online TNGW1500SE

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2018, 08:11:46 PM »
My wife rides the NC700X. It's a 15 and not the automatic model. She loves the bike but I find it under-powered and HATE the 6k redline. The computer kills the spark and going above redline is impossible. You find this out the first time you attempt to pass a car. The bike just says "no", leaving you hanging out in oncoming traffic until you shift up as the bike requires of you. You quickly learn to up-shift the bike (what seems) really early in the revs.

The advantage of the NC is the lower center of gravity and the lower seat height. I also lowered her bike an inch and a half.

The front "trunk" is a great idea but for me, sadly, that's the only real attractive feature of the motorcycle.

It's an entry level bike at best and not the best choice even for that. The NC is a bike that will be quickly outgrown by new riders if a the riders inseam allows.

Comparing the NC to the V1 is a mismatch.

If I were missing 4 fingers on my left hand, I may settle for the NC but other than that, I'll keep my V.

:)

"The feeling of the wind in your face will lift your heart." Phil Collins / On My Way

Offline Aardvark

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2018, 09:35:11 PM »
Maybe the fact that I'm not thinking of one day buying an NC750, means I read the article differently to you Sonny. I don't think I would describe it as harsh, cruel, ruthless or brutal. A bit negative perhaps, but isn't that simply one possible outcome of an unbiased review? I've read far worse test reports of this motorcycle, although to be fair, some much more positive ones. I guess this is one of those bikes that polarises opinions.
Frank Melling isn't a journalist who I would normally consider over-emotional - I think he just decided, rightly or wrongly, that DCT is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist for many riders and is therefore a bit irrelevant and pointless.
For what it's worth I tested a VFR1200 DCT in 2010 and was pretty underwhelmed by it. It was a big, heavy, powerful bike and the DCT really added nothing to enhance the experience other than the novelty value of having no clutch lever.

Online Sonny

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2018, 10:01:08 PM »
To TNGW, yes, others have reported the rev limiter is not subtle. Riders of the standard trans have to learn to shift before it hits. But the DCT transmission will not engage the rev limiter under any circumstances. On the '18 NC750 coming to the US, the redline has been raised 1,000rpm on both standard and DCT versions. Surely this is to address the complaints of riders of the manual shift bike, but that should also make the DCT execution better.

I agree, Aardvaark, Melling decided the automatic bike was useless to him and went about damning it with faint praise and a good dose of snark. It just kinda bugged me that, having decided it was for him taking away the things he loves about riding, he went a good way to saying it would be to the reader as well. Which ain't necessarily so. The sales figures on this bike line are amazing, and there's no indication the appeal is limited to disabled riders or those who can't or won't learn to operate a clutch.

Mr. Melling complained that the brakes and handling were too good, and this was a drawback since the NC750 buyer wants a boring, low performance motorcycle. Give me a break...
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Offline jfman

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2018, 10:08:28 PM »
I test rode the NC750X 3 years ago. (manual trans)

Here is what I told the sales rep.

"If I had one point left on my license and needed to be sure I was gonna make it it thru the season, this is the bike I would want"


Offline TIGGR 2

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2018, 09:23:25 AM »
Hi Ive ridden  DCT demonstrators (Cross Tourer, Africa twin) and the title of this post is a little misleading, there is nothing wrong with DCT. There are huge issue with the NC if you want more than a commuter or workhorse, or indeed if you just want more than to pootle.
Its geared and engineered to deliver power like a diesel powered wheelbarrow. Slow steady and sure, so don't buy it. If you want good mpg and the feeling of being out in the elements without the rush of power. Go for it.. :biker1:
If it aint broke make it faster

Offline TYKE

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2018, 09:31:36 AM »
This report sort of tells the story ....  well maybe part of it  :187: 



I truly think that this bike will appeal to, dare I say us, older riders, which in my opinion is the market that the Honda is aimed at.

FWIW I'm really not sure if an automatic bike would be for me, it just doesn't seem right somehow, on another topic  today's maxi scooters do seem to be becoming more popular, a few years ago I may/would have been seen pulling a sneering face at the mention of a scooter, however these days I would definitely see them as an alternative option.......  that's because I'm one of those "older riders" now. Sometimes a combination of age, degrees of health issues force decisions upon us all and just so that we can continue riding our beloved bikes.

As they say...'don't knock it, till you've tried it'    :whistle:   
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Offline Vespista1960

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2018, 10:30:33 AM »
*Originally Posted by TIGGR 2 [+]
...the title of this post is a little misleading, there is nothing wrong with DCT. There are huge issue with the NC if you want more than a commuter or workhorse, or indeed if you just want more than to pootle...
+ 1
Having owned (for a brief period) an NCX I can confirm it is a boring, low performance bike, even with standard gear. But this is not a defect. It is designed for high mileage, not for being sexy.
One of the reasons of its success maybe the fact that it seems a motorcycle, but for everyday riding in heavy traffic, or commuting, a good scooter is far better IMHO.

Online TNGW1500SE

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2018, 02:16:25 PM »
*Originally Posted by jfman [+]
........."If I had one point left on my license and needed to be sure I was gonna make it it thru the season, this is the bike I would want"

LOL
"The feeling of the wind in your face will lift your heart." Phil Collins / On My Way

Online Sonny

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Re: A Brutal Slagging of Honda's DCT
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2018, 03:46:52 PM »
So yes, I think the folks who have ridden these bikes get it. It is a no-thrills utility motorcycle, tractor-like. A lot of that effect is its low rpm range, and the way the DCT exploits the bottom of the range.

If you ran an old Bonneville in the part of the tach the NC wants to operate in, you'd be lugging it in a harmful way. The NC engine is made to pump out torque there. The difficulty in finding excitement from this has a lot to do with our expectations of how a motorcycle should feel and sound. The impression is, the bike never gets the wind in its sails and goes for it.

The bike isn't slow. It pulls nicely and it keeps shifting until you are flying along, and the engine is still not wound up and working hard. It's turning about 4K at 70mph, 4.5K at 80. The engine is the torque, the whole torque, and nothing but the torque.

It is so different in the way it delivers power that it is alienating to any rider who has spent years having fun and excitement on a bike. Then, having refused to howl exuberantly no matter what you do, it further alienates you by taking the clutch and transmission away from you. On top of that, it denies you the fun of light flickability at the handlebar. It has rock steady handling, good safe predictable handling, but you have to push it down into a turn.

All the qualities the V1K hands you exuberantly, the NC denies you, or is sparing in delivering to you. The bike works very well. It is just like a fastidiously conservative friend who doesn't know how to have fun.

At 67 years old and facing declining health, strength, vision, reaction time and so forth, though, it provides a riding experience that doesn't offer the things I will soon get to where I can't really use any more if I have any sense. Hell, I am getting to be that guy, sad as it is to admit.

Thing is, I can operate the Versys as calmly and gently as I please... it's not as if it won't accommodate an old man's sedate riding style. It's just that as I drift into not being able to safely ride hard I will end up paying for and not using most of the bike's capability. This is the environment in which I am looking around for something to fit the sad reality of time.

The first serious problem, when it comes, looks to be the mere act of getting on and off the bike. The NC is a bit lower and narrower and lighter feeling, but is it going to be enough? The scooter world is much better for getting on and off the saddle. But the small wheels put me off. It's not the looks, or anything to do with CVT. It's more the consequences of putting a 12 inch wheel into a 12 inch pothole and the more skate-like handling response of small wheels.

I'm not sure what I will end up doing. I appreciate all the comments. I understand all of them after test riding one of the bikes. It may be that, once you adjust to the peculiar way the NC does its thing, you will appreciate it more for what it does... and once you have re-mapped your brain to allocate attention to the riding free of concern with shifting, that may be rewarding as well. A lot of DCT riders say this is true. I know I enjoy driving my automatic transmission Sentra and applying acceleration sense for super smooth and economical results. It's graceful.

But I know, I know, I have experienced it: at 3/4 the displacement of the Versys, the NC is far less than half the fun and stimulation. It doesn't hold a candle to it. Believe me, I need no convincing of that. It is just I see the day coming when that will not be the point...  :034:
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