Way back in 1993, as a poor student, I suffered the ignominy of my car being stolen and having to commute by bike. My Suzuki 185cc was a bit of a wreck but my friend Greg had a beautiful Honda CB400N twin which I adored... and purloined quite regularly. In 1996, Greg bought a 1988 model, a grey import Kawasaki GPZ600R, and it was on this machine that I learned to ride. What a pity we had to grow up, get married, have families and become responsible.We were young and dumb in those days, riding with a helmet and little else even riding with flip-flops. I still shudder 20 years on.NOT A 'MID-LIFE' CRISIS...HONESTFor whatever reason (the first person to mention "mid-life crisis" gets a thick ear), in 2011 I developed this hankering for the old boney. Having always been a Honda fan, I really liked the Transalp but was intrigued by the NC700X which had just been launched.In 2012, I got my, as they say in Afrikaans, gat in rat and made an appointment to write my Learner's Licence. I also bought a helmet, so that I could start testing a few bikes.At the dealership I discovered that I'm a bit of a waif for the Transalp, it's a little broad in the beam, and I felt uncomfortable in the saddle. Conversely, I felt right at home on the NC.Within no time, I had signed up for a shiny red NC700X. Having become substantially wiser over the years, I went out and acquired a proper jacket and gloves to go with my new lid. I am a firm believer in ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time).In 2013 having ridden my new toy for a weeks now I am ridiculously stoked. I've done a couple of commutes (I work 55km from home) and a bit of riding around our suburb.The character of the engine really suits me, with loads of low-down torque and a car-like redline at 6500rpm. The mechanically astute amongst us will point out that it is possible to balance a parallel twin with a pair of balance shafts, for a completely smooth experience. Honda however, elected to deliberately omit one shaft, and in so doing, imbue the engine with a gentle twin throb, hence character.The power output of 38kW may not seem like much, but the bike's forte is torque, which hustles it along quite handily, through its six gears. The bike maker claims a fuel economy of 3.5 litres/100km.'GOES LIKE HELL, HANDLES LIKE A KART'Instrumentation is sparse but effective, with a bar-graph tachometre across the top of the screen, and a large-digit speedometre readout central to it all.The forward-canted engine and fuel tank below the seat do wonders for handling, due to their effect of lowering the centre of gravity. Having not been a regular rider for so many years, I am still redeveloping my confidence, and the Honda's superb road manners are just the fillip.The bike is also something of a looker, with that curvy faux tank-seat-tail profile, judicious use of fairings, and stylish black 17" rims.So it goes like hell, runs on the smell of an oil rag, handles like a kart, looks great, and sounds like a throwback to early 80s twins. What if I add in that it only needs to visit the mechanic every 12 000km and only costs R66k, list?Sounds like a winner to me! And I love it. Fancy yourself a Jeremy Clarkson among your friends? Want to share your thoughts on your ride? Email us and we'll publish your road test.