Best bike buy for 2012
THE BEST OF THE BEST: If there were a competition for the SA Bike of the Year my choice would be Honda’s NC700X. For me, it’s the perfect all-rounder, 365 days of the year.
Author: DAVE FALL
As a motorcycle correspondent for Wheels24 it’s been an enjoyable year’s riding and reviewing an assortment of two-wheeled machinery, from the smallest of scooters through middleweight trailies and sport bikes to the biggest and most powerful offerings found among Harley-Davidson’s cruisers.
The down side of the motorcycle game is there’s no disguising the fact that 2012 has been something of an annus horribilis for motorcycle dealers up and down the country – no matter the brand – with bike sales even in this, their usually busy summer season, remaining largely in the doldrums.
Speaking earlier this year to a spokesman at one of the largest motorcycle dealers in Cape Town, Honda Wings which has about 35 different types of motorcycles and quads, I was told:
“Trading is indeed tough but the introduction of several good-value models has helped us reach targets since the middle of 2011, such as the XR650L, CBR250R, the XR125 and the run-out of 2011 model year CBR600RR bikes at discounted prices.”
When pushed about the future of the South African motorcycle industry and a sure-fire way to improve the current lean times he felt top-of-the-range sport and touring bikes would continue to shrink in the model mix; the increase would be in the middle sector (600cc) and small-to-medium commuters (125-250cc).
“Only by offering value to the limited buyers available, better warranties, with longer service intervals, will we be able to continue trading on an even and upward keel.”
Which brings me nicely around to the bike I reckon could well be the winner of the SA Bike of the Year – if there were such a competition –Honda’s NC700X, an affordable, easy-to-ride fun commuter/crossover bike that has some really clever features such as a storage device in the dummy fuel tank to stash your crash helmet while shopping or enjoying that breakfast run venue; while the liquid-cooled, in-line, twin-cylinder, 670cc engine is fitted to a light and compact frame that brags a low centre of gravity.
Final drive is by chain and a slick, six-speed gearbox.
Early in the development of the NC700X research yielded some key data regarding the typical engine use of a rider commuting on a mid-capacity machine. It was determined that 90% of riding involved speeds of 140km/h or less and engine speeds of 6000rpm or less.
The NC700X demanded a new engine suited to this kind of use with strong torque across the rpm range typically used providing ease of use, thanks to its flexibility and outstanding fuel efficiency. That in-line/two-cylinder configuration is certainly practical and efficient in terms of space layout, freeing up space within the body of the motorcycle.
There’s sure to be more petrol price increases coming in 2013 so it’s reassuring to know that the 14.1-litre tank has the potential for 400km… great to know the NC700X won’t ever break the bank at R65 000.
Perhaps the final word that could well spell out the general feeling going forward of all the major players in the bike game again comes from that upbeat Honda Wings dealer who firmly believes:
“Passion and motivation, keeping your eye on the ball and never giving up while looking for the positive, not the negative, is always going to win you customers.”
Engine: Parallel twin, 670cc, liquid-cooled
Power: 38,1kW @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 60Nm @ 4250 rpm
0-100km/h: 5 sec (Est.)
Top Speed: 195km/h (Est.)
Tank capacity: 14.1 litres
Seat height: 830 mm
Kerb weight: 218kg
Wheelbase: 1 550mm
Brakes: (F) disc (R) disc
Final drive: O-ring sealed chain
Price: R65 000