By Marissa Baecker
It was one of those mornings where my hand fumbled for the snooze button more than once. Between temperature battles with the Okanagan summer creating those mid-night thunderstorms and my terrified dog charging through my bedroom door at the first sound of the clouds clashing, I was lacking rest and less than motivated to get out of bed.
Once the fog in my brain cleared, I realized that the new Honda NC700XA awaited me and the adrenaline went through my body faster than a double espresso past my lips. Out of bed, into riding gear and out the door.
The all new 2012 NC700XA, in ‘darkness black metallic’, was waiting outside Kelowna Honda with another on display inside loaded with a 29L set of panniers to illustrate the versatility of this new cross-over bike. The naked sibling, the NC700x, in ‘Seal Silver Metallic with Thunder Yellow’ accents, stood nearby. The difference between the two models – the XA is designed for more versatile terrain and offers higher ground clearance, more travel in the suspension, a slightly higher seat height, and a small beak front fairing and windshield.
These models are referred to as cross-over because they are a bit of a combination of sport, super sport, sport tour and throw in a dash of adventure. Basically, they are versatile and can be whatever you want them to be.
Perhaps the most talked about feature is the 21 litre cargo storage directly in front of the rider where the gas tank of a motorcycle is usually found. This cargo storage is big enough to house a full face helmet and locks with the bike key. One passerby checked it out and commented with a laugh, “Hey, you could you put ice in there and use it as a cooler.”
I suppose you could but getting the melted ice out after could prove challenging as Honda didn’t design the compartment with a drain plug.
The curb weight (all required fluids and full fuel tank) is a measly 218 kg (480 LB). Easily up righted by any sized rider using the proper technique (ladies put your hips to good use).
With a cargo carrier in front, Honda balanced the bike by placing the 14.1 liter fuel tank below the rider seat. A twist of the key pops the slightly raised passenger portion of the seat up and reveals the gas cap.
The added weight of fuel puts the centre of gravity directly below the rider delivering a secure, balanced ride. The passenger sits slightly higher than the rider and full handle grips are available to the passenger for security.
The 32.7″ rider seat is angled downward gives this ride a versatile appeal. No matter what your inseam, this is a bike to consider. The rider sits snug and secure against the cargo compartment or stretch a bit back for some extra inches. I personally didn’t like the ‘close to the cargo’ seating position as I felt a little cramped and often repositioned myself further back in the seat but my efforts proved futile as each time I geared down, (paired with the fact that the seat had been freshly polished for photos immediately prior to departure), my body slid forward right back to hip hugging the cargo compartment.
Valve train is a chain drive, four valves per cylinder and electronic fuel injection. Behind the bars, your mind is thinking standard sport style ride except the six-speed transmission performs best changing gears at lower rpm than your average standard sport. The liquid cooled 670 cc parallel twin engine offers plenty of pep and the bike zips along through the gears at around 3,000 rpm. Quick, short, shifts is how the bike operates best.
Plenty twists and turns are laid out on the road from Highway 97 to Sparkling Hill Wellness Resort at Predator Ridge Golf Course and the wide gear ratios allowed a smooth ride without a whole lot of gear shifting. Plenty of low-end rpm torque for entering and pulling out of the corners without changing gears.
The laid back, relaxed, resort lifestyle greets you as soon as the golf greens make their first appearance. If you have never been to Sparkling Hill resort, mark it on your calendar. Take a few days to relax in the spa, enjoy the outdoors, some wildlife, great health conscious food and complete evening silence other than the odd cricket.
The route back would take me through the back roads and to the lake and across a section of oiled gravel road. Honestly, I am not sure how a street bike is supposed to handle on gravel road. I know how a dirt bike handles in these circumstances and I can tell you that I had no problem on this rutted windy section of loose shale and dirt. The NC700 still delivered a solid, consistent and secure ride.
The 41mm telescopic front fork with 153.5 mm (6”) of travel paired with the single shock, pro-link swingarm, 150mm (5.9”) of travel in the rear complete the suspension. I find suspension sometimes confusing as I expand my education in motorcycling. The single-sided swingarm suspension is usually used to maintain the centre of gravity of a motorcycle. It means that the rear wheel is mounted on the bike similar to a car wheel.
New models include a one year, transferrable, unlimited mileage warranty with extended warranty available for purchase.
MSRP: 2012 NC700SA $8,799 and 2012 NC700XA $8,999 .
MotorcyGal is written by freelance photographer, Marissa Baecker. Visit devs.amdev.ca/motorcygal/.