The Honda NC750X was always an easy-to-ride, solid performer – but the new 2016 NC750X has added a massive dose of fun into the mix and improved on the old model in almost every regard.
Key changes to the suspension, the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), front brakes, exhaust note and styling all add up to a comprehensively improved motorcycle.
The Honda NC750X isn't designed to set your hair on fire in terms of performance, but the new model works so much better in key areas that the overall package is a lot more attractive.
While the DCT retains its 'D' (Drive) mode, which changes up to the highest possible ratio to conserve fuel, it is now joined by three S-modes (Sport) too. S1 is mildly more sporty than D and designed to town riding; S2, the same program as the single S option on the old NC750X, is sportier still, holding on to the revs longer and down – changing earlier too; and S3 is for when you want to press on. The clutch set-up has been tweaked to give the Honda NC750X a smoother launch from a standing start and this was particularly noticeable around town and through busy traffic.
At the heart of the 2016 Honda NC750X is a mildly updated version of the 741cc parallel-twin engine, a low-revving engine designed to churn out bottom-end torque and sip petrol. The motorcycle is now compliant with most strict exhaust emission standard, which means a new exhaust with a denser catalytic converter. Also to meet new European safety standards side-mounted orange reflectors are now standard.
Suspension changes to the Honda NC750X see the introduction of 41mm diameter Showa Dual Bending Valve front forks for the first time on any production motorcycle. These give a much improved and controlled ride compared to the outgoing model; particularly under hard braking, when the amount of dive has been reduced significantly.
The Showa rear shock has also controlled ride and a preload adjuster fitted for the first time. Even when the pace was upped, the Honda NC750, while no sportsbike, was easy to ride at a swift pace.
On fast and flowing roads, the benefits of the updated DCT system and software were clear. Clicking the DCT into S3 mode and leaving the motorcycle to choose the gear ratio worked well for 90% of the time. Only occasionally did I think I'd rather be in a lower or higher gear, which represents a huge improvement compared to the older, slightly frustrating, DCT set-up.
I did manually change gear for a while, but it felt like a waste of time after some kilometers, so I clicked it back into S3 mode. There were still those moments when, even in manual and with raised revs allowed by the new programming, the Honda NC705X wouldn't let me change down early enough, leaving me jabbing the button until the revs dropped enough to let the gear ratio change.
Away from the technological updates, the main changes to the Honda NC750X have been centered around the styling, with a new 'tougher' adventure bike makeover aimed at bringing it more into line with the likes of the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner, range-topping VFR1200X Crosstourer, CRF1000L Africa Twin and others like the Honda CB500X too. Honda have gone all out to try and provide an 'adventure bike' for all sectors of the market. Honda even claim that the Honda NC750X is an adventure bike. It isn't. It might have faux-adventure Bridgestone Battlewing tires fitted, but anything more than light gravel tracks is going to cause serious issues.
The Honda NC750X remains a fairly hefty motorcycle, with the DCT system adding 10 kilograms to the 220kg kerb weight compared to the model without DCT, making it as heavy as a Ducati Multistrada. It carries its weight well, though you do feel it when attempting to thread through gridlocked traffic.
There is a new and larger windscreen for 2016, which is now 70mm taller, and extra one liter of capacity for the front storage compartment, which was already capacious enough to tore a full-face crash helmet, LED lights front and rear, and a full-color dashboard.
Honda pitch the NC750X as a 'fun, crossover commuter' but, marketing spiel aside, this is mainly a motorcycle aimed at those who want a super-economical motorcycle for commuting and everyday riding. A significant number are owned by riders who have other motorcycles and simply use the Honda NC750X as a weekday tool to get them to work.