You already used to see motorcycles from Honda that look just as odd as the concept motorcycles revealed at motorcycle trade shows around the world. For instance the latest Honda concept-to-reality is the Honda NM4.
You probably share our idea that we looked at a new motorcycle for an upcoming Batman movie. We not really sure what to make of the Honda NM4. Even the general public isn't sure if it's a scooter or a motorcycle, prompting passerby on foot and in car owners with question marks on the forehead.
Could it be Honda's answer to the current trend of maxi-scooters? Perhaps replacing the Honda Silver Wing in order to stand up against class leaders like the BMW C650s. One problem, the Honda NM4 feels more cruiser-minded than scooter, the Honda NM4 outshines maxi-scooters. Mostly in street performance with larger wheels and less rolling resistance, but not so much in storage capacity. While the over-sized front fairing does have a few storage containers hidden within – one locking, the other not – the Honda NM4 has integrated saddlebags with reverse-Tardis storage capacity, carrying barely more than a pair of motorcycle gloves and maybe a sweater.
On the fairing , left of the ignition keyhole, is the barrel used for unlocking the small left-side glove box, which contains a 12-volt port and just enough room to house a cellphone or GPS unit. In total, there's 16 liters of integrated storage space. Turn the barrel the other direction and you'll unlock the saddle, giving access to a toolkit, battery, and even a helmet loop welded to the steel frame.
Excuse its wild looks if you can and check the inside to find a 670cc parallel-twin engine with a six-speed automatic DCT transmission with two auto modes and a manual drive mode. Honda has perfected its dual clutch technology with models like the VFR and CTX lineup. The Honda NM4 shifts amazingly smooth in either manual or automatic mode.
With a maxi-scooter in mind – not exactly sure why – the very first twist of the throttle actually took me by surprise, launching with gusto rather than slowly building up speed over time. And the heavily moffled engine sound reminded me of the grumble of a ATV. Having ridden the more motorcycle-like Honda CTX700, I should have known better, but the styling had tricked me.
Start up the Honda NM4, thumb it into the D mode for drive, and the dashboard turns cool blue. Obviously the colors are better seen at night, but in the sun's shadows you can still see the hues midday. Drive gives the rider a thought-free riding experience, offering automatic up and down shifts, typically around 2500rpm. Thumb it again into S, and the dash turns pink and the shift points clibs about 1000rpm for a livelier ride, more appropriate for out of the town roads.
The rider already familiar with the idea of clutching a motorcycle might opt to ride in Manual mode. Finger flip the switch at the front/top of the right-hand switch cluster with your index finger to access this mode. The dash goes all red, and you're in full manual control. With the selectable 25-color dashboard and angular bodywork, the Honda NM4 is akin to a jet fighter.