Motorcycles

Honda takes aim at novice market with new CTX motorcycles

Honda takes aim at novice mark...
Honda's new 2014 CTX700 motorcycle
Honda's new 2014 CTX700 motorcycle
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The Honda CTX700 engine equipped with the standard six-speed transmission
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The Honda CTX700 engine equipped with the standard six-speed transmission
The dash of the Honda CTX700
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The dash of the Honda CTX700
The Honda CTX700 670cc engine
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The Honda CTX700 670cc engine
The Honda CTX700N
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The Honda CTX700N
The front and rear discs were stamped in a single process, with the rear disc sitting comfortably inside the front disc
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The front and rear discs were stamped in a single process, with the rear disc sitting comfortably inside the front disc
The Honda CTX700 670cc engine equipped with the dual shift transmission
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The Honda CTX700 670cc engine equipped with the dual shift transmission
Honda's new 2014 CTX700 motorcycle
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Honda's new 2014 CTX700 motorcycle
The Honda CTX700D with touring accessories
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The Honda CTX700D with touring accessories
Touring and standard versions of the Honda CTX700
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Touring and standard versions of the Honda CTX700
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Honda has introduced the first two motorcycles of its new CTX (Comfort, Technology and eXperience) series. The 2014 CTX700 and its siblings (CTX700N, CTX700D, and CTX700ND) are variations of the company's 2012 NC700 model which was designed mainly as reliable, inexpensive bikes for new riders.

First shown to the biking community at this year's International Motorcycle Show in Chicago, the CTX700 is designed to offer a comfortable ride for all comers, regardless of their experience and body size. The CTX700N is the "naked" version of the same bike while the D submodels are equipped with dual clutch automatic transmissions and anti-lock brakes to make them particularly accessible to new riders. Honda hopes that the combination of these features and the rather low entry cost (the CTX700N has a suggested retail price of US$6999, with the D submodels costing about $1000 more) will help entice a new group of riders into the world of motorcycling.

The Honda CTX700 670cc engine
The Honda CTX700 670cc engine

The CTX700 is outfitted with short tours and daily commuting in mind. The design seems a bit schizophrenic, combining as it does features of both cruisers and touring bikes. The engine is a 670cc parallel two-cylinder engine with throttle-body fuel injection and four valves per cylinder. The engine delivers only 48 hp (36 kW) of power at 6100 rpm, which seems a bit underpowered for a bike with a dry weight of about 500 lbs (227 kg).

The relatively low power (1.17 hp/cu in or 54 kW/l) of the CTX700 engine directly derives from its design parameters, heavier crank, and bolstered midrange at the expense of high power. For comparison, other motorcycle engines in this class run around 1.5 hp/cu in (70 kW/l). However, the CTX700 engine reaches its peak torque at 4680 rpm, which makes the bike feel a bit peppier than indicated by its performance numbers. The driving force is transferred to the wheels through a six-speed transmission and a chain drive.

The CTX700 models have slightly modified NC700 steel pipe frames. The wheelbase of the bike is 60.2 inches (1,530 mm), and it has a normal range rake of 27.7 degrees and a trail of 4.4 inches (112 mm). The front suspension is a 41 mm fork combined with a single shock giving 4.2 inches of travel, while the rear suspension is a Pro-Link single shock suspension with 4.3 inches of travel.

The main modification from the NC700 is a lower seat rail that provides a seat height of 28.3 inches (720 mm), making the bike easier to mount and maneuver. Seating is also more upright, with forward foot pegs positioned in front of the pulled-back handlebars. The engine is mounted at a forward slant to help lower the center of gravity of the bike, again providing a more benign feel of comfort and control. There is very little storage in the bike as equipped, but Honda has released saddlebags to up the carrying capacity. The fuel tank holds only a meager 3.17 gallons (11.7 l) of gasoline. Even at an expected 60 mpg, this considerably limits the touring range, limits that would be felt especially in the Western USA and in the open spaces of Australia.

The most user-friendly submodels of the CTX700 are the D submodels. They incorporate a DCT (dual clutch transmission) which allows lets you shift racing car-style with paddles on the handlebar, or automatically with a choice of shift points, as well as anti-lock brakes. These are only available as a package – ABS alone is not an option for the CTX700 or CTX700N. The two brake discs are cleverly made of a single sheet of material, but the use of a single disc in front seems unusual, and perhaps not particularly confidence-inspiring, for a 2014 model bike weighing 500 lbs.

The front and rear discs were stamped in a single process, with the rear disc sitting comfortably inside the front disc
The front and rear discs were stamped in a single process, with the rear disc sitting comfortably inside the front disc

Although test driving results are not yet available, the performance of the NC700, which shares the same engine, frame, and curb weight, provides an indication of what to expect. Its 0-60 time is a sluggish 5.4 seconds, while other bikes in this class yield times under four seconds. The quarter-mile time is 14.37 seconds with a speed of 90.77 mph. Comparable bikes negotiate the quarter-mile about two seconds faster while hitting speeds over 100 mph. One significant result of using the Honda engine is that the mileage tested at nearly 60 mpg (26 km/l), a property likely to be echoed in the largely identical CTX700 bikes.

Perhaps predictably, many in the motorcycle community are less than excited at what some term bland, unexciting bikes. Still, there seems near universal agreement that the CTX700s have a place in the market and it will be certainly be interesting to see if Honda heads into sportier territory with additional models in the CTX range.

Source: Honda Worldwide

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19 comments
glazey
500lbs and $8,000 for a beginner bike? Honda might have saved a few pounds and dollars going with a cvt instead of a trendy dual clutch. They've been selling great beginner level bikes and scooters in Asia for years, decades even. Ever ridden a Vario, or Blade, or Air Blade? Decent bikes, and far from 8 grand. Electric motorbikes by Brammo and Zero are already beating these for power and weight, and even price. Why would anyone want to buy this?
Daishi
There aren't many other motorcycles that offer an automatic transmission.
The NC700X won some awards in 2012 but the combination of being 500 lbs and having a 32.7 inch seat deters some of the new riders that might have been interested in it for the transmission. The seat on the NC700X is also a little on the sporty (hard) side without much for the passenger to sit on. It does a few things right and a few wrong.
The lower seat in the CTX700N makes the weight a little more manageable for a new rider and it's still 100 lbs lighter than a Harley. The 60 MPG and 3.7 gal tank isn't great (222 miles per tank) but it's still more than a 600RR or a Sportster.
Every time gas prices climb there seems to be more demand for commuter motorcycles and there aren't that many to pick from.
The downside of the new 700's is they seem to omit the best feature from the original NC700, the storage compartment in the NC is large enough for a full face helmet: http://i.imgur.com/tsKzREg.jpg
The new CTX offers a smaller (glove box sized) storage compartment but keeps the same 3.7 gal fuel capacity. The NC kept fuel under the seat so I assume adding a more cushioned, lower seat required moving fuel back up to the standard tank location. That is kind of a tragedy.
Australian
"Only 36 KW" still translates to almost 160KW per ton. For a beginner it is plenty fast and offers something few motorbikes can deliver - real world fuel efficiency.
mrhuckfin
Being a rider for almost 3½ decades I advise all new and beginning riders to not get a bike because of fuel economy, it's only a side benefit. Make sure you will like this machine for a long time because your going to have to live with it and make sure it will suit your needs and not be unsafe or even become to boring for you quickly? It's AMAZING how much money you can end up throwing at a motorcycle? Fuel economy is almost an afterthought in my experience over the years? :-)
mookins
Bikes need streamlined bodies like cars have. Then comes supreme fuel economy, and high-speed cruising that isn't just the rider fight air. Anything else is a joke, this isn't the '70's and there's no excuse for this technology stagnation.
Daishi
@mookins for most motorcycles people purchase fuel economy is an afterthought.
Part of the reason I assume is there is a huge difference in cost between a car that gets the job done and one that will do 10 second 1/4 mile times but with a motorcycle for $2k or $3k more than the price of entry you can buy one of the fastest street legal vehicles in the world.
When even absurdly fast machines like the BMW 1000 RR get 41 MPG the amount of money people spend on gas for a motorcycle isn't a major concern.
Generally the people reckless enough to get on a motorcycle in traffic with cagers are reckless enough to want something faster than they need (and/or loud enough to be heard).
Certainly there is a lot to be done with making more practical motorcycles but the lack of products is more reflective of a lack of consumer demand than it is lack of talent at the companies making products.
I welcome an influx of people looking for bikes like this because of high gas prices though because right now it feels like the industry either makes race bikes or cruisers and doesn't focus on that much else. There has been more focus on adventure bikes lately but > $15k, 600lb bikes with 36" seats seem pretty common in that segment.
It is a little worrisome that 600 super sports are probably still the most common bikes for beginners.
monkeybrains
A few years ago I looked at bikes for transportation and the cost of a new bike was too much. If this was available then I think I would have picked it up. Right now it's more than I'd feel comfortable spending. Maybe there should be a model between moped and this? Note I've only ever rode a dirt bike and that was only one time so I don't know what the difference is between that and a full bike.
Mark A
Having owned and ridden motorcycles since my first bike, a Harley XLCH in 1973, I can say the only reason to purchase one is for the enjoyment of riding. My current Honda CB750 gets 48mpg but I put on $250 worth of tires every 10,000 miles. The US needs the same high mileage diesel cars that sell in Europe and elsewhere.
Scott Triffett
Boring and Ugly. Honda have no imagination, and a beginner should not be using a "automatic" for their first motorbike. No one should have an automatic motorbike, where's the fun in that, may as well get a scooter.
MrGadget
If they make a modernized v4 750cc magna, I'd buy it in an instant. There is nothing close or similar to it.