More horrible Japanese design...It looks great for urban transport, but essentially without a proper gear shift all it is a big scooter. Only the gravitationally challenged and disabled amongst us bikers would be seen on one. It looks so cheap, like all Japanese products, with cheap plastic and components built to a cost accountant's whims, not an engineer's. ugh, awful!!!
Windsor Wilder
It's a maxi- scooter with the engine moved off the swing arm. About time. Still a lousy riding position but try telling that to a Harley rider.
'... there's nothing quite like mastering a big motorcycle to make you feel king of the universe. Beginners will be able to achieve the same feeling and results without the same degree of riding expertise on the NM4 ...'
Nope, no they won't. I don't doubt that beginners could go quicker with this system, but it would not be fun. The key is in 'mastering' -- if it was easy to get it right, there is no real reward. Nobody would gamble if they won every time.
Sure, there are people who have no interest in mastering the machine, but they are by definition not enthusiasts, and are unlikely to shell out for something like this. I really struggle to see who this is aimed at.
(And for the record, changing gears competently on a motorcycle isn't *that* hard, for God's sake...)
If they want to penetrate the Asian market they need to make a two seat version.
Mel Tisdale
Thanks for a very informative article.
I imagine that at some future date these machines will appear with two front wheels. As for its appeal to the average person, perhaps the demographic artwork showing Asia as having more people than the rest of the world combined says it all; that, and the deliberate design considerations around 5ft 7in rider height, of course. Oh, and we must not forget that in that part of the world motorcycles are already ubiquitous.
Whilst traditionalists might be upset about this design, as some of the above comments clearly show, it is not meant for them. This is for the next generation, a generation that is already turning away from car use. This machine is only the first in a line of development that will take personal transport and make it fit the average 21st century person's requirements. These machines are going to have to communicate and respond to transport infrastructure, along with all other road users. Traditional machines will find their 'home' in museums and country fairs, along with horse-drawn farm machinery and steam driven road rollers.
It looks like world leadership in personal transport is, along with commerce generally, moving eastwards. Oh well, "to everything a season, turn, turn turn ..."
Jason Catterall
Why is a motorcycle any less a motorcycle just because it's automatic?? Myopic was a great choice of word early on in this article: Lacking foresight or intellectual insight. My top 4 car driving experiences to date are my old Alfa Romeo 156 Selespeed, The BMW M3 SMG, the Audi TT DSG and my wife's Golf, also a DSG. These are all manual gearboxes, with automated clutches, either single or dual, exactly the same as this Honda. Being able to race through the gears, blip the throttle whilst down-changing flawlessly, holding gears on corners and not having a slushbox torque converter ruin the experience for me is one of the greatest advances in recent motoring history. Not having to depress the clutch pedal, whilst still maintaining full control is simply better. Which is why the top car and supercar manufacturers are providing them. Best of both worlds, with none of the downsides associated with mediocre driving skills.
The future is coming and I for one can't wait. Bring it on.
I love the technology in this machine: the DCT, the low-CG parallel twin, the fuel efficiency for the performance. The riding position, for all of Mike's verbal gymnastics to try to make it sound novel, is not that different from your average Shadow (the Phantom's seat height is listed at 25.8" - a mere 0.3" taller than this beast, and its certainly feet-forward - as Windsor Wilder mentions, "lousy", but yet, comfortable.)
I go back to the huge blob of a fairing, the "maxi-scooter" look, and wonder at what is driving this ugly, seemingly wasteful, mass of plastic design. The anime-loving crowd here in the States doesn't seem like the sort to be able to shell out the big $ for this kind of non-essential toy - they come across to me as being too busy attending comic conventions and designing cosplay outfits. Video game playing convenience store clerks who can barely keep their rickety 50cc scooters alive, much less being "affluent" enough to toss a leg over this monstrosity. Would they even want to if they could? Given the funds, I'm betting a WRX or similar "drifter" hot rod sedan emblazoned with shiny LEDs would be more in their cross-hairs.
So, for the US market, Honda, how about taking the tech in this drive-train and drop it into a classic cruiser chassis with hi-tech accents, much like you've done with the Fury, but at a cost-conscious level. Suzuki tried this with their Gladius and failed due to a style disconnect, I believe. If you can combine whatever current "cool" trend with twist-n-go ease of use, low cost and efficiency, you'll win. This is a commendable effort in that direction, but not likely to get much further than the very similar DN-01 here in the US.
This is aimed at folks who are not ossified "enthusiasts". It is aimed at people who are willing to embrace new concepts and don’t immediately throw up a little when words like “new” or “different” are included in a sentence. As such the American market will probably not be big for this machine. As they mentioned the Asian market is already accustomed to scooters so twist-n-go is normal as is the feet forward position so it’s not a huge stretch for them to like it. It is also not aimed at the enthusiast crowd who use them for pleasure rather than as a primary transportation. Manual gear shifting is not too challenging if the bike is operated on back roads and uncongested highways, stop and go traffic makes toe shifting a tremendous pain in the boot.
As for the comment: "(And for the record, changing gears competently on a motorcycle isn't *that* hard, for God's sake...)" Try it in stop and go traffic jams sometime. I’ve been riding for close to 10 years with 5 of those commuter years. If there was one thing I would rip off the darn bike when I’m in a traffic jam it would be that fiddly gear shifter.
Jon A.
Pro tip: the term "Japanimation" has been disused since the early 90's because it can be parsed as "Jap Animation" which the Japanese would see as a racial slur.
Honda's NM4/Vultus is pretty ambitious, and very interesting. It reminds me most of Dan Gurney's "Gator". I'd give it a try, for sure.
I bought a Honda Silverwing scooter seven or eight years ago. I sold it last year. I bought it because of the CVT. I SOLD it because of the CVT. I kept my old Suzuki because of the manual shift.
My current car (smart for two) has an "automated" manual, with paddles for "manual" operation. It is a great, and reliable, system. It can work in a motorcycle, too, regardless of seat height.
I really enjoy Gizmag!
Stephen Van de Castle