Back in 1988 Honda introduced the Hawk GT in America. For its day it was a pretty trick little motorcycle. It's 52-degree, single overhead cam V-twin engine only had three valves per cyclinder and bore and stroke measurements of 79.0 x 66.0mm, respectively, making for a total displacement of 647cc. It was housed in a twin-spar aluminum frame, which doubled as a stressed member. Aside from its spartan exterior, a single-sided swingarm drew attention to the bike as a naked standard that could rip up the local twisties. As neat as it was, unfortunately it didn't sell too well, with 1991 being the final year of production. But the Hawk quickly gained a cult following, with loyal owners transforming these bikes into wicked customs or dedicated club racing machines with custom bodywork, transplanted front ends from other models and power upgrades to wring out the most from the engine.
Picking up on how the little Hawk developed an underground following, Honda decided to bring back the almost 650cc V-twin for a revival. In 1998 it introduced the NT650V Revere to the European market. Disguised with a mini-touring fairing and integrated saddlebags, the Revere sported a steel frame, reworked internals for better mid-range performance and shaft-drive. Instead of being a quasi-sportbike, the little twin found itself as the basis for a mini sport-tourer. Eight years later Honda eventually decided the Revere needed more punch and gave it a more oversquare 81 x 66mm bore and stroke for a 680cc displacement. Compression was also raised to 10:1 (compared to 9.4:1) for just a touch more power. Meanwhile, the name was also changed to "Deauville." The popularity of the Revere and Deauville among average riders never caught on the same way as it did with the Hawk, but it was a popular choice among municipalities that decided to use them as emergency medical vehicles, among other things.
And that brings us to 2010 and the U.S. introduction of what the Euros call Deauville, but what will be branded here as the NT700V. Largely unchanged from the Deauville, the NT700V was a simple motorcycle to alter towards the U.S. market as the 2006 redesign already incorporated changes to meet the stringent Euro 3 emission standards. Billed as the little brother to the ST1300 sport-tourer, the NT700V's overall smaller package should appeal to those looking for a less committed sport-tourer that can pull commuting duties as well as the occasional week-long getaway with most of the amenities of its bigger brother.
What The People Want
According to Honda, over 47,000 units have been sold in Europe since 2000 and when it was decided to bring the bike stateside, market research was conducted to see what U.S. buyers would want. The rather simple requests include: saddlebags, an adjustable windscreen, fuel economy and nimble handling, especially two-up. Those requests weren't very difficult to accommodate as the NT700V features saddlebags that are integrated into the design of the tail section, making for bags that don't add any extra width to the motorcycle. A neat feature of this integrated design is the "pass through" area between the bags that allows larger items to be placed in between. To keep costs down electronics were kept to a minimum, hence the mechanical adjustable windscreen. Choose between five adjustments by physically lifting or pushing the screen up or down along the guides. Granted, it's not as simple as pressing a button, but how many times do you adjust the screen while riding anyway?
Honda chose a two-pronged approach in regards to fuel economy. First, the NT is equipped with a 5.2 gallon tank, meaning you won't have to worry about keeping track of where the gas stations are. All of this fuel is sipped by the capable 680cc 52-degree V-twin that powers the NT700V. Sharing much of the same architecture from the original Hawk, the new engine's oversquare 81mm x 66mm bore and stroke numbers account for the bump in displacement, as mentioned earlier. Single overhead camshafts actuate the valves on the NT-that now have four valves (as opposed to three on the Hawk). Fuel is fed via 40mm throttle bodies with single, 12-hole injectors metering the fuel. Honda claims fuel mileage hovering around 50 mpg and is now going to state EPA fuel mileage figures for all models starting in 2010.
While we didn't get the chance to see if these claims were true, it's plain to see why the NT would be capable of such numbers. Power from the twin is what you'd expect for something with its roots in 1988. It won't be giving the SV650 a run for its money, but for someone who's looking for something less intimidating than the current crop of hypersport-like tourers this is a viable alternative. Fuel metering is smooth and precise without the slightest hiccup even at partial throttle. Power is delivered to the rear wheel via shaft drive and only five gears keep the engine spinning in its sweet spot, but they're spaced far enough apart that a sixth cog really isn't necessary. In fact, the meager power will keep you plenty occupied rowing through the gears that are already there.
The cockpit is simple, analog...
The cockpit is simple, analog and to the point. Both speedometer and tachometer are analog gauges, as well as engine temperature and fuel gauge. Clock, two tripmeters, and odometer occupy the digital display. Mirrors give a clear view of what's behind you. Note the optional wind deflectors jutting out from either edge of the front fairing.
For maintenance free riding,...
For maintenance free riding, especially for touring, shaft drive is the way to go. You can also clearly see the remote preload adjuster for the rear shock. Note also how the saddlebags are integrated as part of the motorcycle-not as additional pieces that can be attached and detached.
No touring motorcycle is complete...
No touring motorcycle is complete without a set of heated grips. They're optional on the NT700V.
Braking duties are also reminiscent of 1988 as dual 296mm front rotors are mated to a single 276mm rotor in the rear. What isn't reminiscent of 1988 is the linked braking system the NT employs. When using only the front brake lever, all three pistons in the right front caliper activate, while only two of the left front come to life. Apply the rear brake and the third piston in the left front caliper joins the party along with the two rear pistons. While seemingly insignificant, stopping distance with both brakes is noticeably shorter than with just the front. Honda's combined ABS is also available as a $1000 option to the $9999 standard price tag.
Based off the 645cc Honda...
Based off the 645cc Honda Hawk engine from the late 80's, the NT700V engine has been bumped to 680cc via a larger 81.0mm bore (from 79.0mm) and is the same powerplant found in the European Honda Deauville. Throttle bodies measure 40mm with single injectors per cylinder. Fuel injection is seamless with no hiccups anywhere in the powerband.
Braking duties are handled...
Braking duties are handled via dual 296mm rotors and three-piston calipers. Honda's combined braking system activates five pistons when the front brake is applied. Step on the right pedal and both rear braking pistons are engaged along with the sixth front piston.
An interesting feature on...
An interesting feature on the NT700V, the rear saddlebags feature this "pass-through" area that essentially connects the two bags and allows larger items to fit in between.
This view reveals the 41mm...
This view reveals the 41mm fork that provide a soft, supple ride at the expense of heavy turn-in. Market research revealed that an adjustable windscreen was popular among touring riders, hence the five-way adjustable unit here. Adjustment is done manually, however, by either pulling or pushing the screen up or down.
We had the chance to sample the NT's handling through the twisty roads surrounding Ojai, California, but first we had to slog through some flat terrain to reach our destination. This gave me time to examine the bike a little more. As storage capacity is important, despite its minimal bodywork, two small compartments are integrated into the front fairing for smaller items. Also, an optional top case can be mounted behind the passenger seat for even more storage capacity. But it was when I looked beyond the plastic that I noticed the steel frame, whose shape and dimensions looked awfully similar to the Hawk's aluminum cradle. Moving up from the frame, the 41mm fork is non-adjustable but provides a plush ride for long-distance riding. Out back sits a single shock with remote preload adjustability.
Unfortunately, with these dated and bargain components, handling is adequate at best. On the bright side, the bike does hide its weight well and is neutral to turn in. Despite the rear's tendency to lift upon sudden deceleration due to the shaft drive, this shaft-jacking motion surprisingly didn't hamper the bike during turn-in, mid corner or on corner exit. Though some journalists at the intro were able to drag the centerstand this won't be a concern for the vast majority of riders.
Does It Deliver?
Billed as a mini sport-tourer,...
Billed as a mini sport-tourer, the NT700V is a comfortable ride that's unassuming in every way. Saddlebags come standard, but the 45 liter top case is a $392.95 option.
As lightweight sport-tourers go the NT700V performs exactly as advertised. Manageable power is perfect for someone not looking to enter the sportbike market, yet wants something capable of occasional backroad jaunts along the way. It'll take you somewhere far from home without gulping gas or breaking your (or your pillion's) back as well. Though it's this comfortable ride that makes for a less than exciting experience when the road turns exciting, the NT is still surprisingly capable. That being said, the technology behind the NT700V is long in the tooth already and if it were me, I might be looking to spend my $9999 on other Japanese-or even German-alternatives.
2010 Honda NT700V/C-ABS
Type: Liquid-cooled, 52-degree 4-stroke V-twin
Bore x Stroke: 81.0 x 66.0mm
Induction: PGM-FI, 40mm throttle bodies, one injector/cyl.
Front suspension: 41mm fork, 4.5 in. travel
Rear suspension: Single shock absorber, adjustable for preload, 4.8 in. travel
Front tire:120/70ZR-17 Bridgestone Battlax BT021
Rear tire: 150/70ZR-17 Bridgestone Battlax BT021
Rake/Trail: 28.5 deg./4.5 in. (115mm)
Wheelbase: 58.1 in. (1475mm)
Weight: 562 lb. (255 kg) claimed wet; 569 lb. (258 kg) w/ABS
Fuel consumption:50 mpg avg. (claimed)