– 2017 Automatic Motorcycles / Review of Model Lineup –
It’s 2017 and Honda is back at it again, expanding their automatic motorcycle lineup. You can check out my previous post covering the 2015 automatic motorcycle lineup review here and my 2016 automatic motorcycle model lineup review by clicking here. For 2017, Honda has added an all-new automatic DCT Motorcycle to the lineup – the X-ADV (also known as the City Adventure Concept bike). Just in case you missed them, last year we had a couple of new additions to the model lineup like the Africa Twin DCT & VFR1200X DCT.
- → 2016 Honda DCT Automatic Motorcycles / Model Lineup Review – Click Here
- → 2015 Honda DCT Automatic Motorcycles / Model Lineup Review – Click Here
- → How does the Automatoc DCT Motorcycle work? How do you ride it? Click Here
Looking for an Automatic Motorcycle? Don’t want a scooter? You’re not alone… Still to this day the term scooter is frowned upon in the motorcycle community. It’s truly an image thing though as scooters these days aren’t slow like they used to be and some can exceed 100 MPH all day long and outrun many motorcycles in a 0-60 competition or 1/4 mile drag race etc.
To help with this problem and bring even more potential customers into the wonderful world of 2-wheels Honda has brought back Automatic Motorcycles. The last time this venture was explored dates back a few decades and to put it shortly – was a flop. Honda has decided to give it one more try and seems to be hitting the nail on the head this go-around. So much so that Honda not only makes one Automatic DCT Motorcycle but quite a few models.
The first model into this market segment this century dates back to 2009 with the Honda DN-01 (pictured above). The DN-01 start off on the right track at first though because of its off-the-wall styling and we also can’t forget that price with an MSRP of a whopping $15,599. However, the DN-01 didn’t have a DCT transmission though… The DN-01 had Honda’s HFT transmission. HFT = Human Friendly Transmission, it’s marketing name of what is a proprietary Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The electronically controlled automatic transmission system is unlike more familiar belt-driven CVT systems used on scooters, nor does it have a torque converter, typical of automotive applications. Instead it is a hydrostatic drive that employs a variable displacement axial piston pump with a variable-angle swashplate. Prior to the DN-01, this type of system had not been used in road-going consumer motor vehicles, though it is familiar in industrial applications and heavy equipment such as forklifts and the US Air Force’s MJ-1 bomb lift truck, in use since the 1950s. Honda has also dabbled in this technology since the 1950s. It appeared on their 2001-2014 FourTrax Rubicon TRX500 ATV. The electronic controls allow the motorcycle to be operated in three modes: Drive, Sport and Manual. In Drive and Sport, it functions much like a CVT scooter, with infinitely variable gearing upshifted and downshifted automatically for what the system determines to be optimal performance. Unlike a scooter, engine braking is always available when decelerating. The difference between Drive and Sport modes is that Drive is optimized for economy while Sport is more responsive. In Manual mode, the transmission operates in one of six discrete gears chosen by the rider by pushing a plus/minus button on the left handlebar. It feels much like a normal motorcycle, including hitting the rev limiter at the top of each gear, but the ECU prevents upshifting and downshifting too soon. In all modes, it automatically returns to the lowest gear when stopped. It is also possible to switch into neutral while stopped, unlike a scooter.
Like I mentioned above, the technology crammed in this bike bumped its price all the way up to $15,599 and that was a rather difficult pill to swallow for most… Especially considering a lot of the Automatic Motorcycle market was aimed at attracting first-time buyers that may have been scared by learning how to ride with a true manual transmission and operating a clutch. With it coming in at a price at what most people would pay for an automatic Civic the sales for the DN-01 were lacking. To put it nicely, us dealers referred to DN-01 as “Do Not – Order 1” haha. They were great bikes, just a little pricey at the time. If you can snatch up a used DN-01 for a bargain – they are hard to beat!
The rather large price tag resulted in Honda putting large rebates on them and helping us clear out our inventory while they went back to the drawing board.
Now, we’re into 2010 and Honda decided it was time to up the anty and bring technology to the table that had never even been considered in the motorcycle industry and that’s when they gave us our first taste of what a DCT (Dual-Clutch Transmission) is and how much better in was on every level than the HFT transmission used in the DN-01. Honda decided to use the all-new 2010 VFR1200F as its guinea pig with this new technology. It was rather expensive though as the standard model had an MSRP / Price of $15,999 and the DCT model of the VFR came in at the tune of $17,499. History again repeated itself with the VFR1200 DCT model similar to the DN-01 and Honda had to put large rebates to help clean out dealer inventory.
Fast forward a couple of years. Now we have multiple Automatic DCT Motorcycle models for 2017 with pricing starting as low as $8,299 – Which is a considerable price drop from the original model that kicked everything off.
Before we get started. All DCT Automatic Motorcycles from Honda for 2017 also have an added safety feature of ABS (Anti-Lock Brakes). Typically ABS alone adds anywhere from $500-$1000 to a motorcycle in Honda’s model lineup. This shows how much bang for the buck you get when you see how small the added cost is to go with the DCT over a manual clutch and transmission model.
Like I mentioned above, 2017 brings you even more options when it comes to DCT Automatic Motorcycles… You now have more automatic motorcycle options than ever before!
2017 Automatic Motorcycle Review Page Index:
- 2017 Honda X-ADV DCT – Review (Click Here)
- 2017 CTX700 DCT – Review (Click Here)
- 2016 CTX700N DCT – Review (Click Here)
- 2017 NC700X DCT – Review (Click Here)
- 2017 NC750X DCT – Review (Click Here)
- 2017 NC750S DCT – Review (Click Here)
- 2018 NM4 / Vultus DCT – Review (Click Here) (Honda skipped 2017 on the NM4)
- 2017 Integra DCT – Review (Coming Soon)
- 2017 Africa Twin DCT (CRF1000L) – Review (Click Here)
- 2017 VFR1200X DCT (CrossTourer) – Review (Click Here)
2017 Honda Automatic Motorcycles / Model Lineup Review:
2017 Honda X-ADV
The X-ADV steals some of the kinda oddball uniqueness away from the NM4 this year – which is a good thing. If all bikes looked the same and had the same styling, it’d be an awfully boring world. The X-ADV is an exciting and all-new crossover DCT automatic motorcycle for 2017: the Honda X-ADV mixes SUV style and off-road appeal with a tough chassis, long travel suspension, four-piston radial-mount brakes and strong performance from its 745cc twin-cylinder engine mated to a Dual Clutch Transmission. A large underseat storage compartment, 5-way adjustable screen and Smart Key system ensure day-to-day convenience. Sadly, at this time… The 2017 X-ADV will not be available for sale at your local dealers here in the USA. Do you want to see the 2018 Honda X-ADV release in the USA though? Contact your favorite Honda dealer and let them know to pass the word onto their Honda reps as they’ll never know how large the demand here in the USA is if you don’t let them know.
2017 Honda CTX700 DCT
Many of today’s riders – whether experienced, new to bikes or returning to two wheels – have broad expectations of motorcycling and look to expand their horizons on a machine that fits their lifestyle – not the other way round. They’re looking for something that enables and enhances their life. The CTX700 was designed to dovetail perfectly with just such desires. ‘C’ is for Comfort – this equates to driveability and easy cornering, low noise at speed, low seat height, stability and accessible ground reach. ‘T’ stands for Technology – a high-torque, low-friction 670cc engine with excellent fuel economy, Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) gearbox, low center of gravity and standard-fit ABS. The ‘X’ is eXperience; smooth all-round performance – including acceleration and stopping – with a relaxed, cruiser-style riding position. All three are key CTX ingredients for a fulfilling and enjoyable ride, whether simply for coffee, a day out or across an entire country.
Some people do get these next (2) DCT automatic motorcycles confused. Why is that? I’m going to rip on Honda a little bit here but it’s because of their model names. I’m not sure who’s bright idea it was to name them something so similar that only the last letter actually designates which is which. Most people will generically think “CTX700” when they state this model or the model below which is the CTX700N as people don’t notice or should I say pay attention to that last letter. Add that in with the fact that the differences aren’t huge between them and you have a recipe for disaster on confusing models when you call / email dealers etc inquiring about models.
2016 Honda CTX700N DCT
The naked CTX700N blends the best of attributes of both cruiser and street motorcycles. The laid-back, feet-forward riding style and low seat height of a cruiser combine with the lightweight feel, ground clearance and agile handling of a standard bike. The CTX700’s 670cc twin-cylinder engine, with its low center of gravity, delivers a high quality, easy-to-handle ride with an emphasis on low to medium speed torque. The bike combines ease of use with freedom of design, and because it sports our lightweight and compact Dual Clutch Transmission, it delivers a ride that is fun, comfortable and exhilarating as well as afforable – just what CTX700N is all about.
* Honda isn’t building a 2017 CTX700N DCT model for this year. Honda hasn’t announced that the CTX700N manual transmission and automatic DCT models will be discontinued for good and every now and then when they have enough carry over models from the previous model-year they will skip a production year. I’m including the 2016 CTX700N in this list as odds are you’ll still be able to find one of these leftover 2016 CXT models sitting on your local dealer’s showroom floor. The CTX700N model is lumped into the Cruiser category by Honda. This is because it does not have a fairing similar to the CTX700 above which lumps it into Honda’s Touring motorcycle category. Everything else is identical between the (2) CTX 700 models from their frame, engine, seating position etc. Since this model is missing the windshield it comes in with a slightly lower price tag.
2017 Honda NC700X DCT / NC750X DCT
The NC700X makes its return for 2017 still sporting its changes that Honda introduced last year. The Honda NC700X is an Adventure style motorcycle that offers exceptional ground clearance and added suspension travel when compared to the other models available with Honda’s DCT transmission. Since its introduction in 2012 the NC700X / NC750X has enjoyed consistent popularity across the world. Reasons for its success are several: its ground-breaking, torque-laden twin-cylinder engine, which sips fuel while punching the bike forward in the low-to-mid rpm ranges, the relaxed, roomy riding position, wide handlebars and comfortable seat and riding position, the compliant, long-travel suspension and distinctive adventure styling all play their part. The storage compartment (where the fuel tank would normally be) capable of holding a full-face helmet and Honda’s unique DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) that over a third of customers choose are further features that set the NC750X apart. As a total package, the NC-X models qualities combine to create a motorcycle which functions superbly. For all types of riding – commuting, touring and simply riding for pleasure – it is a motorcycle with compelling all-round appeal. The 2017 NC750X is the exact same model as the NC700X here in the USA except for the slightly larger engine which results in a slight horsepower & torque bump compared to its smaller cc displacement cousin here in the USA. We’ve been hoping for years that Honda would bring the NC750X to the USA but as 2017 has shown us, it won’t be this year.
2018 Honda NM4
While it’s the NM4’s disruptive form that earns headlines and double takes, the model absolutely delivers in the function department as well. A low center of gravity, enabled in part by the forward-rotated mounting of the powerful, liquid-cooled 670cc parallel-twin engine, results in a comfortable, light-handling motorcycle with a low-slung, feet-forward cockpit from which it’s very easy to reach the ground at stops. The passenger seat converts into a flip-up, adjustable backrest, and the bodywork provides ample wind protection and four separate storage compartments. Gear changes are accomplished via a high-tech, smooth-shifting Dual Clutch Transmission, which has standard and sport automatic modes but can also be manually shifted via handlebar-mounted buttons. The innovative, customizable LED dash display features color-coding for the transmission modes and delivers a host of information, including fuel-mileage tracking. Competent for applications from commuting to cruising, the NM4 more than holds its own on the road. Just don’t expect to go incognito.
Why did I include a 2018 Honda NM4 when this is a 2017 model lineup breakdown? Honda didn’t build a 2017 NM4 due to damage from an earthquake at their manufacturing plant last year which created a huge delay in production on many models. The 2017 model year NM4 was already slated for production and information had already been released as well as orders placed in the USA by dealers. Thankfully, Honda is doing an early model year release for the 2018 NM4 to help make up for that. Now, let’s get back to the regular scheduled programming and go over some details on the NM4 or as I like to call it – The Batmobile motorcycle. The NM4 is a “limited production” model from Honda so if you plan on getting your hands on a 2018 model, I would be contacting your local dealer.
2017 Honda NC750S DCT
Next up we have the 2016 NC750S from Honda that is a mixture of a couple bikes. It mixes a little bit of cruiser style with some sporty’ness mixed in there too. Its parallel twin-cylinder engine packs the low-to-midrange with effortless torque; capacious storage space where the fuel tank normally sits and the option of Honda’s unique Dual Clutch Transmission set it apart from the crowd of mid-sized naked machines. When combined with a compact form, confidence-inspiring chassis and exceptional fuel economy, the result is a uniquely accessible and practical motorcycle. The 2016 NC750S still isn’t available in the USA, hopefully Honda will give it a try in our market soon.
2017 Honda Integra
Honda’s unique Integra received an extensive update for 2016, with changes including LED lighting, new Showa Dual Bending Valves front forks and LCD instruments with personalized color options. The Dual Clutch Transmission received 3-level S mode, plus further software upgrades in both MT and AT riding modes. The frugal 750cc parallel twin was given EURO4 compliance and a revised exhaust muffler added a much deeper tone. The Integra – launched originally in 2012 as one of three models in Honda’s New Concept (NC) platform – takes its name from the fact that it integrates the comfort and style of a scooter with the dynamic performance of a motorcycle. For 2017, the Integra will be available in a new Candy Prominence Red. This is one of those models that definitely blurs the line of what is normally considered a scooter or motorcycle. * The 2017 Honda Integra is not available in the USA.
2017 Honda Africa Twin DCT / CRF1000L
2017 Honda VFR1200X DCT / CrossTourer DCT
The VFR1200X / Crosstourer, launched in 2012 in other countries around the world, is Honda’s range-topping adventure sports touring motorcycle. The VFR1200X didn’t make its appearance here in the USA until the 2016 model year. If the Africa Twin DCT is a little too “bare” for you and you want more creature comforts and something that will eat up those highway miles better than any other adventure motorcycle from Honda – the VFR1200X is for you! The original design team, led by Large Project Leader Yosuke Hasegawa, set out to create a machine that gave the rider a sense of challenge and the facility to explore. Equipped with a 1,237cc V4 engine, advanced chassis and electronic package – Combined ABS, Traction Control System (TCS) and the option of Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) gearbox – the Crosstourer firmly planted a flag at the high-performance end of the adventure segment. As a go-anywhere, do-anything tool it has few peers – but its real difference lies in the addictive power and soundtrack produced by its soulful V4 engine, something unique in this class.
How easy is it to ride one of the DCT / Dual Clutch Transmission Automatic Honda motorcycles?
Very easy! You have essentially (3) drive modes. You can put it in D which stands for Drive and just roll on the throttle to go. You also have a Sport mode shown below with the S. It shortens up the gear ratio inside the transmission and shifts quicker etc while still keeping it fully automatic. Want to change gears manually? Click it over into Manual mode shown above by MT and then you can click through the gears on the left side of the handlebar pictured below.
We do still have some that look down on automatic motorcycles considering them as nothing but a glorified scooter so-to-say. More and more are giving them a chance though and I can say that everyone who has taken one for a demo ride is surprised by how much they enjoyed it. I have more and more people who have ridden for many years decide to go with an automatic model as their next motorcycle and to date haven’t had a single one regret their purchase. It’s amazing how much more you pay attention to other things around you can what all you can take in when you aren’t thinking about changing gears etc. They aren’t for everyone of course but I think this segment of the market will continue to grow over the years.
Some of you may be asking where certain automatic models are from Honda. This list is only for what Honda classifies as a “motorcycle” and not their scooters. I know, the line that divided the differences between motorcycles and scooters used to be clear as day but that line has become as blurred as possible. Ask people 10 years ago what the difference was between a motorcycle and a scooter and odds are they’ll say the automatic transmission on a scooter is what really sets it apart from a manual transmission motorcycle but that’s not the case anymore.
→ As always, I love to hear what you guys think…
What’s your opinion on Automatic Motorcycles?
Which DCT Automatic Motorcycle is your favorite in the 2017 model lineup?
Which current model motorcycle do you think Honda should make as an Automatic for 2018?