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Honda takes aim at novice market with new CTX motorcycles

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February 18, 2013

Honda's new 2014 CTX700 motorcycle

Honda's new 2014 CTX700 motorcycle

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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 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 comf...

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

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer.   All articles by Brian Dodson
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17 Comments

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?

glazey
18th February, 2013 @ 08:44 pm PST

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.

Daishi
18th February, 2013 @ 11:46 pm PST

"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.

Australian
19th February, 2013 @ 01:38 am PST

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? :-)

mrhuckfin
19th February, 2013 @ 03:12 am PST

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.

mookins
19th February, 2013 @ 10:00 am PST

@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.

Daishi
19th February, 2013 @ 02:28 pm PST

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.

monkeybrains
19th February, 2013 @ 09:25 pm PST

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.

Mark A
19th February, 2013 @ 10:23 pm PST

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.

Scott Triffett
20th February, 2013 @ 03:20 am PST

If they make a modernized v4 750cc magna, I'd buy it in an instant. There is nothing close or similar to it.

MrGadget
20th February, 2013 @ 06:10 am PST

If we're just worrying about mileage, it's hard to beat a scooter. I ride a Yamaha scooter that is capable for all riding except interstate and average 85mpg. I'm not as fast as these bikes, but I'm sure I have as much (or more) fun as they do and I fill my 1.8 gallon tank less than once per week. As gas prices continue toward $4.00/gallon in my area, I think we'll be seeing more two wheel commuters.

Borggg
20th February, 2013 @ 07:51 am PST

Not real impressed with the article or some comments.

A "comparable" bike should do a sub 12.4 1/4 mile? There are few bikes at all that can do that. Apparently a comparable bike for this comparison is a 600cc+ crotch rocket. Maybe some Ducati or BMW touring bike with 50%+ more displacement and costing more than $15,000 could do this. And they ARE comparable, they cost at least $8,000 more, there's your comparison.

As far as the 60mpg x 3.17 touring range equation goes the author of the article "cheated" a little bit and failed to consider what he was specifically addressing. First, the mpg estimates are more like 65mpg for AVERAGE consumption. For touring purposes at legal speeds, it will be more. I know 1 person that bought the nc 700x. He told me he got ~55mpg during the break in when he was doing a lot of urban riding and changing engine speed a lot. He measured over 70mpg doing exclusively freeway riding from Ohio to Kansas, then decided to quit wasting his time doing any more calculating with mileage that good. I've ridden bikes since 1968 and have rarely encountered anybody who wants to ride over 2-1/2 hours non-stop. With the extra attention riding a bike requires, I suspect it is not smart to ride over 2 hours. I have a Bonneville and Sportster and may sell the Sportster to buy the CTX "beginner's" bike.

Why? I want a reliable, low-tuned water-cooled touring bike. Even though I'm a Harley guy, I don't want to struggle with a 700+# water buffalo. There's 2 kinds of guys who ride the very heavy touring bikes - guys who admit having dropped their bikes a couple of times a year and sometimes needed other people to help them pick it up...and liars.

Road tar
1st April, 2013 @ 05:41 am PDT

I've been following what experienced motorcyclists have to say about these new entries from Honda, and it is almost comical, because many have these preconceptions of what "they" think a bike should be. These bikes aren't for you...They're for folks that have passed on motorcycles so far and for those who can physically no longer ride for the exact point of what these new motorcycles ain't. They're not chromed-out cruisers where one feels like he or she must wear leather to fit in, and they're not super sporty or fast but still plenty fast in regular traffic with a high range of usable power and torque. They are affordable, un-intimidating, reasonably transportating, and for the first time, I'm looking at motorcycles.

Anything slower than 5 seconds 0-60 is a bad thing....really...do they realize what they are saying. The average modern car is just under nine seconds and this is in a power-obsessed society where eleven seconds would fit the bill in nearly all traffic situations.

There are millions of American motorists out there who would be willing to try out power two wheels if only affordable, dependable, and practical products became available instead of OEMs catering to the most risky in our society. I shopped and bought a powered two wheeler last June. I needed something for a highway commute 55-65 mph along state highways that would be easy to maneuver, easy on the wallet, and easy to maintain. I ended up with a scooter (Piaggio BV350). The scooter is great but comes with a CVT and that's a bad thing with respect to maintenance. If Honda offered the CTX700 and the new 500s back then, I would now be on a Honda. These bikes are for the masses; not for those who have built this irrational biker culture that exists today.

Gregory Reynold Faulkner
18th April, 2013 @ 02:52 am PDT

I am 60 years old. Long time ago I used to restore and ride various models of bikes (NSU Quick 98, Adler MB 250, Honda C71 250, and my favorite fun bike: a Yamaha 750XS - I toured all over Europe). Now I am contemplating to return to biking. The Honda CTX700N seems to be the adequate bike - after 25 years of abstinence on a two-wheeler.

My compliments to the designers and marketing people of Honda: At this particular stage of my life - this design satisfies my needs (at least on paper) – it provides (almost) enough power, plenty of comfort and reliability I am looking for. It should ease my re-entry in the world of motorcycling – I think.

However, I would like to suggest few alternative options to the marketing department. In order to boost confidence for us “older” guys - standard on this particular model should be:

1. 10%-15% more horsepower,

2. Larger rear wheel,

3. Belt instead of chain drive,

4. A second brake disk in front,

5. Larger fuel tank / 5-6 gallons.

Available / optional accessories:

1. Larger rear-seat for my Honey!

2. Heating for both seats.

Quintus
10th May, 2013 @ 12:43 am PDT

I for one as a new rider certainly don't want a motorcycle that takes more than 5 seconds 0-60. The average "modern car" one poster writes is just under 9 seconds?? I don't know what he/she drives, (A Honda Fit maybe? A Bluebird? Maybe a Groundhound?) but thank god its not what I drive. My "modern" car does 0-60 in right at 4 seconds and is quiet portly at over 5,000. pounds with no passengers. I was hoping these new bikes from Honda would give me some equal performance but guess I have to just be one of those newbies that buys a 600cc crotch rocket like the Honda CBR600 :)

Manasseh33
28th May, 2013 @ 06:25 pm PDT

Come on!, 7-8 grand for a novice's motorcycle? Where is the bargain? A new economy car is under 13 grand [WITH AIRBAGS], & how many peeps need automatic? get an old hondamatic if your testing the thrill of being killed on todays roads, Why pay this amount plus the insurance to start riding? Used/ recycled rides are the way of the planet, If it doesn't have a trunk buy one or tow a trailer get a backpack, anything! , After 30+ years on my $3600. 83`CB1000c @ 600 LBS, 6 GAL, 89 HP, DOHC, 4 VALVE ea.cyl., Avg. 45 MPG, & O-62 in 7.0sec. WOW! Oh,... Well that's because it's a true 'Cruiser' not a crotch rocket, [I GOT 'RID' OF THE '72 H2 750cc KAWASAKI, shoulda known it'd be worth 15k Dammit!] I say HONDA I was really saddened by the NOVICE and the million dollar+ Bike on gizmag for 2013, Yes 2013, WHERE/WHAT IS ALL OF HONDA'S [2] decade, INNOVATIVE TECHNICAL ADVANCEMENT? the 'EFI'? that's all? I mean besides your profit? This is what I had to add as a consumer & this bikes eventual premature eBay motors fodder. ...... no.soup4u

Facebook User
8th June, 2013 @ 06:48 pm PDT

I have been a scooterist since September of 2005 (with over 35,000 miles of riding experience to date) and I have an entirely different philosophy of riding than the average biker-boy (or babe)/crotch rocket kid: I am looking for gas milage, environmental friendliness, real touring capability and also something for the daily, year-round, commute. Being "cool" isn't on my list nor is going from 0-60 in 5 seconds flat, either. My aim for over the last eight years has been to get a away from the "car culture" by ridding myself of the passenger automobile altogether with something that doesn't wallop my wallet at purchase time.

The scooters I have ridden have allowed me to pull away from the car -- but not nearly enough. Right now I own both a 2013 PCX 150 Honda motor scooter and 2013 Fiat 500. I'd love to ditch the Fiat. I ride the Honda most of the time - except when snowy, icy or stormy conditions prevail.

Now it seems that Honda has decided that biker-boy crowd and speed freak folks are not the only market out there. They are willing to take a risk and sell their bikes to the more sedate practical set who are not into showing off a class chromed bike or show how fast they can go (or how much noise they can make). They just want to get from point A to point B efficiently - whether commuting across town to work and the store or traveling from New York to L.A - without the nuisance of shifting gears. I am glad to see this.

But I have to be a bit cautious - I've been through a whole hell of lot with scooter dealers whose market and availability goes up and down depending on the gas prices.

I'll be looking into the Honda CX700. I hope I find in it the final solution to the arrogance of the Big 3 and it allows more people to become as regular on the roads as the big bore chopper riders who believe that the joy of riding on America's little-known highways and byways belongs to them alone.

Mike Drabik
13th October, 2013 @ 03:56 am PDT
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