Honda DN-01 (2008-12): Future Classic

Author: Bike Social Investment Specialist Posted: 30 Mar 2015

Powered by the Deauville V-Twin, it made 60bhp

Honda DN-01 (2008-12)

Future investments are generally bikes that cause some kind of reaction when they are released. In most cases this is a good reaction and you only have to think of game changers such as the 1998 Yamaha YZF-R1, Ducati 916 or 1992 Honda FireBlade for such examples. However sometimes a bike is launched that is quite simply so far from the norm that it becomes a collector’s item due to its complete insanity. In 2008 Honda unveiled one such bike – the rather odd DN-01.

The DN-01 was doomed to fail from the day it was launched. A bike born out of a designer’s imagination that probably should have stayed firmly on the sketchbook, even Honda weren’t quite sure what the hell the DN-01 was meant to be. Described as ‘a new breed of motorcycle’ in the marketing waffle, it was claimed to combine the elements of swift sportsbike performance with relaxed cruiser comfort and the ease of a twist-and-go scooter. In reality it failed on all counts.

270kg and a long wheelbase did nothing for the DN-01's handling

Originally debuted as a concept bike at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, to be fair to Honda, by the time the DN-01 made it to production it still looked like a radical concept bike. But was this a concept that riders wanted? Sadly not.

Despite the claim it would deliver ‘swift sportsbike performance’ this was very far from the reality. The DN-01 was powered by a reworked Deauville V-twin that made a fairly lethargic 60bhp and was hampered even further by the bike’s tubby 270kg weight and a new design of transmission system. Called HFT (Human-Friendly Transmission), the fully automatic transmission effectively made the DN-01 a big twist-and-go, which was all very well and good, but Honda over-complicated it by adding modes and the ability to manually select gears. And then there was the handling.

Unpopular at launch but can it become a cult classic?

The DN-01 was an incredibly long bike with a 1605mm wheelbase, something that made it an unwieldy nightmare in congested areas and not much better on open roads. On the go the front wheel felt a million miles away and lacked any reassuring feel. But surely Honda had remembered to make it practical? Err, no. The DN-01 didn’t even have any underseat storage or space to fit luggage. In 2008 riders looked at its weird styling, total lack of practicality and sluggish performance and when the £9,321 price tag was announced (you have to remember a Deauville was £6,500) fell about laughing. And not in a good way. The DN-01 bombed and only a handful were ever sold – one to Ruby Wax’s husband, which kind of says it all…

So why should you consider the DN-01 as a future investment? Mainly because it was such a failure. So many bikes come and go without any notoriety that it takes quite a lot for a machine to stand out. In the case of the DN-01 it stands out for bad reasons, however the fact remains that it is a truly unique machine and for that fact alone has won its own fan base. A small select group have really warmed to this quirky bike and in a few years time it will probably start to become a cult classic – a bit like that crap film Striptease…

However there is another reason to warm to the DN-01. It seems as if Honda haven’t learnt from their mistakes and last year the Vultus was unveiled – a quirky looking twist-and-go with a large engine. A DN-01 for the ‘Comicon’ generation or another bike doomed to fail? Whatever the outcome, with the Vultus commanding a £9,666 price tag, a £4,500 DN-01 is a far better bet if you are looking at turning heads. And stomachs…



 Liquid-cooled, 8v, V-twin


 60bhp @ 7,500rpm


 47lb.ft @ 6,000rpm



 Original price:

 From £9,321


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