2021 Honda NC750X (DCT) – Long Term Review

 

The Germans have a phrase 'Eierlegende Wollmilchsau' which roughly translates as an 'egg laying woolly, milk, sow' – or, in other words, a single entity that provides everything you could ever need.

Is this a phrase that could be applied to the 2021 Honda NC750X - a bike that is reported to do pretty much everything and anything?

From commuting to touring, city riding to Sunday blasts, picking up the shopping to putting in a few laps at Brand Hatch, can the NC take it all in its stride and deliver with the usual Honda reliability?

We wanted to find out, so I've been riding the NC750X since May 2021 and have clocked up just under 2000 miles in that time - far less than I was hoping to have done by now but working from home means that the usual 40 mile-per-day commute just wasn't happening. Despite this, I've tried to use the NC in as many varied tasks as possible, from laps of Brands Hatch to slogs up the M6, in the hope that we can once and for all answer the most common questions about what could well be Honda's most underrated bike.

 

Is the Honda NC750X a good beginner bike?
Is the Honda NC750X a good commuting bike?
Is the seat better on the new bike?
Is the frunk bigger on the new bike?
Has the shorter suspension ruined the 2021 bike?
How is the DCT box on the NC750?
BikeSocial Member reviews
History of the Honda NC range
2021 Honda NC750X - What's new?
2021 Honda NC750X - Technical Spec

 

For and against
  • Ease of riding
  • 'Frunk' is genius – why don't all bikes have these?
  • I personally love the looks of the bike.
  • DCT gearbox takes some getting used to
  • Engine could do with a little more snap
  • Screen could be a little taller

 

Is the Honda NC750X a good beginner's bike?

Ahh, the 'beginners' bike' poisoned chalice… I guess to answer this question, I should spell out what I consider to be important in a beginner's bike. It should be easy and comfortable to ride, not be intimidating - but still command respect, be quick enough to keep your interest, versatile enough to not be an inconvenience, easy to maintain, look great and not bust the budget to either buy or run. If that sounds like the core ingredients for ALL bikes, then I would agree - why should a beginner bike be any different to your long-term bike or dream bike? Does the NC750X fulfil the brief?

 

'94 Suzuki GSX600F - the ideal beginners bike? Still some way to go to the edge, but not bad for the first half-hour of riding - the NC sure does inspire confidence.

 

First, a little background. I passed my test in 1996 when you could wobble round Peterborough on an SR125 for a week, pass your test (second time lucky) and then go out and buy a sports 600. I couldn't quite stretch to a tidy CBR, so opted for the next best (available) in my price range - Suzuki's GSX600F. While I obviously thought it was the bee's knees, in hindsight, it was probably the worst bike I could have chosen as my first bike. It wasn't particularly heavy at 219Kg but it carried its weight up high thanks to the sleeved down GSX-R750 engine being carried high in the cradle frame. The stretch to the bars was long which, when combined with the 820mm seat height, meant that I was never comfortable with the riding position and when I stalled unexpectedly (as I was oft to do thanks to either too much, or too little choke and a heavy clutch) and the bike was off centre, it was almost impossible to keep from toppling over. The engine was strong - developing around 80bhp - but it made all its power up at 11,000rpm meaning that I had to keep it pinned to use the power, and as a result, corners came up rather faster than expected. These were the days before ABS and so I was also afraid to use too much front brake in case of washing out the front.

All of this conspired against me and made me slow and nervous, so I stayed at the back of the group when out on rides. What I also didn't realise at the time though was that being tail-end-Charlie means that you have to work twice as hard to stay up with the group as you are always playing catch up from traffic lights and slow-moving traffic.

So, what does this have to do with the NC750X? Well, at the time, the GSX600F was a perfect example of a bike that was quoted by the press as a 'good first big bike' but was actually far from it.

The NC in comparison, delivers a package that is perfectly suited to both new and experienced riders alike. The low centre of gravity (thanks to the engine being slung low and slanted forwards), low seat height and high bars give you not only a very comfortable riding position, but also one which puts you firmly in control of the bike, and while the weight of the bike is not inconsiderable at 224Kg (for the DCT version on test), it's carried very well and never feels top heavy.

The low revving yet torquey engine means that you don't have to live in the top end of the rev range to keep up with traffic (or your mates), and yet if you do get a bout throttle happy, the brakes are positive and precise enough to quickly scrub speed while the ABS provides a safety net in the wet or cold conditions. Finally, the 'unstallable' DCT box means that you won't be left with egg on your face when you unceremoniously drop your bike at a zebra crossing less than a minute after picking up your bike from the dealer (don't ask!).

In other words, it eliminates those 'new rider' worries, meaning that you can get on with enjoying being a biker, taking in the ride and honing your own skills rather than battling with the bike's inherent problems.

While I appreciate that my confidence and skills have both grown in the twenty-odd years that I've been riding, I've never considered myself an overly confident rider and yet within the first few miles of getting on the NC, I'd scrubbed the tyres to the edges, touched my boot down mid-corner once or twice (a rare event for me), and have been having an absolute ball ever since. In terms of confidence inspiring, sure-footed handling, the NC has it in bucket loads and in this respect, not only makes a good beginner bike, but it also just makes it a great bike for everyone - no matter your experience.

 

Whether it’s a meeting at the Bike Shed, a stint at Motorcycle Live!, or even a couple of laps of Brands Hatch, if you need to be somewhere on time - the NC is the ideal choice

 

Is the Honda NC750X good for commuting?

While working from home has put the kibosh on the usual daily commute to BikeSocial Towers, I've had ample opportunity to put the NC through some typical commuting scenarios - manning the stand at the NEC for Motorcycle Live! for example, or more notably, a meeting at the Bike Shed in Shoreditch. Anyone who has ridden around this part of London will be aware that many of the back roads and 'rat runs' previously used to avoid the congested main roads have been closed to through traffic and are for the sole use of local buses. This makes getting in and out of the area an exercise in juggling sat-nav directions, quickly reading the signposts and restrictions (of which there are many) and making sure that you are in the right lane at the right time.

The first two challenges are helped by the relatively upright riding position of the NC, meaning that you can look over the tops of cars to get some early indications of your intended route, while the matter of getting in the right lane was helped enormously by the combination of the DCT gearbox and the quick pick up of the engine meaning that you're always first away from the lights, buying precious time and real-estate to change lanes before the next set of inevitable traffic lights.

The capacious luggage compartment in the false tank (the real fuel tank is, of course, under the seats) meant that I could stash my full-face lid on arrival and not have to worry about it getting knocked, kicked, stolen of otherwise compromised during the day.

By the end of the day, we'd run up the best part of 180 miles, put in nearly four hours in the saddle and still managed a full day's business, so I'd call that a success.

In more mundane commuting type tasks - nipping to the high street, supermarket or health centre to get my Covid jabs - the NC performs equally well. Honda markets the bike as an 'everyday bike' and thanks to the easy-going nature of the engine, ease of ride and capacious storage cubby - I would wholeheartedly agree. If it weren't for having to ferry a small dog around, my car would remain discarded on the drive as the NC takes over every task.

It hasn't all been plain sailing though and here is the ideal time to air my only gripe so far. The tank holds just 14.1 litres and while at a claimed 67+ mpg, this implies a range of just over 200 miles, real life riding is not quite as frugal, especially at motorway speeds where consumption figures in the low 60's mpg are more the norm.

On recent runs, I've been finding the reserve light coming on (there isn't really a light - it’s a message on the dash) around the 160-mile mark, an alarmingly low figure implying a consumption figure more in the mid 50's. Once filled up though, its clear that Honda have been incredibly 'reserved' with their activation of the reserve light as I've struggled to get much more than 11 litres in once I stop and refill. On this basis (160 miles from 11 litres) the NC is achieving something closer to 65mpg - not bad considering the conditions and my heavy right hand and pretty close to the official figures.

I guess it’s a good thing that, with the reserve mileage counting up and the final block of the fuel gauge flashing red, there's still a good 3 litres on board, meaning I have a good 40 miles to pick and choose my favoured filling station, but until I build some confidence that I'm not going to strand myself, I still look to refuel as soon as the reserve clicks in, limiting my range to just 160 miles. Whether that’s enough for your typical commute, only you can decide, but for me (assuming we get back into the office soon), it would be mean midweek fill ups rather than leaving it to the weekend. Not the end of the world, but not ideal.

 

 

Is the seat better on the 2021 Honda NC750X?

A common complaint on the previous models of NC was the seat, or to be more precise, the angle of the seat. Many riders complain that the seat tilts excessively towards the tank and that as a result, over the course of a ride, you end up sliding down the seat and squashing your.. ahem, self… against the tank.

While I can't definitively say that this issue is completely fixed, I certainly don't have this issue with the new bike. A quick look at the various on-line parts catalogues confirms that the 2021 seat is a new design:

  • Honda NC750X 2018 - Seat Pt No 77100MKLD51
  • Honda NC750X 2021 - Seat Pt No 77100MKWD01ZA

Certainly, on long runs, I've felt perfectly settled on the seat with none of the indicated forward movement noticeable. I do tend to sit quite forwards on all the bikes I ride, so maybe there was nowhere further to go, but so far, so good.

 

23 litres of frunk and 38 litres of top box give the NC all the carrying capacity you could need on a daily basis.

 

Is the frunk bigger/better on the 2021 Honda NC750X?

Capacity of the tank luggage compartment (front-trunk, or frunk for short), has been increased from 22 to 23 litres for the new model. This has been achieved by moving the battery from under the trunk, to the back wall - accessible via a panel.

This means that the trunk is deeper allowing a wider range of helmets to fit in. It's still not perfect as more race orientated helmets with spoilers and vents may not fit (my Shark Spartan GT, for example, won't fit thanks to a large spoiler on the rear), but for the majority of full face and modular helmets, you shouldn't have any issues.

The frunk has been an absolute revelation for me. I usually wear a rucksack when riding, not the best idea when transporting hard objects or fragile electronics, but the easiest way of carrying the general stuff you need when out and about. Being able to securely stow everything from a lock and chain to a spare pair of winter gloves in the cubby really does increase the functionality of the bike. Couple that with a top box (either the 38 litre one shown, or the even larger 52-litre one in the Honda accessories catalogue), and the NC can truly become your do-it-all vehicle.

 

Has the shorter suspension ruined the 2021 Honda NC750X?

Sadly, only you can answer this, as it wholly depends on your intended use of the bike.

Yes, the reduction in ride height makes the bike less capable off road and on really rough surfaces (though I doubt that many earlier models saw much off-road action), so in that regard, you could consider it worse, but the reduction in seat height has made the bike much more approachable for many shorter riders, which (judging by the number of forum threads devoted to lowering the previous 700X and 750X models) must be a good thing.

If you are particularly long in the leg, the new bike may feel a bit small, but judging by the feedback received when my bike was parked on the Bennetts stand at the final round of BSB at Brands Hatch, the drop is saddle height far more positive, than the 'reduction' in off road capability.

 

Anyone seen my clutch and gear levers? I'm sure they should be here somewhere!

 

How is the DCT box on the 2021 Honda NC750X?

If you've not ridden a bike equipped with Honda's semi-automatic gearbox system, then a) you should, and b) be warned that it does take some getting used to. There's plenty of details on Honda's Engine Room site and we've written at length about the technical details of the system in features and blogs, so I won't repeat that all here, but what I will say is that the key to getting the best out of the system is to not fiddle - just let it do its thing.

For the first few hundred miles, I was constantly monitoring the system, checking what gear it had selected and overriding the selection using the up and down paddles on the left bar so that it was in the gear that I wanted, only for it to change back as soon as I looked away. I soon realised that my interfering wasn't helping. In fact, it was quite distracting and spoiling the ride, so once I selected the mode most suited to my journey and mood (usually 'standard'), I now just let it do its thing and concentrate on the road.

As you ride, the system does seem to adapt slightly to your riding style, holding onto gears a little longer if you tend to accelerate hard - its subtle and not as pronounced as changing the pre-programmed ride modes, but it does help with flexibility. Once you get over the "I wouldn't be in that gear" mentality, it all gels and becomes second nature. The only exception to the 'don't interfere' rule that I have set myself is using the manual down-change for overtakes. Opening the throttle wide will make it change down (eventually) much like a kickdown in an automatic car, but I prefer having a bit more control over the timing and how many cogs to swap.

The only downside to the DCT so far - on a relatively small engine such as the 750, particularly in rain mode when the engine is trying to stay low in the rev range, the engine can feel quite lumpy and sluggish, but apart from that, I'm converted.

And don't worry - if you also have a manual bike that you ride on high days and holidays - you never forget how to change gears manually.

 

Heated grips and top box - once the preserve of couriers and the deeply uncool, now considered essential kit for all

 

BikeSocial Member Reviews

While we can wax lyrical all day long about the benefits of the NC, how better to ask than BikeSocial members who have put their hands in their pockets and actually bought the bikes?

 

 

Nigel Howells, from Devon, has been riding for 64 years and typically covers 5000 miles per year.

"I'm very happy with my purchase, although it felt a little underpowered in normal drive mode when accelerating for a quick overtaking. I had a Pan European 1300 before, but after it hit a pothole and fell over in the middle of nowhere on Dartmoor, and I couldn’t pick it up again on my own, I realised it was time for change.

"I’ve got used to that slight lack of responsive acceleration now. The bike is very easy to ride, automatic gear change is generally very good. Takes a while not to grab for the clutch or move a foot in search of a non-existent gear pedal. It's very light and responsive on the road though, especially after the Pan.

"It was recalled because of a software issue relating to the throttle (I gather there had been examples where sudden acceleration caused the engine to cut out) and this was sorted at the first service.

"With panners and backbox fitted it’s not the easiest of bikes for the pillion to get on and off without kicking a pannier on the way over.

"Riding it is a real pleasure, it’s manoeuvrable, comfortable for long rides and economical to run."

 

2021 Honda NC750X DCT Long Term Review - Owner Reviews_103

 

Simon Moulson, from Harrogate, has recently returned to riding after a lay off.

"As a rider who has only just returned to two wheels after 35 years the bike is very forgiving and feels as though it hugs the ground, especially round the bends and hills scattered all over the Yorkshire Dales.  I also fly planes, so I appreciate the importance of safety and reliability and after careful and prolonged research I felt the NC750 fulfils both criteria.

"I also opted for the DCT version, which I agree is a departure from real biking, but I find it just adds to the pleasure as you can concentrate on the road, traffic and let the engine do the work. It has different modes, Rain, Sport and Standard. I have tried all, and the sport mode especially feels very engaging.

"The 750cc has plenty of grunt and is very capable from an acceleration perspective and sits happily at the higher end of the national speed limits. The relatively low revving engine means you can ride for longer without developing a tingling sensation in your fingers, which was fairly common when riding my zesty 500cc twin.

"I have only been riding my NC750x for a month and already covered 600 miles and I do not regret the purchase at all.

"I have added the Garmin Sat Nav, which again is superb, and the Oxford hand grips which were very easy to retro fit to the bike. I have genuine crash bars with fog lamps on order as I feel these will complete the look and aid visibility to other road users.

"I ride the bike for leisure only and already have plenty of trips planned across North Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Scotland. I'm really looking to forward to munching the miles on the NC750 DCT.

"Finally, the ‘frunk’ which I think is a really good bonus. The number of times I have ridden and never had anywhere to put that bottle of water etc."

 

 

Trevor Fowler, has done around 1000 miles since getting his bike but is planning a 1500 mile tour of Scotland, Northumberland and the North West.

"This is the first 'big' bike I’ve owned in 30 years.

"Pros so far: great to ride, comfortable (130 miles in 1 session), and the DCT is a godsend as I have real issues with Rheumatoid Arthritis in my hands and feet (well, most joints) hence my choice for this model (Africa Twin was my first choice, but not wanting to run before I can walk, and 16K cost put paid to that).

"Really happy with the bike. I got lots of Honda extras fitted (£3500 worth), but bike looks great, so very pleased.

"Main gripes are the protection from the screen (I've tried 3 screens, both Honda stock and Adventure) but all are poor for wind noise buffering etc. The Givi screen with a small deflector gives much better protection.

"The instructions in the bike manual need a NASA education to make sense of much of it anything around dashboard choices so given up on the 'SP Line' or even just ECO choices."

We wish Trevor well on his tour and will update on his return.

 

The NC700S, NC700X and NC700D (2014 model shown) formed the 'New Concept' Trio

 

History of the Honda NC Series

The NC (or New Concept) range was first introduced in 2011 as a trio of bikes – the commuter friendly NC700S roadster, the adventure-styled NC700X and the NC700D Integra scooter. All three used the same 47.5 bhp, 61Nm, 670cc, 4 valve, parallel twin lump, developed in conjunction with Honda's automotive division, and based loosely on the Honda Jazz engine. It was intended to be a low-stress, low revving, frugal unit and when coupled with the option of Honda's impressive DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) semi-automatic gearbox and ABS, the bikes were aimed squarely at new riders, commuters and those returning to biking after a lay-off.

Unfortunately, frugal, automatic, and 'stress-free' are not words that get the biking press hot under the collar, and despite the innovative styling details such as moving the fuel tank under the seat and making the tank into a storage cubby, the bike was immediately tarred with the brush marked 'boring'.

 

 

Despite the lack-lustre reviews, the public were more appreciative of the low centre of gravity, easy going road manners, fuel efficiency and relatively low retail prices and the bikes proved to be good sellers, so much that in 2014, the engine was revised and the capacity upped from 670cc to 745cc. The range was renamed to reflect the bigger capacity and the NC750S, NC750X and Integra 750 were born.

Peak power and torque rose accordingly to 54bhp and 68Nm respectively, a balancer-shaft ironed out some unwanted vibes, and the DCT system was tweaked to introduce 'Adaptive Clutch Capability Control' a fancy way of saying that the box allowed some clutch slip during changes to smooth out the ride.

 

 

The arrival of Euro4 emissions compliance in 2016 forced Honda to make some tweaks to the NC range, but nothing as radical as the 2014 review. The exhaust was swapped for a more modern looking (and thankfully better sounding) design to meet the tighter emissions limits, but the engine remained otherwise untouched. LED lights were added in place of more traditional filament bulbs and the dash was revised – moving the idiot lights below the LCD screen instead of above.

The biggest change came with the (still optional) DCT gearbox and the introduction of 3 drive modes. Until now, the DCT box worked in three modes – fully automatic (Drive) mode, manual with gears being changed via two 'paddles' on the left bar, or Sport Mode – an automatic mode that revved higher between changes to make the bike feel livelier. The 2016 'box allowed the rider to choose which of the three levels of sportiness they wanted - S1, S2 or S3 (or, as I saw them described on one forum "sporty, sportier or skittish").

 

 

Come 2018 and a further, minor facelift was implemented along with the 'as standard' deployment of Honda's HSTC traction control system. The range was of bikes was also supplemented by the bonkers X-ADV off-road scooter - also available with the DCT box.

 

 

2021 Honda NC750X - What's New?

Bringing us up to date, the Roadster NC750S has been dropped and the NC750X made much more road-biased with the reduction in ride height. Until now, the NC has followed the typical adventure bike styling cues - relatively high seat, long travel suspension giving plenty of ground clearance, and an upright riding position to give a commanding view of the road. Honda stopped short of giving the NC an 18" front wheel, but the bike has always been listed in the Adventure category on the Honda website. For 2021, the high seat and lofty suspension have been dropped (figuratively and quite literally) to make the bike much more approachable to those of us who are short of leg, or just don't feel comfortable or confident on a bike when you can only touch the ground with your tiptoes.

The suspension has been dropped a full 20mm, taking the ground clearance down from 165mm to 145mm and dropping the seat from 830mm to a much more manageable 810mm. When we first broke the news of the new bike, back in November 2020, social media comments were mixed, with those for and those against the changes being represented in equal measure.

 

 

Aside from the lower ride and seat height, the other key update for the 2021 bike is the introduction of rider modes, now selectable in conjunction with the excellent DCT system. Using the left bar controls, you can choose from 'Rain', 'Standard', 'Sport' and 'User' each with their own settings of P (power), T (traction control), EB (engine braking) and, for the DCT box (D) drive (i.e. where in the rev range the bike changes up and down).

While this may seem overkill on a bike developing 'just' 58bhp, for me, it’s a welcome addition - especially the rain mode, which I have been using more than I would like.

Finally, the 2021 model gets updated bodywork with sharper styling, enlarged storage cubby and revised LED lights all round. Colourways stay as per the outgoing model - blue, red, white or black - though all colours have been changed slightly (white is now gloss, for example).

 

Honda NC750X 2021 - Long Term Review Price Spec (117)

 

Modifications and accessories

  • 38 Litre Honda top box: £192 box + £ 319 mounting plate + £90 back rest + £113 lock
  • Honda heated grips: £312

 

2021 Honda NC750X tech spec

New price

From £7,549 (£9,405 as tested)

Capacity

745cc

Bore x Stroke

77mm x 80mm

Engine layout

Parallel-twin

Engine details

Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 8 valve, SOHC

Power

57.8bhp (43.1kW) @ 6,750rpm

Torque

31.79lb-ft (69Nm) @ 4,750rpm

Top speed

120mph (est)

Transmission

6 speed, chain drive (DCT)

Average fuel consumption

65-66 mpg tested

67.2 mpg claimed

Tank size

14.1 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

208 miles

Reserve capacity

40 miles (approx.)

Rider aids

4x rider modes, ABS, TCS, DCT gearbox

Frame

Diamond, steel tube

Front suspension

41mm telescopic forks, 120mm stroke

Front suspension adjustment

None

Rear suspension

Monoshock, pro-link swing arm, 120mm travel

Rear suspension adjustment

Pre-load only

Front brake

Single 320mm wavy disc, two-pot Nissin caliper

Rear brake

Single 240mm wavy disc, single-pot Nissin caliper

Front tyre

120/70-ZR17M/C (58W) - Metzeler Tourance Next

Rear tyre

160/60-ZR17M/C (69W) - Metzeler Tourance Next

Rake/Trail

27°/ 110mm

Dimensions

2210mm x 846mm x 1330mm (LxWxH)

Wheelbase

1525mm (DCT – 1535mm)

Ground clearance

145mm

Seat height

800mm (31.5")

Kerb weight

214kg (DCT – 224Kg)

Warranty

Unlimited mileage / two years

MCIA Secured rating

Not yet listed

Website

www.honda.co.uk

 

Looking for motorcycle insurance? Get a quote for this motorbike with Bennetts bike insurance

 

Honda NC750X 2021 - Long Term Review Price Spec (119)

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.