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2009 Honda DN-01 Revisited - Review


by Luc Brière ,

Ed Note: rode and reported on the Honda DN-01 in March 2009.

The model is still available in 2010, at a significantly reduced (-35%) price of $11,499, which puts the bike in a totally different light. What’s more, we found a dealer who equips it with aftermarket luggage and windshields, adding to its usefulness and giving it a more familiar motorcycle look.

Luc Brière, our in-house fan of the offbeat could not resist trying out the “New look” DN-01.

The still available-this-year 2009 Honda DN-01 catches everyone’s attention at bike shows as well as on the street. Honda positions the DN-01 as a cross between a conventional motorcycle and a scooter. One thing’s for sure: this machine marks a radical departure from traditional touring models. In addition to the unique design, the smallish 680cc V-twin mated to Honda’s infinitely-variable, automatic Human Friendly Transmission (HFT) set this bike apart from the crowd.

The accessory windshield and luggage turn the appearance of the DN-01 around, as well as adding immensely to its usability. (Photo: Phillippe Champoux)

Unlike large scooters that rely on a belt-driven tranny, the DN-01 uses a hydraulic pump driven by the engine to feed a hydraulic motor which, in turn, drives the rear wheel through a long driveshaft. This system changes the overall ratio by varying the oil flow. A similar unit has been featured on Honda ATVs for a number of years, following extensive development by Honda engineers.

On paper, the 46hp (At 7,300 rpm) twin-cylinder engine may seem to lack potency, especially for a bike that weighs 273 kilos (600 lbs). In fact, the effective transmission makes up for the low torque and power, yielding a very satisfying 0 to 100 km/h time of 7.4 seconds.

The rider can select from three modes: Drive, Sport (Higher revs) and push-button 6-speed Manual. The latter allows the engine to reach up to 7300 rpm, which certainly helps the stubby Honda move effectively through traffic.

This is where the DN-01 really stands out from the crowd. The striking cruiser-style configuration puts the handlebars in a natural position and the footrests way in front. With a 28.5-degree steering angle, low-speed manoeuvrability and high-speed stability are both excellent, and the reasonable ground clearance combined with a rigid frame allows impressive lean angles in corners, even for a standard-type motorcycle.

The extended sides cut down on turbulence at high speed. (Photo: Phillippe Champoux)
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