2012 Honda NC700SA and NC700XA Preview


by Pascal Bastien,

Honda Canada introduced the new NC700, a plain yet functional and rider-friendly standard-type bike that can handle everyday duties and weekend getaways. Designed to appeal to a wide range of users, it actually comes in two different models: the sportier NC700SA and the more adventurous NC700XA.

All-new engine
According to Honda, 90% of standard sport bike riders never go beyond 140 km/h and 6,000 rpm. A long-stroke, twin-cylinder engine (73mm bore x 80mm stroke) therefore seemed ideal to power the new NC700.

Canted forward by 62 degrees to help create a low overall centre of gravity and make room for a storage area where the cylinders and fuel tank would typically be, the ultra-compact SOHC mill uses a single exhaust and a single throttle body for the electronic fuel injection system. What's more, this new 670cc engine relies on a camshaft-driven water pump and a counterbalance shaft-driven oil pump as seen on Honda's R models.

2012 Honda NC700XA right side view
Honda Canada introduced the new NC700, a plain yet functional and rider-friendly standard-type bike. (Photo: Honda)

Another technology – this one coming from Honda cars – aims to make the engine more flexible and increase torque in the useful part of the rev range while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The intake port configuration was meticulously calibrated to create an intentional interference between adjacent ports. Also, the timing for the opening and closing of the intake valves was set separately for each cylinder. The net result is a significant amount of torque being accessible from 2,000 to 6,000 rpm.

Single transmission choice – for now
The 2012 Honda NC700 models use a 6-speed manual transmission that was specifically designed to make the most of the flexible yet spirited engine at medium revs. The company also opted for a chain final drive (simple and cheap to build) instead of a universal joint shaft, which would have eliminated a few more horsepower. Plus, we all know that Honda isn't fond of belt-driven transmissions. To wit, all of its ATVs feature an electronically controlled automatic transmission with oil bath instead of a basic CVT gearbox like the competition.

The sizable cases look more than ready to house a future dual-clutch transmission, though. Thusly equipped, the NC700 would likely prove even more fuel-efficient than the manual variant. The latter boasts an impressive 3.8L/100km rating, which already is 1-2L/100km better than most direct rivals.

Inspired from scooters
The new frame consists of diamond-shaped steel tubes. However, the two main tubes that link the steering to the centre mount are reminiscent of a scooter's and designed to free up space for occupants and cargo.

When it comes to braking, the 2012 Honda NC700 uses dual 320mm discs up front and a single 240mm disc in the back. It's all backed by the Japanese brand's acclaimed Combined Braking System with antilock (C-ABS).

By the way, the rear section of the frame (also made of steel) supports the 14.1L fuel tank, and this placement contributes to the 50/50 weight distribution. With a full tank, you'll be able to cover up to 370 kilometres.

In addition to the 21L storage compartment (large enough to hold a full-face helmet) where the tank would normally be, the rider's seat stands 790 mm high in SA trim and 830 mm high in XA trim. The touring model also provides more ground clearance and suspension travel than the pavement-only SA.

Bottom line
A pair of new standard sport bikes offering friendly operation and great styling will arrive at Honda dealers this spring. That should leave you enough time to determine whether you prefer riding about town (NC700SA) or venture into remote parts of the country (NC700XA).

2012 Honda NC700SA right side view
A pair of new standard sport bikes will arrive at Honda dealers this spring. (Photo: Honda)