EXPECT EASY RIDING FROM THIS HONDA
Of all motorcycle manufacturers, Honda seems most proactive about pulling new riders into the sport, with eight different 249cc, 471cc and 670cc starter bikes debuting in the last two years. Latest is the CTX700N, a $6,999 crossover cruiser based on the NC700X mechanicals (“2-Wheel Low-down,” Dec. 10, 2012). A fairing-equipped CTX700 touring model costs $7,799.
Core technologies include a low-revving 670cc parallel-twin engine (borrowing Fit car engineering) with a Texas-wide torque curve perfect for unhurried city riding, a low-slung steel chassis that permits a 28.3-inch seat height for beginning-rider confidence and a six-speed manual gearbox. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic, packaged with ABS, adds $1,000.
Wait a second. A dual-clutch tranny on an entry-level cruiser? Doesn't Honda know those belong on Porsches and Ferraris? In this case, the rationale is a bit different: The system eliminates needing to master the black art of motorcycle throttle, clutch, shifter and brake control.
This bike's riding experience is essentially the sum of its component parts. Acceleration is sprightly but not dramatic, and the low seating position is convenient but compromised by forward-mounted footrests that sometimes dragged our heels on the ground while cornering. And the available DCT offers dutiful, rather than lightning-quick, shifts.
In the more nimble NC700X, the long-stroke engine/ DCT formula works rather nicely. In the CTX700N cruiser, though, the whole package feels rather milquetoast. But maybe that's the point. Certain buyers will really dig the easygoing power, low seating and no-brainer transmission.
For those with such modest expectations, the CTX700N merits a line from Farmer Hoggett in “Babe”: “That'll do, Pig. That'll do.”
The 2014 Honda CTX700N offers a rather nimble riding platform.
Features: Fuel-injected, liquid-cooled parallel-twin with inclined cylinders for low center of gravity. Cruiser-style riding with low seat, pullback handlebar and forward-mounted footrests.
The Sonora Air Jacket lets you stay protected -- even in the heat of the summer months.
Accessory review: Tour Master Sonora Air Jacket
You see it all summer long: riders beating the heat by foregoing protective wear. That’s fine if you don’t mind sunburn – or looking like pepperoni pizza after a fall. At $240, Tour Master’s Sonora Air Jacket solves the problem. The perforated outer shell permits airflow through the jacket, while still providing impact and abrasion protection. Removable thermal and rain liners extend usefulness, and the ¾ length allows comfortable sitting and reaching.
Tour Master calls the Sonora Air a three-season jacket, but it will serve year-round in milder climates. We rode from clammy coastal fog to a scalding 106 degrees, jettisoning liners as temperatures climbed. With both installed, the jacket feels thick, heavy and snug, and the adjustable arm and waist take-ups allow quick tailoring. Then with liners out, it flows air like a Paxton supercharger, aiding comfort in the heat. Multiple pockets and integrated shoulder, elbow and back protectors add value.
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