By: Steve Lita
I’ve heard it said before, and even uttered it a few times myself: why does Europe get all the cool bikes, and we don’t get them here? Formerly available in Europe as the Deauville, the new 2010 Honda NT700V makes great sense for those who are on a budget (who isn’t these days?),yet want a cool commuter bike they can also use for get away trips. The Deauville was introduced in Europe in 1999 and 47,000 units have been sold since 2000. Over there the NT is daily transportation for many and is widely used by couriers logging high miles.
Honda claims the Deauville nameplate didn’t score well in focus groups on our shores; I say it needs to find new riders to focus on. Sorry Honda, I’m gonna call it the Deauville. And I would venture to say there are throngs of NT followers who are sure to start forum boards, online clubs, and chat rooms dedicated to this model. There are already several based in Europe, where this bike is also called the Mini-Pan, as in mini-Pan-European (ST1300).Time will tell which nickname sticks here in the US. No matter what you call it, it’s a lightweight touring machine that’s fun, easy to ride, and ready to carry you to work and play, day in, and day out. With an effective fairing; integrated, interlinked saddlebags, and a strong 680cc V-twin engine, the NT700V is well-equipped.
This isn’t a naked standard with some travel accessories screwed on; take a look at the bodywork. Those hard bags are attractive, integral, and not removable. The interlinked saddlebags feature a pass-through port between the left and right bag to facilitate packing of longer items and provide additional carrying capacity. It’s an ingenious little feature that will undoubtedly serve the owner well. One Honda rep claimed he went camping on an NT and the pass through was a great place for his bed roll pad. The pass-through opening is 8" high by 6" wide, and the overall width inside the saddlebags (inside of left cover to inside of right cover)is approximately 24".The left bag capacity is 27.4 liters, and the right bag is is rated at 26.7 liters due to the muffler taking up space.
Up front, the five-position windscreen can be manually adjusted to rider preference; you just grab the windscreen and slide it to the next notch. I found I could lower the screen while riding with just a tap on the top, but raising it had to be done while parked, as it requires two hands to rise. Generous front storage compartments are located in the left and right fairing cowl; one is lockable with the ignition key. Instrumentation includes a speedometer, tachometer, odometer with two trip meters, clock, fuel gauge, and nifty average fuel consumption meter. I like having the fuel economy gauge readout right in front of me; it’s a useful tool in minding one’s budget while riding. And Honda used EPA testing standards to obtain its rating of 50 mpg. That won’t hurt in this economy either. A healthy capacity of 5.2 gallons in the fuel tank means fewer stops on the road.
The cockpit side of the front fairing contains a pair of mystery grilles on the dash-board, for speakers or airflow ventilation, perhaps. And the placement of the fairing-mounted, rearview mirrors has to be the finest of any bike I’ve ever ridden. The mirrors provided a view around my elbows and rode rock steady.
Powering the NT is a smooth-running, compact, liquid-cooled SOHC 52-degree V-twin with four valves per cylinder. In motion the engine offers a V-twin cadence that adds a pulse, not a vibe, to the riding experience and perhaps is the reason for those steady mirrors. After all, this is a 700, not a huge, thumping 1500cc compressor. While some may scoff at this size and say “only” a 700, I look upon it as a valid and proper displacement. To put it mildly, I’m a big fan of this middle-ground cc area; you’re talking about a guy that has a Honda CB700SC Nighthawk S in his garage. And the similarities to the NY700V are uncanny: both are 700cc, are shaft driven, have an upright riding position, and are pure fun to ride.
There are differences, however; the NT waistline is narrower thanks to the V engine design, the slim riding profile adds to rider comfort. Internally, the cams are chain-driven, and valve lash is adjusted via screw-type adjusters prescribed at 8,000-mile intervals. And fuel induction is via Honda’s programmed fuel injection system with twin 40mm throttle bodies. A broad torque band moves the NT rider, passenger, and cargo along swiftly. Mated to a five-speed gearbox I find the bike’s power band more than sufficient, and the silent shaft final drive makes for virtually maintenance-free convenience. For gadget-minded riders out there, you’ll want to know that alternator output is0.438kW at 5000 rpm.
Weighing in at a svelte-for-touring-bikes 562 pounds (wet),the NT rolls on a taught 58.1" wheelbase, making it remarkably nimble for a touring bike. Maintain some midrange torque and flick the Deauville at will; you’ll never miss the bulk of a big tourer or the shoulder cramps of a sportbike.
The NT700V utilizes a light and strong twin-spar steel frame. Suspension chores are handled up front by a 41mm fork, and in back there’s a single heavy-duty rear shock providing all-day touring comfort. To help tune for a trip the rear suspension features an easy to access remote shock spring preload adjuster that offers 40 click steps of adjustment. Adding a passenger and cargo? No problem; just turn the knob to add preload. Want a softer setting for freeway comfort? Just dial it back down. Unfortunately, that’s the only adjustment available; there’s not even rebound on either end. The overall feel is plush and compliant.
The slash-cut exhaust looks like it was formed for added ground clearance. And the NT700V is equipped with a center stand from the factory. Great for parking and maintenance; it’s something you don’t see on new bikes too often these days.
There’s a little bit of additional storage space available under the seat, and there appears to be an impression on the inner fender for a U-lock; however, it doesn’t come equipped with one (I’ll bet those lucky Europeans get one, though). The one-piece seat is broad and all-day comfy for rider and passenger. Thanks to some lead-follow riding in a pack of NT700s, I found the tail lamp and rear signals are large and ample for communicating your intentions.
When you intend to stop, the NT700V employs Honda’s combined braking system in a triple-disc arrangement. The CBS system features two non floating 296mm front rotors gripped by three-piston calipers and a single 276mm rear rotor with a dual-piston brake caliper. When the rear brake is applied, a combination of the rear brake caliper plus one piston of the left front brake caliper are pressed into service, thus maintaining a balanced, strong braking action. The ABS option adds better stopping control, yet adds only $1,000 to the base price of the NT700V. After riding both versions of the light tourer, I’d have no problem spending time on the CBS-equipped bike, but if you can afford the extra coin, the ABS is nice to have. Tires are small, sport bike-spec radials in sizes 120/70 ZR-17" on front and 150/70 ZR-17" out back. Who needs a 180 rear tire when the 150-equipped Deauville is so flickable?
So, why bring the Deauville (NT700V) to the US now? Honda’s market research showed the target market male and female riders, 30-plus years of age, are looking for a fun, affordable, lightweight getaway machine. The NT700V is agile around town or on twisty roads, and comes well outfitted for travel. It can make small work of your daily commute, run errands like a courier, or take you away from the daily grind for a weekend of fun. The NT700V can capably do it all. Am I a fan? Yes! With typical excellent Honda fit and finish, and plenty of amenities (even before you accessorize), the functional and fun NT700V makes good sense.
Originally published in the February 2010 issue of Roadbike.