2018 Honda NC750X | Road Test Review

Honda NC750X
Is this the perfect commuter? The Honda NC750X has a lot going for it: upright, comfortable seating, decent elemental protection, a user-friendly personality and, of course, a locking “frunk!” Photos by Kevin Wing.

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Honda’s NC750X is the best commuter bike out there right now. Don’t worry, I’m wearing my flame-retardant suit and a fire extinguisher is standing by. But I can also back up my bold claim, if you’ll bear with me.

When the original NC700X debuted in 2012, we proclaimed it “the bike many of you have been asking for…and more” (Rider, November 2012 and here). Base price was just $6,999, with the (then) newfangled DCT automatic ABS version coming in at $8,999, and it checked all the boxes: excellent fuel economy, accessible size, appealing ADV styling, comfortable seating, surprisingly decent handling and a locking storage compartment large enough to hold a full-face helmet.

Read our Tour Test Review of the Honda NC700X DCT here.

Honda NC750X
Smooth, liquid-cooled parallel twin is canted forward 55 degrees for a low center of gravity.

In 2014 the European market got a revised model, its 670cc parallel twin bored out to 745cc and dubbed the NC750X…but here in the States we were stuck with the 700 until last year, when Honda finally dropped it in favor of the 750.

So now we have the NC750X, which has matured into its role as a class-bending, do-it-all machine that hits the sweet spot in terms of price, functionality, style and fun. Base price is now $7,999 for the six-speed manual with LED head- and taillights and colorful LCD instrument, with the DCT ABS model, now featuring Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC, a.k.a. traction control), priced at $8,699.

Honda NC750X
Footpegs are positioned directly under the rider, making standing up easy. Reach to the bars is comfortable and natural. Rider shown is 5 feet 9 inches tall.

Honda has nearly perfected its three-mode (Drive, Sport and manual) DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission, and honestly for just $700 and roughly 30 extra pounds the DCT model is the way to go, especially since it’s the only way to get the HSTC and combined ABS, which applies front brake when the rear is applied as well as preventing lock-up. But EIC Tuttle must think I’m tough, so a base model, bone stock 2018 NC750X is what I tested, logging more than 1,400 commuting, canyon carving and errand-running miles.

Honda NC750X
It’s today’s everybike: an attractive, fuel-efficient, do-it-all commuter, canyon carver and even light tourer, at a great price.

Jenny’s Gear
Helmet: Nolan N100-5
Suit: Aerostich R-3
Boots: Tourmaster Trinity

On paper the NC750X is nearly identical to its predecessor, with the primary difference being the squarer bore and stroke (77 x 80mm vs. 73 x 80), which adds a few ponies and ups the rev ceiling to 7,500. The liquid-cooled, dual-counterbalanced, 270-degree, SOHC parallel twin cranks out power well into the midrange. Not to say it’ll ripple the blacktop on a holeshot, but it’s enough for a one-up rider to stay interested on a weekend fling through the twisties, and despite a surprisingly aggressive snarl it pulses pleasantly with no buzzy vibes. It’s also impressively fuel-efficient. On a mixture of high-speed (read: 75-80 mph) freeways and surface streets, I averaged nearly 69 mpg over 1,400 miles, meaning I was filling up the 3.7-gallon tank with regular every 250 miles or so. 

Honda NC750X
Backlit LCD instrument includes bar tachometer, speedometer, fuel gauge, clock and switchable tripmeters/odometer and fuel consumption.

The other major upgrade is the two-level HSTC, available only on the DCT ABS model, that allows the rider to choose between low intervention that allows some rear wheel spin (on gravel or dirt, for example) or high intervention for slippery roads. On our test bike my hands and right foot substituted for traction control and ABS, and fortunately the NC750X is easy and forgiving to ride.

That “just enough” power (51 peak horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 48 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 per the Jett Tuning dyno) never feels out of control and throttle response is smooth. A single 320mm wave-style front brake disc necessitates “combined” braking during anything resembling sporty riding, but I’m in the habit of using both front and rear anyway and found brake performance to be more than adequate for my one-up riding habits. As an added bonus, the front brake lever is now adjustable!

Honda NC750X
Dyno results on the 2018 Honda NC750X, as tested on the Jett Tuning dyno.

Now take a few steps back; at 478 pounds ready to ride the NC750X is essentially a three-quarter-size ADV bike, and this is a major component of its class-bending capabilities. The rider is perched on a 32.7-inch seat, which is comfortable enough for long commutes or day rides, narrow enough for 29-inch-inseam legs to reach the ground and high enough to allow an excellent view of traffic. Reach to the handlebar is also comfortable, and it’s not so wide as to require a yoga pose for full-lock turns. The windscreen does a good job of deflecting air and the LCD instrument is easy to read even in direct sunlight.

Handling potholes, railroad tracks and other pavement irregularities are a 41mm non-adjustable fork with 5.4 inches of travel, and a Pro-Link rear shock with spanner-adjustable preload and 5.9 inches of travel. For just about any type of “normal” riding, including gravel roads and tackling the twisties, I found the suspension to be surprisingly good; it only felt out of sorts when hitting hard bumps while leaned over in a turn.

Honda NC750X
The trade-off for the convenient frunk is the not-so-convenient fuel filler under the rear seat. Hard saddlebags and a rear trunk are Honda accessories.

Lastly, while it’s easy for us grizzled gearheads to become jaded about styling, I must mention that my NC750X tester received numerous compliments from strangers, including one sportbike rider at my gym and a car full of young people who cruised slowly past and called out, “Rad bike!” I’ll admit, it felt good!

Speaking of styling, other testers have complained about having to remove luggage like a tail bag to use the NC’s unorthodox fuel filler under the passenger seat, but there’s an upside: a waterproof 22-liter locking front trunk (endearingly known as the “frunk”), so as a commuter/errand-runner I never found it to be an issue.

Not only does the frunk hold a full-face helmet, I managed to stuff all manner of–well, stuff–in there. Groceries, a gym bag, my 13-inch laptop in a protective sleeve, extra gloves and layers, a combination of the above…you’d be surprised at what you can shove inside. And if you really need more space or want to go touring, Honda sells accessory hard saddlebags and a rear trunk. I only wish my tester’s frunk was fitted with the optional 12V accessory outlet.

Honda NC750X
All hail the frunk! Locking, waterproof “frunk” easily held my full-face modular helmet when parked, and all manner of items in between.

Going back to our original 2012 review, I think we can amend our statement to say the updated NC750X is the motorcycle many riders–and soon-to-be riders—have been waiting for. It’s a bike built for today’s motorcyclist: affordable, fuel efficient, with integrated storage and available DCT/ABS, and ready to do it all, from commuting to canyon carving to touring. And it looks good doing it.

2018 Honda NC750X.
2018 Honda NC750X.

2018 Honda NC750X Specs
Base Price: $7,999
Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles
Website: powersports.honda.com

Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin
Displacement: 745cc
Bore x Stroke: 77.0 x 80.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 16,000 miles
Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI w/ 36mm throttle body
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 3.6-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain

Electrical
Ignition: Digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Charging Output: 420 watts @ 5,000 rpm
Battery: 12V 11.2AH

Chassis
Frame: Tubular-steel diamond w/ engine as stressed member, box-section steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 60.4 in.
Rake/Trail: 27 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm telescopic fork, no adj., 5.4-in. travel
Rear: Single link-type shock, adj. for spring preload, 5.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single 320mm disc w/ 3-piston floating caliper
Rear: Single 240mm disc w/ 1-piston floating caliper
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 4.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 160/60-ZR17
Wet Weight: 478 lbs.
Load Capacity: 432 lbs.
GVWR: 910 lbs.

Performance
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gals., last 1.3 gals. warning light on
MPG: 86 PON min. (low/avg/high) 55.9/68.9/78.1
Estimated Range: 255 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 3,000

18 COMMENTS

  1. No flame suit required because it is hard to argue the facts as detailed above. Cost, MPG, storage capacity, decent performance, low-heat, low-octane fuel requirements, comfort, reliability etc….. Can’t think of a bike out there that ticks those boxes. My ONLY issue is, it’s not the most exciting motorcycle to own and ride, which is why I commute on a far more impractical bike. Honda nailed it for all the purposes mentioned in the article….it’s a very sensible bike for very sensible people. Unfortunately, I am not sensible enough to own on.

    • Yes their is a lot of non sensible people driving other brands. lol I owned 18 other bikes and been riding for 40 years I owned Harleys kaw. and mostly Hondas. This bike and the cb500x is one of my favored.

  2. I had a 2012 model and loved it. Over the five years that I had the bike I averaged over 71 mpg. even running between 85-90 I got 61 mpg. Had saddle bags, tour box ,center stand, heated hand grips, and an aftermarket windshield. Best mpg was 85.5!!

  3. Honda makes two-wheeled appliances. They tick a lot of boxes but always manage to omit a feature people actually want.

    Do this thing still not have ABS with a manual gearbox in the US?

    • apart from Honda being the largest MC Company in the world, you’re on the money….Why so many people buy bikes they don’t want is a great mystery.

    • Honda does things their own way. I can’t understand why they think that ABS should only be available with DCT. I test-rode one of the older versions, and it was a nice bike. Still, the no-ABS with a manual transmission would be a deal-killer for me. That, and the stupid decision to swap the horn and turn signal button location.s

  4. Is this finally the bike that will cause us PC800 owners – the Pacific Coast – to upgrade? If it were shaft driven with hydraulic valves (no adjustment needed), it’d be a contender, for sure.

  5. Having factory cruise-control and belt-drive would make it perfect. A bigger tank would also be nice but not necessary.

  6. I really like this “no frills” bike. But I’ll buy one when it gets 18” wheels, shaft drive and hydraulic lifters.

  7. Looks nice, want to try it, but engine increased up to 51BHP? The older NTV ( RC33 ) , witch i own, peaks out at 55BHP. Has the new exhaust emissions taken HP? To me adding 100ccm should increase HP with atleast 10HP.

  8. I wonder if the new 750 provides more power than the previous 700 models.
    I own a 2013 NC700X DCT, on which I just completed an 11,000 mile tour of the USA and part of Canada. The bike is equipped with Honda hard bags and trunk, crash bars and driving lights. Modifications include a Shad comfort seat with a modified mount to reduce the forward slope of the very uncomfortable stock seat; RaceTech gold valve modifications to the forks (stock forks would almost shake my grip off the handlebars when hitting sharp bumps, like freeway seams); 1″ lower footpegs; and a Madstadt windshield. I typically rode comfortably for 300-400 miles per day, and sometimes up to 700 miles per day without significant discomfort.
    This is the best bike I’ve ever owned for solo touring, except for its lack of power.
    Riding south through Texas and west through Nevada in strong headwinds and up slight hills, the bike would struggle to reach 60 mph at full throttle without shifting down to 5th gear. Passing requires forethought (or down hill sections) but was not a real problem. The flip side is excellent fuel economy: I averaged 65 mpg with a high of 72. Range with the 3.7 gallon tank was only about 195 miles (without risking running out of fuel) but this is similar to what my Kawasaki Concours C14 achieved with a 6 gallon tank.
    The DCT transmission is marvelous. Drive mode does shift to higher gears too soon but this can be remedied using the paddle shifters. DCT is a life saver in the ridiculously heavy traffic in Montreal, Boston, and other large cities. It’s responsive, eliminates “tired clutch hand”, and lets you focus on maneuvering around all those creeping cars.
    I’ve owned many different bikes and can’t provide enough praise for the 700X. It’s agile, balanced, is not disturbed by strong cross winds, provides excellent handling in wet and dry conditions, fun for sport riding, and is very easy to ride.

    If anyone has a 750, I would be interested to hear if the new model offers an improvement in power.

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