This text was first printed in Australian Highway Rider problem #170, Feb/March 2023.
Born of the Africa Twin, Honda’s new touring bike is constructed for lengthy rides…
By Nigel Paterson
I’d left the freeway behind and was using a ridgeback street, valleys falling away both aspect because the twisting street swung left and proper because it adopted the traditional hill down from its peak. The NT1100 was in its ingredient, quick touring on nation roads — comfy, fast and reliable. I might do that all day.
In 40 years of using I’ve compelled all kinds of bikes to turn into tourers. I’ve carried tenting gear on a Moto Guzzi Le Mans III, I’ve crossed the Nullarbor on a Yamaha FZ750 and melted throw-over saddlebags into quite a few exhaust methods.
When you’ve got a motorbike, you’ll be able to go touring — however some bikes might be extra appropriate than others. Producers observed this a long time in the past and the sports-tourer was born, though its definition has blurred over time. Once I was a youngster within the Nineteen Eighties it was a motorcycle that wasn’t a unadorned, wasn’t a sportsbike and wasn’t a tourer. They have been versatile machines which might tackle a winding street but hold you comfy getting there.
Honda constructed and offered squillions, powered primarily (no less than within the bigger capacities) by inline and V-four powerplants… engines and bike configurations that at the moment are all gone. Sports activities-tourers have been changed by journey bikes, which have been nonetheless fairly useful on a winding street (whereas being much less more likely to upset the constabulary), simply as comfy and way more succesful on a dust street.
Honda was caught napping as its V-fours fell out of favour — not one of the closing generations offered properly. It was, nevertheless, creating an journey bike — the Africa Twin. A superb machine, it offered properly and spawned a number of variants, grew in capability and gained a number of tech. Trying on the success of the Africa Twin makes it simple to see why the corporate determined to make use of the identical engine in its new sports-tourer.
Producing 100hp (74kW) whereas weighing 238kg with a giant fairing to push by means of the air and an upright rider means that is no high-performance bike. Different sports-tourers, like the brand new Suzuki GSX-S1000GT, will eat it for breakfast. The NT1100 could be a sports-tourer, however the emphasis could be very a lot on the touring.
STYLE, ERGOS AND PROTECTION
Honda’s 1100cc parallel twin is a reasonably tall motor, permitting a brief wheelbase however not a low frontal space. In a motorcycle designed to have an upright using place, no downside… however by the point a gasoline tank is positioned on high, attempting to place something like a lean-forward using place isn’t going to work, so Honda correctly constructed the NT as a street bike that has a using place much like an journey bike, a protecting fairing, a giant, adjustable display screen and flat seat to supply all-day consolation. Even the footpegs are centrally mounted for consolation, and straightforward to face on if want be.
A cool morning’s journey noticed me put the display screen in its highest place earlier than leaving dwelling. It’s manually adjusted and has a really stiff mechanism, so I used to be frightened I’d break one thing once I tried to regulate it, but it surely’s only a case of pulling or pushing up or down, with the angle changing into steeper the upper it’s set.
At most top air was being pushed over my helmet and wind noise was stored at a minimal — a pleasant means to take in freeway miles. I used to be having fun with the spring air with no wind blast getting previous my glasses and wind noise passing excessive, particularly whereas sporting a modular helmet with the chin piece up. This had the additional advantage of constructing the podcast I used to be listening to through the built-in CarPlay software program and Sena 50C communication unit clear and cozy.
Later within the day, with the spring climate feeling extra like summer season and the display screen low, I lowered my visor and was rewarded with extra wind noise and a bit buffeting, however not an excessive amount of.
The fairing itself is large at handlebar degree, offering some hand safety, and there are winglets to direct the breeze away from the fingers — I reckon they may very well be eliminated in summer season to help with airflow within the warmth.
Decrease are some plastic shields that provide climate safety for the toes and once more, I believe they may very well be eliminated within the heat climate with out compromising the model of the bike.
The journey bike model gained’t be for everybody. I used to be disenchanted within the lack of thrilling color choices — Australia solely will get black or gray, not even the white one accessible in some markets — conservative, borderline boring.
Powering its new bike with a twin cylinder motor was an fascinating selection for Honda given 4 cylinders is conventional for the category, particularly from the Japanese. The outcome makes the NT fairly completely different in character.
The 1084cc engine has the now-expected 270-degree crank, so it feels and seems like a V-twin thanks the offset firing order. Though oversquare, its 92 x 81.5mm bore and stroke mixed with a relaxed 10:1 compression ratio helps to supply a great torque determine of 104Nm at 6250, whereas energy is low for a contemporary 1100 at simply 100hp (my 15-year-old FZ6 produces related horsepower, but simply 63Nm or torque from its screaming four-pot engine, which has little greater than half the capability but revs practically twice as onerous).
This makes the NT1100 relaxed on tour, the engine spinning pretty slowly at freeway speeds (~4000 revs for 110km/h) whereas nonetheless offering sufficient torque for overtaking while not having to downshift a number of occasions.
Shifting gears on the take a look at bike was fully typical — no quickshifter and the mannequin I used to be using didn’t have Honda’s DCT (Twin Clutch Transmission).
The clutch lever isn’t adjustable and that’s the one draw back of the gearbox so far as I’m involved — past that the transmission was faultless. I by no means missed a shift, it all the time did what was requested and by no means missed a beat.
Modifications nearer to the 8000rpm redline have been good and slick, simply what you want when using onerous. That is the place the dearth of horsepower might be obvious — however I believe provided that you’re acquainted with how a high-performance bike really feels when it’s wound up. When you don’t have the talents and expertise of using a quick bike, the NT1100 will really feel fast, properly able to attending to license-losing speeds in seconds — however in the event you actually wish to examine it to the high-performance sports-tourers, it does lack their punch. However what it loses in efficiency it makes up for with its relaxed journey.
I reckon the non-obligatory Twin Clutch Transmission would go a protracted approach to making up for th ereduced energy, becasue the automated altering and clutch-lever free operation makes it simple to journey fast.
The touring nature of the bike is mirrored in its electronics — the using modes embody Rain, City and Tour plus two user-configurable settings. Honda claims City is the usual mode, so I believe the corporate believes the bike might be widespread with riders shopping for their NT1100 for the massive tour and truly utilizing them for metropolis using.
Change to Rain mode and each engine energy and engine braking are diminished. Tour mode restores full energy and resets engine braking to plain. The usual modes work as marketed and I’m positive a number of house owners will use and love them. I didn’t.
Many trendy bikes, the NT1100 included, are being equipped with engine administration methods that reduce off nearly all gasoline to the engine once you roll off the throttle, leading to engine braking even in excessive gear at low speeds, a attribute I hate. On the NT1100, nevertheless, you’ll be able to mitigate the issue by lowering the engine braking to a minimal, which alleviates the issue. I mixed this with most energy and the bottom setting of the Honda Selectable Torque Management, which is the traction management system, as a result of that fits me: it’s glorious. Honda gives the flexibility to arrange a using mode which fits the rider. You would possibly discover the usual modes work properly for you, but when they don’t it doesn’t take lengthy to configure the NT1100 the way in which you prefer it.
Organising the bike is all dealt with through the 6.5-inch TFT color display screen and left-hand switchblock and its 212 buttons. OK, the switchblock doesn’t have 212 buttons, but it surely kinda feels prefer it does typically. It does have buttons to function your cellphone, lights and modes… there are arrows, Enter, Favorites (marked with a star), return, ahead and backward… plus indicators and horn. On a DCT mannequin the paddles to alter gear are right here, too.
Underneath the TFT show is an LCD exhibiting pace, gear and odometer — that is proven so the TFT might be taken over by audio, navigation or cellphone capabilities. I discovered all of it a bit complicated at first, however a little bit of time with the proprietor’s guide cleared up loads of the thriller: the buttons let you transfer between using modes, show screens, CarPlay or Android Auto, take or make cellphone calls, management your cellphone and extra.
I thought of slipping in a joke concerning the system making espresso, but it surely’s not like Honda is alone in constructing sophisticated management methods and I actually do applaud Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being included into a motorcycle at this worth level.
That mentioned, to make use of CarPlay it’s essential to plug in your iPhone with a real cable (in line with Honda no less than, however I reckon many cables which assist information and charging would work) and have a headset related.
There’s a weatherproof USB port constructed into the sprint however no pocket for a cellphone, so I don’t actually see any choices to make use of CarPlay with out mounting the cellphone on the handlebars — no less than that’s simple because of the usual model ’bars (however with noticeable vibration, don’t even think about using a system that doesn’t have vibration damping).
Including the Sena to the system required telling my cellphone to “overlook this gadget” so it may well connect with the bike, not the cellphone, however after that life was good: I might do many issues through the CarPlay show filling up the TFT display screen.
The mix of Sena 50C communicator, a contemporary iPhone and CarPlay makes for nice audio in your helmet, accessible navigation in the event you’re glad to make use of apps in your cellphone, and the flexibility to remain in contact with the world whereas using. As soon as configured, the CarPlay system would boot up after a few minutes of using because the bike discovered my gadgets. In contrast to some methods, I didn’t have to ensure the whole lot was excellent earlier than folding up the aspect stand.
The NT1100 additionally has a separate energy outlet within the sprint and a hole steering stem, so I rapidly mounted up my TomTom Rider 550 navigator, and the system labored completely. I had the TFT display screen exhibiting a number of details about the bike — its mode, pace and rev depend, the TomTom exhibiting me the route and my cellphone set-up to let me management my audio.
Each the TomTom and cellphone indicated the pace show on the NT1100 was practically 10 per cent over; it might show 119 after we have been solely doing 110km/h.
SUSPENSION AND EQUIPMENT
Anybody hoping for shaft drive might be disenchanted and being primarily based on the Africa Twin, it was by no means going to occur right here; regardless of the continued success of the BMW R 1250 GS vary, shaft drive is out of vogue.
I believe in lower than a 12 months I’ll be posting articles about variants of the NT1100 popping out with digital suspension — you’ll be able to already get it on the CRF1100 Africa Twin, however not but on the NT. The street bike solely will get fundamental suspension, particularly the rear shock.
Up the entrance there’s a pair of 43mm Showa Huge Piston forks, adjustable for preload solely. The rear has a single shock with distant preload adjuster. No damping adjustability on a motorcycle anticipated to journey lengthy distances on the whole lot from nation again roads to freeways is fairly disappointing in 2022 and factors to cost-cutting by Honda.
Initially I assumed the shock was OK, and on the earth we had earlier than the Huge Moist, possibly it might have been. However now, with so many roads trashed and governments struggling to search out the budgets to repair them, good suspension is the minimal customary.
I used to be discovering a wallow by means of quick corners, which is typical of a too-soft set-up, so I finished and tried to extend each spring preload and rebound damping… however needed to accept simply pre-load. This helped quite a bit, however the sharp edges of the potholes and poor surfaces had the shock struggling to manage.
Though there aren’t a number of substitute shocks accessible for the NT1100, Wilbers is providing completely different fashions and they’re priced from underneath $1000. It will be the very first thing I’d do to the bike… properly, possibly after shopping for the panniers for a shade underneath $2300.
Pulling the bike up are three ABS-equipped disc brakes, identical to you’d anticipate. Honda appears to have given up on its related brakes — your proper hand operates the 2 radially mounted four-piston brake calipers squeezing 310mm floating discs and your foot the single-piston caliper and 256mm disc.
No complaints concerning the brakes, they do the job simply high-quality — good really feel with out huge chunk when doing a delicate squeeze, first rate energy when required. The entrance lever is adjustable for span, not like the clutch lever, which isn’t.
EQUIPMENT AND CREATURE COMFORTS
The NT1100 is very well geared up, straight from the manufacturing unit. Cruise management, heated grips, a cushty seat, rack and all of the electronics I’ve already talked about.
It’s the guide gearbox model we examined right here… Honda’s DCT system that gives automated shifting or paddle-shift guide is $1049 further. Or it can save you practically $600 and go along with the non-obligatory quickshifter for $470 as an alternative.
When you additionally want the highest field, the extras begin to add up, so that you would possibly wish to take into account your priorities earlier than ticking packing containers on the equipment record. At the very least the highest field matches the usual rack, which has a rated capability of 10kg, fairly excessive for a contemporary bike.
The panniers are glorious — they’ve greater than 30 litres of capability every, however are properly built-in so are fairly slim, and definitely skinnier than the handlebars, so going by means of visitors is achievable.
One draw back is typical — they should be locked to take away the important thing. I a lot desire a pannier that may be opened and closed with no key and easily locked for safety or to take away the unit from the bike.
Speaking of the important thing, a fob-style keyless ignition isn’t even an possibility. So twentieth century, I’m undecided how I coped… oh that’s proper, I’m not a lot of a fan of fobs, I bear in mind…
Lighting is all LED. The headlight is OK, though I’d get supplementary lighting if I used to be contemplating using within the countryside at evening (which, given each the state of the roads and the nocturnal nightlife, is one thing I’d keep away from).
ON THE ROAD
All-day rides on the NT1100 are what this bike is all about. With a 20-litre tank and good gasoline consumption, 400km to empty is feasible… and it’s comfy sufficient that back-to-back lengthy days within the saddle might be a pleasure and never a chore. Because it’s a twin you’ll really feel some vibration by means of the tank and footpegs, but it surely’s not intrusive… extra character than annoyance.
The candy spot is the sweeping nation street, the place the pace restrict is 100 and there are good sight traces by means of the lengthy bends, the place you’ll be able to take a second to benefit from the view but really feel the machine leaned over by means of the turns. On an NT1100 you are able to do this all day and again up for extra the subsequent. It’s nearly as comfy on a freeway with the display screen up excessive, the wind noise passing above, the audio system in your helmet enjoying the tune you wish to hear.
It’s constructed for 2, with the non-obligatory high field accessible with a pad to your pillion to lean towards so you’ll be able to comfortably take a good friend — or use the rack to strap on a tent and camp chair.
I actually favored the NT1100. It’s enjoyable to journey, is quick sufficient and you may journey it day-in and day-out. That’s what I need in a touring bike.
[Pull Quotes] “…the success of the Africa Twin makes it simple to see why the corporate determined to make use of the identical engine in its new sports-tourer.”
“What it loses in efficiency it makes up for with its relaxed journey.”
Sort: SOHC liquid-cooled 4-stroke 8-valve Parallel Twin with 270-degree crank.
Compression ratio: 10.1:1
Engine administration: PGM-FI digital gasoline injection
Claimed most energy: 75kW at 7,500rpm
Claimed most torque: 104Nm at 6,250rpm
Gas Consumption 5L/100km (20km/L)
Sort: 6-speed Handbook Transmission or 6-speed Twin Clutch Transmission DCT (non-obligatory)
Closing drive: Chain
Clutch: Moist, multiplate clutch
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Chassis: Semi double cradle
Entrance suspension: Showa 43mm SFF-BP kind inverted telescopic fork with dial-style preload adjuster, 150mm stroke.
Rear suspension: Monoblock aluminium swing arm with Professional-Hyperlink with SHOWA gas-charged damper, hydraulic dial-style preload adjuster, 150mm axle journey.
Entrance brakes: Radial mounted four-piston brake caliper, 310mm floating double disc
Rear brake: Single piston caliper, 256mm
Tyres, F: 120/70R17 R: 180/55R17
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Claimed moist weight: 238kg (DCT: 248kg) moist
Seat top: 820mm
Gas capability: 20.4L
Electronics, rider aids & comfort options
2-Channel ABS braking. 6.5inch TFT Contact Panel Multi info show & secondary LCD meter. LED lighting with Daytime Working Lights. Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. In sprint energy and USB sockets. Auto cancelling indicators. Cruise management. Heated grips. 5 Using modes.
Colors: Black, Gray
Take a look at bike equipped by: Honda Australia MPE
Guarantee: Two Years, limitless kilometres
We thought of for comparability touring bikes with related efficiency and pricing.
Yamaha MT-09 Tracer – $23,999 Experience Away
Three pots, extra energy, fancier electronics, quickshifter, panniers and electronically adjustable suspension make the MT09 primarily based machine powerful competitors.
Suzuki V-Strom 1050 – $22,990 Experience Away
With forged wheels, a V-twin powerplant and eager pricing, the 2023 V-Strom could be very a lot within the Honda’s wheelhouse – but it surely’s more likely to be much more comfy on a dust street.
BMW F 900 XR – $20,130 Experience Away
With related energy but 20kg lighter, the BMW feels faster and extra nimble. The bottom worth is nice, however turns into dearer than the Honda when configured with choices.