There's a feature on Honda's new NC700X that looks a bit like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Lift the lid on a space that holds the gas on most motorcycles, and riders can fit an entire full-face helmet.
This in-place-of-the-gas-tank cubby is just one of several innovations on a bike that caters to want-it-all but can't-really-afford-it Americans now that the world economy has backfired and put the skids on an industry long dominated by twist-the-grip excess. In development since the Lehman Brothers collapse of 2008 and on the market since August, the $6,999 NC700X is the latest, low-cost offering in what Honda is calling its Value for Money lineup, which includes the $4,099 CBR250R sport bike released last year and the $4,499 CRF250L dual sport that came on the market earlier this month.
What's truly groundbreaking about the NC700X is that it offers so much for so little cost. Powered with a 670 cc parallel twin that's canted forward in the frame to allow storage space up above it, and to relocate the gas tank under the saddle, the NC700X averaged 63 mpg during a 600-mile road test. In a bid to attract seasoned riders (who are increasingly cost-conscious), as well as beginning riders (who may feel uneasy about a clutch), in a single machine, Honda offers a NC700XD model, or dual-clutch version, with a 6-speed transmission that can be operated as an automatic or with a push-button manual shift.