2014 Honda CTX700 and CTX700N: One to Grow On

Text: Alfonse Palaima • Photography: Kevin Wing

Amid the rush of rider-friendly and affordable motorcycles flooding our shores 
from Honda’s overseas plants, there is a single model targeted to more than just 
one type of rider. They call it an “anti-niche” bike and promote it in two different areas of their website—surprisingly, the Touring and Cruiser sections. Honda seeks to grow the market by offering something for newbies, as well as current riders, and targeting two birds with one stone if you will.

But is it a cruiser? Or is it a maxi-scooter? Or perhaps it’s a lightweight touring bike? Maybe a micro-Wing? If nothing else, the CTX is a machine built to bring in new riders. With its twist-n-go simplicity, it helps them graduate from outsider to moto insider. Ushering non-riders through basic balance exercises to banging-through-gears canyon carving, the CTX delivers a lifetime of experience with just one motorcycle purchase.

As Honda’s 13th dual clutch model (and their fifth built on the 700 platform), the CTX is just one of many to come. “We’re committed to this,” notes Honda’s North American press manager Jon Seidel. And the CTX is a series designed to be advanced yet easy to ride and affordable. As with many of Honda’s models of late, the CTX is a world-model. It’s available everywhere and built in the Kumamoto Japan plant.

Where does the name CTX come from? Honda defines its origin as “Comfort, Technology, and Experience.” It brings together the friendly ease of scooters and the advanced technology of a sportbike for anyone—at any riding level. Call it a universally accessible machine if you will; the CTX can be any bike to any new motorcyclist even if they’ve never driven a manually shifted automobile before. Honda has specifically engineered its motorcycles to make riding more approachable and welcoming to entry-level riders; they hope to grow the market (and ultimately motorcycle awareness) with a model for every type of rider. I’ve taken to calling it the SCS myself (short for a “Sporting Cruiser-Scooter”) as the CTX has more grunt than the typical scooter and a ton of ground clearance with a relaxed foot-forward Harley-Davidson clamshell-like riding position.

Available in two forms, the CTX700 is the more faired, taller wind-screened “touring” model while the CTX700N is the sportier, naked model with a bikini fairing and slimmer good looks. Both are available with or without the combination automatic 6-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) and non-linked ABS brakes. Accessory saddlebags (similar to, but not the same as those on the NC700X) add to the functionality either in town or on tour.

Baseline, both models ride on a pair of 17-inch wheels, set at a 60.2-inch wheelbase with a super-low 28.3-inch saddle height and a claimed 64mpg (61mpg with DCT)—ripe for those on a budget if not for those interested in making less of an impact on the environment.

The unique look of the CTX is done so intentionally and is part of the manufacturer’s overall “horizontal” styling scheme (as seen on the DN-01 and F6B). You might recall the strange look of the first electric cars on the market; the CTX is similar in that it is designed to be different and a topic of conversation. The horizontal styling also lends to the appearance of a lower center of gravity to match the factual weight distribution.

Beneath the plastic, the diamond-shaped steel frame carries the same nimble geometry as seen on the NC700X. It’s hung from a 41mm fork up front with 4.2 inches of travel and a single 4.3-inch traveling Pro-Link shock in the rear. Comfortable and capable in both the city and the canyons, the suspension setup is typical for a machine this size and on par with no adjustability on either end.

DCT and Operation

The twist-n-go ease of operation available on the rubber-mounted 670cc parallel twin (first introduced in the NC700X) makes for a fun riding package despite your skill level. Being my first ride on the DCT, the experience was all new for me and exciting. The handlebar-mounted parking brake, the automatic shifting, and the manual overrides impressed me.

The DCT option offers three modes of riding: full manual, S for Sport, and D for Daily driver. The two automatic modes are separated by different super-smooth shifting points. The Sport mode makes slightly later upshifts for a livelier ride and also shifts down sooner when decelerating. The CTX line uses a 
second-generation version of the DCT (much like the package available on the VFR) but more compact and lighter with six instead of 10 clutch plates.

Swapping back and forth from automatic in the cities to manual and sport auto shifting in the canyons makes for a well rounded package. There’s a little something for everyone; it’s fun when you want it and easy when you need it. The grunty 6-speed package also learns your personal throttle application to create a bike that rides with you. In either automatic mode D or S (when you need that extra punch in passing traffic or escaping danger) just take a stab with your thumb at the paddle shifter to temporarily and manually override the shift point to quickly downshift and run away from the obstacle. A return to neutral throttle returns the bike to automatic shifting again.

Dash

In the control center, an LCD dash includes a speedometer, dual trip meter, bar tachometer, clock, and fuel gauge. On DCT/ABS equipped models, a gear position indicator is also included on the dash because the ABS wheel sensors on this model make the information available to the dashboard electronics.

Access to the fuel tank hides under a non-lockable cover, which also conceals a smaller second storage space with enough room for a cellphone and a wallet or an extra pair of gloves (but not large enough for a bottle of water). Another positive feature of this space is an available accessory power port for charging a GPS or electric gadgets including heated garments.

Pricing, Colors, Plus

Genuine Honda accessories include a taller windscreen (for CTX700 only), heated grips, color-matched saddlebags, a rear rack, passenger backrest, and a few chrome accessories for a little bling.

Honda’s press rep considers the “urban roadster” the “right bike at the right time and a key bike for consumers” when it comes to pricing. With merely color, fairing style, and weight separating the two models, pricing is broken into four levels.

The faired CTX700 model has an MSRP of just $ 7,799. With the optional DCT and ABS brakes it is $ 8,799. The naked CTX700N version runs slightly less at an MSRP of $ 6,999 and $ 7,999 with DCT and ABS.

Confusing yet fun, the sportbike-like scooter that rides like a cruiser but corners like a sporting standard makes the CTX experience wholly unique and wholly Honda. But what is it? It’s an experience! An experience allowing you to safely and happily grow from an automobile driver into the type of motorcycle rider you ultimately want to be—cruiser guy or a sportbiker—the CTX is the perfect jumping off point!

Helping to bridge the gap between riders new to clutch manipulation (manual shifting) and their dreams of riding in the wind, the twist-n-go CTX line brings a sporty auto-shifting machine to market at an affordable price. Stuffed with fuel-efficient and functionally ergonomic design, the CTX lives up to its acronym with comfort, technology, and experience.