Honda first introduced its automatic dual-clutch transmission (DCT) in 2010 on the VFR1200F. In a continuing evolution and application of its automatic transmission technology, Honda has since adapted it to the Africa Twin and the Gold Wing. The other model in Honda’s line-up that offers a DCT transmission is the NC750X.
The NC750 represents a detour from the option of an automatic transmission on some of Honda’s more formidable mounts in that it is more of a practical entry-level motorcycle. The bike presents an appealing aspect for those learning to ride, as well as those who may have been on scooters and want to step up the performance without having to learn to manage a clutch and gears. With this in mind, without prejudice, I rode the 2022 Honda NC750X DCT.
The NC750X is a simple, accessible motorcycle that delivers adequate performance augmented by superlative fuel mileage. The parallel twin delivers its power in a very manageable, almost docile manner‚ which suits the automatic transmission quite well. Yet, if you wanted to push it, it has the potential to deliver a reasonably spirited ride.
The NC750’s 745cc parallel twin has been tuned to deliver its torque down low, which serves the automatic transmission the best. It allows for a smooth, even power curve, sacrificing top end pull for ease of operation at lower speeds. The cylinders are slanted at a fairly radical 55 degrees, which gifts the bike with a low center of gravity. The exhaust note is supremely quiet.
There are three power modes—standard, rain, and sport, with a fourth customizable category that allows the rider to personalize traction control intervention. The dash presentation and physical operation of various functions, as well as other available information, was at first confusing. But, as with most bikes, it starts making sense the more time you spend with it.
Honda has chosen to not publish performance specs for their motorcycles. But some testing and research make me believe the bike sits around 58 hp at 6,750 rpm with a torque rating of around 50 lb-ft at 4,750 rpm.
Riders accustomed to a clutch will have to adapt to the removal of low-speed control of engine engagement. When combined with the lag time between a turn of the ride-by-wire throttle to actual response at extremely low speeds (especially in full-lock slow speed turns) this can be disconcerting, feeling as though you’ve hit a false neutral. It’s just one of the adjustments to riding a bike with an automatic transmission that you’ll have to do.
Honda’s proprietary DCT transmission is superbly smooth and operates on a unique design employing two clutches, each handling three gears—one dedicated to first, third, and fifth, the other to second, fourth, and sixth. This system smooths out the mechanical operation of gear changes by alternating between the two clutches, essentially masking the actual shifting.
Off the line, the bike can be surprisingly quick with no fear of stalling. Shifts are relatively fast, which keeps the rpm low, thus preserving fuel yet providing enough velocity to stay ahead of other traffic. Experienced riders will without a doubt occasionally find their foot reaching for the gear shifter or fingers grasping for the clutch lever, especially when coming to a stop.
The Other Things
The 17-inch cast aluminum wheels with a black finish augment the bike’s styling. In the brake department, the NC750 has a single 320mm disc in the front. Given the bike’s weight (493 pounds for the DCT) a good amount of pressure is required on the lever to get that mass slowed from speed. A second disc would have served the bike well. The rear is a fully capable single 240mm rotor. Both units are operated through hydraulic calipers with a two-channel ABS. The bike stops well enough, but in the fully automatic mode, the relatively unaggressive preprogrammed downshifts provide little in the way of engine braking, which has to be compensated for with brakes.
For suspension, the NC sports a non-adjustable 41mm Showa fork with a traditional telescopic design mated to Honda’s Pro-Link system at the back, rendering 4.7 inches of travel front and rear. The units provide adequate comfort but hitting uneven pavement or potholes at speed will definitely send a shock up through your spine. That said, the units—combined with the chassis—deliver a stable ride at speed, with predictable manners on corner turn-in and braking, with a planted feel mid-corner, partly due to the bike’s weight.
The 31.6-inch seat height accommodates a wide variety of in-seams. The bike’s low center of gravity hides its heft, making it generously manageable for all. At 5-foot-11-inches, the seat to-peg ergonomics were slightly cramped for me and the reach to the bar forced weight onto my wrists. It’s fine for short hops, but definitely fatiguing on long jaunts. But to be fair, the NC750X is certainly capable of weekend trips and long outings. Just be aware there is no cruise control. The small wind screen does an adequate job of protecting the rider at lower speeds but on the highway you will feel the buffeting.
The NC750X DCT has some special quirks that deserve a mention. The biggest one is the under-tank compartment. With the 3.8-gallon gas tank placed under the seat and the 55-degree angled cylinders, a great deal of room has been opened up to accommodate storage. At an astonishing 23 liters of space, this lockable, waterproof chasm is designed to hold a standard full-face helmet or any variety of things, such as a full bag of groceries, books for school, or a picnic basket. It’s amazing how convenient this simple compartment is—enough so as to be a strong selling point.
Being an automatic, the DCT version comes equipped with a parking brake, which is operated via a cable to the rear caliper. A slightly bigger warning light would help prevent the occasional pulling away with the brake still engaged.
Without question, the biggest quirk of the NC750X is its miserly gas consumption. The bike sips fuel like it was a sparrow. The dashboard computer consistently showed 50-61 mpg, which dropped to 37 mpg when charging my favorite twisting run, and once hitting an astonishing 71 mpg on a stretch of level highway.
The selling point that will help make the decision for anyone straddling the fence about the NC750X will be its impressive gas mileage. I believe the NC750 leans more toward motorcycles for practical urban mobility as opposed to hobby bikes. Scooter owners will feel right at home on it, as it really has the same ease of operation and rideability.
The 2022 NC750X DCT is an affordable, simple mode of transportation that is capable of delivering fun on backroads should you desire to venture beyond its intended habitat. In its automatic version, it becomes an excellent first/learner bike. The machine offers practicality and suitable performance without sacrificing styling in a package that most riders need not fear growing out of too soon.
2022 Honda NC750X DCT
+ smooth and seamless engine power, automatic transmission with an option for manual paddle shifting, fuel consumption, nimble and responsive riding
– slightly small and crampled for a 750, needs a strong level pull to get that single front brake caliper working, minimal engine braking on downshifts in automatic mode
Distributor: Honda Powersports
MSRP: $8,699 standard; $9,299 DCT (tested)
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 55° parallel-twin/SOHC, 4-cylinder
Power: 58hp @6,750rpm; 50lb-ft @4,750rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, manual, chain final drive (DCT 6-speed automatic optional)
Wet Weight: 472lbs (493lbs for DCT model)
Seat Height: 31.6in
Fuel Capacity: 3.8gal
Fuel Consumption: 51mpg average
Fuel Grade: Premium
Colors: Grand Prix Red