FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Honda’s NT1100

With the engine from the Africa Twin and panniers, heated grips and cruise control as standard, could Honda’s NT1100 be the dedicated touring motorcycle we’ve been waiting for?

It was a wet start to the day in Northern Spain – but the roads along the coast and up into the hills just outside Barcelona proved the perfect test for Honda’s newest tourer.

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It impressed, with the levels of comfort and weather protection shining through. The seat’s plush yet surprisingly low, making it easy to flat foot for shorter riders. The riding position is upright but neutral with the bars an easy reach and the pegs set down low. The screen has five levels of adjustment (though you’ll need to stop to move it), there’s wind deflectors at the front, a good level of coverage from the fairing and there’s some fairly powerful heated grips (it wasn’t especially cold, but the top setting seemed properly hot). Everything works well and the TFT-touchscreen dash was easy to operate using the left-hand switchgear (I’ve ridden the Africa Twin a few times though, so I know the system).

Although there’s a manual model available, we’re spent the day on the £12,999 DCT variant. It’s an intuitive system that makes a lot of sense on this bike. For faster riding on twisty roads it can be a little cumbersome in the Automatic setting – but thankfully you can switch it to Manual and flick through the gears on the left-hand switchgear. I did the morning with Automatic and the afternoon with Manual, and the difference was night and day. I felt so much happier shifting through the gear using the buttons (although I did find myself trying to grab the clutch and downshift on more than one occasion). The changes are seamless, smooth and subtle with no lag. It is an impressive system – but maybe it’s not for everyone. That said, Honda told us that it sells 50% of its bikes with DCT (of the models that have choice between DCT and Manual)

It handles well too. The 17inch wheels and Metzeler tyres compliment the Showa suspension and Brembo brakes to help offer agility and stability even on damp roads. The tried and tested engine’s much the same as the Africa Twin (aside from some fuel injection tweaks) and it’s as good as you’d expect. There’s plenty of punch but it’s delivered in a smooth and manageable way. It’s perfect for this sort of bike.

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It was a good day’s riding and a great introduction to the bike. I’ve got plenty still left to say – so if you want to find out even more about the bike, there’s a full review coming in the upcoming issue of Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazine.

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