Honda NC750X DCT ABS: Commuting, Touring Special
Nicely positioned for the average rider, the NC750X is Honda’s mid-size ADV motorcycle, targeted for weekday commuter duties as well as weekend sporting rides in the canyons. With its adventure ergonomics that entice you to add saddlebags and take off on a mini getaway, the Honda NC750X is one heck of a sensible purchase that you can’t argue against if you’re looking for a drama-free all-around bike.
The 745cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin has a plethora of low and mid-range torque. For everyday riding around town, this is exactly what you need to keep the excursions easy and friendly. The slightly undersquare SOHC engine is responsive, if not fast, delivering power smoothly and efficiently. The NC750X ride is predictable in the very best sense of the word.
Honda added traction control to the NC750X in 2018 when it transitioned from the NC700X. There are two levels of intervention, plus the ability to turn it completely off when you venture onto the dirt. I was okay with the default most-intrusive Level 2 setting, which the NC goes into every time the key is turned on. For sporty riding, less-intrusive Level 1 is there if you feel the need, though the difference isn’t particularly noticeable on the DCT version. When taking off down a dirt road, shutting the traction control off is a wise choice. A dongle-style button on the left handlebar makes it easy.
The stock NC750X has a traditional six-speed manual transmission and operates as flawlessly as you would expect from a Honda build. We tested the 750X in the DCT ABS trim, utilizing Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission technology. This allows you to ride with the transmission in a fully automatic or semi-automatic mode. Younger riders unfamiliar with fully manual transmissions should find this feature appealing, and there are a couple of options for the diehard shift lovers amongst us—more on the DCT function later.
The ADV ergonomics of the NC750X are spot on with comfortable upright seating, a lower but still sporty footpeg position, wide bars, and a moderate windscreen. The slightly longer travel suspension—a bit less than six inches on each end—means the seat height gets the attention of shorter inseam riders. However, the suspension sag comes into play when you throw a leg over the 32.7-inch high saddle. My 30.5-inch inseam puts me not quite flatfooted at a stop.
The 505-pound curb weight is quite manageable. While that may sound surprising, the NC carries its weight low. The twin cylinders lean forward 62 degrees, and the fuel is housed under the seat, contributing to a lighter feel—the fuel filler neck is under the pillion. So, if gasoline isn’t in the ‘tank,’ what is? Well, the answer is this—anything you want that fits its 22-liter shape, including many full-face helmets thanks to a large pivoting keyed lid. That’s an incredibly handy feature that might save you carrying a backpack. If it doesn’t, Honda Genuine Accessories has a saddlebag set and rear trunk to turn your NC750X into a mini tourer or full-capacity commuter.
Both cargo options operate smoothly; I was able to load and unload on my daily commutes in a snap, no fumbling with fiddly latches. Taking the saddlebags completely off the NC750X, and reinstalling them, is quick and intuitive. Unfortunately, the top box is bolted on, so you’ll want to put the contents in a bag for transport once you arrive at your destination. All three cargo containers are lockable. On our test unit, the sidebags used the same key as the ignition and ‘tank’ storage compartment, with a second key for the top box.
The NC750X takes the stress out of commuting. The upright seating and wider bars mean you’re not going to slither through traffic the way you would on a sportier, narrower profile, but that’s not a bad thing. While lane splitting is still an option, the NC doesn’t encourage beating your fastest dash to work. Instead, your ride is a bit more relaxed and adult, and you certainly have a better vantage point with the upright, higher riding position. The engine’s docile personality is a dependable partner that has your back. On surface streets when speeds are slower and stops frequent, the bike’s wide bars provide welcome leverage. The NC750X also has a tight turning radius that is useful for making U-turns in cramped quarters.
You are also tempted to take off on long weekend trips on the Honda NC750X. The whole essence of the ADV motorcycle is casual, stress-free, and dependable, so the idea of packing the saddlebags and heading off overnight is inevitable. The well-padded seat has room to move about, and the upright seating position keeps you comfortable as the miles slip by. If it’s chilly, the accessory heated grips warm up nicely and have a dedicated activation button.
While the non-adjustable low windscreen reduces the wind buffeting without obstructing the view, I found it created excessive noise in my helmet. Other staff members did not have this problem, so it depends on the rider’s height and build. Otherwise, putting a few hundred miles on the Honda NC750X in one sitting is no problem, and the 3.7-gallon tank requires infrequent refilling due to its impressive fuel economy.
Mirrors on the NC750X provide a sharp view behind you with no buzziness, and there is no discernable vibration translating to your feet, hands, or seat. The LCD dash has the usual information you would expect, including riding mode, traction control, gear indicator, and a clock, though some of the information is difficult to read. The digital tach changes colors depending on various parameters you can select—kinda cool, kinda gimmicky.
With a relaxed 60.4-inch wheelbase and 27 degrees of rake, the NC750X is stable at high speeds, and the compliant suspension soaks up road irregularities well. The 5.4 inches at the Showa Dual Bending Valve fork and almost six inches in the rear give the non-adjustable (except for rear spring-preload) suspension enough room to work with, providing a comfortable ride with a little cush.
Canyon riding is effortless at friendly touring speeds, even with the bags loaded for that weeklong trip you’re finally making. Although the tires have a bit of an ADV slant, they have plenty of traction for the NC750X’s power delivery. Getting in too much of a rush overwhelms the basic suspension and braking—smooth riding is rewarded by the engine, transmission, and chassis. The NC750X is on the touring side of sport-touring, yet it’s still capable of a good pace when ridden correctly.
There is just a single 320mm disc up front to keep your speed in check, and it is just fine for the expected use of the NC750X. Most importantly, the feel at the lever is perfect—soft initial engagement and adequate power as you continue to squeeze. Pushing down on the rear brake pedal actuates the rear 240mm disc, as well as some braking force directed to the front disc via the combined braking system—it is a welcome safety feature.
Okay, let’s talk about the DCT. Experienced riders usually give an automatic transmission the stink-eye, but that’s because they haven’t tried it yet. It’s surprising how quickly you can come to enjoy not having to shift, though it’s disconcerting not having a clutch lever. My left hand always reflexively reaches for it the first time I slip into the saddle, but you adapt quickly, especially when you’re in traffic.
The default mode once you toggle the right handlebar switch out of neutral is Drive, and Drive’s raison d’être is fuel economy. As such, the engine upshifts quickly to keep the revs down and your mpg up. It is easy to hit fifth gear while only going 35 mph. Thanks to the DCT and low-revving motor, the NC can pull at that low rpm and is a thrifty gas sipper in this mode.
The automatic shifting of the six-speed transmission is smooth, as the DCT uses two clutches working together with direction from the engine’s computer. The technology is in its third generation and works quite well. Anyone riding in busy urban environments, or regularly dealing with hectic freeway conditions, appreciates having one less thing to think about. The low-revving motor on the Honda NC750X DCT ABS is especially well-suited to the automatic transmission—we wouldn’t get the NC750X without it.
Of course, one can also enjoy the simplicity of automatic shifting in more relaxed environments. Cruising down empty backroads and letting the DCT choose the proper gear is a fine way to chill in the saddle. If that’s too laid back for you, switch to Sport mode. Simply close the throttle and push the toggle switch on the right handgrip to S—the 750X no longer upshifts quite so quickly. Instead of shifting almost instantly off idle, it is willing to rev near its 7500 rpm redline when twisting the throttle most aggressively. To further dial your ride, there are three sub-modes within the Sport mode, each with different shifting points. It seems gratuitous, as most NC750X riders will be fully satisfied with the two primary mode choices.
Whether you’ve chosen Drive or Sport, at any time you can override the DCT’s gear choice by pressing a button on the left handgrip under your thumb or forefinger. This shifts the transmission up or down a gear immediately. On sporty canyon runs, I took advantage of this feature often as I like to downshift into corners and then sprint out of them. Yes, perhaps I’m micromanaging the engine a bit, but I enjoy the human control. Even when riding in the sportiest Sport sub-mode (S3) and flogging the bike with the paddle shifters, I still found myself averaging over 60 mpg. The NC750X is undeniably an economical ride.
Finally, there is the option of altogether eschewing any automatic shifting by flipping an index-finger switch on the top of the right instrument pod, putting the NC750X into a completely Manual mode. I didn’t find any particular advantage to this, although it is nice to have options.
Very slow speed riding takes some attention initially, though the newest generation DCT is a marked improvement over the first version. When slowing for a corner or coming to a stop, the transmission freewheels as you come off the power. Light use of the brake pedal adds the missing tautness that allows smooth, confident handling in these situations. This is the one area where the DCT is not quite perfect. However, I found it didn’t take long to adjust my riding to compensate for this.
When you finally park, be sure to engage the parking brake on the left handlebar. If you don’t and there is any incline, the NC can roll and tip over because the transmission is always in neutral when the engine is off. ADV enthusiasts will want the accessory centerstand.
Although not a particularly dirt-focused ADV motorcycle, the Honda NC750X DCT ABS holds its own on well-groomed dirt roads. It had no problem cruising at 60 mph on the hardpacked—though sometimes sandy—Soda Lake Road through the Carrizo Plain National Monument in Central California. The Bridgestone Battlewing tires that work so well on the street also do fine on a groomed dirt road.
I turned the traction control off and minded the braking, so the ABS didn’t become bothersome. The DCT works well in these conditions in the early-shift drive mode. That keeps the revs down (maintaining traction the old-fashioned way), and you don’t worry about the clutch or shifting. Instead, you give full attention to the irregularities of the dirt road. I wouldn’t want to explore too far off the pavement, or tackle a jeep trail, as the NC750X’s suspension, 17-inch wheels, and street-aimed tires are not intended for that sort of duty. The fork is especially susceptible to chatter on washboard sections. Ranger Point Precision has fork upgrade kits for the NC750X that improve action and lengthen travel.
Who says nice guys finish last? It may not have a sexy powerplant, the best suspension, or the most powerful brakes, but the NC750X handles the real world of everyday riding comfortably and confidently, with no distracting behaviors. The DCT version is unequivocally worth the investment. It works exceptionally well, improves most riding conditions, and the $800 upgrade also gets you ABS with linked brakes. The Honda NC750X DCT ABS is one heck of a nice bike that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
Photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: Arai XD4
- Jacket: Alpinestars Stella Andes Pro Drystar Tech-Air Compatible
- Base layer: Alpinestars Tech Top Short
- Gloves: Alpinestars Stella Baika
- Pants: Alpinestars Stella Andes V2 Drystar
- Socks: Alpinestars Summer
- Boots: Tourmaster Trinity Women’s Touring
Genuine Honda Accessories As Tested
- Saddlebag set w/ bracket, panel kit, and locks: $950
- Rear trunk w/ rear carrier: $460
- Heated Grips w/ attachment kit: $280
- Centerstand: $150
- Light bar: $150
- Handguards: $120
- 12V accessory socket: $80
2018 Honda NC750X DCT Specs (stock)
- Type: Parallel twin
- Displacement: 745cc
- Bore and stroke: 77 x 80mm
- Compression ratio: 10.7:1
- Valve Train: SOHC; four valves per cylinder
- Transmission: Fully automatic 6-speed w/ multiple modes, plus a manual shift mode
- Final drive: Chain
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable Showa Dual Bending Valve 41mm fork; 5.4 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted spring-preload adjustable shock; 5.9 inches
- Wheels: Cast aluminum
- Tires: Bridgestone Battlewing BW-502
- Front tire: 120/70 × 17
- Rear tire: 160/60 x 17
- Front brake: 320mm disc w/ two-piston caliper
- Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ single-piston caliper
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 60.4 inches
- Rake: 27°
- Trail: 4.3 inches
- Seat height: 32.7 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.7 gallons
- Curb weight: 505 pounds