Honda NT 1100 review

by Andy Bisson

This month was a real treat for me as Pete wanted me to take out and demo the Honda NT 1100 which I had been hoping to do for some time. Now I’ve had my FJR for several years now and if they still produced them, I would without doubt have traded her in for a new model but they don’t, so I’ve been on the look out for a while now wondering what her replacement might be. I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to ride a huge variation of bikes and really liked many of them but nothing has quite left me feeling the love like I do for my FJR but let’s see what the NT 1100 brings.

Whilst Pete put on a number plate, fueled her and checked the tyres, he reminded me that it hadn’t been out and had no mileage on the clock so to take it easy. Walking around the bike, I liked what I could see. It has a large 6.5-inch TFT touch screen display which is crystal clear and well positioned USB and ACC charging sockets which are a must when touring. Pete also pointed out that not only did it come with panniers, centre stand and heated grips but this package was also fitted with a comfort seat.

With the bike ready, it was time to head out. Moving it around the forecourt was effortless and it was easy to push around. For what appears to be a large bike, it’s so well balanced and has a kerb weight of 248 kg which is 21 kg lighter than my FJR and that makes a massive difference.

It’s a little taller than the FJR with a seat height of 820mm and the comfort seat is a little wider giving it a higher feel but nothing that caused an issue. As soon as I sat on it, I moulded into the comfort seat and it was probably the most comfortable seat I’ve sat on. So far, so good, I was impressed. The only thing I wasn’t really looking forward to was the fact that it was a DCT (Dual-Clutch Transmission) which is a semi-automatic gear box and having test ridden DTC bikes in the past, they hadn’t won we over.

As I headed out in D (Drive) it was time for a ride around town in the traffic to see what the DCT could offer. It changed up far too early and I was filtering through traffic at 20 mph in 4th gear and it hung onto the gears too long before changing down. Whilst it was great not being on the clutch so much, I found it a little sloppy. It was however great when you got to a junction as it automatically changes down to 1st without having to clutch and change gear or the need for finding neutral at the lights.

Pete had taken me through the 4 different auto modes as well as showing me the manual paddle gears. Not impressed with D, it was time to flick over to S (Sport) and select one of the 3 modes it offered. I could do this easily whilst riding as the controls are easy to reach and clearly marked. Having ridden around town a few times trying out all the modes, I had found where I wanted her to be and that was S2 where she held the gears longer, maintaining a lower gear. Once we had that in the bag, it was a joy. No clutch control needed in the stop – start traffic, just twist and go, it couldn’t be easier.

The riding position is natural and so light and easy to manoeuvre in slow traffic. As I headed out of town and through our test route, it soon demonstrated that it had the power and torque in just the right place. Out of town, I flipped her into S3 and that matched my riding style just right. It held the gears a little longer and she was changing up and down pretty much where I would have and the midrange power seemed to stretch forever.

It has a fairly upright riding position with plenty leg room and well positioned pegs. As I mentioned before, the seat was very comfortable and the screen offered the protection I needed without any buffering. The screen has 5 settings and even on the highest setting, I had clear unobstructed visibility. My only criticism is that it’s manual. I struggle to understand why they don’t make all sport-tourers with electric screens. I would rather pay more to have this but electric screens seem to be a thing of the past and very rare across all brands, something I will have to live with but will always find disappointing.

It sounds great, feels great and the performance is more than great. This is Honda’s sports-tourer and whilst designed around an adventure bike and if I’m honest, it gives you a little bit of everything but with the full comfort you want for those trips abroad. Having recently ridden the Suzuki GSX-S1000 GT and the Yamaha Tracer 9GT, both sports tourers that got my approval, I think the Honda NT1100 has pipped them to the post as my possible must have tourer.

I never thought I would say this but I am seriously considering the DCT. I’ve always said that popping through the gears when chewing up the tarmac on the twisty roads of France is what biking is all about but having had this for the day, I’m convinced I would have the same fun. Maybe it’s time to negotiate taking a bike away for a review on a tour abroad and the NT1100 is the perfect bike to do it on.

So, if you haven’t already read between the lines, this is an absolute must ride bike, so get in touch with Pete or Danny and book a demo ride. Take the time to try out the variations of the DCT before you dismiss it and I guarantee you will love it. I’ve read several reviews where they slate the DCT as sloppy and unresponsive but if you take the time to try her out in all of the Auto options, one of the Sport modes will match your style and if you still feel that she’s sloppy, I would put that down to you.

Other than an automatic screen, there is nothing I would change on this bike. Great build quality, great value. Let me know what you think after you’ve taken her out.