2012 Honda Fireblade and NC700X launch


I'm chucking a few essential items into my massive stuffa bag, ready to go to Portimao tomorrow for the International launch of not just the Honda NC700X but also the new Fireblade, too.

You couldn't fathom two bikes at further ends of the scale. One all about performance and speed, the other about user-friendliness and thrift. I'm intrigued by the NC700X, though, because I genuinely have no idea what it'll be like to ride. The Blade - having used one all year - I can imagine all too well how it'll feel. It's a very strange feeling to think that I was also on the launch of the very first Fireblade way back in 1992 and here I am, twenty years on, attending another and still enjoying (and getting away with) the best job in the World. The bike may have got faster but I definitely haven't...

On paper the NC700 looks heavy and - by conventional measuring sticks - underpowered but that lay-down parallel twin engine, so the bumf says, has been tuned for low-down torque and fuel economy. It's also a very nifty modular platform that could save Honda's customers hard cash in the long run by cutting down on development costs and tooling. My mind is open. 

Day one (Wed) is devoted to the NC700X and the perfectly surfaced roads around Portimao in Portugal. Day two (Thur) is all about the Blade and that immaculately tarmac-coated motocross track, otherwise known as Portimao race circuit. You could ride a Hesketh Vampire round Portimao and still have a good time. Actually, no, you probably couldn't - that was a metaphor too far. It's a mint track, though. Possibly the minitiest in Europe.

If there's anything any of you would like to ask the designers, the engineers or the marketeers, I'd only be too happy to ask on your behalf.

As long as it's not going to offend, of course...

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