The return of the Honda DN-01

Would they really make another bike that looks like the DN-01?

At a glance you'd say it was the outline of a Honda DN-01 but on closer inspection this Honda patent reveals itself to be something quite different.

Under the distinctive shape hides a new parallel twin engine rather than the Deauville-derived V-twin of the DN-01, and a chain connects it to the rear wheel instead of an oddball continuously-variable hydraulic drive system.

The result is a bike of a similar size and capacity to the 680cc DN-01 but with a raft of advantages. The first of these is clearly illustrated in the picture – a helmet can fit in the storage box under the dummy tank. The DN-01 was roundly criticised for its lack of storage space. Second comes the relatively cheap and simple transmission – it's not clear from the patent whether it's a CVT or a normal gearbox, the text just calls it a “speed change mechanism”, but it's obviously not a hydraulic drive. The clever transmission of the DN-01 contributed to the hefty £10,000-plus price that kept sales down; only 108 were registered in the UK last year before the DN-01 was quietly discontinued at the end of 2010.

Initially our thoughts were that the DN-01-style outer covering was just a red herring, and under the  skin this bike reflected the mechanicals of the forthcoming production version of Honda's New Mid concept scooter. The parallel twin engine and chain drive certainly fit. But the chassis layout and helmet storage solution wouldn't fit the New Mid's shape, suggesting this machine could be a variation on the theme, sharing the New Mid's mechanical components but reviving the bold shape of the DN-01, which probably attracted more buyers (love it or hate it, it's distinctive) than the pricey transmission ever did.