Stop Press: New Honda Deauville

Honda DN-01 to be reborn as new Deauville?

RUMOURS from Japan are suggesting that there's a new Honda Deauville tourer in the works and that it will recycle some of the technology from the short-lived DN-01.

While the DN-01 never managed to sell in any serious numbers, the problem didn't lie so much with its actual ability so much as its strange appearance and an apparent confusion over where in the market it was supposed to sit. Intended to break down the barriers between cruisers, tourers and scooters, it was a hybrid of all three, appealing only to early-adopters prepared to stomach its strange looks and fork out its hefty price to get their hands on the interesting bit – Honda's hydraulic transmission. Doing without conventional gears or even a scooter-style variable transmission, the DN-01 used a variable-flow hydraulic pump instead of a gearbox, transmitting the engine's power to a hydraulic motor. The so called “HFT” (Human Friendly Transmission) pre-dated the firm's dual-clutch semi-auto, offering several functions including fully-automatic, twist-and-go mode and push-button “manual” mode using software to mimic the fixed gears of a conventional transmission.

Less than three years after going on sale, the DN-01 was dropped from the range. But now, with a new Deauville tourer rumoured to be in the wings based around the same V-twin engine as the DN-01 (and the current Deauville, for that matter), the radical transmission could be set to reappear.

Fitted to a bike that's properly focussed on an existing market – the Deauville does surprisingly well when it comes to worldwide sales, standing as one of the only options for touring riders who don't want a 1000cc-plus monster and always a favourite for couriers – the HFT transmission could finally reach the success such innovative design deserves.

Meanwhile, like a bad B-movie, the DN-01 will no doubt slowly transmute from unloved failure to 'cult' classic. Maybe it's worth snapping one up while they're cheap, and if people ask what you've got tell them it's a Honda RC62...