Honda Honda X-ADV (2021) on and off-road video and editorial review

X-ADV review thumb

Visordown has spent the last couple of weeks hooning around on the new Honda X-ADV. Here’s what we have learnt about the updated 2021 model

Details
Manufacturer:
Honda
Category:
Maxi Scooters
Price:
£ 10849
Overall
Not rated

THE Honda X-ADV was launched in 2016, and it's fair to say at the time, there were just as many confused faces as there were excited ones. It took the place of the Integra in the Honda range, although to spice the bike up a bit Honda chucked in a hefty dollop of adventure styling and, it seems, capability.

Honda X-ADV 2021 on and off-road video review

New Honda X-ADV Review 2021 | Visordown

In 2021, the X-ADV has just gone through its first update, with the new bike gaining more power, updated electronics and sleeker, more refined styling. The updates don’t stop there either, the 2021 X-ADV is also more accessible than before, allowing more riders to take to the roads and trails on what just might be one of the most surprising motorcycles I’ve ridden to date – but more on that later.

For this test I’ve been nipping about grabbing shopping and so on, but also hacking out longer journeys on A-roads and motorways. A true all-round test for this all-round motorcycle, you could say.

Honda X-ADV 2021 UK Price and colours

For 2021, the X-ADV lands in UK dealers with a £10,849 price tag hanging from its mirror. That sounds like a tidy sum, but let’s compare it to the competition… Oh yeah, there isn’t any. Okay, nearest will do. If you wanted a similar sized Yamaha motorcycle with twist-and-go potential, the closest in terms of spec is the TMAX Tech MAX, coming in at £11,999. But then again, that’s not really a fair fight. The Yamaha is giving away more than 100cc to the Honda, and it has nowhere near the off-road potential that the X-ADV does.

Class of one? You betcha.

The 2021 model is available in four colours, Graphite Black, Mat Beta Silver Metallic, Deep Pearl Mud Grey, and the as-tested Grand Prix Red-CRF Red.

Styling and comfort

For 2021 the X-ADV has slimmed down in all the right places, its seat is more contoured, running boards narrower and bodywork sleeker. The first two points I mention above are the most important to me, as they are the two that actually allow me to ride the thing!

I’d tried the previous generation bike and simply couldn’t get my feet down. The tag team of an 820mm seat and wide step-over thanks to the running boards made it unsafe for me. No such problems with the new bikes though. I am still just on the very tip of my toes if double-footing (is that a thing?) or a nearly flat foot if leaning it over.

Once you’ve clambered on, the X-ADV plonks you behind a rather handsome cockpit that’s crowned with a bloody lovely TFT dash. The feet forward scooter riding position is obviously very comfy, but when the going gets muddy you’ve even got adventure pegs with bear-traps. When up on the pegs its surprising just how close it feels to riding a big adventure bike. The bars are close to you and its easy to shift your weight around when you need to. I spent a couple of long-ish days in the saddle of the Honda and as you’d expect had no grumbles on the comfort front. The seat isn’t terribly thick, but it is perfectly contoured and an extremely nice place to put your back side.

Engine and gearbox

The story of the X-ADV engine is one that stretches back to 2012 and the introduction of the original NC700. It’s always been a unit that puts accessibility, economy, and reliability above anything else. In some bikes that can come across as a bit plain and vanilla, but in the X-ADV it actually feels quite boisterous. The exhaust has clearly taken a leaf out of the Africa Twin’s songbook and has a deep baritone bark to it when you wind on the power. Lovely.

The delivery is gutsy, and it makes good progress, only running out of enthusiasm for overtakes at about 70mph. The 270° crank mimics the delivery and feel of a V-twin, although without rattling your fillings while it does it. The 2021 model gains an updated ride-by-wire throttle, and it’s crisp and precise. It all feels like the guys and girls at the factory have put in long hours making sure that it’s perfectly ‘Honda’.

Unlike the NC750 bikes in the Honda range, the X-ADV is only available as a DCT version, meaning everyone of them gets the same fancy-pants Dual Clutch Transmission. Now, I could try and explain to you how this all works, truth is, it’s quite complex, and waaaaaay above my pay grade. Here’s an article from Honda explaining it in full.

I’ve never been totally won over by the system, always preferring my own ‘shifting schedules’ to Honda’s. I also find the act of changing gears myself helps to make me feel more involved with the act of riding. I’m not saying the X-ADV has changed my mind, but on this bike, it makes total sense. It’s probably my mind subconsciously telling me that because of how it looks, DCT is the way to go, or just that Honda never leave things alone and are always fettling and improving stuff.

Each riding mode has its own DCT shifting schedule covering Standard (lazy shifting and best economy), Rain (as above with more traction control), Sport (the most fun and fastest), Gravel (*shrugs shoulders*), and finally User.

Riding modes

Okay, so Standard, Rain, and Sport, I get all those. It’s basically increasing the amount of fun you can have on the bike in three easy increments. Gravel though, I’m at a loss. It’s supposed to be the one you engage when you get to a dusty fire trail to have some fun. In truth, the traction control is far to intrusive for that, and it cuts in before you even cracked a grin.

Best bet is to drop it in User, go into the menu via the left-hand thumb-stick and scroll to the traction control setting and turn the system off altogether. Now though, every time you turn the bike off the traction control in the User mode will reset to being turned on again – slightly frustrating with the stop-start nature of the day.

Off-road handling

Now, you may be thinking, ‘what’s he doing, why has he said that? There’ll be X-ADVs wrapped around trees up and down the country!’. Don’t worry, that’s almost certainly not going to happen. In truth, the X-ADV is an absolute dream to blast along a dusty lane. Yes, it’s long, and yes, at 236kg it is fairly heavy. But like drifting in an estate car, it’s all very well-mannered and controllable.

With 165mm of ground clearance you are restricted to lighter lanes and fire trails, but even so, it never feels like its out of its depth. Quite the opposite in fact. The adventure-spec riding position and quality suspension actually eggs you on, with the only bum-clenching moments coming when encountering deep sand.

On road handling

In the real world the X-ADV is likely to spend more time on the Tarmac than it is on the trails. And it’s reassuring to know that Honda didn’t put all the bike’s eggs in one muddy-covered basket. On B-roads and twisties the Honda is a perfectly able dancing partner, that turns in quickly enough, and also has excellent balance and poise in corners, very surprising given the 17”/15” wheel combo. The suspension is very good, a stand-out feature in fact, and the Nissin 4-pot calipers have me wondering where the hell they’ve hidden all the braking power! The lever feel isn’t great – it kind of feels like it’s a cable brake being stretched – but there is plenty of power there, and the cornering ABS is just as capable.

Around town the X-ADV starts to feel a bit cumbersome, with the sometimes jerky nature of the DCT engaging (which is worse when the engine and gearbox are cold) exaggerating the slightly unwieldy feeling.

Things we love about the X-ADV

  • Genuine off-road ability and on road handling
  • Comfort
  • TFT dash
  • Excellent brakes and ABS

Things we didn’t

  • Traction control not remaining off in User mode when powering off
  • The side-stand is tricky to reach when sat on the bike
  • Headlights could be better
  • Small hand guards don’t deflect much air – cold hands quickly

Honda X-ADV verdict

When you have a motorcycle that is carving its own niche in the adventure bike world, it’d be very easy to just slap some off-road tyres on it and send it out the door. I get the feeling that Honda has done the total opposite with the X-ADV. Yes, its off-road capabilities are limited to light trails, but there really isn’t anything to grumble about on that front. And it still feels like Honda has built the best 750cc maxi-adventure-scooter-motorcycle-thingy that they or anyone else could. It’s also great on the road, frugal, and supremely comfortable.

And going back to a point I made at the start of the review regarding the price. When comparing it to other big capacity scooters that are on the market, it’s actually good value too.

For more information on the 2021 Honda X-ADV, head over to: honda.co.uk

Honda X-ADV (2021) specs

ENGINE

Type

 Parallel twin

Displacement

 745cc

Bore x stroke

 77 x 80mm

Maximum power

 57bhp @ 6750 rpm

Maximum torque

 51 ft-lbs @ 4750 rpm

Compression ratio

 745cc

Transmission

 6-speed w/ Dual Clutch Transmission

Clutch

 Wet multiplate DCT

Final drive

 Chain

CHASSIS

Frame

 Diamond style w/ steel tubing

Front suspension; travel

 Non-adjustable 41mm inverted fork/6.0 inches

Rear suspension; travel

 Linkage-assisted, non-adjustable shock; 5.9 inches

Wheels

 Wire-spoke

Front wheel

 17 x 3.50

Rear wheel

 15 x 4.50

Tires

 Bridgestone Trail Wing Radial

Front tire

 120/70 x 17

Rear tire

 160/60 x 17

Front brakes

 296mm discs w/ radially mounted 4-piston Nissin calipers

Rear brake

 240mm disc w/ single-piston Nissin caliper

ABS

 Standard

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

Wheelbase

 1590mm

Rake

 27 degrees

Trail

 104mm

Seat height

 820mm

Ground clearance

 165mm

Fuel capacity

 13.2l

Estimate fuel consumption

 65 mpg

Curb weight

 236kg

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