Honda DN-01 (2008 - present) review

It won't be on sale for long.
Utterly pointless bike that costs a fortune.

Let’s cut to the chase. The DN-01 looks like nothing else on Earth. I like it. A lot. It will get you noticed and it is a vision of the future, with its organic, sweeping lines, pull back bars, single-sided swingarm, chunky rear hoop, and chilled-to-the-bone riding position.

Another big plus is the automatic transmission, which works brilliantly and is extremely fuss-free, giving a nod to its use with other machines in the Honda range, perhaps like the Pan European or Gold Wing.

In fact, there is so much to like and admire about the DN-01. It’s Honda’s take on a brave-new motorcycling world, and I can truly embrace that. Also, like premium quality Hondas before it, the attention to detail is truly astonishing and the quality and craftsmanship is second-to-none. Think Gold Wing, VFR and Pan when you think of the finish on this bike.

But what engine do they give this beautiful, rolling Turner Prize, with its ground-breaking looks and wallet-busting price?: The 680cc 52-degree V-twin from the Transalp and Deauville.

This is such a shame, it really is. Perhaps the motor will be more suited to moneyed ex-motorcyclists coming back into biking rather than hardened biking types, or people who want something practical and placid, instead of pert and performing? But flicking through the press gumpf of the DN-01, the term ‘Performance Cruiser’ is bandied about quite a lot. The aesthetic design of the DN-01 is futuristic, but the engine is one of the things that lets it down. Yes, the Transalp-derived motor is smooth (for a twin) well-developed and just about punchy enough for the job in-hand, but ‘Performance’ cruisers don’t just have to look good, they have to perform too: think Harley-Davidson V-Rod, or Suzuki M1800. Instead Honda gives this aesthetically amazing machine a lump, which lacks character and plain old ‘ooomph’ to be remotely considered ‘performance.’

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Price: £9,000

Front suspension: 41mm non adjustable
Rear suspension: monoshock, preload adjustable
Front brake: 296mm discs, three-piston calipers
Rear brake: 276mm disc, two-piston caliper
Dry weight: 270kg (claimed)
Seat height:  690mm
Fuel capacity: 15.1l

Colours: black, purple

Engine: 680cc, liquid-cooled, 8-valve V-twin
Power: 60bhp @ 7500rpm
Torque: 47lb.ft @ 6000rpm

Top speed: 110mph (est)