When I picked up Honda’s CTX700, the service manager explained that basically what we had here was a sport bike, but with forward-riding foot pegs and a cruiser seating position.
Pretty accurate, as it turns out. At the heart of this mid-size cruiser is a liquid-cooled, 670 cc parallel twin, with four valves per cylinder and a six-speed transmission, with a chain final drive. It wouldn’t be out of place in a hard and fast sport bike. It revs freely, has excellent power transfer, and is well behaved in city traffic and on the highway. It’s one of those engines that drives home how accomplished Japanese bike-makers are when it comes to wringing maximum power and performance out of relatively small dimension engines. That said, it’s not a high-revving little beastie, with a redline up around 7500 rpm…..about half of what a decent sport bike offers.
Elsewhere, the forward riding position may not be for everyone. This is not a large motorcycle, and I found myself sort of reaching for centrally located foot-pegs every time I climbed aboard. Not a big deal, however, and something I quickly adapted to, having ridden Harleys for over 30 years.
The riding position is actually comfortable once you acclimatize yourself to it, and the seat is a fairly generous size for a bike of these dimensions. You can spend all day on the CTX700 and won’t be the worse for wear. The touring version has a small binnacle up front which deflects some of the turbulence, but, otherwise, this is a wind in your face kind of bike.
It’s also one of the new breed of street bikes aimed at younger and female riders. With a funky, all-black paint scheme, it has its share of attitude, but can also handle itself in terms of handling and braking. This latter feature is managed ably by a twin-piston disc brake up front and a single-piston in back. Considering the bikes relatively modest weight of 226 kilograms (498 lb.), you could almost classify it as a sport bike. Almost.
Nothing revolutionary to report vis a vis controls. If you’ve ridden a Honda motorcycle, you know the layout. One interesting little sidebar: there is a tiny storage compartment in the tank housing, and Honda has posted a weight limit for cargo on the tank – 0.5 kilograms – which may also be aimed at stunt riders who favour these kinds of flat-topped tanks when it comes to doing tank wheelies, highchairs, and stoppies.
But what’s interesting about the CTX 700 is the market it’s aimed at. The traditional cruiser as we know it may be on the way out; the targeted buyers for these bikes are simply getting older and hanging up their leathers. Younger riders, meanwhile, aren’t necessarily interested in heavy, slow-revving thumpers, and may gravitate towards something lighter and nimbler….so-called “street sport” models. Hence Harley’s new Street series, which must be considered as a direct competitor to the CTX700. The motorcycle market as we know it is changing and bigger isn’t necessarily better. BMW’s F800 must also be viewed as a rival, as well as Kawasaki’s Vulcan S, and maybe even the Triumph America.
The Honda CTX 700 starts at just under $9000, with various accessories such as heated grips, windscreen, panniers, and a passenger pillion backrest.