Video: launch report on Honda’s X-ADV adventure/city scooter thing

Here’s our Mikko’s video account of his first ride on the Honda X-Adv during the world launch in Sardinia. You can read his full review below and the film is above, just hit the play button to watch it.

Honda took the adventure biking scene by the horns when it launched the reborn CRF1000L Africa Twin last year and achieved near-universal praise for the new bike. Now the Japanese bike giant is causing a stir in the adventure sector again, but with a completely different type of machine. Combining its expertise in adventure bikes and scooters (yes, you read that right, scooters), Honda is introducing the new X-ADV crossover motorcycle. It’s the brainchild of Italian Honda designer Daniele Lucchesi, whose aim was to take an easy-to-ride, nimble and frugal city commuter, give it some genuine back road scratching ability, and throw in a hint of off-road potential for good measure. After some initial hesitation, Honda finally gave the green light for this project, and the first crossover motorcycle (or adventure scooter, whichever way you want to look at it) was born. It sounds like an outlandish idea, but in a way it makes a lot of sense: if you can have both practicality and ability in the same package then why not? But is it a motorcycle or a scooter, and most importantly, what’s it like to ride? We went to Sardinia for a test ride to find out.

Origami styling

It takes a while to take it all in as I stand and stare at the X-ADV. It’s not only the concept of a crossover motorcycle that needs some processing, it’s also all the detail jumping out and demanding your attention. The angular, almost origami-like design has so many surfaces and intricate details that you could look at the bike for hours. You can appreciate that this started out as a design, rather than an engineering project, but the engineers sure had their work cut out with all the angles and the number of panels involved. The build quality is just superb; every panel and component join together with incredible accuracy.

Well-built it may be, but what exactly is the X-ADV then: a motorcycle or a scooter? You could look at where the design was started: the engine and around 50% of the chassis are inherited from the existing Honda Integra scooter, and even with all the Africa Twin-esque design cues, the overall shape of the machine is rather scooterish. But the same 745cc, liquid-cooled parallel twin engine also powers Honda’s NC bike range, which swings the argument right back. And looking at the large spoked wheels (front 17in, rear 15in), long suspension travel (154mm at the front and 150mm at the rear), the aluminium bash plate and the near-vertical exhaust, it starts to take on a much more of an adventure bike guise. And how about the chain final drive and the motorcycle-style swinging arm? It doesn’t look so much like a scooter anymore, huh?

On the road

The large wheels and long suspension travel raise the seat height to 820mm, making this a very tall scooter indeed. To mount the bike you have to swing your leg over rather than step through, as the space in front of the seat is raised higher than on most scooters. The seat is fairly narrow at the front, and my 31-inch legs are just long enough to allow me to plant both feet on the ground.

Moving off, the X-ADV has an instantly recognisable scooter feel to it, with the large footboards and feet semi-forward riding position. The handlebars, however, are more like something you’d find on an adventure bike, and make it easy to counter-steer the machine like a motorcycle. Despite the substantial weight (at 238kg the X-ADV is heavier than the non-DCT Africa Twin), it feels light on the move. The steering lock is generous and the X-ADV is easy to manoeuvre, especially if you’re used to the scooter-style riding position.

Adventure-style foot pegs are available as accessories, and make a huge change in the ride feel. They’re positioned just behind the footboards, placing your feet further back, and making the riding position feel much more motorcycle-like. For light off-roading when you want to stand up, they’re essential.

Overall, the X-ADV manages to perform much better than the spec sheet would suggest, feeling much lighter and more eager to go than I had expected. The 745cc parallel twin engine produces peak power of 54bhp, and 50.2lb-ft of torque. The power to weight ratio isn’t particularly great, but other than during high-speed overtakes, the X-ADV never felt restrictively under-powered. The DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) settings have been slightly altered for this model, with shorter gear ratios, which makes acceleration feel swift and helps to get the most out of the power supply. You can choose from Drive, three levels of Sport, or Manual mode. The highest level of Sport mode proved to be the ideal choice for the windy Sardinian roads, making the ride smooth and fun, without having to worry about switching gears. The X-ADV is only available as a DCT version, and no manual or CVT (continuously variable transmission) models are planned. Claimed fuel economy is 77mpg, but on our (admittedly quite spirited) ride we achieved 56.5mpg. With a steadier pace the real-world figures should be in the 60s.

Bird or plane?

Maybe the question is not whether this is a scooter or a motorcycle, but whether it offers the kind of ride that works for you. If you appreciate the carefree nature of scooters but want a bit of an adventure flavour thrown in, this bike is worth a test ride.  The £9599 price tag may be a restrictive factor to some, but it’s pretty much in line with competitors such as the Yamaha Tmax (£9399) and BMW C650 Sport (£9600). The X-ADV has a fresh look with superb build quality, and most important of all, is great fun to ride.

Honda X-ADV specification

Engine: 745cc, liquid-cooled, 8-valve, parallel-twin, SOHC
Power: 54bhp (40.3kW) @ 6250rpm
Torque: 50.2lb-ft (68Nm) @ 4750rpm
Brakes: (F) Dual radially mounted four-piston calipers and 310mm discs (ABS)
Front suspension: 41mm USD forks (preload and rebound adjustable), 154mm travel
Rear suspension: Single shock (preload adjustable), 150mm travel
Tyres: Tubeless, (F) 120/70 R17 (R) 160/60 R15
Fuel consumption: 77.7mpg (27.5km/l)
Wet Weight: 238kg
Seat Height: 820mm
Wheelbase: 1590mm
Transmission: DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission), 6-speed, chain final drive
Price: £9599
Contact: www.honda.co.uk

Words: Mikko Nieminen, Features Editor, Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazine
Photos: Honda

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