I guess most of you have seen pictures of the Honda DN-01 and regardless of your opinion about its appearance, you have to agree that it’s different. Personally, I was instantly attracted even though its futuristic styling looks to me like something out of a comic strip, rather than a machine that the mighty Honda had gambled on producing. By the way, if you’ve ever wondered what the DN stands for it’s ‘Discovery of a New concept’ and I think the beast lives up to its moniker.
But photographs can be deceptive. I always imagined the DN-01 to be a huge ungainly thing. Thankfully, on seeing it in the flesh for the first time, I was immediately captivated by its sleekness. It looks much smaller than in the photos, and in this case small is definitely beautiful.
The DN-01 is one of those machines that can’t really be pigeonholed. It’s neither a motorcycle nor a scooter, more a modern metamorphosis of the two, combining some of the best elements of both and the sheer forward thinking brilliance of Honda in one neat package. It chewed up the design rulebook and spat it out into a pearlescent purple splodge.
But is the Honda DN-01 more than just a stunning facade? I think so. The bike is brimming with technology, designed both to enhance the ride and offer options to the rider. The gearbox for instance, isn’t exactly conventional. For starters, you’ll probably notice that there’s no clutch lever. That’s because it doesn’t need one.
The DN-01 uses what Honda term HFT, that’s Human Friendly Transmission to you and me. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the way a run of the mill maxi scooter’s auto transmission works, using a stepped pulley and belt to centrifugally alter gearing depending on the revs. Honda have taken things one step further by developing a hydro mechanical transmission system, it sounds great on paper and works very well, but to be honest it feels no different to any other maxi scooter I’ve ridden.