2022 Honda NT1100 – Honda Takes Opposite Approach From the Last Time in Creating a “Straight Forward” Tourer.
Remember the Honda VFR1200F Interceptor? It was a remarkably comfortable, refined and powerful sport-touring bike. It launched in 2010 but disappeared from Canada just a few years later leaving barely a ripple in its passing. Part of the problem was that Honda had called the new bike an Interceptor which of course brought to mind the VFR800 Interceptor which was an entirely different beast – lighter, more agile, sportier – and verging on a legend.
The VFR1200 by comparison was big and heavy – but it was an excellent sport touring bike easily making it into my top three in that category – it really was remarkably comfortable and the motor was fantastic. The VFR1200 would have cost Honda a boxcar of money to develop. There was the big new V-4 engine, the entirely new platform and interesting / unusual design elements with a fit and finish Honda compared to the best of the premium segment. With all that money already spent, there had to be another option to spread the cost around. As the VFR1200 quietly faded into the gloom, Honda revealed the VFR1200X would be available in Canada (it was already available in Europe going by the name of Crosstour but as Honda already had a freakishly bulbous Accord going by that name in Canada the bike stuck with the alpha-numeric designation).
The 1200X was on the soft shoulder of the ADV category. Based on the VFR1200 platform, the bike featured all the good stuff found in the original bike but with a more upright ADV-style seating – but the problem with the new bike, like the 1200 Interceptor before, was that it was large and heavy and despite its big front wheel, extra ground clearance and spoked rims was not in the same capability category as the R1200GS. The VFR1200 Interceptor was comfortable in a sport riding ergonomic, the VFR1200X more so in the universal, neutral sense – for long miles on pavement it fit the bill. The other problem the VFR1200X faced was that Honda also introduced the original Africa Twin 1000. If you wanted true ADV credentials the Africa Twin was the way to go both because it was cheaper (bonus!) and it was an entirely new platform whereas the VFR1200 platform had been around for a while.
The outcome of the 1200 V-4 experiment were two excellent bikes without a large following in North America although they both persisted far longer in Europe.
Moving forward to 2021, the problem for Honda is that there is a hole in the company’s line-up in Canada (and the US). There is nothing that could be called, even loosely, a sport-touring machine in their line-up— the last ST1300 is long gone, the VFR800 which could fill the role on occasion, is also gone. But in Europe, the hole is about to be filled by the all-new 2022 Honda NT1100, a bike created by taking large helping from the Africa Twin parts bin including the motor, frame, electronics and massaging them into a touring machine.
Honda says in the introductory announcement:
In a motorcycling landscape full of adventure-styled bikes, there is a gap. And that gap exists for riders that desire performance, handling, long range comfort, and technology but not necessarily the image or physical dimensions of ‘adventure’. In other words, what they want is a straightforward touring machine, but one with a rich specification list and a sporty edge to its performance – the sort of bike that deals with the weekday commute efficiently and usefully and is also ready for an extended tour, fully loaded.
Sounds kind of like what the old VFR1200X accomplished although it did look adventurous. There is absolutely a gap and according to Honda it is not necessarily sport-touring but “straight forward” touring. That could mean a lot of things including basic, conservatively styled or, more obviously, cheaper
What you will get should the 2022 Honda NT1100 come to Canada is a 100hp, 1084cc parallel twin connected via a chain to the rear wheel through a 6 speed manual or a DCT. It will weigh 524lbs with the manual transmission, 22lbs heavier with the DCT. There is a 6.5inch TFT screen, three standard riding modes and two custom modes, 43mm Showa forks, torque control, wheelie control and of course ABS. The specs are “straightforward” with perhaps the reasonable engine output deferring some of the other electronic aids found on other bikes in the same general category.
Speaking of that category, it is a little tough to say what exactly would be direct competition for the NT1100. It brings to mind the old Suzuki Bandit 1250S but that bike is gone. Yamaha’s relatively new Tracer GT would be in the same realm. Suzuki’s brand new GSX-S1000GT is similar but more exciting in a “sport-touring” way with 1.5 times the horsepower, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 would be another option. If the new NT1100 comes to Canada part of the bike’s ultimate success would depend on price. In Europe the NT1100 will come standard with bags, heated grips and cruise control so that should add value to the sticker. In Canada the Versys 1000 LT is $17,199, the Tracer GT is $16,999 which is also the same price as the decked out Suzuki GSX-S1000GTA. The Honda would have to be the same or, even better, considerably less considering what the competition brings to the table – around $15,999 would seem about right.
It is going to be an interesting ride for this ADV-based “straight forward” tourer with a “sporty edge”. Motorcycle today often land in very distinct niches, this one doesn’t. Will that prove a good or bad thing for the 2022 Honda NT1100? For some reason of another, perhaps it was the era of the cruiser in North America, bikes like the NT1100 always seemed more successful in Europe. That continent didn’t after all have the tradition driven huge and variety filled spectrum of cruisers that we enjoyed in Canada and the US. But they also didn’t have the wide open long horizons with little to slow down for.