I found myself in a bit of a pickle in 2022.
For me, this year was ‘new bike year.’ And generally, new bike year is the year that most riders look forward to. You’ve paid off your bike (or your PCP agreement), and the exciting pastime of bike shopping takes over your mind.
Eagerly, you study the reviews on websites and in magazines. You trawl through endless videos on YouTube, trying to decipher the worthy ones from the biased ones.
You bounce through the thoughts and opinions of bike journalists across the world; taking what you can whilst secretly wondering how much of the positivity is real and how much of it is in return for the 5* hotels and meals they enjoyed on the press launch courtesy of the manufacturer.
Shortlist in hand, you organise test rides on your chosen bikes. And they always take you by surprise! You find things you love in bikes you never thought you would like. And you discover the bike at the top of your list never quite lives up to your expectations.
It’s a great time to be a biker!
This is an overview of my thoughts on the Honda NT1100 – and why I ultimately decided NOT to buy one.
Stepping Down From My Africa Twin
I’ve had big adventure bikes for a while now. And whilst I’ve enjoyed them, I’ve been itching to get rid of my Africa Twin for quite some time.
The problem I’ve had is that I didn’t actually want any of the bikes available!
Don’t get me wrong, there are tonnes of excellent bikes out there. But not one of them ticked all the right boxes for me.
For me, common drawbacks on a variety of bikes have included price, weight, lack of power, lack of comfort, lack of specific gadgets (namely cruise control), and the lack of what I consider basic amenities (such as a centre stand!)
So when the Honda NT1100 was hyped up towards the end of last year, it instantly found its way to the top of my list.
On paper, at least, it was the only bike on the market that ticked all the boxes. Sure, I would’ve liked a touch more power. But it came with panniers, heated grips, Apple CarPlay, cruise control, a large fuel tank and a centre stand.
And it also looked as though it would monster the comfort test. As a touring rider, this is a huge plus for me.
I knew it wouldn’t be the most exciting bike around. But theoretically, it satisfied a large proportion of my requirements.
So I went to have a look.
Related: Read more posts like this in our Touring category
For me, the NT1100 is up against some very worthy adversaries in the sports touring category:
- Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000SX (Touring Edition)
- Suzuki’s GSX-S1000GT
- Yamaha’s Tracer 9 GT
Honda NT1100 Price Comparisons
The base model of the NT1100 is decent value. Although I don’t agree with the plethora of journalists who unanimously make out that it’s a bargain.
In its basic form, it’s £12,399 (or £13,399 for the DCT model) – correct at the time of writing in April 2022 after Honda’s price increase of £400 on each model.
For comparison purposes, I spec’d out each of the above models with the appropriate touring kits to ensure fairness and similarity throughout the range. For example, the Suzuki comes with practically zero accessories, so I had to add them as extras. And the Ninja 1000SX needed the touring pack to make it comparable to the NT.
Compared to its rivals in this list, the manual NT1100 is £99 more expensive than Yamaha’s similarly-spec’d Tracer 9 GT (or £1,099 more expensive if you opted for the DCT model.)
The manual NT is £938 cheaper than Suzuki’s comparable GSXS-1000GT (although the DCT model is £62 more expensive than the Suzi.)
The Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX is also a close comparison, coming in at £350 more expensive than the manual NT1100 (but £650 cheaper than the DCT version of the NT.)
Honda NT1100: First Impressions
The first thing I noticed about the NT1100 when I saw it in person is that it wasn’t a memorable looking bike. It’s not a bad looking bike, but it’s certainly not a head-turner, either (although it looks better in real life than in pictures.)
It lacks the aggressive lines of the Kawasaki and the Suzuki. And it lacks the finesse of other tourers from BMW and the like.
To make it worse, Honda hasn’t made it any easier on themselves by offering three different shades of bland – black, white, or grey.
When the salesman asked me what colour I liked best, I honestly didn’t have an answer for him. They’re all just a bit plain.
The other thing I noticed immediately was the mass of messy buttons on the left handlebar for the menu system.
I can’t for the life of me understand why Honda clumped everything together in the messiest assortment of buttons I’ve ever seen. And then stuck it on the handlebars.
Not only is it unsightly, but when test riding the bike, I kept pushing unwanted buttons when looking for the indicators or when manually changing down a gear.
To make it worse, these buttons exist only because the touchscreen doesn’t work when the bike is moving. I wish Honda would either make it so the touchscreen works when riding or dispense with the touchscreen altogether and pass on the cost reductions to the customer!
Once on the bike, things started to look up.
Yes, that disgusting cluster of buttons on the handlebars was still staring at me. But in terms of comfort and layout, everything else looked great.
The bike I rode had a comfort seat. And as someone who suffers badly from arse-ache on motorcycles, I have to say, it was roomy, comfortable, and actually quite plush. I was impressed.
With feet up on the pegs, the riding position is super comfortable, and I could tell instantly that this was a bike made for sunrise to sunset riding.
Riding The Honda NT1100
Out on the road, the NT1100 is indeed an easy bike to ride. In true Honda fashion, you feel totally at ease with it the second you set off.
Everything is precisely where you would expect it to be. There are no surprises. No panic. It all feels very familiar – and that instantly puts you at ease.
Even the change to a DCT bike from a manual was without drama. The bike did exactly what it should and never did anything to catch me off guard throughout my ride.
The 1,084cc parallel twin isn’t as beefy as it sounds. It’s a good engine; buttery smooth and incredibly well-mannered.
It’s the same engine that’s in the Africa Twin. But to me, at least, it doesn’t feel like it! I’m pretty certain that my 2019 AT is quicker than the NT1100 – despite the smaller displacement.
Speaking of acceleration, the NT1100 doesn’t take you by surprise off the line, and it doesn’t burst into life at the top end, either. Power delivery is predictable and linear, which makes it easy to ride.
Honda claims the power output of the NT1100 is 100bhp and 77 lb.ft / 104.4 Nm of torque at 6,250rpm.
Compared to some of its similarly-spec’d rivals, the NT1100 is 17bhp shy of Yamaha’s Tracer 9 GT, 40bhp down on Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000SX, and a huge 50bhp short of Suzuki’s GSX-S1000GT.
In typical Honda format, the NT’s acceleration is calm and considered. And if that’s what you want from a touring bike, the NT does it perfectly.
Many people thought the original Honda Deauville was dull. And I can imagine them thinking the NT1100 is just as lacklustre. I must admit, I was expecting a little more oomph from its 1,084cc’s.
Lastly, the NT1100 appears to be less frugal than my Africa Twin. Throughout my ride, I averaged around 48mpg. And in a world where petrol prices are through the roof, that’s a concern.
Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT)
The Honda dealership I visited didn’t have a manual version of the NT1100, so I had to test ride a DCT model.
Having never ridden one before, I wasn’t too sure what to expect.
But on the whole, I found the DCT performance to be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes it worked incredibly well. Other times, I found it to be either overly enthusiastic or overly lethargic.
I tried the DCT box in all three levels of ‘Sport’ (S), and also in standard ‘Drive’ (D.) But no matter which mode I used, I found myself having to override the bike more often than I would like in the twisties – especially on downshifts and for engine braking.
In town, I found the DCT box generally made life easier. In the twisties, however, I wasn’t too keen. Often, the engine would scream as the gearbox held gears for way too long. Other times, it wouldn’t change down which meant hurtling into bends a bit too quick.
I didn’t have to do any kind of slow-riding on the bike, but I would imagine it could be quite cumbersome without a clutch.
There were times throughout my ride when I thought DCT was both great and crap. But overall, I prefer the finesse provided by a clutch. And I can’t see the point of a DCT when I seemingly spend most of my time overriding it.
For this reason, I’d recommend saving yourself a grand and buying the manual version instead. Or, try out the optional quick-shifter. Having not tried it, I can’t comment. But I can imagine it being a more useful option to consider.
Honda NT1100: Handling & Weight
One of the most important requirements for my next bike is that it’s lightweight. So I was somewhat bemused when I saw the DCT version of the NT1100 was a full 20kg heavier than my non-DCT Africa Twin.
That said, it feels a whole lot lighter when picking it up off the side stand. And the weight isn’t actually noticeable.
On every level, I was impressed at how the NT1100 carries its weight.
In terms of handling, the NT felt light and nimble in town. And it was devastatingly easy to handle in the twisties. I have absolutely no complaints here.
Related: The Lightest Touring Motorcycles
Riding & Touring Comfort
The NT1100’s forte is comfort. I was lucky to have the optional comfort seat under my delicate derriere, and it was a Godsend.
Seat aside, the riding position of the NT is superb for long-distance touring. With many bikes, I find myself simply having to live with the fact that the riding position isn’t perfect. But that isn’t the case with the NT1100.
I felt like I was sitting ‘in’ the bike in an almost upright position. It really is a good position to cover miles.
The adjustable screen always seemed to be in just the right place. And even on the motorway, buffeting was minimal thanks to the screen, wind deflectors and foot deflectors.
With the cruise control on, motorway riding was comfortable and quiet. In fact, the loudest thing I noticed was the road noise radiating up from the front tyre.
All-in-all, I have to concede that the NT1100 is hugely comfortable. It’s the best bit of the bike, and the wind deflectors are a dream!
Honda NT1100: Rider Aids & Accessories
One of the things that drove me to the NT1100 was the sheer amount of accessories that come as standard.
Cruise control, heated grips, centre stand, panniers (32-litre and 33-litre), and Apple CarPlay is exactly what I would ask for if I was designing my own bike.
And whilst these accessories are available on other bikes from other manufacturers, you usually have to pay extra for them.
One thing the NT doesn’t come with, however, is a top box. When I asked the salesman about the optional 50-litre top box, he told me it was £580. And that doesn’t include fitting, either.
The comfort seat is around £120, but that’s only for the rider’s seat. To have the pillion seat matching, it’s just shy of £200.
The TFT dash was clear and colourful. However, the old-school Casio-watch style display beneath it looked dated and somewhat pointless.
Why I DIDN’T Buy The Honda NT1100
In a nutshell, I felt Honda were asking too much money and providing nowhere near enough smiles for the price.
On paper, the NT1100 is a difficult bike to ignore. With a base price of £12,399, it isn’t cheap. However, it is in line with its competitors.
I currently pay around £170 per month (over three years) for my Africa Twin on PCP. For the NT1100 with DCT, the payments work out (for me and my specific circumstances) at £185 over FOUR years, or £215 over three years.
To make it worse, this is NOT taking into account the additional £400 price increase from 1st April, nor is it taking into account the additional £580 for the top box or the £200 for the comfort seat.
For the spec I want at the current prices, the Honda NT1100 would be close to £14,500. And that’s a lot.
Was I enamoured by the NT1100 when I rode it? No, not at all.
I didn’t have an ear-to-ear smile when I got off it. And it didn’t tickle my fancy or entertain me enough to warrant that type of price.
That said, the NT is incredibly easy to ride and supremely comfortable. There’s not a doubt in my mind that Honda will sell lots and lots of NT1100 units!
For me though, I think I would get bored of it pretty quickly. It’s a nice bike to ride. But it lacks character and flair.
For over £200 per month, there are other bikes out there that would give me butterflies of excitement every time I was about to get on it.
Sadly, the Honda NT1100 just isn’t one of those bikes.
So What DID I Buy?
Well, I can tell you that I did buy one of the bikes on this list! It’s on its way to me as we speak and I’ll show you more when it gets here.
Any guesses on which I went for? Let me know in the comments!
All images: Honda