Sunday, March 22, 2009
Honda has a long and storied history as a manufacturer of landmark motorcycles like the Trail 90, the 305 Super Hawk, and the CB-750. The company has also produced some magnificent failures, including the CB-450, the CX-500 and CX-650 Turbos, and the CBX—all technically advanced but largely unloved by the motorcycle-buying public in their day.
These latter models exemplify Honda’s occasional urge to show off its technical chops by cramming a bike full of every leading-edge idea it's been sitting on for lack of someplace to try them out, not because it needs to but just because it can. That’s why I call this the Because We Can school of motorcycle design.
But just because you can do something is no reason to go ahead and do it. Like a chef who throws every spice in the kitchen into the soup, sometimes Honda just doesn’t know when to dial it back a notch.
The latest graduate from the BWC school is the DN-01, which looks like the aftermath of a high-speed collision of a sportbike, a scooter, and a cruiser. It has a dual-mode, automatic Human Friendly Transmission (really, that’s what they call it), linked brakes with ABS, shaft drive, a sporty fairing, and a laid-back seating position.
It also weighs nearly 600 pounds wet, has no storage space at all, is styled as if it suffers from a crippling identity crisis, and comes with an eyeball-popping MSRP of $14,599. (Update: the 2009 model is listed at $15,599.)
Why would I like to ride a DN-01? Because I had an ’82 CBX, a magnificent failure if ever there was one, and I enjoyed it. Because I have a soft spot for motorcycles that over-reach in the present in the pursuit of something worthwhile for the future.
And because 10 years from now, when the DN-01 will have either changed the face of motorcycling as we know it or vanished into well-deserved obscurity, it will be kind of cool to say I rode one of the first ones.