Not sure if this qualifies as a trip report or a bike review but I’ll leave it up to the mods to move it as necessary. .. So I had a few extra days to kill while on vacation in Augusta, Georgia and went looking for a bit of two wheeled fun. A call to my local Eagle Rider in Columbia South Carolina secured me a Honda 2010 NT700V for a couple of days. There’s been a lot of buzz about this bike in the magazines and on this forum so I figured I would give it a shot and see how good it really is. Saturday November 13th (Day 0): My buddy “J” dives me to Columbia to pick up the bike. We pull up to the Honda dealer and we see the 700 all shiny and red sitting in the middle of the outdoor display. A few min talking with the rental agent and she tosses me the keys. Now before I go into all the gory details of what this bike has and how it handled let me just say that it is 180 degree difference from my normal ride (Suzuki DR 650). The Honda is fat, short and very chic. Something akin to a midget sumo wrestler in a tuxedo. The seat is wide and comfortable, the fairing is substantial with a manually adjustable windscreen and there are those non-removable saddlebags that are built into the body. It looks like it was designed with a lot of computers and wind tunnel secessions. Nothing looked out of place and all the cables and wires were tightly bunched and out of the way. Undoubtedly a very well engineered motorcycle but there was just something about the looks of the whole package that made me wince. The team that designed the back end of this bike should be made to wear it as a hat on every Friday as a reminder of how ugly it really is. It looks like a cross between a scooter and a hippopotamus. A quick stop for pizza then I follow J’s truck onto Rt. 20 for the 70 mile sprint back to Augusta. While ridding down the on-ramp at about 50 MPH I quickly realized that the road surface is uneven there is a parallel lip in the pavement at the bottom of the ramp. A burst of throttle, pull of the handle bars and a quick shift of weight gets the fat girl over the hump and we are in the lane and on the way. As the speed limit increases from 60 to 70 MPH I crank the throttle open a bit more and J’s truck becomes a small dot in my mirrors…my awesome well put together mirrors. I had no idea that mirrors on a motorcycle could be THIS good. Whatever team at Honda was responsible for designing and installing these mirrors should walk around the factory every Friday with a gold medal pinned to their chests as a reward for a job well done. The fairing is doing a decent job of keeping the wind off me and even though I’m only wearing a mesh jacket and jeans, I’m not that cold. The team that designed it gets to live to design another day (but they better start thinking about a screen that can adjust on the move). So it seems that this fat girl loves to run and she does a great job on the open road. Let’s see if she can dance … Sunday November 14th (Day 1): Leaving Augusta at 0800 (ish) the temperature is noticeably cooler but the rising sun soon provides enough warmth to allow the frost to melt away. J is riding his Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom and it sounds great. I however am riding fat, midget sumo girl ( FMSG?) and have no idea how she sounds. It seems that the Vulcan’s stock pipes are loud enough to drown out the Honda’s engine at low revs and at highway speeds the engine does not rev over 5500 RPM. Leaving Rt. 20 for Rt. 17 North the pace slows down and we come to a series of traffic lights on a long empty stretch of road. A perfect place to see whose bike is faster at the 0-60 test. Our completely un-scientific testing methodology consisted of us lining up next to each other at a red light and when it turned green we accelerated as fast as we could to 60 MPH ( the posted speed limit so calm down). The Honda FMSG 700 is faster and with a little more work I might be able to get it to wheelie. Continuing along Rt 17 at a leisurely pace J’s Vulcan seems to be well at ease with the long sweeping corners but the Honda seems tense. She wants to run but I want to jog. I want to take my time and enjoy this, but the Honda is acting like a spoiled child. Dragging her feet and causing me grief. Lots of low rev toiling in an aggressive riding position. Right road, wrong bike. Soon we are into North Carolina and on Rt. 28 A.K.A the Moon Shiner 28. This twisty piece of heaven leads from the midlands all the way to US 129 Deals Gap (Tail of the Dragon) and was once a major route for moon shiners to run their product from the mountains to the city. We stop to fill our tanks and our bellies and I re-set the Honda’s computer. Up to this point the FMSG700 was getting 63.0 MPG but I wanted to see what some high revving fast twisties would do to those numbers. Almost immediately FMSG snaps out of her depression and all of that built up energy turns to a kind of rage. Not an uncontrollable blind maniac with a chainsaw kind of range..but rather the just got out of a 3 hour long Friday meeting kind of rage. The engine stops sounding like an electric golf cart and starts sounding like a jet preparing for takeoff. Leaning into the turns the throttle response is very predictable and the breaks are fantastic. Hammering down the gears does not upset the bike and even on slick pavement I’m unable to make the back wheel chirp or bounce. We spend much of our time working our way around slower cars filled with leaf people and blowing past interesting roadside attractions that we really should have stopped to take pictures of. Shockingly enough we miss a turn somewhere around Highland and we keep following Rt. 64 to Cashiers North Carolina. This town would have been more enjoyable if J and I had not gotten separated when I needed to pull over. We wasted a solid hour trying to find each other without the use of cell phones but eventually we re-connected at a gas station. Back on Rt. 28 J and I set our sites on a well sorted Mini Cooper and we do our best to run it down. After a few miles of this chase I’m starting to get worn out. The FMSG is showing her heft (a full 562 lbs) and the quick shifts in body position needed to make the big girl dance are wearing me out. The seat feels like a Lazy Boy sofa compared to my DR and it is sapping all my energy. After a stop on Rt 74 for a top off we head into the real hill country towards Fontana Dam and the skies open up. Cold rain, wet leafs, dark skies and dangerous mountain roads oh happy day. The pace goes from hooligan to scared old man but the Honda is handling the horrific conditions with aplomb. Never loosing grip and the leisurely throttle response that I was cursing earlier was now a blessing. The bike was predictable and forgiving. Exactly what a situation like this called for. When we arrived at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort it was around 4:00 PM and there were only a hand full of people still there. More then one of the guys was sitting next to a busted bike and they all had the look of “yep we screwed up and we are waiting for a trailer”. After seeing all the carnage and realizing that we still needed to get to Ashville NC for the night we decided not to run Rt. 129 and headed back in the fading light on Rt 28 (we both have ridden 129 before so we were not missing anything). Taking 28 to the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway the rain goes from a downpour to a drizzle and we work our way into Ashville in the dark. After 400 miles of every kind of street riding we could do, we reached the hotel, grabbed some dinner and mapped out the next day’s route. Monday November 15th (Day 2): After night at a good hotel and a few drinks at America’s shittyist Italian restaurant we got back on the bikes and started making our way from Ashville NC to Charleston SC. The previous day’s twisty fun roads were a memory and we were reduced to boring slab riding. We mostly stuck to Rt. 26 but also used Rt. 176 when we could. Rt. 176 is a very long very straight road that passes through some rural farming towns and the surrounding scenery of cotton & peanut fields made taking the alternate route worth while. The days ride was pleasantly uneventful the roughly 300 mile jaunt went by quickly. We even made it into town early and beat Canoli Wife to the hotel (she was actually in town hours before us shopping with her mom). The Honda worked beautifully and again it proved to be the weapon of choice when you have a lot of highway miles to cover. We all went to dinner at Slightly North of Broad and talked about the past few days’ events over some of the best yuppie southern food I’ve ever eaten (pan seared pulled pork HELL YEAH!!). Tuesday November 16th (Day 3): The weather channel was calling for severe thunderstorms so J took off early and headed back to Augusta. I however was heading to Columbia with Canoli Wife to drop off the bike. About 40 miles into our journey the sky opened up and once again I found myself pulling over to put on my rain gear. Sticking to 176 for as long as possible I had clean air in front of me and once I properly adjusted the windscreen the rain did not obstruct my visor as long as I kept my speed around 65. Any slower and there was just not enough wind to clear the rain off. One last stop for gas and the attendant asks me “You are actually riding a motorcycle in the rain?” “Is that any fun?” I look at him all dripping wet and ring out my glove by moving a few fingers laugh and say “nope..not at all”. I drop off the bike at Eagle Rider with a full tank of gas and not a scratch on it. Final thoughts: I’m 35 years old, 5 foot 7 and 155 lbs and after this 850 mile trip it is safe to say that I don’t think that the NT700V is the bike for me. Sure with a bit of tweaking, some bar risers, some suspension tuning ect.. I could get the bike set up better. But the fact is I do not usually do a whole lot of high speed highway riding and I just can’t get past its fat midget looks. Yes it got me 55 MPG in the mountains and 63 MPG on the highway, and was stable and predictable when the conditions got bad but it just seemed too well engineered, too well thought out for my taste. For me I still like my DR. It has tons more character a bit more oomph and MUCH more ugly (the good kind).