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A week on a DN-01

Discussion in 'Cruisers' at netrider.net.au started by TonyE, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. After a week with the DN-01 it’s time to set down some impressions. I picked it up from Honda’s offices at Campbellfield with a bit of trepidation. It’s a while since I’ve ridden a cruiser and at around 270kg it’s certainly no lightweight.

    I needn’t have worried, by the time I got to Bell Street I was very much at home on it. I don’t think I’ve ever found an easier bike to ride. Apart from occasionally grabbing for the clutch lever and not finding anything, it was a bike I felt instantly comfortable on.

    It’s certainly not a bike to ride if you don’t want attention – and not just from other riders. Even in the first minute or two it became obvious that this beast was going to draw some attention when I had a couple of V8 Commodores pull alongside slow down to look and then take off again. For the rest of the week almost every motorcyclist (and scooter rider) who I passed turned their heads to look. Especially amusing were the two Harley riders who steadfastly kept their eyes straight ahead when they came alongside but kept sneaking a look when they thought I wasn’t looking.

    Opinion on the looks was definitely polarised – about half and half. The comments ranged from “amazingly cool looking bike†to “WTF is that ugly POS?â€. The longer I rode it, the more the science-fiction looks grew on me. I’m still not a fan of the exhaust but I can live with it – it does at least suit the bikes shape.

    It’s a moderately good performer for what it is. It could definitely use more power though. The 680cc V-twin engine is good in the Transalp but with an extra 88kg to haul around then its edge is rather blunted in the DN-01. Off the mark the auto transmission compensates a little, moving it away very quickly with no driveline snatch and in both Drive and Sport modes making very smooth imperceptible changes.

    In truth, the transmission is very nice indeed. I was somewhat cynical about the concept of an automatic transmission but very quickly warmed to it. I tried it in manual mode with the handle-bar mounted tiptonic type gear changes a few times but always found myself reverting to the automatic modes. Commuting through the CBD and down crowded roads like Sydney Road and Lygon Street I found the ability to not worry about changing down and always being in the correct gear a huge advantage. I could concentrate on the traffic and not on the gearing. The long wheelbase gives the bike an excellent ability to travel very slowly feet up and makes it a really easy bike to filter with.

    Riding it in the MRA Toyrun contingent in the Myer Christmas Pageant was simplicity itself. I was able to cruise slowly and a lot more comfortably than any of the other bikes. The comments from the crown were very favourable and if 10 year old boys or Starwars fans are the intended market Honda has it exactly right. It attracted a lot of attention from the StarWars guys – especially from the Imperial Stormtroopers who wanted to know if it was available in white – there is a Pearl White model but not in Australia.

    Freeway and country roads were also pretty good. The cowl at the front is just about perfect for my height and strangely the wind flow felt very similar to my old R65LS BMW with its angled front. The seat was comfortable and the stepped pillion gave a little lower back support which improved the comfort immensely. The wide seat and the tank shape however were an issue and I found that the shape of the tank precluded getting a good grip with my knees while cornering a little harder. It just didn’t feel quite right. You do need to conciously countersteer more but it's predictable and with a little practice you are able to get it around corners at a reasonable speed. The floorboards had an unexpected advantage – when riding in Melbourne’s heavy rain, they blocked a lot of the water that comes off the road and my feet stayed significantly drier.

    Thinking about a comparison with other bikes I’ve ridden the one that springs to mind is the 850 BMW cruiser. It has a similar “feel†in many respects. The performance envelope didn’t feel much different (although it’s few years since I rode an 850) and it was also a bike you could hop on and instantly feel at home. The R850 and R1200 Beemer cruisers are probably the only other bikes that have attracted as much divided opinion over their looks.

    As I said above, cornering required some reasonable countersteering efforts. With the 1610mm wheelbase, it’s not a VTR250 to be flicked from side to side. However for the style of bike it is it handled well and very predictably. Riding quickly is aided by the brakes. The linked ABS brakes are more than capable of stopping the bike very quickly and they work at least as good as any of the ABS equipped BMWs I’ve ridden.

    I have to admit if I was in the market for a brand new bike it would certainly be on my list to consider. It really does need more luggage capacity and a little more performance to be the bike it could be. Honda still need to consider some options like Electronic Cruise Control, heated grips and other “luxury†items to make it really competitive.


    Yours truly on the bike...

    And a shot of the market that Honda should really be aiming at... :LOL:

  2. I'm interested by your comments about the screen, Tony. The other day a guy of our vintage riding one pulled into our local maccas while we were assembling for a ride. Needless to say we sauntered over, and one of the obvious questions was 'What's the screen like?'

    I can't repeat his answer on a G-Rated forum, but he said that all the wind ended up on his chest, and that it was a good design, but lously execution.
  3. And a bit of a search turned up some panniers top boxes and a screen at Givi UK
  4. Now THAT would solve his problem, I'm sure.