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Driving Ms Deauville

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Chairman, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. Before heading off for few months overseas, dad threw me the key for his 650 Deauville and asked me to keep the battery charged. Yesterday was sunny, no kids, so off we went to the Dandenongs to see what a Deauville can do.

    Keep in mind that this is a thoroughly biased review. I like my bikes minimal - one cylinder is plenty, fairings are handy but far from essential and a fuel guage is just one more thing to go wrong. The Deauville has plenty of bells and whistles, so my comments are what you'd get if Philip Glass was to review Mozart, or Rothko on Rembrandt.

    The bike is nicely laid out. The thumb switches are near your thumbs, the foot pegs near your feet and the handlebars near you hands. There's no shortage of clever lights to tell you important things, like the light that that tells you that your lights are on. I looked for the light that tells you that the light that tells you that you lights are on is on, until I realised that you can check the "lights on" light by looking at the headlight.

    There's bags of storage. Every time I thought I'd opened the last storage box, another one materialised. For the first time, we stopped at a second hand bookshop and genuinely considered buying a book. On the SZR, one could carry away a slim paperback - the Deauville can take the World Book Encyclopaedia.

    The seat is comfortable and the riding position is very upright. I almost felt like I was on a trailie. The navigator found the foot position odd, as she's used to having her heels tucked well back. The well-muffled exhaust and tall fairing makes the bike quiet - the pillion complained that it was too quiet and lacked the SZR's bang-bang-bang backfire on entry to a corner.

    Take-off is slow and steady. I expected the bike to have a bit more grunt given than it is a V-twin but it was sluggish. None of the SZR's torque, but the rev range goes to 9500rpm - the SZR goes to 7500. I'm not sure how useful the extra 2000rpm are - it gets wheezy around 130 and that was as far as we had the opportunity to take it. On the other hand, it is very smooth with a linear power curve. One nice feature is that it doesn't pig root at low revs, the way the SZR does.

    On a twisty back road, we tried out handling at speed. Yech. The bike wallows in a tight corner - this might be a function of suspension settings - but is has none of the precise feel I'm used to. Never having ridden a shaft-drive bike before, I tried changing throttle positions while leaned over and felt the bike weave. I don't know it this is a torque reaction, but it was certainly unsettling. Even the pillion commented that she really couldn't get the bike over the way she wanted to and that the seat position left her fighting me in the corner.

    Suspension is harsh, and we had a few skitterish corners where the front end really didn't seem to track.

    Braking is good, if a bit wooden. The Deauville has a linked brake system - a detuned version of the VFR setup, I believe. I didn't really know how to get the best out of it, but the bike stopped when it was supposed to.

    The gearbox is very cleverly designed. It has tactile and audible indicators - the shift lever vibrates as you lift it out of gear and the Honda has included a very audible "clunk" as the next cog engages. I know that dull metallic "thud" and it took me 24 hours to remember where I'd heard it before. It's the same noise you get when you drop a 15mm socket down the cam chain tunnel and it wedges under the bottom cam sprocket. It is a sound guaranteed to get my attention.

    If I had to pick a flattering adjective for the Deauville, I'd say "neutral". It doesn't have any nasty habits - or, any habits it does have can be compensated for without too much trouble. As a light tourer, it seems pretty neat.

    For a high-speed, long-haul trip I'd be going for something with a few more CCs. Harleys are great for what they're designed for - carrying fat men over large distances on straight roads - and the Deauville has its own niche carrying slightly smaller men (and women) over not-so-large distances on not-so straight roads. ** See note below!!

    I think that what it does best is exactly what my dad uses it for. It is the perfect bike for a 70 year-old consultant with a mountain of files to commute beween clients quickly and cheaply.

    And for racing on the Black Spur - I'd rather take my 9yo's skateboard.

    **Somewhere around Kallista, we got stuck in a long line of slow moving traffic. When the road finally straightened out, we could see the mobile road block doing its 50km/h potato-potato routine at the head of the queue. You know who you are...and, thanks to the number plate, so do I ;)

  2. Great write-up, mate. Loved these two passages! :LOL: :LOL:

  3. Which is why Honda is so successful, from what I have read and the little experience I have on Honda bikes this seems to be a blessing and a curse. Motorcycling is about your heart as much as your brain, if not more so.

    Oh and Mr Potato Head, he spent $30K on a mid life crisis and wants everyone to know! I'm jealous I want $30K to spend on a bike. :cry:
  4. Nice to see you on NR Mr Chairman!

    Another mirth inspiring review! +1 Cookeetree. Loved it! And your pillion oughta know about pillioning stuff, she could start a school!

    The Dueaville... is some circles, known as the Dullville.

    Do ya reckon an aftermarket pipe and some fancy dynotuning will get it zinging?
  5. Hey, now there's an idea! Why not drag some power out of it and add some bling while Dad's away? :grin:
  6. Please tell us that this classic review 'Marks' your return to regular posting on Netrider; you must know how much you have been missed :)
  7. +1 :applause: :applause: :applause:
  8. Also indicated by the wing emblem on the tank :)

    I wonder how the 650 compares to the 700 in the go-go arena.
  9. Your stories are always worth a read and this was your usual good standard. I smiled, comfortable in the knowledge that I will never buy a Dullville so long as I am short.