2010 Honda NT700VUPDATE:  Read the full review of the 2010 Honda NT700V now on Motorcycle.com

It should be obvious, but one of the perks of being in the business of evaluating motorcycles is the opportunity to see and ride a huge variety of bikes.

Recently, while returning a CRF230M to American Honda’s main offices I spotted the new-to-the-U.S. NT700V sitting amongst the gaggle of bikes set aside for the moto media.

Since the bike has yet to be formally introduced to all media, I certainly wasn’t able to ride, but I did saddle up to it and fiddle around, so I thought I’d pass on a few firsthand quick-take notes.

Straightaway, it was slimmer than what I expected based on my impression from photos. Lifting it off the sidestand took less effort that what I anticipated for a middleweight sport-tourer, so it seems relatively light despite a claimed fueled-up weight of 562 lbs on the ABS model.

I was struck next by how low the saddle was. Were the seat a tad narrower, or I had a little more than a 30-inch inseam, I could’ve easily and firmly planted both boots. As it was, I was nearly flat-footing it anyway.

2010 Honda NT700VThe adjustable windscreen size seems to strike a good balance between being big enough to deflect most of the wind someone standing 5-foot 8-inches might experience, yet it’s not nearly as large as the screen on the ST1300.

The handlebar is a simple steel one-piece chrome job providing an easy reach for the rider. The dash seemed functional and straightforward, with an analog speedo and tach as the primary info givers. And there’s at least one locking compartment in the dash-area fairing, similar that on the ST1300. Additionally, the remote preload adjuster knob for the shock is easily accessed behind the rider’s left leg, just like on the ST1300.

All this stuff was good news in my opinion; however, nothing caught my attention as much as the integrated hard saddlebags. You can’t really get a sense from photos just how integrated the boxes really are.

They blend so well with the rest of the bodywork they seem like a mildly bulbous protrusion rather than built in luggage. In fact, looking at them from the exterior at first leads you to think they won’t hold more than a T-shirt.

Of course they’ll hold far more than that, but I wasn’t convinced there’s enough room for a full-face helmet like the ST1300’s bags are capable of stowing. Also, as noted in the recent announcement on of the NT, there’s a space between the inner rear portion of the bags that allows long items, like, say a rolled-up poster of your favorite roadracer, to fit between the bags. Lastly, the opening latch for the bags is more of a push-button operation as opposed to unlocking and lifting a latch like on the ST1300.

Picture 1I didn’t get the chance to fire up the Twin that powers the NT, but when the engine’s running, it’ll pump out burnt fuel mixture through a single exhaust can that looks identical to the cans on the ST1300.

After playing around on the new NT700V for a few minutes the first thing that came to mind was what an excellent commuter this bike will make, not to mention another great addition to the sport-touring market.

The introduction of the NT700V to the U.S. market should nicely fill the hole left by the absence of the Honda Pacific Coast (PC800), not seen here as part Honda’s line-up in over 10 years.

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