What makes a scooter a scooter? What makes a motorcycle a motorcycle? When you have bikes like Honda’s DN-01 – with a 100+ mph top speed, automatic transmission, and big “v twin” engine – it’s tough to tell. True to its category-busting form once again, Honda is blurring the scooter/motorcycle line even more at this year’s EICMA show, releasing a quartet large-displacement 2-cylinder 2-wheelers that (despite their varied “mission statements”) share the same “shiftless” transmission that has (despite the existence of manual-transmission scooters like Genuine’s Stella) defined “scooter” for the last 2 (maybe 3!) decades.

In addition to the automatic transmission and twist-n’-go operation (just like my 50 cc Metropolitan), other “scooter” characteristics have also seeped into the DNA of the NC700 bikes (shown, at top).  Most notably, a built in “trunk” or storage compartment where you might expect to find a fuel tank and a fuel tank can be accessed between the riders’ legs (just like my 50 cc Metropolitan).

Honda claims the new NC700’s storage compartment (in all its sport, touring, and “UJM” flavors) are big enough to fit a 3/4-face helmet (just like my 50 cc Metropolitan).

I’ll give them this much: the NC700 is, at least, the most motorcycle-like scooter on the market … or maybe that’s a tagline for Honda’s new Integra?

Honda’s new Integra 700 scooter.

Looking for all the world like a pumped-up version of Honda’s 125 cc PCX line, the new Integra makes use of the same 2-cylinder engine and dual-clutch automatic transmission as the NC700 at top, but features a larger underseat storage bucket, a smoother ride (courtesy of its longer wheelbase), and significantly improved weather protection (courtesy of a front fascia/legshield and tall windscreen). Off-the line performance should be better with the Integra maxi-scooter as well, since the smaller-diameter rear wheel should give superior torque multiplication.

So, is the Integra a scooter, or a scooterish motorcycle? Is the NC700 a motorcycle, or a faux-tercycle? To the people who are drawn to automatic transmission bikes, I’m sure labels like that won’t matter – they’ll be drawn to the new Hondas’ ultra-low emission engine, 65 mpg economy, and traffic-shredding acceleration … the extra storage won’t hurt sales a bit, either!

Time will tell, though, whether I have that right – or whether people will just keep on buying ridiculous Harleys.

You can check out Honda’s official EIMA 2011 press release, below, and keep an eye on these pages for road tests of the new Hondas in the coming months.

Honda today announces the introduction of its uniquely comprehensive 2012 model line-up, ahead of the opening of the EICMA show in Milan on Tuesday November 8th.

The new models cover a huge range of rider needs and styles. Highlights include:

The Crosstourer: an adventure sports tourer which takes Honda’s unique V4 heritage in a new direction. Unveiled as a concept model in 2010, the Crosstourer’s 1200cc engine, adventure styling, long suspension travel, upright riding position, Traction Control System, Combined ABS and optional Dual Clutch Transmission make it a formidable all-round package.

The Integra: a new machine offering the stability and dynamic ride of a motorcycle, with the protection, comfort and look of a large scooter, plus Dual Clutch Transmission and an all-new highly fuel efficient, high torque 670cc engine.

Two new fun and affordable mid-sized machines – the NC700X and NC700S. These machines offer easy fun handling in a crossover and naked styling respectively for both commuting and weekend use.

The expansion of Honda’s range of Dual Clutch Transmission models to five machines: the VFR1200F (upgraded for 2012), Crosstourer, Integra (the first model to have the system as standard), NC700X and NC700S. First released on sale in 2010 for the VFR1200F, Dual Clutch Transmission offers seamless shifting in both its manual and its two automatic modes.

Three stylish and affordable machines offering fun mobility: the Vision 50, Honda’s first all-new 50cc model for Europe for nearly ten years, which complements the 110cc Vision released earlier this year, plus the Wave 110i, whose lineage can be traced back to the 60million plus selling Super Cub.

Upgrades to two genuinely iconic flagship machines – the GL1800 Gold Wing luxury tourer, boasting a 36 year history, and the 20th anniversary edition of the CBR1000RR Fireblade super sports classic.

In addition to a total of 7 new models (Integra, NC700X, NC700S, Crosstourer, Vision 50, Vision, and Wave110i), 6 upgraded machines (CBR1000RR Fireblade, GL1800 Gold Wing, VFR1200F, CFR450R, CRF250R and CRF150R), a total of 16 models will be offered with new colours.


Source: EICMA 2011.