Honda automatic motorcycle

With a powerful, 670 cc twin-cylinder engine, low seat height, comfortable riding position, up-to-the-minute styling, and low price tag, Honda’s new CTX700 UJM was always going to be a hot seller. Honda, however, wants to make absolutely certain that this bike will have a broad appeal. An appeal so broad, in fact, that the bike will draw in buyers considering Harley-Davidson Sportsters and even those few Can-Am Spyder buyers who aren’t afraid of, you know, motorcycles. Honda even hopes to attract buyers that might not even be shopping for a motorcycle. Honda hopes to accomplish all of those goals with just one word: automatic.

Since introducing the automatic bikes to the world in 2011, Honda has sent the message that, as with cars, the “clutch era” of motorcycles is rapidly coming to an end. As such, the company has spent considerable R&D dollars developing a new, electronically-shifted Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) specifically for motorcycles and ATVs, with this CTX being the first road-going Honda to use the latest generation of the self-shifting tranny.

So, does that self-shifting transmission accomplish Honda’s goals? Let’s see!

  1. Will the CTX700’s automatic transmission help steer Harley wives away from Sportsters and in to Honda showrooms? I think yes.

  2. Will the CTX700’s automatic transmission help convince Can-Am Spyder shoppers that motorcycles aren’t quite so scary as they first thought? I think, also yes.

  3. Will the CTX700’s automatic transmission encourage young, single urban commuters who never learned to drive stick and are saddled with student debt and over-inflated rent prices in a soft job market to consider the bike as a freedom-enhancing, faraway job-enabling “step up” from their 50 cc Metropolitans and Lemonheads that’s a realistic alternative to a few-years-old Honda Civic? Oh, definitely yes.

How does the transmission work in practice? Ride Apart’s Tim Watson explains that “from a rookie’s point of view the Honda automatic clutch system makes a lot of sense. No more fumbling for gear changes and once you understand how it works it’s really not that difficult. From our perspective it removes some of the riding experience but for a new rider it’s hassle free and an asset if the CTX is your first bike.”

High praise, indeed.

As you can probably tell by now, I think Honda has a hit on its hands with the CTX (once knowledge of the innovation diffuses into the general population, anyway), and that’s not just because of the high-mpg the bike will give back, or because I’m enamored with Honda’s new middleweights in general and the company’s vintage UJMs in particular. It’s because my new wife, who is totally opposed to me riding a motorcycle and only rarely consents to getting on mine for a Sunday ride, took one look at the new CTX700 and said “Oh, it’s an automatic? I’d ride that.”

Mission accomplished, Honda!


For more information and a thorough road test, head on over to Ride Apart. For a Gas 2 road test, you’ll have to wait until June/July, when I’ll be able to get my grubby little mitts on a CTX700 Touring (shown, below).


Source | Photos: Honda, via Ride Apart.