I’m excited, for a few reasons. First, I get to pick up Roo and bring her back to Stratton. It’s a two and one-half hour drive for Roo and her sister to get from Burlington to Brattleboro by interstate, and they weren’t leaving until 10:00 AM. That gives me plenty of time to get excited about reason number two: the first of three demo rides I signed up for with American Honda! Third, our moto-buddy from Rhode Island, who we haven’t seen in five years, will be arriving later this afternoon!
American Honda worked hard for us throughout the event!
Honda brought a huge selection of their current sport, sport-touring, and touring motorcycle lineup to STAR: CB500, CBR500R, CBR500RR, F6B, Gold Wing, NC700X, NC500X, VFR1200X, and the brand new Africa Twin! Two of each motorcycle was offered for us to ride on one-half hour, guided rides through gorgeous Vermont countryside. These were no pansy, walk in the park, don’t damage the goods, 30 MPH rides. These ride leaders wicked it up on curvy Vermont backroads. Honda really wants you to experience these bikes in real world riding. If you chose the Africa Twin to demo, you were even taken off-road to see what this ground breaking adventure bike could do!
Waiting patiently for some riders
Honda’s new Africa Twin adventure bike
My ride of choice was a bike I have been eyeing for a year or two now. Truth be told, the last two years have found me contemplating a reduction in cc’s, downsizing from the ST. When we were told Honda was coming to STAR, I grabbed the chance to ride the wheels off the bike I plan to purchase, Honda’s NC700X DCT.
2016 NC700X DCT
DCT, or Dual Clutch Transmission, is Honda’s groundbreaking “automatic” transmission which can also be switched to manual mode. No clutch lever and no foot shifter, manual mode is paddle shifted on the left handlebar, similar to shifting Formula One race cars. I’m here to tell you, it is AWESOME! Honda hit a home run with their DCT. It is most definitely the coming thing!
Don’t let that 700 cc engine designation fool you. This motor is tuned to POP! Switching to Sport mode when in “auto”, or paddle shifting in manual gets the torque curve down low to mid range, with a more aggressive throttle response.
Getting instruction from our ride leader on the use of the DCT. Surprisingly, manual mode is very intuitive. I only reached for the clutch lever once!
The senior Honda rep gave each group a pre-ride briefing on what to expect, emphasizing the need to obey speed limits. She had to. Mother Honda’s attorneys said so. Our group leader, pictured above, had other ideas. As soon as we cleared the parking lot and got onto the main road, this young lady twisted the throttle and took us on Mr. Toads Wild Ride on gorgeous Vermont backroads with all of us in tow like little ducklings! Or, to be more manly, we looked like a long, writhing snake quickly scurrying away from danger.
Switching back and forth from auto to manual, sport to normal, all on the fly, testing out this new motorcycle technology, I was having a blast. This was the most fun I have had on a motorcycle in quite a while!
Our group getting ready to roll
On the NC700X waiting for the signal to move up
and off I go playing follow the leader…..
After returning from the demo ride, and falling in love with the NC700X, it was time to hop on the Beemer and scoot over to Brattleboro to pick up Roo. Vermont Scenic By-Way 30 (VT30) was my route of choice, a beautiful road through lovely farmland and countryside, until I was dumped right into downtown Brattleboro’s Main Street where VT30 promptly ended in bumper to bumper traffic! Thankfully, The RT has a light clutch pull, but it was still a pain in the ass. This would have been a great situation to be on the NC700X in auto mode!
Two blocks in and I was done with this. I swung the RT around in a break from oncoming traffic and parked in a side street with a Subway sandwich shop on the corner. Promptly called Roo and her sister, gave them my location, and within minutes they were parked out front. We all had lunch together, then Roo and I headed back to Stratton Mountain on the RT.
Roo breaking out her inner Vanna White, showcasing the RT
By the time we got back to the Black Bear Lodge, our moto-buddy, Jon, from Rhode Island had arrived on his Honda VFR800. Time to clean up and get ready for the STAR opening ceremonies.
Jon and Roo with the Black Bear
Tomorrow we begin to ride Vermont’s scenic by-ways with an interesting, impromptu stop for lunch.
Next Post: Vermont Scenic By-Ways, Quechee Gorge, a hippie lunch with the diner-saurs.