The big test day for the NC had us turning 300 miles round trip with heat, then very cool temps, rain, then cold rain, dry tarmac, then tarmac flooded over.
Our group of 12 bikes left Greenville, South Carolina, for the mountains of North Carolina, amid a beautiful, sunny morning. Temps were up, but we knew heading into the mountains, things would cool down quickly. Our first destination: Mt. Mitchell State Park, home of Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain peak east of the Big Muddy (Mississippi River) at 6684 feet.
No rain was in the forecast along our entire route according to Weather Underground. So rain gear stayed home. The ride up was awesome! Comfortably fast paced, no Ricky Racer antics by anyone, with the ride leader doing a good job of keeping everyone together. Lunch was at the Mt. Mitchell restaurant, and having eaten there many times, I must say this time the meal was truly forgettable.
Leaving town in traffic, I kept the NC in automatic, Sport mode 2 (out of 3). This was also a good setting for the sweeping curves we encountered on the ride north. Our approach road to the Blue Ridge Parkway was NC226A, a.k.a. The Diamondback Motorcycle & Sports Car Route.
For this super twisty and super fun section of road, I switched the NC from auto, to manual, on the fly. No drama. Whatever gear the automatic mode tranny is in, the same gear is selected by computer for manual mode. Now I was in full control of gear selection. Upshifts and downshifts with the buttons on the left handlebar were fast and smooth as we negotiated the tight curves and switchbacks of 226A. I know I am now becoming one with this motorbike as I only grabbed for a non-existent clutch lever once, and wiggled my left foot for a downshift only once!
Once on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I switched back to automatic mode, but this time in Sport Mode 3. This was perfect for the continuous curves on the BRP.
The stock tires on this bike are great. She is shod with Bridgestone Battlewings, a 90 percent road, 10 percent off-road (????), ok, hard fire road, tire. So far, since getting the NC, I have only tested them in dry conditions, and they are excellent! They grip like nobody’s business, and give really good feedback from the road. Unbeknownst to me, I would get the chance to test their wet road worthiness big time, in a few hours.
At one of our rest stops, we came upon a hopped up Polaris Slingshot in a parking space. For those of you unfamiliar with the Slingshot, it is a three wheeled (two front, one rear), open cockpit, steering wheel vehicle. Supposedly, it has a pretty powerful power plant right out of the box.
The afternoon was getting on, and as it was , my ETA home was going to be around 6:30 – 6:45. Beady little eyes will start wandering about in these here mountains looking for supper along the roadside soon, so I split from the group and headed down the hill. Then the skies opened up.
Big time rain! No where to pull over, mostly because I couldn’t see! Thankfully, the bucket drenching only lasted a couple of minutes, then reduced itself to a steady shower. But at least visibility was good now, and, a perfect real world wet test for the Bridgestone Battlewings!
The roads were soaking wet, so I slowed my speed and significantly reduced my lean angles; no Moto GP rain tire leanings going on here! The Battlewings performed admirably. Coming out of curves while rolling on the throttle produced a steady grip of rubber to road as the bike straightened up. No sphincter puckering slippage at all.
Some sections of road were flooded over, not deeply, but enough to see a small current running through the water. Plowing through, there was not the slightest hint of hydroplaning! I was duly impressed with these Battlewings! Now, the only thing to ascertain is their durability through this year. I’ve had them from mile 0, so we’ll see what number rolls up on the odo at the end of the year and what the tread wear looks like.
Not all is peaches and cream with the NC, however. My biggest complaint, and a major one, is the seat. Up to 150 miles or so, it is ok. Beyond that, it gets very uncomfortable. For some reason, Honda developed this seat with a forward slope, which pushes you into the frunk. About 125 miles out, you begin to lack feeling in your nether regions. No bueno! Fortunately, the ergos of handlebar and foot pegs on the NC are similar to the Africa Twin, which allows me to stand up and steer comfortably, and get blood moving again!
I had this problem with my ST1300 as well, but solved it with Beadrider seat beads. Can’t do that with the NC though. The NC’s seat height at 32.7 inches already puts me on the forefoot/balls of my feet. Beadrider adds about another half inch of height, which would put me on tip toes. No, no, no. So, a new seat is on the list of add ons, sooner than later.
I was very happy with this motorbike prior to this road test. Now I am truly in love with this machine. She performed flawlessly throughout the varied conditions of this test. Once the seat is changed out, she will be the perfect bike for me at this stage of my riding career. The adventure continues!