Honda DN01 and Fury – Press Launch

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Bondo heads down to Florida for the Daytona bike week and samples a couple of brand new Hondas – namely the DN-01 and the Fury. The resulting preferences are somewhat unexpected.

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Words: Steve Bond. Pics: Honda, Rob O’Brien, Didier Constant … not sure which are which …

Rarely do we see new motorcycles that are completely different from anything else currently available. We see many “all new” models but if you stick them side by side with the previous year’s models, they look pretty much alike.

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Two all-new bikes to try.

So it’s quite a feather in Honda’s cap that at the recent Canadian press launch during Daytona’s Bike Week, I had two (count ‘em – two) unique models to try out.

Honda has been flying under the radar recently with a few revisions here and there but not much new. Last year, Canada got the Varadero and CBF1000, but both models were previously available in Europe, so they weren’t really new.

Have a gander at the 2009 DN01 and the 2010 Fury – nothing like either one of them has graced a dealer’s showroom before.

DN EH?

dn01_rhs.jpgDN-01 has technology but it comes at a price.

The DN01 is a bit of an enigma. For starters, even moderately committed motorcyclists won’t be doing cartwheels over the prospect of a 680cc V-twin, weighing a smidge under 600 lbs (270kg) that costs over 17 grand.

Likewise, scooter riders are going to balk at something with no storage and minimal weather protection … even if it does have a twist-and-go throttle. Oh, and that pesky 17 grand thing raises its ugly head again.

Honda says the DN01 is intended for new riders, which is completely out of the right field bleachers until they clarify that with, “but not entry level riders.” In other words – car drivers who know nothing about two wheels but want to give it a try. It’s a return to the “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda” movement.

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A two-wheeled car?

I can reluctantly buy into that because, if said new riders can keep the thing on its wheels, the DN01 should be fairly non-intimidating otherwise. It has a parking brake (like a car), linked ABS brakes (ditto), full digital instrumentation, and an infinitely variable automatic transmission sans the usual belts and pulleys. Twist the throttle and go without having to deal with those pesky clutch, throttle and gear-shifting issues.

And it’s the automatic transmission that makes the DN01 unique – it’s a completely hydraulic unit that (simplified) has an ECU-controlled swash plate driving a pump that drives the hydraulic motors to power the rear wheel. (Yes, very simple Mr. Bond, clear as mud – ‘Arris)

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Drive selector on the left …

It’s not exactly new technology as certain Honda ATVs have used this system trouble-free since the turn of the century. And there’s no maintenance required because engine oil doubles as the tranny oil as well.

As seems to be the norm these days, the DN01 has three drive-modes to choose from – Drive, Sport and Manual. Unlike its sportbike brethren, these modes give the rider a choice between pretending to have gears, going auto and going auto with a few more revs for a bit more power.

Manual mode allows the rider to select from six different virtual gear ratios but honestly, it works better in Drive. Sport is a close second, but if you’re bored and need something to do, by all means play with the buttons in Manual.

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Hawk motor makes a comeback.

The 680cc engine is pretty much the same one as found in the late-1980s Honda Hawks but with fuel injection and a four valve head instead of three. By motorcycle standards, performance is underwhelming but car drivers will be blown away by the reported 0 to 100 km/h time of just under six seconds.

Meaty 130 front and 190 section buns mounted on 17-inch wheels allow the DN01 to handle like a motorcycle. Turn-in is fairly light and the long wheelbase makes it stable under all conditions. Owners will likely not be the type to grind away the floorboards but I found ground clearance somewhat limited.

The linked ABS brakes work well and tramping hard only on the rear brake pedal brings the DN01 to a quick, controlled stop.

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Bondo’s a little big for it.

The riding position is okay if you’re less than six feet but my knees were in constant contact with the scalloped edges of the fuel tank, and the stepped seat prevented me from moving around to get comfy.

As for looks well … it’s unique. From a distance, it looks like a tank with the turret blown off.

I found at a legal Florida-freeway 70 mph, the laydown screen directed all the wind directly at my chest, which according to Honda was deliberate. They feel DN01 customers will be attracted to the traditional “wind in the face” sense of freedom. I’m not so sure.

As a confirmed motorcyclist, I’m probably missing the point of the DN01. Which probably IS Honda’s point entirely.

HELL HATH NO FURY, BUT HONDA DOES

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Form over function?

The other new model from Honda will definitely be of interest to motorcyclists – and not just the ones who enjoy the bickering, tool-throwing, custom bike builders on TV. Right then – on to the Fury.

For reasons that completely escape me, custom motorcycles always seem to draw a crowd at bike shows. I’ll grant them limited exemptions as an art form but as functioning motorcycles, they’re an expensive, unrideable bust.

Production cruisers don’t seem to change much, do they? Designers seem to be stuck in the “big fenders, larger engines, more chrome and fat tires” rut lately and have strayed from the pure minimalist essence of what choppers were supposed to be.

Thankfully for the Fury, Honda decided to focus on what made the motorcycle work better rather than on what the marketing weenies thought would sell.

To that end, the Fury’s front end is raked out 38 degrees and the clean side profile shows lots of air below the fuel tank and above the engine. A skinny 90/90 tire on a 21-inch wheel holds up the front while the back looks the part with a 200 section doughnut on an 18-inch rim.

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38 degree rake and lots of air below the fuel tank.

One would think that with the raked front end and football field 71-inch (1804 mm) wheelbase, the Fury would steer like the Queen Mary but it’s actually quite light and manageable. On several occasions I easily performed feet-up U-turns on two lane roads with no drama or fuss.

The engine is similar to the VTX1300’s but has been given fuel injection as well as being neatened and cleaned of all unsightly external wires, clamps, hoses and cheesy covers and shrouds.

The radiator has been cleverly hidden between the front downtubes and even the hoses are virtually invisible. It makes the engine the main focal point of the Fury – just like with the original choppers.

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1300 motor keeps weight down.

You may ask – why the 1300 engine rather than a Big Kahuna 1800 cc or bigger? Ah, grasshopper, you have so much to learn. Confucius say, “Big motor means larger and heavier everything else.”

The Fury tips the scales at a balanced and quite manageable 665 lbs (302 kg) full of gas and fluids – a bigger engine wouldn’t bring anything to the party but weight.

The engine is actually quite free-revving, produces good power and has a really mellow, pleasing exhaust note. Gear ratios are well matched in the Fury and all the controls are quite light and smooth.

The suspension is better than that of most standard cruisers – even the rear has a full 100mm of travel that seems reasonably well damped. Florida roads aren’t like our cow paths but over the few humps and sunken manhole covers I found, it didn’t jar my spine or molars like some bikes I’ve ridden.

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21 inch front wheel.

The 336 mm front disc works fairly well, although the pull at the lever is fairly stiff and the feel somewhat lacking. Most cruiser riders use only the rear brake and it seems to function acceptably. Low seats seem to be in vogue and the Fury is right there at 26.7 inches or 678 mm.

Florida’s interstate highways have a rather civilized speed limit of 70 mph, although traffic flows at 10 mph more than that. The Fury was quite at home at those speeds and I found the instrument pod did a decent job of deflecting a lot of the windblast away my chest area.

The riding position is more comfortable than it looks and is actually better than most “standard” cruisers I’ve ridden, although I wouldn’t want to ride one to the east coast. The styled fuel tank only holds 12.8 liters and that’s probably okay with prospective Fury owners.

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Daytona cruising.

Riding the Fury around Daytona Beach during Bike Week was quite an experience. Comments ranged from, “Where’d you get the paint done?” to “Who’s the builder?” to “Get the f*** out of town! No way that’s a Honda.”

I don’t pretend to know about the custom bike movement and freely admit that I just don’t get it. From my point of view, a motorcycle that I can’t ride for more than an hour is as useless as a cement mixer full of owls, but the Fury pleasantly surprised me.

Even though it looks like a radical custom, it’s an actual functioning motorcycle, whether cruising past the eastern Florida beaches, blasting down I-95 or toodling around Daytona Bike Week.

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Bondo contemplates a tattoo, beard and trying to be bad ass.

Even on a night-time ride down the coast from St. Augustine, the instrument pod glowed a cool blood-red and even the lights worked well. Hey, it’s a Honda, it’s gotta function.

Honestly, given the choice of riding the Fury or one of the usual metric cruiser drones, I’d take the Fury. It’s not a backroad strafer or long distance cruise missile, but for its intended purpose, it works damn well.

And, at $15,999 for standard paint and just over 16 large for the special paint and wheels version, I’m betting Honda’s going to sell a mess of them.

SPECIFICATIONS 


Bike

DN-01
Fury

MSRP
$17,499 $15,999

Displacement
680 cc 1,312 cc

Engine
type
sohc 4-valve v-twin,
liquid-cooled
sohc 3-valve v-twin, liquid-cooled
Tank
capacity
15.1
litres
12.8
litres

Carburetion
PGM-FI Electronic fuel injection PGM-FI Electronic fuel injection

Final drive
3-mode auto, shaft drive Five speed, shaft drive

Tires,
front
130/70ZR-17 radial 90/90 – 21

Tires,
rear
190/50ZR-17 radial 200/50R – 18

Brakes,
front
Dual 296 mm discs with triple-piston
calipers. Combined brake system with ABS
Single 336 mm
disc with dual-piston caliper

Brakes,
rear
Single 276 mm disc with dual-piston
caliper
Single 296 mm
disc with single-piston caliper

Seat
height
690 mm (27.2″) 678 mm (26.7″)

Wheelbase
1,605 mm (63.2″) 1,804 mm (71″)

Wet weight
(claimed)
270 kg (595 lb) 302 kg (666
lb)

Colours
Graphite Black Graphite Black, Bordeaux Red Metallic, optional Matte Bullet Silver (Limited Edition C2X version)
Warranty
12
months, unlimited mileage
12 months, unlimited mileage

1 COMMENT

  1. I quite like the idea of the DN-01 – It’s got the futuristic looks of the bikes we used to dream about as kids. OK, the DN is too small, but pretty good for a first attempt. Well done Honda!!

    I see Suzuki are already trying to copy the DN concept with their G-Strider bike, so Honda must be onto a winner.

    Can’t wait to see what else comes along!!

    Meanwhile, until I find a better bike, I’ll continue pootling along on my 10-year old Yamaha Custom, enjoying the ride and not giving a toss about anything else!!

  2. Well said. Different strokes for different folks. I’m a motorcyclist and a scooterist and I must say: both of these bikes intrigue me. If I had the money, I’d own dozens of different bikes – these two included. I like ’em … way to go Honda.

  3. Thanks but I realize the comments aren’t directed at me, I’m finding it hilarious that everyone is so irate over a couple of new products. Hey, if you don’t like ’em, don’t buy them. Out of all the motorcycles being built today, there’s probably only three or four that I like enough to buy myself – does that mean the rest are junk and the people running the companies are idiots for producing what I wouldn’t buy?

    Hardly.

    Take a pill everyone. Life’s too short.

  4. “I’m not here to debate Honda marketing policy – I just ride the bikes and report back. You make your own decisions.”

    Why are you taking this personal? The negative comments are not aimed at you, but at Honda.

  5. Geez guys, everyone close their eyes and take a deep breath. Spring is almost here. The way some of you are going on, you’d think Honda came out in favour of stomping day-old kittens. Honda isn’t aiming the DN01 at motorcyclists – and that’s what most of us are. As for the Fury, cruisers still outsell everything else two to one. And I was honest when I said I’d rather ride the Fury than some other big fendered, fat tired cookie cutter metric cruiser.
    I’m not here to debate Honda marketing policy – I just ride the bikes and report back. You make your own decisions.

  6. I’m not sure where all the venom comes from regarding the Honda Fury. While it is not my thing, a lot of people like choppers, and why shouldn’t Honda build one? I don’t remember all this bitchin’ when Yamaha brought out their Raider or Harley released their Rocker.

    ***
    As for the DN01, I am glad Honda is trying something new (though I agree the price is going to hurt them on this). I would have like to seen an updated V4 (VTEC optional) used for this bike, it would have been a better fit.

  7. Honda could have saved time and money by just naming these 2 jokes POS 1 and POS 2. Better yet, the smarter move would have been not to build them at all. Maybe they can save one of each and put them in a museum with a Honda “Pacific Coast” which was another POS.

  8. In reply to partsfather’s comments and everyone else thinks the DN-01 is related to scooters:
    The DN-01 is an AUTOMATIC MOTORCYCLE. It has nothing, zero, zilch, zippo to do with a scooter. Don’t try and tell me it’s because of the transmission, that little engineering marvel is straight from the ATV world.
    I know you motorcycle guys don’t want that abomination on your side of the line but scooter riders don’t want it either.
    No step-through? It’s not a scooter!

  9. Honda has to get their head out of their A$$ and build bikes people will buy or they are going to loose customers. Where did the CB1100F and CB1100R from the 2007 Tokyo show go? I am ready to move up from my 81 Honda UJM and there is no Honda UJM anymore, so I am going to buy a Duc GT1000, or a Bonniville or Guzzi or….? it won’t be a Honda if they don’t build something other than cruisers and crotch rockets. I might go to a mid 90’s 750 nighthawk, but I was hoping to buy new and I want a standard, good all around bike I can do more than one specific thing on.

  10. What a pair of turleys (the bikes, not the riders…)!
    First we have an overpriced, overweight, underpowered scooter with a too-small windshield, poor weather protection and no storage! Why anyone would choose one of these things over a 650 Burgman is beyond me.
    Next, Honda builds the “factory chopper”, the perfect accessory for all those wannabee rugged individualists out there. Isn’t “factory chopper” a contradiction in terms? I always thought that a REAL custom motorcycle, by its very definition, had to be custom-built?
    Hey, at least they’re only available thru Powerhouse (car?) dealers.

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