There has been a lot written about the NC series of bikes so I thought I would make a few general points and then write a bit more specifically about the Dual Clutch Transmission.
For starters with the NC you are getting a machine that is actually built in Japan, not just designed there, and for what is a very low price. It will probably be a few years yet before production is shipped abroad. In the mean time you get excellent welding, deep paint and quality fit and finish for what amounts to peanuts. The suspension for the price point is good with a rising rate linkage at the rear and fairly decent forks. The brakes are very good indeed despite using a single front disc. The ABS/CBS is unobtrusive unless very severely provoked.
The handling has been a revelation to me and entirely a consequence of the low centre of gravity, it’s a fairly chunky bike but you don't feel it at all. Slinging it into corners makes you smile a lot, it's an unexpected bonus. The engine however will never be enough if you like a regular adrenaline hit but if you are happy making smooth progress and use good forward planning (don't we all?) overtakes are easy. The engine characteristics are all about low revving torque, it feels lumpy but not at all vibey if that isn't a contradiction in terms. It's swift over distance but no one is ever going to accuse it of being quick and of course it’s very economical. But everyone knows that by now. As for the storage, everyone loves it even if they hate the bike.
And while on the subject of hates and likes the Dual Clutch Transmission is Marmite!
There are a number of myths and misconceptions surrounding it already, one guy insisted that the drive would drop out on slow corners, it doesn't, another insisted it had a power sapping fluid drive, it doesn't. There is a very good video explaining how it works on YouTube, it isn't rocket science but it is very clever and entirely computer controlled. That alone might put some off. Quite a few people will find it anodyne and boring. It would be a dull world if we all liked the same stuff. Get a test ride.
So how does the DCT on the NC700x work in practice? The answer is very well most of the time. The two modes are distinctly different in behaviour. Drive mode short shifts at two and a half thousand revs and is best on steady A-roads and motorways (I hate m-ways but it copes easily) also Drive is best for slow town/filtering work. You can feel like you are in too high a gear sometimes but the engine just chugs away and you will never stall it or lose drive but there is little or no engine braking in Drive. This is where the linked brakes come in handy especially when filtering, you can balance on the foot brake and auto-clutch down to a dead crawl and with the low centre of gravity putting your feet down becomes a rare event.
Sport (sic) mode is a little snatchy at town speeds so I don't use it in town anymore, and this is the thing, I'm learning as I go. This is all new stuff, like switching from a hand change to a foot change must have felt in the nineteen twenties. Sport mode really comes alive on twisty B-roads and so far doesn't seem to pick a gear I wouldn't have chosen myself, except it changes super smoothly and with no lag and doesn't get tired after a long day in the saddle. I have used manual shift on roads like the A32 for instance and it is interesting to do as an exercise but you soon find yourself thinking “what's the point?” In auto you still get all of the sensations of the gear-changes, the acceleration and the attendant lovely noises of down changes on the over-run. You just don't have to move your foot anymore. That will appal some people and if it does then DCT is not for you.
The manual buttons might appear to be superfluous in light of what I've written but that couldn't be further from the fact. They are useful in a number of situations that I regularly encounter and I expect to learn of a few more as time goes on. The handbook mentions hills and recommends sport mode when encountering them so as not to lug the engine too hard but I simply select manual (right forefinger) and knock it down a gear or two (left thumb) switching back to auto at the brow of the hill. If you live in the West Country or somewhere similar you might never get out of sport or manual mode though!
I also use the manual buttons while in Drive approaching slow corners in town knocking down a gear for a little more feeling of control, though the bike could care less and in truth the difference is negligible and more about me getting used to how low this thing revs in Drive. The other time I use the down shift button is for overtakes especially on fast A roads in Drive, if you whack open the throttle it will eventually take the hint and downshift but if you shift down manually and open the throttle it gets straight to it. In Sport mode this isn't an issue as it responds pretty much instantly. As I say it's just learning how to use it, there's no book on it.
Finally you can switch between all modes while on the move so if you fancy a change you don't have to stop to switch over but you'll be glad to know you can't select neutral until you are at a dead stop. Personally I love Marmite just be sure you do too before ticking the DCT box.
As I said get a test ride.
Latest news from MCN: Looks like the new Yamaha R1 will be getting a version of DCT, very interesting times we live in!
(MCN reader reviews have no formatting making anything beyond a few lines totally unreadable so I am pasting a copy of my review from a word doc and hoping the formatting travels with it. If it doesn’t, all I can say is sorry, I tried!)