Perhaps it was the onset of middle-age but, when I sat on the revamped Deauville at the NEC show last year, I found myself being seriously tempted. A comfy seat, relaxed riding position, shaft drive, built-in panniers all seemed like a good idea at the time, but could I take the shame and ridicule of owning a ?Dullsville?? I managed to get a test ride in April and was pleasantly surprised. Having never ridden a V-twin before, I was enjoying the mild culture shock from the low down (but slightly agricultural) grunt, so different to the smooth revvy fours I had ridden for the last 25 years. All power had gone by 8000 revs though, at which point my previous bikes had just started to take off. Half an hour later, I was impressed enough to put in an order for a metallic black bike (the least hideous colour in the brochure) complete with matching Honda top-box. So, after 3 months of ownership, here are my impressions. Firstly, the engine is a bit of a mixed bag. It pulls nicely from low revs, but we?re not talking arm-dislocating acceleration here. Apparently, it has 10bhp more than the old model, which must have been mind-numbingly slow. Ideally, it could do with yet another 10bhp. The bike will chug along happily for ever at about 4000?5000 revs making a friendly purring sound, however either side of this rev range there are problems. Lengthy motorway cruising at around 80?85mph produces hand numbing vibes through the bars which is slightly annoying as I bought the bike mainly for touring. At the other end of the rev range, it is almost impossible to hold the bike at a steady speed below 3000 revs without the engine lurching and making an awful clanking noise like a bag of spanners. I think this is due to the shaft drive, but it does make you wince a bit. On the whole, the riding experience is rather pleasant. The seat is roomy, wide and comfortable and, according to my wife, the pillion seat is even more so. The bars and footpegs are in exactly the right place for me, and the fairing is very effective. I have the screen set in the upper of the two positions which keeps off most of the wind blast, but does cause some helmet buffeting. I am six feet tall and look over the top of the screen when riding. A 5 foot 10 inch friend recently tried out my bike and said that the top of the screen was exactly in his line of sight which drove him nuts as it constantly wobbles at speed. The instruments are fine ? very car-like ? and I couldn?t want for anything more, except for perhaps a gear indicator if pushed. The fuel gauge is a touch pessimistic, though, reading completely empty with 3 litres remaining in the tank. The two glove boxes in the fairing (one is lockable) are surprisingly handy and I don?t know how I ever coped without them. The built-in panniers are good, but not detachable. This means that when you open the lids, the contents fall out. I have invested in a pannier inner bag set (approx £50 from Honda) which improves the situation. The ?baguette hole? is handy for stashing rolled up waterproofs. The genuine Honda top-box is expensive (£200) but superb quality and comes complete with a fitting kit/rack. It also has a pillion back rest and a removable soft rubber ?tray? in the bottom. It easily swallows two full-face helmets and I think the bike actually looks better when it is attached. The brakes are adequate, but it?s a heavy bike (especially when loaded up) so don?t expect to pull up in a hurry. My bike has ABS fitted but I haven?t actually managed to get it to cut in yet. The CBS combined braking system is fine for gentle braking if you?re feeling lazy but, for serious stopping power, you really need to use your right hand as well. Handling is also adequate but a bit soft and wallowy, but then what do you expect? The bike is built for comfort not speed. In conclusion I would say that the bike is well thought out and a very practical and useable tool with a few minor faults. So far, I am very happy that I bought it. It still doesn't stop my mates taking the piss, though.
Strengths: So easy to live with. Shaft drive saves a fortune in chain lube. Comfort for both rider and pillion. 200 mile tank range. Cubby holes. Weaknesses: Vibes through the bars at high revs. 'Clanky' engine at low revs. Could do with another 10 bhp. Ability to attract ridicule from fellow bikers.