MCN Fleet: Honda NT1100 is 'Le Nouveau Tourer'
With 27 miles on the clock, a weekend of un-interrupted sunshine forecast and the first service booked for three days’ time, I make a last minute plan to ride to Le Touquet. I should say my sole objective is to get a feel for my new long termer, which I’ll be running as part of the MCN fleet for the next few months, but in honesty it’s to enjoy a bucket of mussels and glass of chilled rose.
Covid restrictions and a house move have meant it’s been over three years since I’ve taken a riding trip to France. Like a kid at Christmas, the anticipation of riding the Honda NT1100 on one of my favourite stretches of road, the D940 from Calais to Le Touquet, is making me giddy.
With over 60-litres of space, I load the natty, removable, pannier liners with enough gear for the weekend. While they’re a similar size to the panniers on last year’s long termer, the Yamaha Tracer 9GT, they’re shaped differently and not quite so useable. They feel a little flimsy too and are tricky to lock, so much so, I accidentally leave one unlocked and it opens, fortunately no harm done, as I spot before I ride off.
For ease I stick to motorways to get to the Eurotunnel as I’m only away for a couple of nights, I want to get to France as quickly as possible. Sitting on the motorway gives me chance to familiarise myself with the controls of the bike. Honda indicators are positioned differently to most manufacturers, at the bottom of the left switch gear, so every time I initially go for them, I end up sounding the horn. Not a major issue, more an annoyance.
I’m in the saddle for a couple of hours, before I stop to fuel up, initial impressions of comfort are good. The large screen is adjustable, it’s in the middle position, buffeting and noise are minimal. One thing I do find easy to use, are the heated grips. Activated by a ‘function’ button on the right switch gear and adjusted by a controller on the left switch gear. It’s under 10 degrees, factor in wind chill and it’s much colder, I keep the heat at three or four out of a maximum of five, they’re quick to heat up and ample to keep my fingers toasty.
Travel through the tunnel is as simple as I remember and I’m soon blasting towards Boulogne, where I pick up the D940 and head to my overnight stop. It’s my first opportunity to ride through villages and towns and I notice the engine braking of the parallel-twin a bit fierce.
There are five riding modes, three are preset – Urban, Rain, Touring, plus two that are adjustable. I’m in Touring, which gives more power, middle of the road engine braking and I’ve opted for maximum traction control. On the move Touring is fine but at slower speeds, the engine braking feels too invasive, so at one of my many pit-stops (the joy of touring solo means I can stop as frequently as I want) I set up ‘User 1’ profile. I choose to stick with the most powerful engine setting but reduce engine braking to a minimum and it’s a vast improvement. The engine doesn’t feel so ‘lumpy’ at slow speeds and is far easier to handle.
I click over 250 miles, not a bad day’s ride and more importantly, as I check out the hotel restaurant, there’s a lovely Cotes de Provence and mussels on the menu plus more sunshine forecast, it’s going to be a good weekend!
My Route for the Day
Click here for the route I chose to ride over the weekend, it’s short in distance but great fun. Turned out the Le Touquet Beach Race was happening while I was there. With the beach turned over to racing and the whole promenade free for spectators to stand and watch from, it’s well worth a visit.
I love nothing more than heading out from home on a magical mystery tour and what better machine to do it on? The all-new NT1100 is going to be a great mile-muncher and I’m planning to a minimum of 1000 miles every month.