What do you get when you package together the twist-and-go ease of a scooter and the go-anywhere rideablity of a dual-sport adventure bike? Essentially, that’s what the Honda X-ADV really is.
Unveiled during EICMA 2016, this hybrid of a scooter and adventure dual-sport bike caused quite a stir. By merging the qualities of two different bikes, it appeared as if Honda had set out to create a machine that could theoretically do it all.
We decided to find out first hand by taking one on test and, by chance, we were able to sample it for a considerable amount of time – nearly 10 days. At the end, we still weren’t able to conclusively decide on what it really is. What’s certain though is that this is one rather fun and versatile bike indeed.
On the surface, the X-ADV is neither pretty nor ugly. ‘Futuristic’ and ‘Rugged’ were the most common terms we’ve received from most onlookers who came for a closer look. Some may argue this is far from pretty, but we’ll leave this subjective area for you to gauge...
Notable here are the neat and modern full-LED lighting all around. There’s also off-road-esque spoked 17-inch front and 15-inch rear wheels, rugged handlebar guards, our tester’s premium Grand Prix Red colourway option, gold-finished front forks and handlebar, as well as the two-tone seat colourway.
As we legged on over into the X-ADV’s 820mm-tall seat, things felt pretty good here initially. There’s an informative digital LCD instrument display panel present, not forgetting the intuitively placed controls, a large adjustable windscreen, as well as the novel Honda Smart Key keyless ignition feature.
Thumb the start button and there’s a nice surprise in the form of a sweet V-twin-like soundtrack resonating out of the X-ADV’s stock Euro 4-compliant pipe.
The confusion gets real once we grasp the process of getting the X-ADV going. Unlike, a typical scooter, the X-ADV doesn’t employ a twist-and-go belt-driven CVT automatic. Instead, it’s primed with Honda’s proprietary automatic six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) and chain-drive setup. Just thumb the shifter button on the right into ‘D’ and the X-ADV is ready to go.
Right off the bat, the torque-rich nature of the X-ADV’s heart becomes clear through its direct and sharp throttle response. It took a little getting used to, but there’s no hiding that this bike’s liquid-cooled 745cc parallel-twin heart with a 270-degree crank mounted underneath is a gem.
The mill decently outputs 54hp and 68Nm of twist, the latter being made available from down low and well into the mid rev ranges. It easily gets the X-ADV’s claimed 238kg kerb bulk going rapidly, and that’s even before we toggled the throttle into Sport mode.
If you haven’t ridden any DCT-equipped Honda bike, then you really should get around to savouring it. Honda’s the only bike maker that employs this transmission type in bikes, with many hailing it as a marvel thanks to its flawlessly smooth and precise operation. The unit primed in the X-ADV is no exception.
For those wanting a little more control, a manual override mode is present, as well as the ‘+’ and ‘-’ buttons mounted on the left of the bar. This is useful when you need to go down a gear or two for overtaking sprints, or for when you go off road as well. Adding to the latter is the fact that there’s no clutch lever to manage.
Speaking of which, the X-ADV was indeed designed and built with off-road riding in mind. This explains the presence of high-travel suspension front and aft, as well as the dual-sport tyres shod on those aforementioned spoked wheels too. Couple that with the decent ground clearance present and the X-ADV is ready for some fun in the rough.
The only thing missing here is a cruise control suite, which would add to the X-ADV’s touring credentials.
Seasoned off-road riders will argue about said ground clearance, more so about standing on floorboards. Adding to this is the absence of a traditional fuel tank to pin in between your legs whilst riding standing up. Nevertheless, this peppy hybrid of a bike can still tackle terrains should you master its ergonomics.
For those who prefer staying on the black top, the bonus lie in how comfortably the X-ADV rides, all thanks to both the high-travel suspension mentioned earlier and adequate wind protection present. The only thing missing here is a cruise control suite, which would add to the X-ADV’s touring credentials.
Surprisingly good here too is the X-ADV’s agility on road. The lean angles this so called scooter is able to command on a typical B-road corner-carving jaunt is unbelievable to say the least, and will be quite the joy for any avid weekend warrior.
Are there any quirks? Just a few, but one annoyance stands out most. This is one rather large bike with a long wheelbase, meaning manoeuvering it in and out of tight bike parking lots found in most shopping malls will be a stressful affair.
But that’s no deal-breaker considering how well endowed the X-ADV is for daily commutes. There’s a practical and handy 21-litre under-seat storage bin that also features a 12-volt charging socket, as well as both a side and centre-stand. The presence of a dual-channel ABS suite and multi-level traction control adds peace of mind too.
Though plenty of other twist-and-go maxi-scooters beg to differ in terms of both performance and price, the X-ADV’s added ability to go into an actual jungle trumps them all. Let’s also not forget the DCT box it boasts too, which arguably deliver a better and more versatile riding experience.
We’ll agree that the RM65,499 base price figure the X-ADV as featured commands is undeniably steep. At that price, you could get full-fledged dual-sports machines instead. But the X-ADV is an easier bike to ride overall, and will deliver just as much fun as said alternatives would.
Is this the ‘jack of all trades’ as far as bikes are concerned? No, not really, but it sure is pretty close to it.
Very expensive, but is very versatile, surprisingly fun and very easy to ride.
BMW C650 Sport
Pricier, but has CVT and can’t go off-road
|Engine||Liquid-cooled SOHC 745cc parallel-twin, 54hp, 68Nm|
|Fuel tank||13.1 litres|
|Transmission||6-speed DCT auto with manual mode, chain drive|