Is Honda Building A New Middleweight Adventure Bike for 2017?
Well this is interesting. Just when we finished telling you about production of the new lightweight Honda CRF250 Rally adventure bike, rumors start percolating that Honda is working on a new middleweight Adventure bike. No less than two publications have provided information indicating that Honda is planning to bring a new middleweight adventure bike to the market. They point to evidence of a patent filing by Honda for a multi-function switch on the left handlebar as the smoking gun of Honda’s intent.
Moto publications ADV PULSE and MoreBikes are reporting that this filing is evidence that Honda intends to bring back some version of the old Honda NX650 Dominator. Previously produced between 1988 and 2001 (it lasted only 2 years in the US from 1988 to 1990), they point out that the patent filing drawing is quite similar to the Dominator and that the drawing has middleweight dimensions. MoreBikes points out that the drawing shows “a very Dominator-style fairing, large seat that travels a long way up the back of the petrol tank cover, relaxed riding position and a large front mudguard.” MoreBikes goes on to say that “The only question mark around the picture (i.e. patent drawing) that we’ve found is the size of the engine.” With words like these, it would appear that MoreBikes is fairly certain that the new machine is coming.
We’re not so sure about that about MoreBike’s evidence. To us, the drawing looks suspiciously similar to the newly revised and released Africa Twin. True, the fairing appears smaller, but the other portions of the bike seem distinctly Africa Twin, all the way to the oversize rectangular exhaust can. Additionally, patent drawings do not necessarily represent the ultimate product that may or may not be brought to market. In this case, the drawing may be correct as to the multi-function switch placement, but it does not necessarily representative of the all up machine that it is attached to. With regard to the engine, they go on to postulate that the engine in the original Dominator had a 650cc single cylinder four stroke engine but that the ultimately released machine may be a 250cc single. Well if that’s the case, we’d have to ask ourselves why did Honda just announce their CRF250 Rally as a prototype? If this new bike was a 250cc single, wouldn’t it be in direct competition with the 250 Rally?
That said, we’d certainly like to see Honda (or any other manufacturer) come out with a lean middleweight machine (think KTM 690E or Honda XR650) outfitted for adventure riding with a larger fuel tank, good fuel economy, somewhat simple maintenance, decent storage capacity and upright riding position. At first blush, a bike meeting this type of criteria doesn’t seem to be rocket science, but for some reason motorcycle manufacturers are struggling with the equation.
So until we see more evidence, we’ll have to reserve our final opinion on the resurrection of the Honda Dominator and hope that one of the manufacturers can somehow find that elusive grubby bottle on the shore and uncorks the genie of a middleweight adventure bike.