Honda CTX700 is Automatically Awesome


Honda automatic motorcycle

With a powerful, 670 cc twin-cylinder engine, low seat height, comfortable riding position, up-to-the-minute styling, and low price tag, Honda’s new CTX700 UJM was always going to be a hot seller. Honda, however, wants to make absolutely certain that this bike will have a broad appeal. An appeal so broad, in fact, that the bike will draw in buyers considering Harley-Davidson Sportsters and even those few Can-Am Spyder buyers who aren’t afraid of, you know, motorcycles. Honda even hopes to attract buyers that might not even be shopping for a motorcycle. Honda hopes to accomplish all of those goals with just one word: automatic.

Since introducing the automatic bikes to the world in 2011, Honda has sent the message that, as with cars, the “clutch era” of motorcycles is rapidly coming to an end. As such, the company has spent considerable R&D dollars developing a new, electronically-shifted Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) specifically for motorcycles and ATVs, with this CTX being the first road-going Honda to use the latest generation of the self-shifting tranny.

So, does that self-shifting transmission accomplish Honda’s goals? Let’s see!

  1. Will the CTX700’s automatic transmission help steer Harley wives away from Sportsters and in to Honda showrooms? I think yes.

  2. Will the CTX700’s automatic transmission help convince Can-Am Spyder shoppers that motorcycles aren’t quite so scary as they first thought? I think, also yes.

  3. Will the CTX700’s automatic transmission encourage young, single urban commuters who never learned to drive stick and are saddled with student debt and over-inflated rent prices in a soft job market to consider the bike as a freedom-enhancing, faraway job-enabling “step up” from their 50 cc Metropolitans and Lemonheads that’s a realistic alternative to a few-years-old Honda Civic? Oh, definitely yes.

How does the transmission work in practice? Ride Apart’s Tim Watson explains that “from a rookie’s point of view the Honda automatic clutch system makes a lot of sense. No more fumbling for gear changes and once you understand how it works it’s really not that difficult. From our perspective it removes some of the riding experience but for a new rider it’s hassle free and an asset if the CTX is your first bike.”

High praise, indeed.

As you can probably tell by now, I think Honda has a hit on its hands with the CTX (once knowledge of the innovation diffuses into the general population, anyway), and that’s not just because of the high-mpg the bike will give back, or because I’m enamored with Honda’s new middleweights in general and the company’s vintage UJMs in particular. It’s because my new wife, who is totally opposed to me riding a motorcycle and only rarely consents to getting on mine for a Sunday ride, took one look at the new CTX700 and said “Oh, it’s an automatic? I’d ride that.”

Mission accomplished, Honda!


For more information and a thorough road test, head on over to Ride Apart. For a Gas 2 road test, you’ll have to wait until June/July, when I’ll be able to get my grubby little mitts on a CTX700 Touring (shown, below).


Source | Photos: Honda, via Ride Apart.

About the Author

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.
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  • I’m not even remotely close to fitting in any of the categories named by the author in this article, but I’m trading a Piaggio BV350 scooter for a new CTX700 with a standard transmission.

    I’m not intimidated by motorcycles. I’ve just never seen one that I wanted until now.

    The standard transmission weighs 22 lbs less, has slightly more horsepower, and is $1000 less. This article is all about the automatic, but I think Honda will sell more standards. They’re a better value but both are good values compared to the competition, and I agree about the potential for reaching middle class urbanites with these new bikes.

    • Jo Borras

      Not even Ferrari can sell manuals anymore. As for the Piaggio, you’ll recall (if you’re a longtime reader) my affinity for tiny wheels and several mentions of the 20-odd scooters I’ve owned in the last 2 decades. I can assure you: there is no standard scooter buyer, and the BVs of any displacement are odd ducks even at scooter rallies … usually, with pride!

      Here’s to your BV. I’d never trade it for a CTX.

    • jkm1018

      Another alternative to consider, especially since you are a Piaggio owner, is the Aprillia Mana. It’s an 850cc with a CVT transmission. It looks a whole lot cooler, too.

  • Gordon Little

    I wish Honda was offering the DCT version to Canada! But they’re not. 🙁

  • Tony

    Jo, when you actually get on a ctx700 dct, here’s something you might want to notice: shifting the bike manually with the paddles. I reserve automatic mode for special circumstances – think bad traffic – and normally exercise complete control over this great sounding motor by shifting it myself. It’s exactly like a normal manual shift except that there’s no clutch lever, you don’t have to worry about the throttle, and your fingers do the work instead of your leg – sort of like speed shifting. It’s much easier and just as satisfying. And every shift is perfect. I wouldn’t be real excited about an automatic motorcycle if that was my only choice … But clutchless shifting on a bike that handles as nicely as this one? Bring it!

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  • Very nice post thanks……………………..

  • koine2002

    I can see the value of this for new riders who are worried about shifting gears and starting from a stop. However, how does the CTX700 handle slow speed maneuvering? I’m an urban motorcycle commuter and slow speed maneuvering is the name of the game, quite often. I couldn’t imagine a tight turn into a parking spot, or doing a tight u-turn on a motorcycle, or stop and go in rush hour traffic on the freeway (I hate putting my feet down, its a real drag) without the ability to slip a clutch.

  • HandIssues101

    I wish they made a faster version with a dct.

    • Larry

      They do, Honda also offers the DCT on the VFR 1200. This model never really gained traction because Honda already sells a large sports tourer and large sport bike. It has been discontinued, but there are still quite a few around that are still brand new.