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Welcome to the next part of my very lengthy in-depth Honda DN-01 review (Transferred from the old section). The main subject for this part of my long terms review will be about the DN-01 fuel economy, more HFT stuff and mass media commentary and comparison with one of the fastest production motorcycles in the world.
The DN-01 is a special and unique motorcycle. Not many will consider it purely based on the un-reasonable purchase price when new. Yes, the DN-01 is probably the most unrealistically priced new motorcycle on the planet. You can buy a Hayabusa on road for less in most countries. However the lucky few who can afford a new one or find a used one will appreciate it given a chance. Being the first Honda with HFT they should be proud of the engineering masterpiece. Honda and the DN-01 should be praised for doing something different and thanked for their commercial bravery to move motorcycle design forward!
I have focused on the HFT in the past pages because it is what I believe is the key to the DN-01. Lets face it, the gearbox always ensures that you are in the right ‘gear’. However it is also the DN-01’s main problem. The un-informed and lazy writers eg. Wikipedia and suspect publications on the internet described it as a traditional CVT which is only vaguely true. That’s like saying a LCD is the same as a Plasma TV. HFT has the same overall effect but works differently on the road or practically compared to current transmissions described as (Scooter like) CVT. Check out the specifications page for the link to Honda’s own explanation of how the HFT works.
Honda also knew that the majority of the popular press will simply compare it to ‘shock’ a scooter rather than obviously a cruiser or something different purely because of the infinite gears and perhaps the ‘cute’ exhaust note. The reality is of course that they do it to presumably write the review with some faux attitude – which of course means the rest of the content is not worth reading. To cater for the small minded other manufacturer’s have chosen the more usual route to motorcycle design to avoid the comparison which is a pity Eg. Aprilia Mana which actually uses a scooter engine, transmission and storage but while acknowledged it is rarely compared to a scooter.
The DN-01’s HFT has a manual mode duplicates regular gear changes and works as well as a gear lever except with a button. Using this mode changes the character of the DN. You won’t read this in a HFT review anywhere else – changing the gears with the toggle switch makes it very much like a regular bike. Every gear is felt, smoothness is gone replaces by what is a responsive gear and engine vibes and note. It feels just like any other motorcycle. Also unlike regular CVTs the HFT produces good engine breaking with the engine giving out quite a pleasant over run effect for the off the throttle note. You can now actually feel the engine’s torque pushing you along! You can hear the decent exhaust note. The only feature that ruins the fun is the lock-out feature. It prevents you from changing down if it results in red lining – which is fair enough since a regular gearbox won’t do it either. However the DN-01 is not about riding manually but its good to know that it is pretty good manual bike too.
The DN-01’s fuel economy is overall good for a relatively large and heavy motorcycle. At the last petrol refuel I did 200km using under 10 litres of 95 Octane unleaded petrol. So with a 15 litre tank you can get a maximum range of 300km safely or an easy 250km if racing. Considering that the engine is still new and I was busy trying out all the different functions it is a very good result and will probably get better as have my prior motorcycles. Over time due consumption has fallen to 3.6 to 4.2 litres per 100km in city traffic!