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2009 Honda DN-01 Exclusive Test Ride

Honda is known for quite a number of breakthrough motorcycle designs—icons like the original CB750, the CBX (a groundbreaking six-cylinder) and, of course, the Goldwing. Clearly, the company isn't afraid to spearhead new directions in motorcycling. And the radical new DN-01 is certainly a unique direction. Honda DN-01 is a crossover of sorts—part cruiser, part scooter. At the heart of the bike is an automatic transmission developed for and borrowed from the Honda Fourtrax Foreman Rubicon ATV—a hydro-mechanical system called HFT that provides two fully automatic ranges along with a manually operated "six-speed" system for sporty riding.

2009 Honda DN-012009 Honda DN-01 is powered by a new 60-hp, 680 cc, 52-degree V-twin engine. It's liquid-cooled, fueled by Honda's proprietary PGM-FI system and delivers 47 lb-ft of torque at 6000 rpm. The DN-01 has a shaft final drive to eliminate all the maintenance and mess typically associated with chains. The HFT transmission is a dual swash-plate device, where the engine-side swash plate acts upon a series of hydraulic cylinders, transferring pressure to the output swash plate. By controlling the angle of the plates, Honda can vary the speed relationship between the input and the output.

Tipping the scales at 595 pounds with all fluids and a full tank of fuel, the DN-01 is lighter than most cruisers and heavier than comparable sportbikes, but is well up to the task of beating traffic away from a stoplight. Its suspension geometries also fall somewhere between those of cruisers and sportbikes, lending the bike a decent balance between straight-line stability and responsive steering. The DN-01 wears large 11.6-in. front brake rotors gripped by two three-piston calipers and a 10.9-in. rear disc with a dual-piston caliper. With Honda's combined brake system, application of the rear brake also activates the center piston on the left-side front brake caliper to balance the motorcycle. Pressure at the front brake lever applies the remaining five front brake pistons for maximum effect. ABS is fitted as a standard.

Even as cruisers go, the DN-01 is remarkably easy to ride. The seat height is a low 27.2-in. and it has none of the overwhelming mass of the big models. One can maneuver the DN-01 confidently at low speeds. At the same time, it is flat, compliant, precise and easy to read in its responses to steering inputs. As with many cruisers, the limited ground clearance afforded by the forward-mounted floorboards curtails cornering speeds. But unlike most, the DN-01 feels sure-footed enough to exceed those speeds comfortably, were it not for the sound of skittering floorboard feelers.

Unlike CVT-equipped machines, the DN-01 starts in neutral, and can be revved freely. When you wish to proceed, a rocker switch at the rider's right hand must be depressed to engage drive. The bike reverts to neutral when switched off, so the DN-01 will roll on any sort of grade unless the handy parking brake is applied. In the end it's the price that poses the biggest question. At $14,599 the DN-01 isn't exactly a bargain in the motorcycle world. Italian-bred 1000 cc Ducatis cost this much. But the DN-01 is also not super-expensive by cruiser standards, particularly when you look at the list of features. There's the automatic transmission, the combined brakes, ABS and Honda's transparent programmed fuel injection.

© Source: popularmechanics
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