Last Updated. 05 July 2013
Welcome to the next part of my very lengthy in-depth Honda DN-01 review. The main subject for this page is 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 is very good. It 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. The DN 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 or an easy 250km in safety.
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.
Now the comparison: I didn’t want to do a Vs Hayabusa comparison because it is clearly unfair both bikes. However despite being completely different types of motorcycles they can be used for the same purpose. So – in terms everyday commuting I choose the DN-01 every time. However if I want the real motorcycle experience, huge power and riding enjoyment I choose the Hayabusa any time.
Each bike has its strengths and weaknesses and in all seriousness which one is better really depends on how you a feeling for the trip you are planning on doing.
Summary so far: The DN-01 is a cool motorcycle. Cool because its a great ride and even non-motorcyclists like it. I can say with certainty that if Honda kept the price low it would be a popular choice. If Honda had also used a regular gearbox, the package has enough going for it to sell well.
DN-01 problems so far: creaking plastic bar covers and the rear brake pedal need to be lower. The only other thing that could be improved is more power – but that goes applies to most motorcycles. Other than that it goes really well.
Update: If you have been riding 1000cc and above sports motorcycle for a while you will find the handling and performance limits of the DN easily. You see the DN’s engine has been tuned for a extraordinarily FLAT torque curve which means that you never miss out on the feeling of pulling power. However at the same time the smooth delivery and the lack of traditional motorcycle vibes means that you still don’t know what speeds your travelling at or provide that excitement.
Finally, while the DN is not near the fastest bike in the world it is still satisfying enough as a long term ride. I often find the throttle stop when in manual mode which quite satisfying because that never happens on the Hayabusa.
Update: I can confirm that used in manual mode the gearbox works just like a regular gearbox. However on really tight corners there gearing is a tad too high and can’t be compensated by extra lean because there’s not enough ground clearance. As I mentioned previously the long wheelbase makes the same tight corners tricky to take smoothly.
Sports bike handling or excitement wasn’t why I bought it so you shouldn’t expect it either.
Update: (2012) After about 5000km and a much needed service I can report that the engine has noticeably freed up and has much more top end power – much appreciated when riding against strong head winds and over taking. I love the relentless and calm power delivery especially hearing and seeing other cars and bikes rev out to keep up LOL:-) Mind you I do miss the joy of revs at the same time.
Update: (2013) The DN-01 is still with me but not travelling many kilometres. One thing i did learn was that you need to check the oil in the shaft drive. I’ve never had a shaft driven motorcycle before so it was quite low.
The main problem with the DN-01 is that the sight glass for the oil level is hidden by a plastic covering and the level indicator always looks like it needs more oil.
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