Honda continues to blur the distinctions between two-wheel genres with the Integra, which gets its name because the company has tried to integrate the convenience of a scooter with the dynamic performance of a motorcycle.
It has a feet-forward riding position, scooter bodywork, internal storage and a second-generation dual-clutch transmission - but it also has decent suspension and 17” wheels at both ends to give it a measure of stability and handling you don't get on a conventional scooter.
It's built around a 670cc long-stroke, liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine, tilted well forward to lower the bike's centre of gravity, that kicks out a conservative 38.1kW at 6250rpm and 62Nm at 4750, with a 270-degree crankshaft to make it “run like a parallel twin, sound and feel like a V-twin”, according to Honda.
The company has neither confirmed nor denied rumours that the NC700 twin is actually half a Honda Jazz engine.
The dual-clutch transmission gives the rider the choice of automatic riding or manual shifting, in a choice of three modes. Manual (MT) allows the rider to shift gears using triggers mounted on the left handlebar, while automatic mode (AT) offers two settings: S for sporty riding and D for urban and highway use.
A tubular-steel diamond frame rigid, conventional motorcycle suspension and 17” rims shod with 120/70 front and 160/60 rear rubber confer motorcycle handling, while Honda's insanely complicated but undeniably effective linked antilock brakes provide reassuring stability.
The Integra has a 15-litre under-seat storage space large enough to hold a jet-style open-face helmet or waterproof suit. Together with the fuel filler cap, this space is accessed using a key to unlock and flip up the seat. This mechanism is damped, so that even if you drop the seat it shuts securely with a smooth action.
There's also a second, smaller storage compartment inside the fairing, for tickets, wallet or cellphone, complete with a power socket for charging the aforementioned cellphone or a satnav system.
The fuel tank holds 14.1 litres, which Honda says should give you a range of nearly 400km between pit-stops, based on fuel-consumption of 3.58 litres per 100km - we'll take that under advisement until we've ridden an Integra over out standard test route.
FREE TO RELAX
One of the big pluses of a scooter is that it doesn't have any foot controls required a fixed foot position; the Integra's seat and handlebar geometry loosely define a space inside which the rider and pillion are free to relax.
The low (790mm) seat height give the rider confidence and control even during low-speed manoeuvres, and the tapered front seat makes putting a foot down easy.
The Integra's all-LCD instrument panel includes a digital speedometer, a bar-graph rev-counter, a clock, a bar-graph fuel gauge and two trip meters.
JAZZ UP YOUR INTEGRA
Optional extras for the Integra include a narrow pannier kit - they hold only 29 litres each but they're no wider than the legshield - with colour-coded panels, 35 and 40-litre top boxes, inner bags for the panniers and top boxes, a U-lock that fits neatly under the seat, extra legshields, an alarm and heated grips.
The Integra is available now in black, pearl white, candy apple red and metallic blue at R79 900, with a limited-edition launch offer that includes the optional colour-coded panniers and top box, for R91 900.
Engine: 670cc liquid-cooled four-stroke parallel twin.
Bore x stroke: 73 x 80mm.
Compression ratio: 10.7:1.
Valvegear: SOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 38.1kW at 6250rpm.
Torque: 62Nm at 4750.
Induction: PGM-FI electronic fuel-injection with two 36mm throttle bodies.
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorised with electronic advance.
Clutch: Dual automatic hydraulically actuated wet multiplate clutches.
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch transmission with final drive by chain.
Front Suspension: 41mm conventional cartridge forks.
Rear suspension: Pro-link with hydraulic shock absorber adjustable for preload.
Front brake: 320mm petal disc with three-piston floating calliper and ABS.
Rear brake: 240mm petal disc with single-piston floating calliper and ABS, linked to front brake.
Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 160/60 - 17 tubeless.
Seat height: 790mm.
Kerb weight: 238kg.
Fuel tank: 14.1 litres.
Fuel consumption (claimed): 3.58 litres per 100km.
Service intervals: 12 000km
Warranty: Two years unlimited distance
Price: R79 900.