My expectation when Honda announced pricing on the Integra was to see it somewhere in the vicinity of 15 thousand dollars. Normally we get punished on pricing here in Australia. The Integra retails for around 8000 Euros overseas. To my surprise the Integra landed in at just 11 grand. This alone was enough to get the juices flowing. After spending some serious bonding time I soon realised the Integra has a lot more going for it.
In short the Integra is a motorcycle dressed in scooter clothing. I like to think of the designers taking the comfort and ergonomic advantages of a scooter and placing them over the top of a motorcycle chassis. This is exactly what the Integra is, sharing the same frame, engine and suspension as the NC700S motorcycle and wrapping it all up in a scooter fairing.
Being a motorcycle the Integra features big wheels. The 17 inch front is matched by a 17 inch wheel on the rear. The brakes are disc front and rear, again big and powerful with Honda's combined braking system featuring. A massive 320 mm single disc - 3 piston caliper on the front and a 240 mm disc on the rear. In normal Honda fashion the brakes are linked and feature ABS.
The engine is a 670 cc inline twin. Peak power of 38 Kw and a huge 62 Nm of torque at just over 4500 rpm. These outputs are shared with the NC700S motorcycle and are not the normal detuned figures we can often see. The engine is liquid cooled and runs Honda's PGM-FI programmed fuel injection system.
The chassis is also shared with the NC700 motorcycle. The engine is placed low to help with the overall centre of gravity. The rear suspension is a pro-link, monoshock set-up . The front suspension is full, all the way through, 41mm motorcycle forks. The final drive is via chain.
Now for the scooter bits. The body is every bit scooter, you sit upright, extremely well protected. The bars fall easily to hand, are positioned high for comfort and ease of control. The screen is near perfect and makes the most of deflecting the elements. The front fairing also plays a part in doing the same. Apart from the tallish seat height, the seating position is all scooter. Will fit most, taller riders will need to perform the knee test.
The dash is a multi-function digital type. Two trips, fuel, time. tacho and gear selector information. Being digital it makes the whole "one" glance thing visually simple. Any storage is good storage, though here things get tight. A
wallet and phone compartment sits just below the dash. The underseat storage will accommodate some wet weather gear and that's about it. The Integra does feature a
helmet wire to lock away your helmet when parking. The rear passenger seat is
wide and flat with ample tie-down points. A 12 V charger lives under the seat.
The fuel tank capacity is 15 litres. The Integra also features a centre and sidestand combined. In neutral the sidestand can be activated without cutting the engine and I found this handy. The other handy feature is the handbrake which will hold you stationary at lights and makes things safe when parking on angles.
Which leads us to the most significant feature on the Integra. A dual clutch automatic transmission that sets this machine apart from any other scooter. In its 2nd generation the gearbox features three modes. Automatic drive mode, automatic sport mode and manual shift using the plus or minus buttons on the left-hand bar. Changing between each mode is simple and once shown, once is enough, it all comes natural. In drive and sport mode the transmission is a full six ratio box where gears are automatically selected by taking speed into consideration. In manual mode you can hold and change gears on your time.
On The Road
Here the Integra takes the best of both worlds and applies them well. In short the Integra handles and performs like a motorcycle yet has the protection and comfort we love in a scooter. The Integra is as easy as hitting the starter, selecting drive and twisting the throttle. The engine fires up immediately and throttle response is instantaneous. In drive things remain sedate, relaxed even, a few vibes are evident. In drive mode the Integra quickly finds the highest gear available to get the best in fuel efficiency. Performance is ample and cruising around town is as easy as twist and go.
After a few days getting accustomed to the handling we select sports mode. Here is where the fun starts. Gears are held for longer, revs are higher, everything becomes urgent, forget about any vibes. With it comes a rise in the sound effects and with it comes a big smile on the dial. The Integra loves this mode. Ride it with a little aggression and the Honda responds well. You quickly gain in confidence knowing the Integra will not be held back through limitation. High ground clearance, big wheels, motorcycle suspension and powerful brakes. You soon find yourself holding revs and losing the care factor behind saving fuel.
You can choose manual mode if needed, for me it's a waste, a bit of fun for a while as you power up through the gears using the plus button. Though I soon lost interest heading back to full automatic sports mode. Place all your concentration into the ride and let the Integra do the hard yards on selecting the right gear. Just as it changes up it also changes down, so engine braking not normally associated with a scooter is there. And even in automatic mode, if you want some immediate urge, you can always manually hit the minus button and downshift.
Handling is all motorcycle, incredibly competent and very sure-footed. The Integra is largish (at first anyway) and at 230 kilos it has some weight behind it. Which is not all down low and for some it will take a moment to come to terms with motorcycle-type balancing issues. Once accustomed, the Integra can feel relatively small and it's only when low speed manoeuvring do you once again notice the weight.
The brakes are big and powerful and you tend to forget what a great job they do. For most of the time I let the transmission do all the work of slowing the Integra down. It helps in traffic and when riding quickly into corners you come to trust a downshift or two happening prior to tipping-in. So my riding style consisted of feathering the left hand lever, on the gas, concentrating on the road ahead. When emergency braking you do need to realise this is not a 150 cc scooter, something I would often forget about when getting carried away in the city.
And on the city subject, I ended up finding the Integra particularly friendly. Easy to park thanks to the centre stand and easy to manoeuvre with the engine off. I would eventually need some optional luggage and you could spec it up with a box and panniers if needed. After this though, you could head out of the city, point and cruise anywhere you wanted. Abundant power, comfortable riding position and extensive weather protection from the front fairing and screen.
We probably could have written this review in a couple of lines. Living with the Integra is like having a motorcycle that incorporates some of the things we loves about scooters. Easy riding position, great weather protection and the convenience of an automatic transmission. The Integra can be and is so much more..... A smart commuting tool, a tourer, a fun machine. The Integra is adaptable to so many applications. It's one of those machines that if you had to make a choice "which one will I keep" you know the Honda is going to do everything you ask of it. With that ever reliable Honda nature that comes standard.
Who is the Integra for? For many it will be a convenient step in coming off a motorcycle. Easier to manage, easier to live with, storage is not an issue, I'll just get some luggage. Though for me I do see the Integra as a stepping stone also. For those wanting to expand the horizons, not wanting to give up some of the reasons why they love scootering. This is an area the Integra can fill with confidence.
So the Integra is a hybrid motorcycle. Take it for a ride, not just
around the block and you'll find yourself falling for this one. The transmission alone is enough to sign on the dotted line. For
those looking for that next step after a scooter, the Integra could very well be the answer. Price is right, convenience and comfort are not lost in
the transition. The ability to ride anywhere in Australia on one
machine is an added bonus. This is an intelligent two-wheeler.
Warranty is 24 months. For more information visit http://motorcycles.honda.com.au/Urban_Scooter/NC700_integra