According to new trademark filings, Honda’s NX-badged dual-sport bikes might be making a comeback.
Veterans of the dual-sport scene will recall Honda introducing an NX line back in the late 80s, which included 125cc, 250cc and 650cc versions. While many riders at the time dismissed these dual sport-intended bikes with electric starters, larger fuel tanks and comfy seats as clumsy dirt bikes, they were actually early comers to the adventure bike era, though apparently too early for broad acceptance in the US
After just a couple years of lackluster sales the NX models vanished from US showrooms, even as the rest of the world embraced their versatility, where the bikes were branded as NX Dominators and NX Falcons.
Now a new report in Cycle World reveals Honda is one step closer to resurrecting the line, having applied for exclusive usage of the designations “NX” and “NX500” in the European Union, and a day later, for the same rights in New Zealand .
While Honda had a few street-biased ADV bikes on the market as the modern adventure trend was building steam, it really got its hooks in when it finally dusted off another of its late 80s legacy dual sport models, the Africa Twin, back in 2016 , and brought it to the US for the first time. Before it was the CRF1100L we know today, the Africa Twin’s story began when it was first released in 1988 as the XRV650, a dual sport replica of Honda’s prototype NXR750 and later NXR800V, which won Paris-Dakar four years in a row, beginning with the 1986 event.
Yup, those early Honda NXR Dakar bikes were powered by v-twins, yet the NX models utilized singles. They were awesome little dual sports though, especially the water-cooled 250, one of which lives in my own garage to this day, having served as the perfect machine to ease many friends and my own daughter into dirt riding, thanks to its approachable seat height, light weight and electric starter.
Little did we know back in the late 80s and 90s how universally popular large adventure bikes and explorative riding would become. Nor could we have imagined that smaller dual sports like the NXs would one day be in high demand. Yet here we are, pining for those light- and mid-displacement adventure bikes of yore.
While the NX line has been powered with singles in the past, utilizing the parallel-twin drivetrain from the existing CB500 line would make for a smart and quick fix. And if its chassis is tuned for off-road riding, it will add more diversity to Honda’s middleweight ADV offerings, where currently the CB500X and CRF300L Rally are the closest thing to tourable, lightweight ADV bikes.
Another blast from the past which could emerge soon from the Honda camp to help fill in the one-step-up middleweight adventure bike void is a resurrected Transalp. Unlike the NX line, America did somewhat embrace the dual sport Transalp, also born in the late 80’s, and finally disappearing from Honda’s stable as a 700cc model in 2011. But as Cycle World reported last year, Honda also reapplied for the Transalp trademark for the US and many other countries, spawning rumors it will use Honda’s new 745cc parallel twin engine and be positioned alongside the street-slanted NC750X as a more off-road oriented option, poised to compete with Yamaha’s Tenere 700.
Add the possibility of an NX150 and/or NX200 (Honda has filed trademark applications for these as well), in the style of the cool prototype CB125X Honda showed off back at the EICMA 2018 and went on to file at least one patent for, and the world would also have a new mini-ADV bike option to consider.
All of these patent and trademark puzzle pieces promise one exciting thing: A shift toward the more practical options the ADV community has long been pining for. People! They are listening!