I first rode a Deauville around a year ago when Honda had a single model in Australia for evaluation purposes. That was just a quick squirt around the confines of Phillip Island, but recently I utilised a Deauville for my transport needs while in Victoria for the second round of the Shell Advance Australian Superbike Championship.

After arriving at the airport early on a Thursday morning I headed out to see the nice guys that work at the Tullamarine Honda Australia Rider Training centre and picked up my steed for the weekend.

The integrated panniers came in very handy, swallowing my shoes and spare clothes etc. I couldn’t squeeze the backpack I use to carry my laptop and camera gear in to the standard panniers but the optional top-box would have been able to take care of that. The panniers are locked using the ignition key which adds a little peace of mind when parking.

After jumping aboard my immediate impression was of how well the Deauville hides its claimed 228kg weight. Changes of direction require very little effort, as does manoeuvring the machine when parking.

Motivation is provided by a 647cc V-Twin engine. Liquid cooling ensures the three valve per cylinder mill keeps its cool.

Fuel is provided to a pair of 36mm CV carburettors from a generous 19.5 litre fuel tank which provides a touring range of over 350 kilometres at legal speeds.

The Deauville will happily sit at the national speed limit, even with a pillion, and still has enough performance in reserve to make country road overtaking a safe affair. It will never pull your arms out of their sockets, but it flows along nicely enough and revs quite freely. It is stronger than the Rotax based single used in Aprilia’s Pegaso or BMW’s F650, but no match for something like the SV650.

Power is transferred through a smooth shifting five-speed gearbox before driving the rear wheel via an enclosed shaft-drive system. As you would expect from a motor of this size, brisk progress does require a little gearbox shuffling.

There are plenty of fans of the shaft-drive system, but on something like the Deauville I do think it is perhaps a case of overkill. Good chains these days rarely need adjusting, a decent chain lasts at least 30,000 kilometres and costs less than $200 to replace. Shaft drive also adds complexity and weight to the machine, while robbing it of a little power. But many consider that a worthy price to pay for not having to adjust or lubricate a chain. In fact, many potential buyers will no doubt see the shaft drive as one of the main reasons which has attracted them to the machine.

Speed and revs are displayed by traditional round faced analogue gauges; these are flanked by the normal bank of idiot lights. A small LCD insert atop the gauges displays the time. This all resides below a small tinted screen. In keeping with the touring design of the machine, I feel a more substantial screen would have been welcome. I did have a little trouble with wind buffeting, but strangely enough the higher I sat in the seat the less troublesome this became.

The suspension was a pleasant surprise. 41mm forks combine with a remotely adjustable single shock to provide a smooth ride, they also cope admirably well when pushing through a tight set of bends. You can easily get a little too excited and start dragging the pegs if you really get carried away. Put this in context though, I am not calling the Deauville a sportsbike, but it certainly does handle better than most would expect.

A simplified variation of Honda’s combined braking system is fitted to the Deauville and provides sure-footed braking performance. A pair of 296mm discs combines with a large 276mm rear disc to pull the machine up quite well. The balance front to rear is just right. It is nearly impossible to provoke a front or rear wheel lock up when executing an emergency stop, even in wet conditions. In the dry perhaps a little more braking power would be nice, but for the machines intended role there is certainly enough stopping power available.

The machine is largely free from vibration and the ergonomics are very friendly indeed. The Deauville would make a great commuter or long-distance tourer for anyone who travels at a modest pace. Quality of finish appears to be quite good and the bikes looks do certainly grow on you after a while.

Looked at in isolation, the Spanish built Honda can appear a little bit expensive at $14,990. But if you try and find something else in the market place with a v-twin, panniers and shaft drive, you will be looking a long time; this is when the Deauville starts to look like a much more reasonable proposition.

Honda Deauville – Specifications

  • Engine: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 6-valve SOHC 52• V-twin

  • Bore × Stroke: 79 × 66mm

  • Displacement: 647cc

  • Compression Ratio: 9.2 : 1

  • Carburettor: 36mm slant-type CV × 2

  • Max. Power Output: 55hp (41kw) @ 7,750rpm (Claimed)

  • Max. Torque: 55Nm @ 6,250rpm (Claimed)

  • Ignition: Digital transistorised with electronic advance

  • Starter: Electric

  • Transmission: 5-speed

  • Final Drive: Enclosed shaft

  • Dimensions (L×W×H): 2,215 × 780 × 1,260mm

  • Wheelbase: 1,475mm

  • Seat Height: 814mm

  • Ground Clearance: 144mm

  • Fuel Capacity: 19.5 litres

  • Wheels Front/Rear: ‘S’-section triple-spoke cast aluminium

  • Tyres Front: 120/70–ZR17M/C (58W)

  • Tyres Rear: 150/70–ZR17M/C (69W)

  • Suspension Front: 41mm telescopic fork, 115mm axle travel

  • Suspension Rear: Single damper with adjustable preload, 120mm axle travel

  • Brakes Front: 296mm dual hydraulic disc with combined 3-piston calipers and sintered metal pads

  • Brakes Rear: 276mm hydraulic disc with dual-piston caliper and sintered metal pads

  • Dry Weight: 228kg

  • Warranty: Two years, unlimited kilometres

  • Price: $14,990 inc. GST + ORC*

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