Comparison test Honda NT 650 V Deauville versus Yamaha XJ 600 S


Comparison test Honda NT 650 V Deauville versus Yamaha XJ 600 S

Time of awakening

Tried and tested against a new mix – the Yamaha XJ 600 S has seen a lot, the Honda Deauville packs tried and tested technology in a new skin. Which brings the frequent driver better through the young year?

The time has come: Spring heralds the motorcycle season with rising temperatures, the tired bones are thirsting for their first trips. You need a loyal companion, a frugal friend for the daily drive to work and the enjoyable detour after work, a reliable companion for the weekend excursion and of course for the long-distance trip for two with luggage.
Is it asking a lot from a single moped? Not at all. Honda and Yamaha offer two interesting all-rounders with proven technology. Brand new and yet well-known, the Honda Deauville, with 14,270 marks not necessarily a special offer, rounds off the in-house range of touring bikes. Above all, the expansive plastic dress is spectacular, which is a bit ignitable: Well, taste can be argued about, as is well known. Under the plastic cover, the ten-year-old NTV 650, of course slightly modified, does its job.
The Yamaha XJ 600 S has long been established. The naturally slim motorbike suffers optically from suitcases from the Yamaha accessories range that are flanged on at a later date – they hang like two zeppelins on the XJ. Nevertheless, with 11490 marks including suitcases and luggage rack, it burdens the wallet far less than the Honda.
Technically, the competitors go their separate ways: The Deauville carries its water-cooled V-2 engine in a steel bridge frame. The power reaches the rear wheel via a cardan, which, unlike the NTV (single-sided swing arm), is guided by a double-sided swing arm. The Yamaha fixes its air-cooled inline four-cylinder in a steel double-loop frame. A chain transports the engine power to the rear wheel with less maintenance. When you sit up, it becomes clear that Honda has thought more ergonomically than Yamaha. The seating position on the Deauville is simply more successful. Young and old alike feel a greater degree of control, brought about by the slightly bent posture and the casual throning, not in the motorcycle. The Deauville makes her rider not a passenger, but a controller. The perfectly placed footrests help as well as the pleasantly cranked handlebars and the clear cockpit (with clock) – everything under control, everything in view.
The Yamaha embeds its pilot a bit sportier, but creates a more passive driving experience. But here, too, there is actually no reason to complain. The XJ is also very comfortable on short and long journeys, shines with adjustable hand levers and a clear, fully equipped cockpit. Passenger comfort suffers a little from the short bench seat and especially from the unfortunate suitcase. The luggage boxes drastically restrict the passenger’s foot freedom – there is only space left on the pegs for heels. And getting on or off is only possible with applied acrobatics. The vacation together should therefore not be planned too far.
Deauville drivers have it easier because the designers tailored the integrated storage compartments around the crew. Unfortunately, the series cases do not take too much cargo. If you want to travel with larger luggage, you have to use the voluminous case lids from the accessories range.
There are no reproaches for the drive of the Honda – the joy begins with a cold start. Two revolutions, and the V-Twin bubbles out of the muffler even in sub-zero temperatures. The cold start aid is no longer necessary after a very short time. The 650 willingly and spontaneously takes on the gas, convinces with rich torque and proper running smoothness – the robust character sets pleasant accents with so much perfection. Incidentally, the very compact motor makes use of a culture-enhancing design gimmick: crank pins offset by 76 degrees turn the 52-degree V2 into a 90-degree motor in terms of vibration.
Joy after joy also in power transmission. The ease of movement of the clutch is almost unbelievable. The 56 horses reach the rear wheel via the tightly stepped and perfectly functioning gearbox. And that without reaction, despite the cardan. Brakes? Strong bite with moderate hand strength – flawless.
In terms of deceleration, the XJ can easily keep up with the Deauville, but otherwise it is in a difficult position. Measured against the twin of the Honda, its long-stroke inline quad appears to be smooth in all speed ranges. The two-valve engine pushes its performance, generated with silky smooth running, rather phlegmatically to the rear wheel. In terms of acceleration and pulling power, the opponents are on a similar level. On the transmission side, a loud audible click, combined with a slight forward jolt when engaging the first gear, announces that the gear steps have engaged. Well, everything works, just not as well as with the Honda. After all, the XJ scores just as much in terms of consumption as it does in terms of weight.
Compared to its predecessor NTV, the Deauville has grown quite a bit. But you don’t notice the pounds when driving. Handy and very confidently she tackles every kind of bend and does not allow herself to be dissuaded from the course once it has taken. The Honda gives you a pleasant feeling of security – sit on it, accelerate, drive, enjoy. Quite a few feel reminded of a large scooter (probably also due to the design …). The comfortable, very sensitively appealing spring elements, supported by the pleasant seat upholstery, keep the edges and bumps of the asphalt away from the valued seat flesh. It’s nice that the spring base on the rear strut can be adjusted using the handwheel. In this way, the Deauville can be adapted to different load conditions in a user-friendly manner. Annoying that the side cover has to be removed for this.
The high price already mentioned several times should also have allowed an adjustable rebound stage damping on the central spring strut. Or a spoiler screen, because at high speeds, at which the Honda pulls its course in an exemplary manner, the wind hits the giant seat with whirlwind force on the helmet. Speaking of weather protection: the fairing does provide some protection against moisture and freezing temperatures, but once the hands are cold, the Deauville driver searches in vain for a hole in the fairing that could provide access to the helpful engine heat. The optional heated grips are helpful.
The XJ driver does not know such problems – the narrow half-shell leaves the engine free, but unfortunately also leaves many doors open for airflow and weather. But not only the elements, but also slight suspension disturbances shake the Yamaha at high speeds. In return, the XJ shines with exemplary handling and razor-sharp accuracy. The spring elements are soft and comfort-oriented. Nice and comfortable on undulating roads, but also quickly overwhelmed. The XJ is not built for lawns anyway. This is especially true in two-man operation, where every wave puts the XJ in heavy seas. After all, the accessories trade has helpful and affordable fork springs and struts ready.
Another shortcoming that affects both machines is not so easy to get rid of: The light output of both headlights is rather poor and does not meet the demands that are made on frequent riders.
D.if both motorcycles are not lights, it does not change the fact that the new Honda emerges from the comparison with a clear lead on the bottom line – even if the high price leaves a pale aftertaste. The Deauville sports cheap add-on parts such as the foot levers or the loveless cockpit with cheeky self-evidentness. Full casing and second brake disc cannot really explain the price difference to the predecessor NTV 650, but also to the Yamaha XJ 600 S. The Honda may be the better motorcycle – but the time to wake up comes when you compare prices at the latest.

On the subject

The Deauville is, Honda promises, a machine that is thoroughly European. Which, when it came to tourers, included us, up to now, more down-to-earth things such as upscale solidity and no-frills practicality. NTV, because the indestructible Deauville forerunner was multifunctional in the best sense of the word. But times change, and so do their layout. Today a tourer is bound to have a full fairing, and the cases have to become part of an integrated overall solution. The bike to the cell phone, wrote a colleague, and there is only one thing left to add: Let them ride it, because then at least they’ll ride a motorcycle, and this Deuaville will certainly not drive them badly. Make them believe Honda’s copywriters that this middle grader has “strong appeal for successful people.” And let them pay: 3000 marks extra from the NTV to Deauville – that’s where I’ll get out. No to. On a CB 500 with 60 HP for around 9000 stones, for example.

2nd place: Yamaha


The not quite fresh Yamaha landed in second place not only because of a slack engine and underdamped shock absorber. Above all, it is inexcusable that the suitability for a pillion passenger suffers drastically when the Yamaha cases are fitted. Nevertheless, the XJ is one of the good offers among everyday bikes – cheap price and uncomplicated, frugal nature, good brakes and a comfortable seating position – all of which creates sympathy. On top of that, it is nimble and handy.

1st place: Honda NT 650

Honda NT 650 VC Deauville

Cleverly arranged, slightly modified parts from the spare parts shelf, encased in an opulent plastic building – and the test winner is ready. The NT 650 V Deauville impresses with its balanced properties and its foolproof driving behavior. Of course, you can argue about the optics, but nobody questions the function. Nevertheless – despite all the perfection, the price is geared towards maximizing profit.

The clever alternative

Why not be as clever as Honda’s market strategists? The components for it can be bought by everyone. The new Honda Deauville is ahead of its predecessor, the popular and indestructible NTV 650, in addition to detailed modifications, a double-disc brake, stiffer spring elements and, above all, full fairing. However, it also costs a bit more than an NTV, which is available from remnants at the gray importer for 9,000 marks, used for 4,000 and 8,000 marks. Then a case system and full cladding from the accessories trade (e.g. from Pichler, photo on the right) for around 2500 marks, and the coup is perfect. With the money saved, you can go on vacation.

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