I exited off the 105 highway, where it dead ends into Norwalk California, Bell Bullitt helmet on my head and Mini Buran shoulder bag thrown over my lap. Despite the girth of the fairing, I had just spent the last 45 minutes flying down the 110 South to the 105 East, my normal daily commute from our Hollywood offices.
Traffic was moving slow toward a redlight, as a beat-up Honda civic tried desperately to get alongside. I slipped the throttle and move forward, as the car did the same. I immediately began rehearsing my ride in my head, trying to remember how many fingers I gave to those breaking the solid double-yellow line from the car pool lane, or if I yelled at someone to get off their phone. I turned, prepared for a berating from a disgruntled cager to see two young Hispanic guys with equally big grins, desperately try to roll down their apparently broken window.
“Hey! What is that thing?” the passenger yelled with his lips stretched to the little crack at the top of the window.
“It’s called a Honda NM4!” I shouted back.
“Cool, dude!” They both gave me thumbs of approval.
They were at that adolescent age when you’re never really that excited about something unless you’re being sarcastic. I believed their enthusiasm was genuine, but it got me thinking about the bike. The Honda NM4 Vultus, which in Latin means expression or facial expression, was conceived by a young group of Honda designers who heavily based the bike off of the futuristic motorcycles found in an anime film, Akira.
It essentially was built as a concept bike, one that Honda realized it could produce with minimal risk and investment. Under the skin, the NM4 is based off of the CTX700 and NC700, which are both offered as DCT (automatic) or traditional hand-clutch manual. The NM4 has a little more rake and wheelbase, and of course a different ride height to the NC700 and different fairings and subframe than either bike. The NM4 does not come with a manual option.
The bike is a harsh expression that leaves people with feelings of want or hatred, no in between. The NM4 does not evoke feelings of “meh.”