Guess again: Honda’s NM4 Vultus isn’t a scooter, electric, or Batman’s new ride

Update: The NM4 is now up on Honda’s U.S. site, and it’s spec’d as having the 670cc engine instead of the 750cc plant. Also, it appears to have integrated rear saddlebags/panniers, although the image has a “pre-production model” note at the bottom. Price is a steep $10,999 but that does include the 6-speed DCT and ABS brakes.

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Check out the newest bike from Honda, called the NM4 Vultus. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s an electric bike – it isn’t.

What it is, however, is another extension of Honda’s beginner-centric NC and CTX lines, which we had a chance to step astride last year. And while the Vultus looks more like a concept bike, Honda says it’s headed for showrooms. As for the styling, Honda says the Vultus is “a ground-breaking machine inspired by futuristic machines seen in the anime and manga television and film styles, known collectively as ‘Japanimation.’”

To us, the Vultus (Honda says that’s Latin for “face” or “expression”) looks like a mashup of the NC700, the F117 Stealth Fighter and something Batman would dream up in his spare time chilling in the Bat Cave. While the look may rub traditionalists the wrong way, new riders might find its menacing, blacked-out stance just the thing to separate them from the retro-cafe and scooter crowd.

2014 Honda NM4 Vultus shield

Like the rest of the models in the NC and CTX line, it’s powered by Honda’s friendly lay-down, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected P-twin, this time punched out to 745cc from the 670cc version found in most of the other variants. If it’s in the same state of tune as the plant in the upgraded Euro-spec NC750, it should pump out 54 horsepower and a stout 50 pound-feet of torque. Not a rocketship by any stretch, but enough juice to satisfy everyone from beginners to commuters to experienced riders who no longer need 200 horsepower for everyday riding.

To further bolster its novice appeal, the Vultus will include Honda’s 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. When we tried it last year, we found the automatic to be typical Honda: polished, highly functional, robust and easy to operate. Along with Drive (for maximum MPGs) and Sport (more performance), the DCT also features push-button “manual” shifting for more control over the fun.

The bike also features a digital LCD dash with a gear position indicator and a tach redlining at a lowish 6,000 rpm due to the motor’s torque-enhancing long-stroke design. Geometric pods on either side feature the usual array of indicators. LEDs illuminate most of the lights on the bike, including the front indicators mounted like fangs on the fairing.

2014 Honda NM4 Vultus top rear

The Vultus also looks to up the ante comfort-wise, with canted floorboards up front and a passenger seat that flips up for use as a backrest – and it’s adjustable at that. Disc brakes front and rear will likely feature ABS, if Honda’s past options for the other NC and CTX bikes remain in place.

So will the Vultus be coming stateside? Honda’s American arm gave us the typical “there is no more information at this time” response, but I’d be willing to bet it’s headed our way to join it’s NC and CTX brethren as part of Honda’s bid to attract new, younger riders.

Will Honda’s latest stab at creating an easy-to-ride-bike-with-out-there-styling catch on? If it’s anything like the rest of the NC bikes, it will perform up to Honda’s high bar, but it’s going to be a matter of whether buyers can relate to the anime-influenced style. One thing for sure: Honda definitely needs to hire a Batman lookalike to cruise around on one at Comic-Con.

What do you think of the NM4? Too sci-fi or cool take on an urban street machine? Leave a comment below.

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