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Issues (and potential) on a used 2012 NC700x?

NovaGeeze

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Hi folks, I'm new here, possibly finally pulling the trigger on an NC700x. I have been looking at these for a while as something to use to run errands in the summer as well as just take a cruise on the low-traffic roads up there. I like the fact that I should be able to do most maintenance on my own. (I build bicycles from scratch for fun in my spare time, so I have that sort of level of mechanical competence.)

I have looked at a used one near me, a 2012 with 35k miles on it. I was wondering if the experts here might weigh in on what I should look out for and a few things I noticed. Asking price is ~$3,800.

The Good:
  • Owner is a retired scientist with a nice house, everything neat and tidy, cars and replacement NC750X included!
  • Garage kept.
  • Engine started right away and sounded very good. Temp about 50 degrees.
  • Exterior looks pretty good. It's got a few scuffs, none of which look at all like a result of a drop (and seller states so) but bike is clearly well used.
  • Owner has receipts for recent services.
  • Newish tires and brake pads and battery.
The Meh:
  • There was a thin layer of grime inside rear swingarm so I couldn't see well to check for rust there (though none appears on the exposed ends or other more obvious places).
  • Same grime prevented me from assessing well the rear shock -- still stock -- was weeping or worn. Feels OK in the driveway, but I couldn't take it out for a drive when I checked it out.
  • Front forks felt OK shoved in driveway too, no evident oil leaks.
  • There was just a bit of edge rust on the front rotors, but he had the brakes done fairly recently (receipts, even!) and the pads were replaced so presumably the mechanic gave the rotors a pass too.
  • Clutch feels a bit firm, but cable end looks old and hasn't been replaced. Lube/replace that cable/housing might help a bit there? Operated fine testing in driveway to first gear.
  • Hose clamps, cable ends, etc. show the age you'd expect, minor rust or white weathering, etc.
  • Stated that chain was new-ish. Looked a bit dirty, but not awful. Stated that he lubes after each gas fill (with a standard B'laster chain lube), which when he was commuting, according to my calcs, would have been about 1x per week min.
The Hmmm:
  • Some oily film on top of engine cover right side, which I guess is weeping from the clutch side? Seems strange to see oily film traveling up, but when I looked at the bottom, it looked clean. The film was pretty light and not too oily, and owner states (and I believe him) that it doesn't use or leak.
  • It was parked on some cardboard that was clean. I don't think there was any coverup here and as mentioned, I looked under the engine and it looked OK -- but maybe that's suspicious?
  • Ridden in weather, including winter wet (residual salt potential there, they oversalt like crazy here).
  • Frunk lid seems a bit loose? Not sure how tightly those typically close, if they rattle, and ease of potential remedies.
Am I missing anything obvious? What would I be looking at $$-wise if I needed to replace that rear shock? Will I need to pull the right engine cover at some point, clean, and re-seal?
 

670cc

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First of all, welcome to the forum.

It looks like you have done a thorough inspection and the motorcycle appears to be in good condition. The NC, even the first year 2012 model, had no universal weaknesses or trouble spots.

Regarding the rear shock, while many of us love the NC motororcycle, we aren’t all in love with the rear shock. It is a low budget component the works adequately but not well. It is possible your prospective bike has a bad shock at that age, but there are takeoff items available from those that removed their stock shock (I have an old one in my parts box). You could find a working replacement fairly cheap. I couldn’t see buying a new replacement shock from Honda, as at that point I would be looking for a higher quality aftermarket unit.

As long as the frunk lid seal is in place, the frunk lid is probably fine. There is no adjustment available on the latch. You could later ensure that the hardware is tight.

I would clean and monitor the right side engine cover. Leaks here from the factory are unheard of, but if the cover had been removed and reinstalled (unlikely except for clutch plate replacement at high mileage), then sloppy work could result in a leak.

Lubing the chain at each gas fill is excessive which probably accounts for the grime on the rear end. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, just a curiousity. Well maintained chains can still look dirty, so that is not necessarily a bad thing. Ultra clean chains are a bad sign as they have probably been destroyed by excess cleaning.

Honda clutch cables have a (I believe) teflon lining and lubing them is not called for. You could lube if you wanted to, but I would first check/lube the clutch lever pivot point and cable end.
 
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halfSpinDoctor

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I would clean and monitor the right side engine cover. Leaks here from the factory are unheard of, but if the cover had been removed and reinstalled (unlikely except for clutch plate replacement at high mileage), then sloppy work could result in a leak.

Another possibility is that the oil filler / dipstick cap could be not on tight, or cross-threaded. I even managed to cross-thread it once, and wondered why I was getting oil on my leg while riding.

Overall my concern about that finding would be very minimal.
 
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halfSpinDoctor

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Hi NovaGeeze,

Welcome to the forum, and it is exciting to hear that you are considering the NC. I have a 2013 NC700X and I absolutely love it. I bought it in 2018 with about 6500 miles, and now have almost 14,000 on it over four years.

Now that I am not replying from my phone, a few more thoughts to share...

Overall it sounds like you have done a very thorough evaluation of the bike. The new-ish consumibles (tires, battery, brakes) are a plus for hassle-free riding right from the get go. Overall, for a bike this age, I think a well-loved used bike with a few scuffs and some grime that is well taken care of is probably better than a bike that was sitting abandoned to rot for years.

Overall the concerns you have listed, from my perspective, are all fairly minor. But I am also the type who likes to tinker and would not have a problem with replacing an engine cover gasket (due to oil leak) or clutch cable in exchange for a good deal.

Specific comments below:
  • There was a thin layer of grime inside rear swingarm so I couldn't see well to check for rust there (though none appears on the exposed ends or other more obvious places).
  • Same grime prevented me from assessing well the rear shock -- still stock -- was weeping or worn. Feels OK in the driveway, but I couldn't take it out for a drive when I checked it out.
Probably due to over-lubrication of the chain, as 670cc pointed out. My swingarm and shock used to get filthy, until I put a rear "hugger" fender on. All of that is painted and should be fairly rustproof, unless it was scuffed with something abrasive.
  • Front forks felt OK shoved in driveway too, no evident oil leaks.
  • There was just a bit of edge rust on the front rotors, but he had the brakes done fairly recently (receipts, even!) and the pads were replaced so presumably the mechanic gave the rotors a pass too.
Rotors rust if sit unused. Sometimes the very outer/inner edges will rust where the pad doesn't touch. Non-issue.
  • Clutch feels a bit firm, but cable end looks old and hasn't been replaced. Lube/replace that cable/housing might help a bit there? Operated fine testing in driveway to first gear.
Agree with 670cc, don't lube clutch cable. Replace if there is an issue, otherwise lubricating the lever and pivot (at the top on the handlebars) usually fixes any "firm" feeling. I like to use white lithium grease for metal-on-metal lubrication. It makes everything feel smooth, and is not easily washed away by water.
  • Hose clamps, cable ends, etc. show the age you'd expect, minor rust or white weathering, etc.
  • Stated that chain was new-ish. Looked a bit dirty, but not awful. Stated that he lubes after each gas fill (with a standard B'laster chain lube), which when he was commuting, according to my calcs, would have been about 1x per week min.
The Hmmm:
  • Some oily film on top of engine cover right side, which I guess is weeping from the clutch side? Seems strange to see oily film traveling up, but when I looked at the bottom, it looked clean. The film was pretty light and not too oily, and owner states (and I believe him) that it doesn't use or leak.
Check oil filler cap.
  • It was parked on some cardboard that was clean. I don't think there was any coverup here and as mentioned, I looked under the engine and it looked OK -- but maybe that's suspicious?
It's a little weird, but some people are really particular about their cement floors staying oil-free. Probably okay.
  • Ridden in weather, including winter wet (residual salt potential there, they oversalt like crazy here).
Sounds like the bike is not a garage queen, but if you don't see major rust (especially on bolts and fasteners), should be fine. If anything, it means you can feel guilt-free about riding out in weather if you ever feel so inclined.
  • Frunk lid seems a bit loose? Not sure how tightly those typically close, if they rattle, and ease of potential remedies
From the day I got my bike, the lid was loose. I think that is just how a lot of them fit.
Overall sounds like a great bike! If the price is right and it makes you happy, I would pull the trigger on the purchase.
 

NovaGeeze

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Thanks so much for the replies, folks. I went back and forth on this quite a bit, but in the end I decided to go more toward a lightweight dual-sport (like a CRFxxxL Rally maybe) since I'll be using this up at the cabin in summers (about 1,000 miles from current locale.) Going that route, I'd miss the ease of errand running and road capabilities of the NC, but there's a lot of gravel, double track, and single track up there to explore that would be too much for the NC700 even if I fitted it up with knobbier tires. Being able to get out on those routes was the original impetus for getting recertified. Of course, the garage up there is overly large, so if I stumble across one of each... (Actually, I met a guy last summer on a newer NC, at the top of a lookout, and he mentioned he was looking to sell it. I know someone he works with, so I could get those feelers out...) I've never seen a bike that had such easier DIY valve adjustment as the NC. That kind of thing is a big plus.
 
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NovaGeeze

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670cc

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Thanks so much for the replies, folks. I went back and forth on this quite a bit, but in the end I decided to go more toward a lightweight dual-sport (like a CRFxxxL Rally maybe) since I'll be using this up at the cabin in summers (about 1,000 miles from current locale.) Going that route, I'd miss the ease of errand running and road capabilities of the NC, but there's a lot of gravel, double track, and single track up there to explore that would be too much for the NC700 even if I fitted it up with knobbier tires. Being able to get out on those routes was the original impetus for getting recertified. Of course, the garage up there is overly large, so if I stumble across one of each... (Actually, I met a guy last summer on a newer NC, at the top of a lookout, and he mentioned he was looking to sell it. I know someone he works with, so I could get those feelers out...) I've never seen a bike that had such easier DIY valve adjustment as the NC. That kind of thing is a big plus.
I like the one of each approach. If you're interested in details on the Honda CRF250L Rally, I own one of those, too (see my Fuelly signature below). Ask away (in a new thread in the non NC motorcycle section) if you have questions on the CRF Rally. For unimproved roads and trails, the CRF runs circles around the NC. No matter what you do to make an NC truly off road capable (I tried), it fails in that role. Simply put, the NC is a street bike, the CRF is a dual sport. I know of at least two other members here that have or had both an NC and a CRF at the same time.

On the subject of valves, easier than NC DIY valve adjustments are bikes that need adjustment less frequently, or not at all. My Goldwing at almost 90,000 miles has required valve lash checks (easy to do), but never any adjustment (not easy to do). My wife's Can-Am Ryker has hydraulic lifters and never needs a valve check/adjust. And the easiest valve adjustment I've ever seen is on our Honda Reflex scooter. There is an external lever you move along a scale and lock down with a bolt. You don't remove the head cover and you don't even need a feeler gauge.
 
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670cc

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Look out for leaking wheel rims due to corroded paint. Look out also for wheel bearing wear.
Griff, you bring up good points, and these two items are indeed among the rare weak spots on the NC product.

Air leaks at the rim are an annoyance. It's an easy fix by just dismounting the tire, cleaning up the inner rim bead surface, and remounting the tire with proper mounting lubricant. Once I personally changed the first tires on my NC at around 8-10 thousand miles, and used proper mounting procedures, I have never seen a rim leak since.

I have personally experienced right rear wheel bearing failure, as have a seemingly inordinate number of other owners. While some failures occur earlier, my advice is to proactively replace the right rear wheel bearing by 50,000 miles/80,000km.
 

halfSpinDoctor

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I have personally experienced right rear wheel bearing failure, as have a seemingly inordinate number of other owners. While some failures occur earlier, my advice is to proactively replace the right rear wheel bearing by 50,000 miles/80,000km.
I have not either, but it comes up enough on here (and elsewhere) that I've pre-ordered a full set of bearings and seals to do when the time comes. That being said, checking bearings is not something that immediately comes to mind when inspecting a bike.
 

670cc

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I have not either, but it comes up enough on here (and elsewhere) that I've pre-ordered a full set of bearings and seals to do when the time comes. That being said, checking bearings is not something that immediately comes to mind when inspecting a bike.
Raising the rear wheel and checking for swing arm and/or rear wheel play could be added as a recommended inspection on the NC.
 

7ncx

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Hi folks, I'm new here, possibly finally pulling the trigger on an NC700x. I have been looking at these for a while as something to use to run errands in the summer as well as just take a cruise on the low-traffic roads up there. I like the fact that I should be able to do most maintenance on my own. (I build bicycles from scratch for fun in my spare time, so I have that sort of level of mechanical competence.)

I have looked at a used one near me, a 2012 with 35k miles on it. I was wondering if the experts here might weigh in on what I should look out for and a few things I noticed. Asking price is ~$3,800.

The Good:
  • Owner is a retired scientist with a nice house, everything neat and tidy, cars and replacement NC750X included!
  • Garage kept.
  • Engine started right away and sounded very good. Temp about 50 degrees.
  • Exterior looks pretty good. It's got a few scuffs, none of which look at all like a result of a drop (and seller states so) but bike is clearly well used.
  • Owner has receipts for recent services.
  • Newish tires and brake pads and battery.
The Meh:
  • There was a thin layer of grime inside rear swingarm so I couldn't see well to check for rust there (though none appears on the exposed ends or other more obvious places).
  • Same grime prevented me from assessing well the rear shock -- still stock -- was weeping or worn. Feels OK in the driveway, but I couldn't take it out for a drive when I checked it out.
  • Front forks felt OK shoved in driveway too, no evident oil leaks.
  • There was just a bit of edge rust on the front rotors, but he had the brakes done fairly recently (receipts, even!) and the pads were replaced so presumably the mechanic gave the rotors a pass too.
  • Clutch feels a bit firm, but cable end looks old and hasn't been replaced. Lube/replace that cable/housing might help a bit there? Operated fine testing in driveway to first gear.
  • Hose clamps, cable ends, etc. show the age you'd expect, minor rust or white weathering, etc.
  • Stated that chain was new-ish. Looked a bit dirty, but not awful. Stated that he lubes after each gas fill (with a standard B'laster chain lube), which when he was commuting, according to my calcs, would have been about 1x per week min.
The Hmmm:
  • Some oily film on top of engine cover right side, which I guess is weeping from the clutch side? Seems strange to see oily film traveling up, but when I looked at the bottom, it looked clean. The film was pretty light and not too oily, and owner states (and I believe him) that it doesn't use or leak.
  • It was parked on some cardboard that was clean. I don't think there was any coverup here and as mentioned, I looked under the engine and it looked OK -- but maybe that's suspicious?
  • Ridden in weather, including winter wet (residual salt potential there, they oversalt like crazy here).
  • Frunk lid seems a bit loose? Not sure how tightly those typically close, if they rattle, and ease of potential remedies.
Am I missing anything obvious? What would I be looking at $$-wise if I needed to replace that rear shock? Will I need to pull the right engine cover at some point, clean, and re-seal?
See this thread is a couple seeks old but I have a 2012 NC700X with about 27,000 and has been trouble free. As discussed on this forum consider upgrading the front and rear suspension. One thing to note is the first year medels are built entirely in Japan. A lot of gunk natually accumulates on the swngarm, lower shock, rear wheel, side stand etc... from chain lube. Oil on top of right side cover may be from excessive lube if lubing the clutch cable end arm. Stiff clutch feel, check and lube pivot at the handlebar clutch lever. Is the bike stored outdoors by salt sea air may be cause of some of the rust, corrosion.
 

CamaroEric

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I know you went a different direction. Probably a good thing since that price seems super high.

I only paid just over $3k for my 2012 in 2016 and it only had 3700 miles on it. Garage kept and flawless.

Scott's above looks like a much better deal of you came back to the NC.
 

Possummanj

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Offer him $3k and maybe let him bargain you up another $100---I have bought and sold lots of bikes ---the price is always flexible --and if not there is always another bike or another buyer
 
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