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– 2004 Honda NAS
2004 Honda NAS
Honda’s New American Sports Alters Motorcycle Reality
The U.S. motorcycle market often defies comparison. American tastes and trends can reside oceans away from the demands of riders in Asia or Europe. That’s reason enough to justify the existence of Honda R&D Americas (HRA), but the creative minds toiling away within this top-secret two-wheeler think-tank do far more than merely exist: They fully intend to shape our motorcycling future.
“With an advanced project like the New American Sports, we aren’t forced to work under a cloud of urgency; there are no production deadlines to meet, so we’re free to take our time and think outside of established norms and push the limits. Unlike most advanced projects, however, the goal with the NAS was to not only create the image of a futuristic machine, but we also had the green light to take the bike to an unusually high degree of finish work. Part of our goal with the NAS was to develop and perfect new methods of model construction, and to push motorcycle engineering concepts into the ‘what if’ realm.
“Performance always takes a high profile in motorcycling, but we were looking to reinforce the emotional attachment that owners have with their bikes. We achieved that goal by placing a major emphasis on the exposed hardware on this machine, dressing it up rather than concealing it behind bodywork. We’ve applied a great deal of forward-looking technology plus distinctive styling touches throughout, and lavished a huge amount of detail work on this bike. Because every bit of hardware on this machine has been designed for aesthetic appeal, the New American Sports purposely transcends the constraints typically dictated by production, function and cost issues.”
The front suspension treatment didn’t just push the design envelope–it shredded the limits! The mono-arm suspension is constructed of carbon fiber and aluminum, with the damper and spring neatly enclosed within a massive steering head. An integrated steering damper rests atop the steering head/mono clamp (in place of a conventional triple clamp) for convenient access, and yes, once again, this component is beautiful in its execution. An eccentric cam surrounds the axle to allow for adjustments in steering trail; steering characteristics can be fine-tuned to fulfill the rider’s preference. This configuration leads to the use of a large single-rotor front brake–in this case an elegant, floating rim-mounted unit with calipers that automatically re-align with changes in steering geometry.
The front brake’s large size and outboard mounting serve a functional purpose in enhancing stopping power, but it also accentuates the wheel’s airy and lightweight styling. HRA designed the billet aluminum wheels, taking cues from organic, asymmetrical shapes contained within the human skeleton.
“The organic skeleton theme echoes repeatedly throughout the New American Sports,” Tony Schroeder explained. “It begins with the front wheel and moves back to the frame, swingarm and rear wheel, just as bones connect segments in the human form. All of these structural elements combine thick and thin sections, just like a paired tibia/fibula in the lower leg. We intentionally blended this organic, sculptured look with the hardware and technology for a fresh appearance and aesthetic appeal.”
The rider wasn’t forgotten in this mix, either. The fuel tank features sculptured areas to make space for the rider’s knees, and up front the tank is relieved to make way for the handlebars and sufficient throw between the steering stops. Note the handlebar and attendant controls; the component function isn’t different, but the lever perches are milled from billet, and combine master cylinders and switches in a new, futuristic manner. As a special touch, the instruments light up with Indiglo-style illumination. Along with the tidy instrument package, four projector beam headlights add to the compact nose, creating a clean, sleek and aggressive style.
The 2004 Honda NAS concept was developed Honda from the 2001 Honda Xaxis.