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Old 08-15-2014, 10:36 AM   #1
foxdie
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Default Buyers guide / common faults?

Hi folks, back in 2014 I made the following post before buying my Honda NSA700 / DN-01. In the last 2 years of ownership I've learnt a lot about these bikes and this post has made it to the top of search engine, so I'm going to edit this post contents to better reflect ownership.

If fellow owners want to put content here, please reply below.

Buyers Guide and Common Faults

Aside from the usual checks you should perform when buying a used motorcycle, here are some DN-01 specific buyers guide points.

Brakes

As DN-01's have a linked braking system with ABS, with moderate to heavy braking you should hear a mild, high frequency buzzing sound, comparable to the sound of a field of crickets. This is normal.

These motorcycles have a handbrake / parking brake (cool, eh?), this is located by your RIGHT KNEE whilst sat on the bike. It's a latching system, pull it towards you to activate, pull it towards you again to release.

Transmission

The DN-01 transmission, known as the HFT (Human Friendly Transmission) is closer to the torque converter in a traditional automatic gearbox than the CVT system in most scooters. This gearbox converts torque from the engine to the shaft-driven rear wheel by the use of an variable hydraulic piston system where the angle of the "swash" plate controls the gear ratio.

Although the hydraulic system itself is widely regarded as being robust and reliable, it's control systems can suffer from old age. In particular, there are 2 components that can exhibit issues;
  • The swash plate angle sensor is located near the ground behind the reserve water bottle - being so low this sensor is often subject to poor weather and moisture
  • The motor that controls the swash plate angle can suffer from old age and seize up as the magnets disintegrate and stop it from turning
When performing a test ride, make sure the bike is in manual gear mode (the button for this is like a gun trigger, located under your RIGHT HAND index finger when holding the throttle) and work through the gears (1 -> 6) repeatedly. The gearbox should shift quickly (within half a second) and effortlessly. If it's taking a notable time to change gear, the motor is close to failure.

Diagnosing faults

Although it's recommended you take your motorcycle to a professional with the correct diagnostic tools, you can read the DTC / fault codes on the DN-01 with the "paperclip trick".

Remove the passenger seat by inserting the key into the side key slot located underneath your LEFT BUTT CHEEK (fnarr) as you sit on the bike (and it would be recommended you remove the drivers seat, this is held in by 2x 10 mm bolts), you will then see a small red plug just behind the fuel tank.

With the ignition off, remove the red plastic cover and gently insert a paperclip (or a small piece of wire) between the pins for the GREEN (with yellow stripe) and BROWN wires - be careful as there's another BROWN wire with a stripe, make sure to use the BROWN only wire.

When the Green/yellow and Brown wires are shorted, you have 2 choices;
  • Either just turn the ignition on to read only the PGM-FI (engine) fault codes (read from the MIL light)
  • Or hold down the D / Gear + button whilst turning on the ignition to read only the HFT (gearbox) fault codes (read from the gear indicator flashing a horizontal - line)
Codes are flashed out with blocks of ten in long (1~ second) flashes and blocks of 1 in short (under half a second) flashes, for example two long flashes followed by six short flashes would be a fault code of 26.

Once you have finished reading the fault codes, turn the ignition off, remove the paperclip / wire, then re-assemble everything.

My original post:

I'm looking to buy a DN-01 in the coming months and so far I've been unable to find anything that remotely resembles a buyers guide or a list of common faults, both on DN-01.net and Google.

Can any of you lovely folks suggest what I should be looking out for when buying one of these bikes?

Typical questions I have are;
  • How reliable is the human-friendly transmission? Are the pulley belts known to snap for example?
  • Any known mechanical problems such as suspension forks, engine overheating, cutouts?
  • Electrical issues? I've spotted one where the bike sometimes doesn't engage drive and requires an ECU reset (battery disconnect) for example
Thanks in advance!

Last edited by foxdie; 06-04-2017 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 08-15-2014, 06:26 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by foxdie View Post
Hi folks,

I'm looking to buy a DN-01 in the coming months and so far I've been unable to find anything that remotely resembles a buyers guide or a list of common faults, both on DN-01.net and Google.

Can any of you lovely folks suggest what I should be looking out for when buying one of these bikes?

Typical questions I have are;
  • How reliable is the human-friendly transmission? Are the pulley belts known to snap for example?
  • Any known mechanical problems such as suspension forks, engine overheating, cutouts?
  • Electrical issues? I've spotted one where the bike sometimes doesn't engage drive and requires an ECU reset (battery disconnect) for example
Thanks in advance!
The Dino has NO pulley belts ... strictly hydraulic pressure cause the transmission to function. Look up the video of the HFT as it does it's "thing." Read the posts on this site for potential problem areas. (none that I've encountered). Enjoy your new toy IF you decide to purchase a Dino.
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Old 08-16-2014, 01:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Gizmo View Post
The Dino has NO pulley belts ... strictly hydraulic pressure cause the transmission to function. Look up the video of the HFT as it does it's "thing." Read the posts on this site for potential problem areas. (none that I've encountered). Enjoy your new toy IF you decide to purchase a Dino.
Hi Gizmo, thanks for getting back to me so quick

Okay I see where I was going wrong, I was under the impression the dino had a pulley-based CVT, I just watched the HFT video on Hondas site and well, it's interesting. I can't say I've seen a transmission like it, it looks simple enough to be reliable long term (I plan on riding about 4-5k miles a year and own the bike for at least 2). Control systems (solenoids, electronics etc) will probably be the only place I can imagine there being any issue (same for any car or bike really).

I think it's safe to say I'm definitely going to go for a DN-01, even with the rarety and couple of issues I've seen on this forum nothing has yet to cause serious alarm bells (which I guess is why I prompted people for common faults etc).
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Old 08-17-2014, 06:45 AM   #4
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Hi Gizmo, thanks for getting back to me so quick

Okay I see where I was going wrong, I was under the impression the dino had a pulley-based CVT, I just watched the HFT video on Hondas site and well, it's interesting. I can't say I've seen a transmission like it, it looks simple enough to be reliable long term (I plan on riding about 4-5k miles a year and own the bike for at least 2). Control systems (solenoids, electronics etc) will probably be the only place I can imagine there being any issue (same for any car or bike really).

I think it's safe to say I'm definitely going to go for a DN-01, even with the rarety and couple of issues I've seen on this forum nothing has yet to cause serious alarm bells (which I guess is why I prompted people for common faults etc).
I would also like to add that the HFT system in the DN-01 was "sort of" taken out of the ATV section of Honda's products, so from what I can determine ... it is a very reliable system and has proven itself off-road.
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:24 AM   #5
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I have put almost 20k on mine, no problems, just maintenance. If you look closely, the fuel pump, shift solenoids, o2 sensor, and other parts appear to be the same as a civic. Rock solid cars as well. Honda has always been known for solid, dependable, well priced products. You won't be disappointed!
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Old 08-18-2014, 05:43 AM   #6
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I have put almost 20k on mine, no problems, just maintenance. If you look closely, the fuel pump, shift solenoids, o2 sensor, and other parts appear to be the same as a civic. Rock solid cars as well. Honda has always been known for solid, dependable, well priced products. You won't be disappointed!
The "well priced" isn't quite the "word" I would use when the DN-01 FIRST came out. It was one of it's downfalls! Not too many people were willing to put down $15K for what the Dino had to offer. A VERY overpriced "toy" that I think will also effect the "new" NM4 that Honda just came out with. Again, not too many people will buy a product (NM4) that is offered for $3K less as the CTX 700, just in a different "style" body. I DO like the NM4 because it IS an automatic with ABS .... I'm spoiled because of the DN-01 but not at $11K.
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:07 PM   #7
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In my own opinion, you get what you pay for.
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Old 06-04-2017, 04:47 AM   #8
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Well, after 2 years of ownership I've had my first major failure. The swash plate angle motor has disintegrated and is currently being replaced by the Honda dealer.

As this post is (ironically) now the top Google hit for "dn01 common faults", I'm going to gradually update the first post with some information to benefit others.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:42 AM   #9
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Interesting! What's the mileage and was the water ingress due to lots of wet weather or jet washing? Any idea why the magnets disintegrated?

Last edited by dndom; 06-04-2017 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 06-04-2017, 11:07 AM   #10
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Hi dndom,

My DN-01 is a 2010 model with 18200~ miles on the odometer. 99% of the time I'm a fair weather rider and the bike has been kept (in my ownership at least) inside a dry garage. I do not use a pressure washer to clean it.

That said, the day before any of the failures, we were caught in a heavy rainstorm on the motorway. We rode in it for about 15-20 minutes and then pulled into the nearest services and had a coffee until the weather passed.

The first day of failures, the bike got stuck in third gear not long after being started whilst riding through the Lake District (for the non-brits; a picturesque area of England with lots of hills and twisting roads). I tried to clear this by stopping and starting the bike (big mistake), the bike then got stuck in first.

We limped to a nearby parking spot where I pulled the fault codes and checked the sensors, I assumed it was just moisture and sprayed the connectors on the right side of the engine out with WD40. After a couple of attempts, I managed to get the bike working again for a short time. A few miles down the road it got stuck in third gear again.

Limped it to another parking spot, cleared the fault codes again, tracked the actual fault code to the swash plate angle sensor under the bike, sprayed that out with WD40 and rode on again. Bike working fine until the end of the day.

The next day, the bike changed gears fine until it warmed up, again getting stuck in first (right before the slip road for a motorway, eek). Limped it back to a petrol forecourt, pulled off the swash angle sensor, checked it with a multimeter (all fine), reattached it. Phoned my local Honda garage who suggested removing the swash plate angle motor, but I couldn't get the fairing off so I called out the AA to get it recovered home. That took 9 hours.

Honda quoted me 645 to replace the motor (including 1 hour labour). It's not a cheap part.

If I was to guess why it disintegrated? Old age coupled with hot-cold cycles and possibly hot engine plus cold rain pushed it over the edge. I think the broken magnet bits were at such an angle they would permit the motor to spin one way (change down gears) but not the other way to change up gears.

I'll be getting some photos as soon as I get my bike back in a couple of days.
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