There’s no denying the fact that Honda two-wheelers is growing at a rapid pace in India. In fact, during the festive season last month they were able to sell around two lakh scooters and bikes in one day alone. Now that is some number to beat. Most of these numbers came from scooters where Honda is the leader by a long way and also from the 100-125cc segment of bikes. But there are still a few other frontiers waiting to be conquered. This includes the very competitive 150-160 cc segment where each player present here has a very strong product in place. Honda has also had the Unicorn which recently got the 160 cc engine upgrade but still is nowhere close to being the market leader. Now in a bid to gain bigger traction in the segment the Japanese bike maker has launched the CB Hornet 160R, which is their fifteenth and final launch of the year. We were in Goa for a first ride of the bike that at least on paper looked very promising.
The naked street bike segment has got a major boost in India with bikes like the Yamaha FZ and Suzuki Gixxer. The CB Hornet just takes the story forward in a very appealing way. There are a lot of styling similarities with bigger single litre capacity Honda bikes and that works like magic with the Indian riders. It is a right mix of bold and aggressive, has a tall stance which was very inviting for a tall rider like me. There’s an interesting mix of colours where apart from the colour of the bike there’s also black and grey cladding at a lot of places. The carbon fibre finish on top of a sportingly designed fuel tank also adds a lot of character to the bike. The quality of switches isn’t very premium though the design is appealing. The instrument cluster is entirely digital and gives a lot of information about speed, rpm, time and well as fuel levels. The bike just like the Unicorn 160 misses out on a gear shift indicator and more importantly a kill switch. Now this is one feature that comes in very handy when it comes to using the bike for regular use. On the rear the Hornet stands out because of its unique grab handles and the X-shaped tail lamps that look really cool especially in the dark.
This is a segment that is supposed to take care of every need of a biker which includes power, performance as well as mileage. Therefore having an engine that can perform all these duties is a must have. Honda feels on that front they have a winner in the form of a 162 cc single cylinder engine that does the duty on the Hornet. It churns out 15 and-a-half bhp and is mated to a five-speed transmission. As is always the case with Honda motorbikes this engine too is extremely refined and sporty is the same time. The uniformity in gearshifts is there for the rider to see and a good torque of 14.76 Nm means that the bike performs well even in stop and go city traffic. Like other two wheelers from the brand it is the use of Honda eco technology or HET that Honda says will ensure good mileage of over 50 kmpl on the Hornet.
The CB Hornet is an all-rounder sort of a bike that takes care of all the bikers needs. Honda is confident that despite a tad bit more expensive that both its rivals the Yamaha FZ and the Suzuki Gixxer the Hornet will be able to strike a chord with stakeholders of the segment.
Ride & Handling
As we said earlier the Hornet offers a great riding position. Even for tall riders it is a very comfortable bike to be on where you can spend long hours on the saddle. And because it isn’t a full fairing bike like the CBR 150 or a Yamaha R15 the riding stance is just perfect. The foot pegs also are not placed too far behind and are just at the right place. The rear tyre is a 140/70 and is wide enough to provide great grip on the road. Finally the suspension of the bike is also tuned very well which means that both in terms of ride quality and its handling abilities the CB Hornet is out there to impress you. There are disc brakes on both the wheels and that means high speed braking is taken care of. The bike also comes with Combined braking system or CBS which means even if only the front brake is applied the bike automatically engages the rear brake as well. Now this is a great feature to have especially in panic braking situations.
The CB Hornet is an all-rounder sort of a bike that takes care of all the bikers needs. Honda is confident that despite a tad bit more expensive that both its rivals the Yamaha FZ and the Suzuki Gixxer the Hornet will be able to strike a chord with stakeholders of the segment. But what it gives you is more power and latest in terms of design and technology. Its starts at an ex-showroom price of Rs. 79,900 and for the CBS variant you’ll have to shell out a few thousand more. Honda has also created a mobile application where you can book the Hornet by paying a small booking amount. Overall Honda’s final salvo for the year ticks all the right boxes and it seems they finally may have a winner in this very competitive segment.