HORN(et) OK PLEASE!
The Honda CB Hornet 160R Review by xBhp. We ride the latest from Honda in the 150cc executive commuter segment and see how the Hornet matches us with stiff competition from the Suzuki Gixxer 155, Yamaha FZ-s Fi V2 and Bajaj Pulsar AS150.
Ever since Honda set out on its own to sell two-wheelers in India, it has tasted success with almost every product it has launched here – the most notable of them being the Activa and the Dream series, riding on which Honda is giving Hero MotoCorp a tough fight in becoming the undisputed leader of motorcycle manufacturers in India. Honda has covered its base well with Activa and the Dream series in the entry level segment. However, the one area that has proven to be not-so-fruitful has been the 150cc premium commuter segment. Honda enjoyed reasonable success in this segment with the launch of the Unicorn around a decade ago. The Unicorn was well received by the buyers who were looking to explore something beyond the then hot favourite – the Pulsar 150, which happens to still rule this segment. Courtesy the 25,000 + kilometres that I did on the Unicorn, I can vouch for the fact that it was a superbly comfortable motorcycle for urban commuting with its smooth engine and ultra-smooth handling. The one area where it lacked was its styling. Its over-commuterish riding stance made it a not-so-favourite among young riders who went for something that gave them more poser value. Honda tried to cover that shortcoming with the Dazzler and Trigger motorcycles, but they both failed to trigger the passion among the buyers as much as Honda would’ve liked. Determined to make headway, Honda showcased their new motorcycle to cater to this segment, the CB Hornet 160R at their RevFest event in August 2015 and finally launched it now in December at a grand launch ceremony in Goa, ending 2015 with a remarkable 15 product launches this year.
We got to ride the bike for a short time in Goa at the launch and here’s what we think of it.
Styling: The styling of the CB Hornet 160R is definitely positive and it looks inspired from their naked concept bike the CX-01 that they had displayed at Auto Expo 2014 and got positive feedback for it. It is a very refreshing design that makes it stand apart from the crowd. The most striking aspect of this CB Hornet 160R design is its edgy and muscular tank that gives it very aggressive looks and makes it look bigger than it actually is when viewed from certain angles. The angular headlight further enhances the looks from up front. These sharp design lines carry all the way to the back where the mono-shock suspension and the beefy and shortened exhaust add to its overall design appeal. The wide 140 section rear tyre, which is fast becoming a standard in this segment, and the x-shaped tail light give it a very distinct characteristic. The carbon-fibre finish plastic cover on the tank also adds a few brownie points, though it looked prone to scratches. The CB Hornet 160R is available in 5 colour options, namely the Neo Orange Metallic, Sports Red, Pearl Amazing White, Pearl Night Star Black and Pearl Siren Blue.
Honda CX01 Concept and CB Hornet 160R side by side
The CB Hornet 160R gets a fully digital instrument panel that is taken directly from the Unicorn 160. This shows you the odometer, speedometer, tachometer, 2 trip meters apart from time and fuel gauge and other tell-tale lights. The switchgear on the Hornet was a let down. It is the same standard switchgear that you will see on a lot of other Honda bikes including the Livo. This is a very old design and didn’t go well with the otherwise modern persona of the bike. The most irritating thing about this switchgear is the absence of the engine kill switch. It might not be an actual deal breaker for most of the prospective buyers, but surely a negative for an otherwise spotless design. Also the plastic quality on the switchgear is not among the best in town.
The CB Hornet 160R is powered by the same 160cc engine that you’ll find fitted on the Unicorn 160. However, it is tuned for a more eventful and aggressive ride than the Unicorn. This engine comes to life with a very light touch of the thumb starter and now produces 15.6bhp at 8500rpm and a max torque of 14.76Nm that comes at the 6500rpm mark. The CB Hornet 160R engine produces 1 BHP more than the Unicorn 160 but is 5 kg heavier. It is a long stroke engine (Bore x Stroke = 57.3 x 63.09mm) that has a compression ratio of 10:1. It has got a very good bottom and meaty mid-range that makes the CB Hornet 160R a delight to ride in city traffic. You could accelerate from as low as 30kmph in fifth gear without any trouble at all. The 5-speed gearbox of the Hornet runs a taller gearing. This engine carries the trademark smoothness of Honda and is completely vibration free even during high revs. We didn’t find the narrow Goa roads suitable and safe enough to test the top speed, but Honda claims that the max speed of the Hornet 160R is 110kmph.
Like almost all the current Honda engines in the commuter segment, this engine also gets the HET (Honda Eco Technology) tag and is Bharat Stage IV emission norms compliant, which is a first in the country and is much ahead of the April 1, 2016, regulatory deadline.