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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
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.
Handling & Comfort: The CB Hornet gets a very comfortable and roomy rider seat, which is true for the pillion seat as well. There’s plenty of room for tall riders as well. The riding posture is not very aggressive or commuterish; instead it is a fine balance between the two. The rearset footpegs are positioned comfortably. The suspension setup is on the softer side of the scale and the bike seemed to glide over potholed filled tarmac, transferring very little discomfort to the riders’ back. The bike feels firmly planted at both low and high speeds and felt eager to turn, making those sudden evasive manoeuvres super easy. It has got a very small turning radius as well, again a plus point when riding in city traffic conditions. The high speed turns on the CB Hornet 160R again left us mighty impressed. The bike seemed to follow the rider’s mind with utmost precision.
Braking is taken care of by a 276mm, 3 pot piston petal disc at the front and a 220mm petal disc at the rear in the CBS version. The standard version comes with a 130mm drum at the rear. The one we rode was a CBS version and the brakes did their job well. The bite was adequate and progressive.
Photo Courtesy: Mohit Soni
Photo Courtesy: Mohit Soni
Conclusion: The CB Hornet 160R seems like a very impressive overall product that ticks all the right boxes and has a lot of things working in its favour. It is priced sensibly and is now retailing at INR 79,900 ex-showroom Delhi for the standard version and INR 84,400 ex-showroom Delhi for the CBS version. It has got style and comfort. It has got a super smooth engine with plenty of low and mid-range torque and handles like a charm. The power it produces makes it only inferior to the Pulsar AS150 in the 150-160 naked bike segment. The Hornet would is direct competition for the Yamaha FZ and the Suzuki Gixxer, which are among the hot favourites of urban youth because of their aggressive looks and good performance. On paper, Hornet does better than the Yamaha FZ on all counts, including the price, power and torque figures. So is the case with Suzuki Gixxer, though it is approximately 4000 rupees cheaper than the CB Hornet 160R. Riders with large physical frames and those who will be clocking a lot of kilometres with a pillion on board should definitely prefer the Hornet over the FZ and Gixxer. We could hardly find anything negative about the Honda CB Hornet 160R during the short date we had it, though we’d definitely like to ride it again for a longer period of time and give you a more detailed and comprehensive review.
Honda CB Hornet 160R Review Technical Specifications