Both motorcycles that I’ve owned to date have been Hondas. Each time the famous Japanese manufacturer launches any new motorcycle, I look forward to riding it, and so was the case with the new CB Hornet 160R.
With the new launch, Honda has lived up to the promise of launching 15 two-wheelers in 2015, either as a cosmetic upgrade, or as a new product, including the extremely capable Honda CBR 650F. We got our hands on the CB Hornet 160R in Goa, and took it out for a short spin.
Honda has aced design on the CB Hornet 160R, which looks quite nice, with sharp, aggressive lines and angles making up the motorcycle. The Hornet reminds me of the Honda CB 600F Hornet, with bits such as a nicely designed headlamp closely resembling the CB 600F. The speedometer is all-digital, and looks quite sharp. The handlebar is relatively flat set on the new bike. Honda has cut corners with the switchgear, which feels basic and more commuter motorcycle like, than premium as we would have expected. The palm grips however are soft, nice to the touch and provide excellent grip when riding.
The fuel-tank shows-off muscular elements, and includes plastic cladding with carbon fibre- finish running from the handlebar to the seat. The saddle itself is a well designed single piece unit, with a small step up to the pillion region. Pillion grab-rails are alloy on the CB Hornet 160R, and smartly chiseled to look youthful. The tail-lamp too, looks young and aggressive with an X theme.
The Honda CB Hornet 160R has a 162.71cc, air-cooled, four-stroke engine, good for 15.7bhp at 8,500rpm. This is in essence the same unit as found on the Honda CB Unicorn 160, but tuned for improved power delivery and quicker performance. Torque output is good too, 1.5kgm output at 6,500rpm. And yes, it importantly feels peppier than the Unicorn’s 162.71cc powerplant on the road, with a marked improvement in low end acceleration. The engine is very smooth and refined, as expected from a Honda, and there’s a wide powerband with good mid rev-range power.
Likewise, the CB Hornet 160R gearbox is a five-speed unit, that shifts with a butter smooth feel, each gear slotting in effortlessly. Even the clutch feels light, with just the right progression. And although we rode the CB Hornet 160R mainly on empty, traffic free roads, riding in traffic is bound to be a pleasant experience as well.
The CB Hornet 160R comes with a fairly upright riding position, that leans riders forward in a slightly forward biased stance. The footpegs have been pulled back to give riders a little bit of a sporty stance. Handling is confidence inspiring, while the chassis inspires plenty of confidence in corner. The CB Hornet 160R front suspension is telescopic forks, and the rear has a monoshock, mounted on a box-section swingarm. These are both well tuned, and kept me well isolated from all rough road patches, to deliver good ride quality.
The CB Hornet 160R comes with 17 inch, five-spoke alloy wheels, shod with 100/80 section tubeless tyres at front, and 140/70 section tubeless tyres, at the rear. These provide good grip. Brakes are by Nissin, a 276mm petal disc unit on the front, while the rear has a 220mm disc brake, or the option of a 130mm drum brake unit. Likewise, Honda’s Combined Brake System (CBS) comes as optional. The Hornet we rode was CBS equipped, which worked well. Slam the rear brake, and you can feel the front end dive a bit, as it deploys and bites automatically as well. Feel and feedback at the control levers is good, and reassuring.
The Honda CB Hornet 160R is priced at what is a fair sum, at Rs 79,900 (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the basic model, and Rs 84,400 (ex-showroom, Delhi) for a top-of-the-line CBS brake equipped bike. Yes, you can’t help but like the new Hornet thanks to such a responsive, refined and peppy engine, and its sporty, yet comfortable ride quality. However, Honda has priced the new motorcycle at what is a fair premium over the present Japanese segment champion, the Suzuki Gixxers. This means the Hornet has its work cut out to prove it has the value to justify such a jump up.
Stay tuned for a more exhaustive review, once we receive a Hornet to test ride over a longer duration.