We have seen companies launching completely new sub-brands with same engines as other models, even with the risk of one of these models being cannibalised by the other. Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) Pvt Ltd has carried out this strategy with the launch of its 15th product for the year, the CB Hornet 160R motorcycle. This street naked sports motorcycle is up against the likes of the Suzuki Gixxer, Yamaha FZ series, Bajaj Pulsar and TVS Apache.
The CB Hornet 160R is the second HMSI motorcycle to feature the company’s 160 cc engine, and introduces the ‘Hornet’ brand in India. We think that the company could launch other models from the Hornet family in the future, with other engine sizes.
The new CBS Hornet 160R sports an aggressive look when viewed from almost any angle, with its contoured body and multiple textures in different colours. The riding posture on the motorcycle is sporty and slightly inclined forward, with a comfortable seating position for the pillion. However, on the short ride we were provided, there were many times we slid forward towards the fuel tank while braking a little hard, since the seat does not grip well.
The body colour of the motorcycle is seen partially on the front mud guard, cowl and tank. Other parts of the motorcycle are finished in metallic grey, matt black and carbon-fibre finished black plastic. The matt carbon-fibre finish panel is seen on the fuel tank, as well as on the side of the motorcycle extending from below the fuel tank right up to the swing arm. While these textured panels visually enhance the appeal of the CB Hornet 160R, the matt finish looks like it could succumb to scratches and distortion due to their placement on the body. The trademark 3D ‘Honda Wing’ symbols is placed on the integrated fuel tank shroud.
A special design feature on the CB Hornet 160R is the X-shape LED tail light that makes one easily recognise the motorcycle from afar. It also features a stubby exhaust muffler with a silver heat guard, and split rear grab rails which add to the tough look of the rear of the motorcycle. A notable part of the motorcycle is the saree guard that looks well-integrated into the design of the motorcycle, without looking out of place. The wide 140-section rear tyre also adds to the aggressive look of the CB Hornet 160R. The motorcycle features black five-spoke split alloy wheels design that is the funkiest in the segment and gels well with the overall look.
The Honda CB Hornet CB 160R shares a few parts from its cousin, the Unicorn. These include the full digital meter console, indicators, rear view mirrors and lighting switch gear. While the complete fit and feel of the motorcycle is above average, the lighting switch feels somewhat cheap and not at par with the rest of the motorcycle. A part that is sorely missed is the engine kill switch. Additionally, the complete lighting switch and electric start button design is not very ergonomically-designed.
The CB Hornet 160R features the same unit doing duty on the Unicorn, which is an air-cooled 162.71 cc SI engine featuring Honda Eco Technology (HET). However, the engine has been tuned to offer a slight bump in power, developing 15.66 hp of power at 8,500 rpm, and peak torque of 14.76 Nm at 6,500 rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission that is as refined as the Honda engine itself. The gear shifts are smooth and slot into place well, without ever slipping on our relatively short ride of the motorcycle. HMSI explained that the CB Hornet 160R’s engine is equipped with a counter balancer to reduce the vibrations produced in engine, and this felt easily.
HMSI said a major achievement for the CB Hornet 160 R is that the motorcycle complies with the BS IV emission regulation norms. The company said that this is one of the first motorcycles in the 150-180 cc motorcycle category to conform to BS IV norms. Additionally, small spines have been added to the outer surface of the engine cylinder to improve cooling performance and help reduce distortion of its inner shape, added HMSI. Another feature of the engine that would help in the reduction of frictional losses is a needle bearing that is more suitable for handling the radial load. This needle bearing replaces the lubricated shaft.
RIDE & HANDLING
The Honda CBS Hornet 160 has a refined and controlled ride like most other Honda motorcycles. The telescopic front suspension and rear monoshock suspension provide a smooth ride over most surfaces, although we cannot really say about the ride over harsh road conditions without an extended ride. The power is linear and spread out well through the gears. The wide rear tyre, which was from MRF, gripped the tarmac well and added to the confident ride experience.
The combi brake system (CBS) of the CB Hornet 160R does its part well, and instils confidence while braking at higher speeds and on curvy stretches. The CBS is also claimed to reduce the stopping distance significantly, which is further enhanced by the three-pot brake calliper. The motorcycle is equipped with petal disc brakes, front and rear, the design of which is said to dissipate heat quicker than regular disc brakes.
The Honda CB Hornet 160R is a motorcycle that features up-to-date, aggressive and sporty styling, with similar design cues to that of the Suzuki Gixxer and Yamaha FZ motorcycles. It features Honda’s renowned refinement and build quality, with very little going against it. The Honda CB Hornet 160R is priced at Rs 79,900 for the standard variant and Rs 84,400 for the CBS variant, both prices, ex-showroom New Delhi. It is priced about Rs 7,000 more than the CB Unicorn 160, but given the equipment and styling offered, the slight premium should not play a negative role for prospective buyers.
The retuned engine in the Honda CB Hornet 160R is claimed to return a fuel efficiency of 59 km/l, which is just slightly lower than that of the Unicorn. This fuel economy number is promising, given that the motorcycle is about 5 kg heavier than the Unicorn and features a wider section rear tyre. This does not mean the performance dimension of the motorcycle is lacking, as the CB Hornet 160R has reasonable power delivery for its segment. Overall, the CB Hornet 160R displays Honda ideology of using the same platform to offer different products for various types of customers.
In addition to the launch of the CB Hornet 160R, HMSI also launched an exclusive android mobile application for the motorcycle. This app can be downloaded from Google Play store. It will provide customers access to detailed product specifications, feature comparison, as well as a product experience zone. This app can also be used to book the motorcycle by submitting the required information and paying an amount of Rs 5,000 through an online payment gateway. Following this, the customer will be notified of the expected date of delivery of their CB Hornet 160R motorcycle.