Test riding the Honda CB Hornet 160R

Honda has delivered its latest naked street-bike, the CB Hornet 160R, with more power, more finesse and more appeal. We took it for a spin in picturesque Goa

Honda's new muscle-bike packs an updated engine, a new look, and brings back an iconic name-tag, albeit without the expected number of cylinders. Either way, you get a chiselled body, sharp lines and a meaty design at a price-tag that doesn't have you breaking the bank.

The forward stance of the CB Hornet 160R is quite wide, lending it contemporary appeal. The large 12-litre tank with flared extensions, the angular design elements below it, as well as the wide rubber: all are essential in today's day and age to make a mark on the psyche of the target market.

Instrumentation is digital but easy to read  even in sunlight
Instrumentation is digital but easy to read even in sunlight

It's also got a fair bit of features that the competition doesn't. The rather large petal disc brakes — 276-mm front and 220-mm rear — feature Honda's Combined Braking System (CBS). This was the top model. There is also a front-disc-rear-drum model without combined braking. The digital info console has a horizontal rev-counter that is actually quite exciting to look at, but we do miss the old-school needles. The stubby exhaust, another muscle-bike design element, takes care of harmful emissions better than you would believe. This is India's first BS IV-compliant bike in its category, and, more importantly, it goes to show how Honda has kept all the important elements in focus. Thankfully, it's not all design, features and old-hat engine.

Possibly the most well-designed saree guard on any bike PICS/Sanjay RaikarPossibly the most well-designed saree guard on any bike Pics/Sanjay Raikar

The CB Hornet 160R gets the same displacement engine as the CB Unicorn 160 without the R, and that's where the difference lies. The 160R's 162.71-cc air-cooled single has been heavily reworked and now runs a higher compression ratio of 10:1, revving a bit higher too. It releases 15.88 PS at 8,500 RPM with a heftier 14.76 Nm of torque coming at 6,500 RPM: best in its class, with more torque than even the Pulsar 180. It is, after all, undersquare, with a 57.3-mm bore and 63.1-mm stroke. Furthermore, it's quick too, and is a nimble handler to top it all.

The chiselled plastic tank shrouded with a carbonfibre finish looks cool
The chiselled plastic tank shrouded with a carbonfibre finish looks cool

The handlebars are a bit forward and the foot-pegs are also quite the same, and the gear-shift lever position needs a little getting used to, but then it's all fun and games. The wide tank design and contoured seat work well to help find a comfortable seating position, almost like you're fixed into place. The knees find their places beneath the recesses well, making it evident that the Hornet has been thoughtfully designed. There are more elements that highlight themselves: the saree-guard for one has received treatment few other manufacturers bother with. The other two details are the split grab-rail for the pillion, and the very contemporary X-shaped tail-lamp.

On our group ride, the 160R's motor starts smoothly but a hint of a growl is definitely present. The clutch is light and the gearbox shifts sure. Up to 9,000 RPM and the engine sounds smooth and refined, with a bit of knock catching my ears; no doubt due to poor fuel quality. Even so, it sure packs a punch. Honda claims a top speed of 110 km/h.The throttle response is crisp, and even in the fast bends the Hornet holds itself well. One blemish in the handling department would be the instances where the front end felt like it would run away from me. However, a quick, near-involuntary correction sets things right.

ubeless rubber from MRF offers decent grip, with a Zapper 100/80-17 at the front and a fat 140/70-17 at the rear. The CBS feels good and reassuring. The suspension set-up was quite stiff, but the rear mono-shock can be adjusted to better suit one's riding habits. The CB Hornet 160R is available in two variants: the standard has a single-disc set-up and costs Rs 79,900, with the dual-disc CBS variant priced at R84,400, both ex-Delhi. That money is fitting for the CB Trigger that it replaces. The added power, equipment and value that go with it are some things that aren't easy to package. The Suzuki Gixxer and Yamaha FZ-S have a proper new rival now. It may not have four cylinders, but this Hornet surely doesn't disappoint.

Need to know

Honda CB Hornet 160R

Price (Ex-showroom, Delhi) Rs 79,900—84,400s
Engine Type 162.71 cc, air-cooled, single cylinder
Maximum Power 115.88 PS @ 8,500 rpm
Maximum Torque    14.76 Nm @ 6,500 rpm
Transmission 5-speed Manual

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