With the CB Hornet 160R, the sportier sibling of the CB Unicorn 160, Honda has fulfilled its promise of launching 15 two-wheelers in 2015, either as a cosmetic upgrade, or as a new product. We got our hands on the CB Hornet 160R at its launch in Goa, and took it out for a short spin.
Talking looks, Honda has aced the design on the CB Hornet 160R, which resembles its bigger sibling, the Honda CB 600F Hornet. The all-digital speedometer borrowed from the CB Unicorn 160 looks quite sharp. The handlebar is relatively flat set on the new bike. What lets the Hornet down though is the commuter motorcycle-like switchgear, which feels rudimentary, given the premium positioning of the bike. The palm grips however are soft, nice to the touch and provide excellent grip when riding.
The highlight of the bike’s design is the beefy-looking fuel-tank which gets a 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 riders get smartly chiselled alloy grab-rails. The rear section gets an X-shaped tail-lamp. The faux-carbon fiber on the side profile along with the stubby exhaust pipe further gives the bike an aggressive stance.
The Honda CB Hornet 160R borrows the CB Unicorn’s 162.71cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine. Tuned for improved performance, the motor churns a healthy 15.7bhp and 1.5kgm of maximum torque. And yes, it definitely feels peppier than the Unicorn 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.
The engine comes coupled to a butter-smooth five-speed gearbox. Even the clutch feels light and progressive. And although we rode the CB Hornet 160R mainly on nearly empty, traffic-free sections, weaving in and out of traffic-riddled roads is surely going to be easy on this bike.
The riding position on the slightly forward-biased CB Hornet 160R is fairly upright, but nevertheless sporty, thanks to the pulled back footpegs.
The bike’s handling is confidence-inspiring, specially while carving corners. The CB Hornet 160R rides on telescopic forks up front in conjunction with a box-section swingarm-mounted monoshock unit at the rear. The suspension is more than well tuned to deliver good ride quality, and keeps you insulated from rough road patches.
The CB Hornet 160R comes with grippy 17-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels, shod with 100/80 section tubeless tyres at front, and thick 140/70 section tubeless tyres at the rear. Stopping power comes from a Nissin sourced 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 an option. 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 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. What you get for that asking price is a responsive, refined and peppy bike that feels sporty while delivering comfortable ride quality. However, Honda has priced the new motorcycle at a fair premium over the Suzuki Gixxer, the present premium 150cc segment champion. Is the Hornet 160R worth its premium sticker-price? That’s something we can conclude only after an exhaustive run on the bike. What we can say for sure right now is that the Gixxer surely has its throne challenged by a worthy rival.