Honda looks to mute the Royal Enfield thump with the new H’ness CB350

Posted On : 30-09-2020

If there’s one brand that has leapfrogged in the last five years, it has been Royal Enfield. Aggressive marketing by the oldest motorcycle brand pushed sales through the roof, and they had to set up a third manufacturing plant to cope up with the renewed demand. On the parallel, they kept developing new models while upgrading the existing lineup- something that was hard to come by earlier.

The Royal Enfield Himalayan carved a niche for itself along with the hot-selling Classic twins. The new 650cc twin motor in the Interceptor and Continental GT planned across multiple models, and there’s already a 650cc twin cruiser in the works. There has been no manufacturer in its home country India that would challenge their lineup at any given level.

The Benelli Imperiale 400 did manage to ruffle a few feathers but hasn’t caused a sizeable dent. It’s indeed a lucrative segment, and despite the premium pricing- Royal Enfields outnumber the sales of a few commuter motorcycles that cost half as less. But now an incoming tremor from Japan might change the landscape and dent Royal Enfield’s domination in the 300cc+ segment.

Gentlemen, the new Honda H’Ness 350 is here.

It’s only a few hours since the unveiling, and the warning bells have already started ringing. Honda does deserve applause for keeping the model under wraps assumed to be the Rebel twins. The theme and the cubic capacity have just one brand to aim at its radar, and comparisons have already started on the charts. To begin with, the design of the new Honda H’ness is likable with the silhouette reminiscent of yesteryear’s CB series while adding enough dash of modernity.

Nestled between an all-new double-cradle frame is an air-cooled 348cc single-cylinder long stroking motor tuned 20.8 bhp of power @ 5500 rpm, but 30Nm of torque at a measly 3000 revs- all mated to a 5-speed gearbox. These figures might seem far from impressive, but it betters its rival- the Royal Enfield Classic 350 on both counts that produce 19.8 bhp and 28 nm of torque. Being a Honda, refinement would an assured character on H’ness that Royal Enfield lacks.

Honda has also thrown in a slipper clutch along with modern bits such as LED lighting, alloy wheels (spokes would have looked better), and an analog-digital dashboard with Bluetooth connectivity. There’s also Honda’s Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) – call it traction control in layman terms.

The ergonomics appear comfort-oriented, and the new Honda H’ness should be a cosy town-trotter while doubling up as a tourer motorcycle. Old school suspension offered on the new Honda H’ness reads conventional telescopic forks at the front and gas-charged twin shockers at the rear. Dropping anchors would be done through a dual-channel ABS-equipped 310mm front single and 240mm single rear disc braking system. The H’ness features a 19-inch front wheel mounted with 100/90 and an 18 inch rear with 130/70 section tires. The motorcycle is lighter compared to the Royal Enfields and tips the scales at 181 kgs. A 15-litre fuel tank should entail fewer fuel stops while touring.

The new Honda H’ness is being made available in two variants- DLX and DLX Pro. The Pro would feature a smartphone-compatible voice control system, dual-tone paint schemes, brown upholstery, and a twin horn setup. Honda has announced prices at 1,90,000 Indian Rupees that roughly translates to SGD 3500 before taxes. Honda had released a teaser of the exhaust note before the launch that is similar to a retro thumping sound and should be one of the major selling points while competing with the Royal Enfields.

 

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Rd 2, 21 Oct 2020
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CAT D

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