Torrential downpour synonymous with Mumbai city, broken roads, clogged roads and an affordable ADV-tourer to ferry us around town. That is how our date went with the recently launched Honda CB200X when we took it out for our first ride review. When Honda first showcased the CB200X in front of the Indian motorcyclists, it caused a bit of outrage because it didn’t have any noteworthy off-road credentials and that was our prime focus that day, to find out what it really is!
Differences and similarities
Attractive design elements like sharply designed LED headlamps, golden USD forks, X-shaped tail lamps have been carried over from the Hornet 2.0 but to make it look more rugged, Honda has thrown in some extra bits. They include a tall visor, front turn indicators mounted on the knuckle guards and underbelly protection. Another similarity that both the motorcycles share is the negative LCD display that gets six levels of adjustable brightness. Honda has also tweaked the overall riding dynamics to better suit the character of the CB200X.
It gets a more upright handlebar setup accompanied by centralised footpegs that are slightly more forward set as compared to the Hornet 2.0. It is around 5 kg heavier than the Hornet 2.0 ad tips the scale at 147kg. To make it more capable off the road, it gets dual-purpose tyres at both ends.
Courtesy of the more pronounced bodywork and all the extra bits it has over the Hornet, the CB200X looks a lot beefier than its naked counterpart. It has a great road presence and the design inspiration from the CB500X can be clearly seen once you see it in the flesh. If the Hornet looks like a ripped MMA fighter, the CB200X looks like a welterweight boxer.
Engine and performance
It retains the same 184 cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine. This powertrain develops 17 hp of maximum power, backed by 16 Nm of torque. The engine comes married to a 5-speed gearbox. The engine builds up speed gradually and in a linear manner. It has a strong mid-range that also aids its tractability which further helps it in dealing with the urban jungle. Honda’s signature refinement clearly makes its presence felt as vibrations are virtually absent and you only feel them once you get deadly close to the redline.
It can comfortably cruise at around 90-95 km/h with the powertrain puttering at around 6500 rpm with enough juice left in the motor for quick overtakes. The gearbox is slick but we did encounter false neutrals on more than one occasion.
Ride and handling
Since it borrows the same underpinnings from the Hornet 2.0, the overall riding dynamics are more or less similar to the naked bike. It does work in its favour in few scenarios because it is as agile as the Hornet, courtesy of the golden USD forks up front that come with the same damping and travel as the Hornet. You would really like flicking it around in traffic because of its commanding riding posture and agility on offer.
However, for the agility it brings to the table, it compromises a lot on the ride quality front because of the fact that Honda hasn’t tweaked the suspension to meet the characteristics of the CB200X. It crashes over bumps which it obviously shouldn’t. It will put a smile on your face if you encounter a set of bends made of smooth tarmac but if you come across a nasty patch full of potholes, that smile will soon wear off.
The tweaked rider ergonomics are the biggest takeaway from the overall package because they do aid to its touring capabilities by a huge margin. You sit more upright and the plusher seat will definitely make you feel a lot more comfortable than the Hornet.
The windscreen too, makes a considerable difference as it deflects the windblast away from the rider. Braking duties are handled by a 276mm petal disc at the front while the rear gets a 220mm petal disc unit. The braking is adequate for the amount of performance it has on offer but the front brake could have done away with more bite on offer. The safety net is provided by a single-channel ABS.
Instrument cluster and switchgear
Similarities between the Hornet and CB200X continue in this department too. The CB200X retains the same negative LCD instrument cluster which shows a host of information including tachometer, speedometer, clock, two trip meters, fuel gauge, gear indicator and battery voltage meter. The illumination of the instrument cluster can be adjusted for 6-levelled brightness. The quality of the switchgear could have been a bit better because it is a premium product.
What could have been better
Despite Honda positioning it as an ‘Urban Explorer’ and not a true-blue off-roader, it could have gotten long-travel suspension or at least a softer suspension setup but that isn’t the case. Its ground clearance stands at 167mm. Heck, even the new Royal Enfield Classic 350 gets more ground clearance than the CB200X. Being a tourer, Honda could have given it a bigger fuel tank because it gets the same 12-litre tank as the Hornet. The engine cowl or bash plate or whatever that is, is rather flimsy too.
Could Honda launch another motorcycle based on the Hornet’s platform?
All the issues that we had from the CB200X open the door for Honda to launch another motorcycle based on Hornet’s platform. Something like the CRF190L for instance, which Honda recently unveiled in China. It gets long-travel suspension, a 21-inch front wheel and better ground clearance. We are keeping our fingers crossed for that.
Pricing and colours
The CB200X is priced at INR 1.44 Lakh ex-showroom and is available in three shades: Pearl Nightstar Black, Matte Selene Silver Metallic and Sports Red.
If you are on the lookout for a motorcycle that looks the part, has that big bike feel to it, can be used as a daily commuter or for occasional long rides over weekends, the CB200X makes a really strong case for itself! But if you want a true-blue off-roader that you can go all trail bashing around, the CB200X won’t cut the bill. It is a more comfortable and rugged proposition as compared to the Hornet and that is its biggest takeaway!