Honda does know how to pull off a surprise. While the Indian motorcycling fraternity expected the arrival of either the Rebel 300 or the Rebel 500, Honda has launched an all-new motorcycle developed for our market. Say hello to the Honda H’ness CB350. It is exclusively made for India and is inspired from the Honda’s CB ranges of roadsters. With Royal Enfield Meteor 350’s launch just lurking around, the CB350 will prove to be an arch-rival to the Meteor 350.
Styling and variants
The CB350’s styling is entirely different from the Rebel 300 that we primarily expected to arrive. As far as looks go, it does look like a proper retro cruiser. Even Royal Enfield fanboys will agree that the Honda CB350 looks like a considerable alternative to the Meteor 350.
The CB series of motorcycles in Honda’s line-up belong to the roadster category and the H’ness CB350 is no different. Honda has gone all retro when it comes to its styling but this thing doesn’t belong to the ’80s as it features some modern design bits as well. Honda has included a round LED headlamp setup with the package. It won’t justify the H’ness moniker without a little bit of Chrome, right? The front and rear fenders are covered in chrome and so is the exhaust unit. On certain colour models, you get a brown leather seat, which ups the nostalgic quotient of the motorcycle. Honda will offer the H’ness CB 350 in two variants – DLX and DLX Pro. The Pro version will be available in dual-tone paint options, two-unit horn, and Honda Smartphone Voice Control System. The motorcycle was developed over a period of two years where the Honda India team was in the lead. The bike is made in India and manufacturing is 90% localised.
The CB350 is powered by a 348cc air-cooled single that churns out 21bhp and 30Nm. The long-stroke engine features a balancer to keep vibrations in check. The specs too, make it sound similar to the upcoming Meteor 350. As far as sound goes, Royal Enfield motorcycles are renowned for their trademark thump and that alone adds to their character. Honda teased us with the launch of the Highness by revealing its sound and to be honest, it comes close to imitating the thump of a single-cylinder engine. Honda has particularly focused on its acoustics and that is pretty evident because the H’ness CB350 does sound like a proper thumper. Its 5-speed gearbox is assisted by a segment-first slipper clutch which will make the gear shifts smoother while reducing clutch lever operation load ensuring less fatigue.
This new motor rests in a split half-duplex frame that is suspended by a chunky telescopic fork and twin shocks. It tips the scale at 181 kg. While it isn’t what you would call a light motorcycle, we can expect the Meteor 350 to be heavier than the Honda CB 350. Anchoring the motorcycle is a large 310mm disc brake up front and 240mm rear disc providing adequate braking performance which is further assisted by dual-channel ABS.
The Honda Highness cruiser bike also comes with Honda Selectable Torque Control. It helps in maintaining rear-wheel traction by detecting the difference between front and rear wheel speeds, calculating the slip ratio and further controlling engine torque via the fuel injection. HSTC can be turned ON/OFF using a switch on the left side of the meter. A ‘T’ indicator in the digital display flickers when the system is engaging. Its ground clearance stands at 166mm which will see the CB350 deal with the bumps without any hassle. It can hold 15-litres of fuel.
Honda has left no stones unturned in making the latest Honda Highness Cruiser Motorcycle a desirable proposition. It might look retro but it packs some modern features such as Bluetooth-enabled navigation, telephony, music control and LED headlamps. It also comes with Honda Smartphone Voice Control System which allows the rider to connect his smartphone with the motorcycle via Bluetooth through HSVCS application. Once connected, the rider can operate the system with controls on the left side of the handlebar to use distinct features such as phone calls, navigation, music playback and incoming messages. To facilitate complete concentration on riding the information accessed will be communicated from the helmet headset speaker which is not included in the package.
The instrument cluster is a semi-digital unit where the speedometer has remained old-school and the digital display carrying the baton of all-things modern. The digital display includes a gear position indicator, Bluetooth indicator, fuel gauge, two trip meters, a clock and all the required tell-tale lights which also include a Battery health monitor, HSTC, ABS, side stand indicator with engine inhibitor, ECO indicator. The ride experience is further enriched with fuel efficiency details displayed in 3 modes – real-time mileage, average mileage and distance to empty.
Pricing, availability and colour variants
The Honda H’ness CB350 will be available at around INR 1.9 lakh (Ex-showroom). A prototype version of the bike will be available at Big Wing outlets for touch-n-feel at Gurgaon, Delhi, Cochin and Mumbai.
Exact variant-wise prices will be revealed in the coming weeks. Bookings for the bike are now open for INR 5,000 and deliveries should commence in the second half of October.