"You meet the nicest people on a Honda!" If you haven't heard the famous slogan, Google it! But we digress. Today, we talk about the newest premium commuter streetfighter from Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) - the new Honda Hornet 2.0. And after spending some time with it, we can say with conviction that the new Hornet 2.0 has the dynamics to tempt you to explore the not so nice side of your personality with it on a winding road. But then, what is the Hornet 2.0 trying to address? Is it just a replacement for the Honda CB Hornet 160R, or is there more to it? We spent some time trying to get a sense of what the 'new' Honda Hornet 2.0 offers.
Also Read: Everything About The Honda Hornet 2.0
In the 150-160 cc commuter motorcycle segment, Honda has had a problem of plenty. First came the 150 cc Honda CB Unicorn, back in 2004, then came the the now-discontinued Honda Unicorn 160 in 2014. A year later, in 2015, the Honda CB Hornet 160R was introduced, with a legendary name from Honda's international line-up. The Honda X Blade, with the same engine from the CB Hornet 160 R was launched in 2018. Now, in 2020, with the new Bharat Stage VI (BS6) emission regulations, Honda has completely revamped the Hornet, with not just a 2.0 name, but more importantly, a new chassis, a bigger engine, and the promise of a sportier personality. And according to HMSI, the new Hornet 2.0 with a new 184 cc engine, will not just trim Honda's premium commuter product line, but will also take the fight to the 200 cc motorcycle segment.
The new Hornet 2.0 looks familiar, but is strikingly different from the CB Hornet 160R it replaces. The LED headlamp is all new, as well as the body panels, and there are bigger and bolder tank extensions giving the Hornet 2.0 the appearance of more muscle. The fuel tank capacity though, remains the same at 12 litres. There are premium touches, like the gold-anodised upside down front forks, and the fuel-tank mounted ignition key, the likes of which is seen in bigger, more premium and more expensive motorcycles. The split seat gives the Hornet 2.0 a sporty look, while the fatter rubber adds more muscle. Overall, the Hornet 2.0 looks sharper and sportier than the CB Hornet 160R it replaces, and it's not just skin deep. It also promises sportier performance.
Also Read: Honda Hornet 2.0 Launched At ₹ 1.27 Lakh
Performance & Dynamics
The engine, Honda says, is all-new and is not just a bored out version of the 160 cc mill of the CB Hornet 160R. The single-cylinder, two-valve, SOHC unit displaces 184.4 cc, and makes 17 bhp at 8,500 rpm and 16.1 Nm of peak torque at 6,000 rpm. Straight off the bat, the Hornet 2.0 comes across as a likeable motorcycle. The engine is refined, the gear shifts slick, and it has a strong mid-range. There are some mild vibrations at the top end, but 5,000 - 7,000 rpm is where the meat of the grunt is, and it's quite an enjoyable place to be in, as you accelerate through the gears. On the highway, 120 kmph is achieved without fuss, and on a long enough stretch of road, it will max out at 130 kmph, but 90-95 kmph is its sweet spot where it will happily purr for hours on end.
Ride quality is firm without being harsh, but the suspension does protest when you hit a speedbreaker or big pothole at speed. But show it some corners, and the sporty design is suitably complemented by its dynamics. With 142 kg kerb weight, the Hornet 2.0 is easily one of the best handling premium commuter motorcycles HMSI has introduced. The suspension is on the stiff side, and the taut chassis and precise steering makes the Hornet 2.0 eager to change direction quickly. And that is easily one of the nicest and most enjoyable traits of the Hornet 2.0.
Tech & Ergonomics
The Honda Hornet 2.0 features a full-digital LCD instrument panel, which is well-equipped with all the usual information. There are two trip meters, a fuel gauge, gear position indicator, service reminder, battery voltmeter, and clock. It also has five levels of illumination to make it easy to read, under all conditions. However, there's no display for average fuel consumption or distance to empty, and what would have been a nice touch is perhaps a side stand engine inhibitor. The riding position is upright, with just a small lean to the handlebar, which makes the Hornet 2.0 feel sporty, yet comfortable to ride for hours on end. Overall, it's a comfortable place to be in the saddle, and when the corners do come up, it's easy to move around and shift weight on the seat.
In terms of safety, the Honda Hornet 2.0 offers decent braking performance. The petal discs on both wheels offer sufficient bite. Overall braking performance is adequate, but the lack of ABS on the rear wheel is missed; and under extremely hard braking, the rear wheel does tend to lock up and skid, although the front wheel with ABS helps the bike retain its composure.
The only drawback of the Honda Hornet 2.0 seems to be the price. At ₹ 1.27 lakh (Ex-showroom), the Hornet 2.0 is priced in the territory of 200 cc motorcycles, with some capable and established rivals like the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V, as well as the Bajaj Pulsar NS 200. For comparison, the Apache RTR 200 4V with dual-channel ABS is priced just ₹ 1,500 more than the Hornet 2.0, while the Pulsar NS 200 costs over ₹ 3,500 more than the Hornet 2.0 in its ex-showroom price. And the RTR 200 4V is also available in a single-channel ABS variant now, which actually costs ₹ 3,500 less than the Hornet 2.0.
The Honda Hornet 2.0 is quite a nice bike, and for young adults looking for a premium commuter motorcycle, it offers everything that's desirable - good looks, a smooth and refined engine, as well as taut handling which makes every ride very enjoyable, be it the daily commute or the weekend dash out with friends. Yes, it's quite likeable, enjoyable even, and still built for the nice guys who want the best of all worlds. And it can surely tempt you to explore the young, wild and somewhat bad side when out on a twisty mountain road. But its real test will be if it can manage to wean away buyers considering one of the 200s, which are better-featured, better-specced, and with some horsepower advantage as well.
(Photography: Prashant Chaudhary)