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HONDA CB HORNET 160R: HOT NEW HORNET

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For anyone looking for a sensible buy in the two wheeler’s market, Honda’s Unicorn is a very sensible buy. It is a proper commuter, gives amazing mileage, and gets you from one point to the other no problem. However, it doesn’t make you want to twist the throttle or lean into corners or chase the horizon. You can do it, but it was built to be a commuter.

Its sibling, on the other hand, is a completely different story. The Honda CB Hornet 160R puts the sting in a run of the mill commuter. The Japanese automakers, who have a tendency to favor sensible non aggressive small bikes, have stepped it up with the CB Hornet 160R by fusing the utility of a commuter with the styling and aggression of their bigger bikes; more specifically the Honda CB 600F Hornet.

So what we have here is the best of both worlds. It could be too good to be true, but we’d never know that unless we gave it a go ourselves. And that is exactly what we have done.

STYLING:

We wouldn’t be surprised if we found out the designers at Honda’s headquarters were rocking out to metal music when they came up with the styling and designs for the Honda CB Hornet 160R. This is an aggressively designed motorcycle which makes its sibling look like a wuss. It is sharply designed with a sportier appeal, and we love it. Right from the sharp cut edges on the fuel tank to the radical X shaped LED tail lamp.

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Although the headlamp, which resembles the CB 1000R, gives the bike a good look, the masculine and well sculpted fuel tank is the centre of attraction on the Hornet; it gets sharp looking plastic cladding with carbon fibre-finish running from the handlebar to the seat. And it does a good job of making it look larger than it really is too. In the middle of the flat set handlebars is an all-digital speedometer borrowed from the Unicorn 160.

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The same aggressive styling flows into the rear of the CB Hornet 160R. It has a single unit seat with a raised pillion seat and it also gets a rear monoshock. The highlight of the tail end is an X-shaped LED tail lamp. A stubby exhaust adds to the aggressive appeal of the Hornet 160R and beefy tyres have been added to keep the same effect.

RIDE & HANDLING:

Switch on the ignition and thumb the starter button to bring the Hornet 160R to life. The sporty Hornet uses the same 162.71cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine you’ll find in the CB Unicorn 160. However, the engine has been fine tuned to churn out a healthy 15.7bhp and 1.5kgm of maximum torque. This makes it more spirited than the Unicorn, especially when it comes to low end acceleration. Thankfully, it has retains the smooth refinement that Honda engines are known for. To further enhance the riding experience better, the smooth engine is coupled with an equally smooth 5 speed gear box.

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Riding and handling are congruent to the aggressive design sense of the Hornet. Despite an upright riding stance, the slightly rearset footpegs maintains the sporty nature of the CB Hornet 160R. Weaving in and out of traffic is a breeze, but it still isn’t something we encourage you do with reckless abandon. Because it has good low end acceleration, it further adds to the city riding experience.

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On more open roads, the 160cc engine performs well. It pulls with vigor and you get linear power through the revs. It performs especially well in the mid rev ranges. The riding position inspires confidence in you, even when you set yourself out to carve corners. It rides on telescopic forks up front in conjunction with a box-section swingarm-mounted monoshock unit at the rear. The suspension does a great job of soaking up the undulations on the roads.

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Stopping power comes from a Nissin sourced 276mm petal disc unit on the front, while the rear gets a 130mm drum brake unit. Combined with the fat tyres that it gets, it does a good job of slowing down and stopping the bike.

VERDICT:

To be honest, Honda motorcycles that come to Nepal through India have always been reluctant to take risks in terms of how they design their motorcycles. A major reason of this is because they want to appeal to more mature riders who are a major target segment for Honda.

Things are different with the Honda CB Hornet 160R. This is a mean looking machine with proper masculine appeal. Considering the fact that stocks have been sold out, it seems that they haven’t lost out on any market share. Honda has struck a great balance between mass appeal and sporty aggressive design.

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The Hornet has been priced at a slight premium than the competitors. You’ll have to shell out Rs.2,60,900 to get one for yourself. What you get for paying the premium is a brand name synonymous with quality, amazing looks, and it is also the only mass produced Honda to get petal disc brakes. There’s also a maintenance free battery and viscous air filter which can go many thousands of kilometers without needing a replacement.

It is a well-rounded machine that has been able to create excitement in a competitive segment.

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