I have never felt so comfortable, and so happy, riding a sub-Rs 2 lakh motorcycle as I have on the new H’ness CB350. From build quality to the exhaust note to even the switchgear, everything appears to have been crafted with love, and a lot of thought. I recently rode this new Honda in and around Delhi.
What is the H’ness CB350?
Short for ‘Your Highness’, it’s a midsize motorcycle (350-500cc segment). Its 348.36cc petrol engine produces peak power of 20.8bhp and torque of 30Nm. It has a 15-litre fuel tank, disk brakes, and fuel efficiency of 35-45 km/l.
What defines its design?
It’s a classic design meets 21st century features—dual-tone fuel tank, alloy wheels, chrome-plated parts (exhaust, mirrors and fenders), and that ‘thump’ of a sound from the exhaust we’ve until now associated with Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in India.
The instrument cluster is digital plus analogue—it displays information such as ABS, side-stand indicator, ECO riding indicator, gear position, speedometer, tripmeter, fuel efficiency, distance-to-empty, etc.
Possibly the most stylish feature on the H’ness CB350 is the LED lamp set-up at the front and back, the quality of which matches what you see in some new Triumph motorcycles (which are far more expensive).
How does it ride?
If I had to sum it up in one word, it is ‘easy’. Let me explain in a few more.
The H’ness CB350 is a midsize motorcycle, about 2.2 metres long, and a seat height of 0.8 metres (2.62 feet). So getting on and off is easy for almost anyone.
It weighs just 181 kg. This means riding it in stop-and-go traffic—when you have to constantly put your feet on the road—won’t tire you.
Its turning radius is narrow, because the handlebar turns a bit more than many other motorcycles of its size. This also means navigating it on narrow streets is as easy as riding a 100cc bike.
The riding position is perfect and the seat is firm.
The power delivery of the engine is linear, i.e. if you are, let’s say, accelerating from 40-70 km/h in third gear, power doesn’t appear to flows in spurts, but is equally distributed throughout the rev-range.
When accelerating at full blast from 0-60 km/h, it produces a lot of sound, and doesn’t appear to speed-up commensurately. But then it’s not a sport bike, it’s an easy rider.
During my two day of city riding, it returned me 40 km/l, which is very good for a 350cc bike.
I’m not sure how comfortable it would be on long, intercity rides. That needs another article.
Is it a value buy?
Priced Rs 1.86 lakh for DLX and Rs 1.92 lakh for DLX Pro (ex-showroom, Delhi), the H’ness CB350 is good value for money. It’s a world-class midsize motorcycle, and gets unique features such as selectable torque control that maintains rear wheel traction, assist & slipper clutch, real-time info on the instrument console, and so on. The DLX Pro variant also gets smartphone connectivity. No other motorcycle currently offers so much for so less.
Areas of improvement
Even this almost-perfect machine can be improved upon:
—The orientation of the horn switch is away from the thumb. While this means the rider may not unnecessarily honk, a horn is also used during emergency, and one has to stretch the thumb to reach the switch.
—My test unit didn’t have a grab rail on the left side of the rear seat that makes putting the motorcycle on the centre stand easier; instead, I had to grab the rail meant for the pillion rider. Not convenient.
—When using the lever on the side stand, the left foot brushes against the footrest. In rare cases, it can hurt.
Engine: 348.36 cc petrol
Power: 15.5 kW (20.8 bhp)
Torque: 30 Nm
Weight: 181 kg
Seat height: 800 mm (2.62 feet)
Fuel tank: 15 litres
Front brake: 310 mm disc
Rear brake: 240 mm disc
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Fuel efficiency: 35-45 km/l
Price: Rs 1.85 lakh onwards
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