2018 Honda X-Blade review: Sharp new design with trusty ‘ol performance

Honda X-Blade is the latest offering from the Japanese brand in the 160cc premium commuter segment in India. While the X-Blade competes with the like of TVS Apache RTR 160 4V, but there are two 160cc motorcycles in Honda's lineup as well.

By: | Updated: May 12, 2018 7:14 PM

Sitting right above the 150cc commuters are 160cc motorcycles that are a blend of commuters and entry-level performance bikes, with a splash of premium-ness. The number of motorcycles in this segment is quite on the rise making it ever more confusing for the buyer to pick one. And to make matters worse (or rather better) for them, Honda now has three 160cc motorcycles. The latest one that sits between the already existing Honda CB Unicorn 160 and Honda CB Hornet 160R, is the Honda X-Blade - the third 160cc motorcycle in Honda's India portfolio. For starters, the X-Blade is by far the most stylish looking motorcycle in Honda's lineup and offers a very distinctive appeal compared to the brand's other mass-market bikes in India so far.

Design

First look of the Honda X-Blade brings to notice the sharp and edgy design it has. Design is a matter highly subjective and in terms of styling, there just maybe a bit too much happening on the Honda X-Blade's body panels and sculpting of the tank. It appears to be a large motorcycle, something bigger than a 160cc bike and surprisingly has a hint of an adventure touring bike owing to the overall silhouette and pointy front of the 'robo face'.

Conclusively, the Honda X-Blade is a lot sportier than the other two – Unicorn 160 and Hornet 160R, and is frankly the most premium looking bike in Honda's mass-market portfolio. The addition of an LED head and tail lamp makes the X-Blade's game stronger as its competition bikes don't all feature them.

Ride and ergonomics

Honda X-Blade offers a commuter style riding stance, with sensibly placed foot-pegs and a raised handlebar, which needless to say is comfortable for everyday usage. The positioning of the rear brake lever, however, had my right foot pointing to the sky. That may have been a bit of an exaggeration but it would've been nicer if it was slightly lowered.

Why I wrote in the beginning that the X-Blade has a hint of ADV in it is because the seat height felt slightly higher than, say the Apache RTR 160. However, it isn't as heavy as one. In fact, it is the lightest when compared to competition like RTR 160 or Bajaj Pulsar 160 NS at 140 kg.

The quality of ride on the Honda X-Blade is rather comfy with the telescopic front forks and a monoshock suspension setup at the rear. The setup is actually quite stiff however is enough for our roads. The X-Blade's suspension setup, in fact, felt stiffer than the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V, which was also launched recently.

Performance

Honda X-Blade's 162.71cc single-cylinder engine is a refined one and there is minimal interference of unnecessary vibrations, on low or high RPM, along with the exhaust note which is subtle. A power output of 13.93 hp at 8500 rpm and torque of 13.90 Nm at 6000 rpm renders the X-Blade a fun to ride motorcycle, but with a smooth and laid back throttle response that doesn't poke the boy racer inside the rider.

Honda has given the X-Blade a wide (130mm) rear tyre that instills confidence on corners and makes taking the roundabout entries or exits from a highway a bit more fun, and safe if you intend not to slow right down. However, I wouldn't deny that the X-Blade does wobble a bit while cornering. The 130mm disc up front and a 276mm rear drum brake on the Honda X-Blade provide an apt amount of braking power which is not threatening, neither is it soft.

So, the Honda X-Blade is one of the three 160cc motorcycles that Honda has on offer. And, to say the least, all three of them have similar power and torque outputs. But the X-Blade offers a fresh design and more features than the others too, including a fully digital instrument cluster. Not just the other 160cc Hondas, the X-Blade's LED headlamp is also not seen on many in the segment.

Honda X-Blade sits right in the middle of the Unicorn 160 and Hornet 160R. The Unicorn has a simplistic design and the Hornet 160R may be a sporty looking machine, but the X-Blade is too and comes at a smaller price tag. The differentiation among Unicorn 160 ( Rs 76,116), X-Blade (Rs 78,500) and Hornet 160R (Rs 84,675) remains hazy. The X-Blade misses out on CBS that the Unicorn has and makes 0.9 hp less than the Hornet, but is definitely a fresh approach. But, it would be great if Honda's next entry-level performance bike is not wedged between two of its own motorcycles.

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