The Honda Hornet 160R was one quite desirable motorcycle in the 160cc segment. However, when the company started rolling out BS6 updates of its products, the bike was absent from that list. And then, a few weeks before Diwali, Honda dropped in a bomb in the form of a surprise, better known as the Hornet 2.0. So rather than just updating the Hornet 160R to meet the stringent BS6 emission norms, Honda decided to give it the displacement advantage and hence, the bike now gets a bigger heart with more power and torque and ofcourse, some new features. Now the positioning of this bike is quite interesting. With a 184cc engine, It somewhere fits in between the 160cc and 200cc segments but Honda says that it is targetting the 180cc to 200cc segment with this one (with TVS Apache RTR 200 4V as the prime rival) and that’s the reason why the bike isn’t called the Hornet 180 or the Hornet 200 and instead just Hornet 2.0. So, the Hornet is now bigger but the real question – is it better and how? Also, does it justify the premium price that it demands? Let’s find out the answers together in this review.
The design has to be one of the key highlights of the Honda Hornet 2.0 and the aesthetic changes are quite noticeable when you compare it with the Hornet 160R. Starting from the front, the bike now gets this really hunkered down low stance, thanks to which the Hornet 2.0 clearly looks much more aggressive than the outgoing Hornet 160R. The showstopper here is the upside-down forks, a feature which isn’t quite common in this segment and these are painted in golden which do make the bike look a lot premium. The headlamp is an all-LED unit that offers a good throw and illumination in the dark and this time around, you get LED turn indicators too.
The fuel tank looks more muscular now but comes with the same 12-litre capacity. The tank extensions have got sharper and compared to the single seat on the Hornet 160R, the Hornet 2.0 gets split step-up seats clearly in the favour of a sportier appeal. The rear end of the motorcycle has also been redesigned in order to match the sporty front end, however, the X-shaped LED tail lamp remains the same as the Hornet 160R. All in all, the bike looks like a premium and energetic streetfighter and we personally don’t see any reason why anyone will not love this design.
Now talking of the instrument cluster, the bike gets a negative LCD unit and you get five-level brightness adjustability as well and even in the lowest setting, there is enough readability even in broad daylight. There are twin tripmeters, a battery voltage indicator, a gear position indicator and a clock, however, the bike lacks smartphone connectivity, a feature that is already on offer with some other bikes in this segment. Nonetheless, you now get a couple of additional bits like an engine kill switch and hazard lamps that the Hornet 160R missed out on. Also, the key slot has now been moved towards the fuel tank. Some big bike feels, ehh? Also, with a bigger heart, the Hornet 2.0 is now content letting go of the kick starter.
With the increased displacement of 184cc, the engine now churns out 17 hp of power and 16 Nm of torque. Sure, these numbers are better than the outgoing 160cc model but don’t seem very impressive on paper, especially looking at the competition. But when you ride the motorcycle, it’s a different story! The engine feels quite eager in the lower revs and packs a punchy mid-range. Following the tradition of typical Hondas, the motor feels super smooth and refined and you will find it absolutely vibration-free during city riding.
The engine pulls nice and clean till 6,500 rpm after which the buzz starts to creep in. Things are very relaxed and easy till 85 kmph but once you cross that mark, you can feel the stress coming in on the engine and hence, long-distance touring on this bike at triple-digit speeds doesn’t come across as a very good idea.
At 100 kmph, the vibrations are quite significant. Anything beyond that and the engine literally screams, begging for mercy. However, the bike fulfills most of your city ride requirements and in fact, it does that quite well while letting you have some fun. The gearing is quite shorter, the gearshifts are buttery smooth and the Hornet 2.0 feels quick on its feet that makes it a good city bike. Also, another point that makes it a great everyday commuter is its impressive fuel efficiency.
During our test runs, the bike returned an impressive 56 kmpl, which is in fact better than even some of the 160s that we tested in the past. That said, with its 12-litre fuel tank. you are eyeing a range of somewhere close to 600 km on a full top-up.
Further complimenting the good city bike credentials of the Honda Hornet 2.0 is its sweet handling. Just show it some corners and it feels very eager to be leaned over. The suspension is a bit on the softer side and the usual undulations are filtered out effortlessly but hey! the soft suspension doesn’t mean that the fun part on the corners is compromised. The bike also feels very confident and planted around high-speed corners and in fact, it is one of the best handling Hondas that we have tested in the last few months.
Moreover, with its 142 kg kerb weight, the bike is just 1 kg heavier than its 160cc predecessor and this lightweight certainly adds to its agility. The bike feels nimble in city traffic too as it is super happy while changing directions. The Hornet 2.0 now gets a wider 110-section front tyre compared to the outgoing 160R and this set-up not only adds to the confidence on corners but also offers enhanced stability in a straight line at high speeds. The brake set up comprises of a 276mm front disc brake along with a 220mm disc unit at the rear. Both, the front and the rear offer phenomenal feedback and bite and just a small pull at the lever makes the bike shed speed in haste.
The only downer here is the inclusion of a single-channel ABS and a dual-channel unit isn’t on offer even as an option. When we asked Honda the reason behind this, it said that it wanted to strike a perfect balance between fun, practicality, and also, a competitive price point. With the absence of a dual-channel unit, the bike tends to slide around quite easily and hence, it is the front brake that you will need to use more.
Honda Hornet 2.0 is priced at Rs 1.27 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and this figure puts in very much in the price bracket of 200cc bikes like the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V and the Bajaj Pulsar NS200. Now, pitting the new kid on the block against the competition, for just Rs 4,000 more, you can get the Bajaj Pulsar NS200 that offers an additional 7 hp of power. Also, for the same premium, you have the option of the new 2021 TVS Apache RTR 200 4V that now comes with three riding modes, adjustable suspension and adjustable levers. Also, for Rs 2,000 less, you can buy the single-channel ABS variant of the Apache RTR 200 4V that has more features and tech along with a better power output compared to the Honda Hornet 2.0.
So, clearly, as one can see, the Honda Hornet 2.0 is not the most powerful or the most feature-loaded or the most value for money bike in the segment it is competing in, but that doesn’t make it a bad proposition as an individual product. The bike certainly has its own set of USPs as it offers an outright aggressive design, sweet handling, it’s a great city bike and well, at the end of the day, it’s a Honda – a point that will matter to many customers.
So, if these are the things that you want from a motorcycle and if you are someone who can be at peace without having the best of features or power in your bike, then we don’t think you should be having even any second thoughts to own the Hornet 2.0!
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