Honda H’ness CB350 Test Ride Review
Detailed road test review of the latest retro cruiser from Honda the H'ness CB350.
Detailed road test review of the latest retro cruiser from Honda the H'ness CB350.
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Bike tested: Honda H’ness CB350; Road Test No. 1309; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,28,500/- (DLX Pro)
The H’ness CB350 is the first retro-modern motorcycle from Honda for India
The Honda H’ness CB350 is the newest creation for the sub-500cc neo-retro cruiser bike segment by the brand. It is Honda’s answer to the RE Bullet 350 which has been ruling this segment for decades, many competitors have come and gone but the REs didn’t break a sweat. Honda is very keen on getting a stronghold in this category and it is quite evident. They have packed the H’ness with segment-first features. The Honda H’ness CB350 is surely loaded to impress but has Honda really played its cards right? We find out!
MotorQuest: The CB series from Honda is a very extensive line of motorcycles ranging from 50cc to 1300cc bikes! Its roots date back decades. This is the first time India has seen a CB motorcycle from Honda and that too in the sub-500cc category. CBs are road-going motorcycles while some have been famous for vintage racing too.
Styling: Styling is a make-or-break factor in this segment, the majority of sales are drawn in on the basis of looks. And the H’ness certainly stands out, the designers at Honda have very tastefully dipped the motorcycle in chrome. It is a classic-looking motorcycle with modern elements. It sure looks old school but, packs modern technology under its sleeves. Starting off with the chrome-wrapped circular headlamp which naturally looks retro but, is an all-LED unit. The indicators and taillight look old-school they are LEDs which is a nice touch. Just above it, are the chrome mirrors that harmonise the retro charm. The tank is beautifully sculpted and proudly wears the chrome-finished Honda badging. Right below is the engine, finished in gloss black with chrome accents that unquestionably looks beautiful, to say the least.
The build quality of the H’ness is praiseworthy, it feels very premium
Moving to the side, the quarter panel bears the H’ness logo which is dressed with chrome surrounds and the red backsplash looks a bit quirky. The upswept exhaust is drenched in chrome and still manages to look neat. We love the way how Honda has designed the saree guard for the H’ness, it has a utilitarian female footrest and doesn’t spoil the look of the bike. Honda offers the H’ness with a total of six paint options which include matte and gloss but, the dual-tone option is only available with the DLX Pro variant. However, we believe that Honda could have been a little more adventurous with the design of the taillight. Nevertheless, the bike looks very purposeful.
Instrument Cluster and Switchgear: The H’ness gets an analogue-digital instrument cluster. The cluster itself is reasonably sized but the speedometer takes up a huge chunk, leaving a very tiny area for the LCD. This is something that we did not like, as the LCD houses the most crucial ride telemetry data and the minuscule LCD doesn’t do any good. Nevertheless, the LCD features an odometer, twin trip meters, fuel gauge, range, gear position indicator etc. Also, the H’ness is equipped with a Bluetooth system that assists the rider in navigation, music controls, call and SMS alerts. However, this system only works in conjunction with a Bluetooth headset and the app availability is restricted to Android devices. To the right, there are various tell-tale lights. To sum it up, we would say that the cluster is a very potent unit with an array of information and an all-digital cluster does make a lot of sense.
Bluetooth connectivity and joystick set switchgear is only limited to the DLX Pro variant of the Honda H’ness CB350
Coming to the switchgear, on the left, there is a set of switches to browse through the app. The up and down directional keys are used to scroll through the various options on the app as it reads out the selected menu via Bluetooth and the “ENT” key is the select key and the arrow key returns you to the previous menu. However, Honda has switched the position of the indicator switch and the horn button which is utterly confusing and begs the question, “why would the designers do that?” Even we do not have the answer to that question though. Nevertheless, it is only an issue in the initial phase and requires getting used to. The high-low beam switch is smartly integrated with the pass switch. Moving to the right switchgear, there is an integrated kill switch with starter button and right below that is the hazard-light button which is a thoughtful touch. The overall switchgear quality is up to par.
Ergonomics: The H’ness has comfortable ergonomics. To begin with, the seat height is 800 mm which makes it convenient for the average Indian. However, if you are above 5’8″, you wouldn’t be as comfortable as the tank recess wouldn’t be able to accommodate your knees and your knees will end up brushing against the tank bulge. Adding to that, the dimensions of the seat don’t sound welcoming for two healthy-sized adults. The cushioning on the seat is apt for long as well as short rides. One thing to notice is that the rear-view mirrors are placed high enough for an easy glance, but they don’t offer a good view of what’s behind. The levers offer a decent feel and feedback, they are not adjustable which should have been offered considering the price tag. Moving on, the riding posture is very upright and comfortable, the handlebar is tall and of the right length, while the footpegs are slightly forward set. Overall, the H’ness has pretty sound ergonomics.
Performance: Powering the H’ness is a 348cc air-cooled engine that produces 21 PS of power at 5500 RPM and a respectable 30 Nm of torque at 3000 RPM. We say respectable because this is the highest torque in the segment. However, the real-world performance is different from what the spec-sheet suggests. The low-end is just about decent however, the mid-range is packed with punch and the top-end feels very narrow. Nevertheless, H’ness upholds the standards of Honda in terms of engine refinement which means, the engine is buttery smooth and refined with well-contained vibrations, however in the top-end, some vibrations are felt on the pegs but they aren’t as bothersome. 0-100 km/hr takes about 14 seconds while the motorcycle maxes out at 122 km/hr.
Engine characteristics are well-tuned for the city as well as highway riding
The gearing is quite tall and the shifts are crisp from the 5-speed unit is assisted by a slipper clutch which is something that its competitors lack. Cruising speeds are easily attained and the bike maintains its pace without any buzzing. Another good thing is the exhaust note, the H’ness is the loudest bike in its segment and has the typical note which sounds pretty majestic. During our time with the H’ness, it returned a mileage of 32 km/l and with a huge 15-litre tank, the range is 480 km which is similar to what the competition offers.
Riding Dynamics: The suspension setup is very traditional, up-front is a non-adjustable telescopic fork setup and adjustable twin hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear. But, it is a bit too hard than the front which might take a toll on your back and the ride quality could have been more supple. But for the most part, the bike feels stiff and handles very well. The chassis is a split-duplex frame that doesn’t flex too much and provides good feedback and feels well planted while riding enthusiastically. It tips into corners quite well and the tyres offer decent grip too. Weighing at 181 kgs, the Highness is 10 kgs lighter than the RE Classic 350 and has a better power to weight ratio.
Overtaking is effortless while the dynamics are quick. It’s a modern motorcycle in retro clothing
This bike feels light and nimble to manoeuvre through traffic and cruises effortlessly on the highway too. Tackling big potholes and speed breakers is not a big deal as the 166 mm ground clearance is quite sufficient. Braking duties are done by a 310 mm disc at the front and 240 mm disc at the rear assisted by Nissin callipers. The braking performance is satisfactory but, a bit more feedback from the rear would be appreciated. The ABS is tuned just right and works well. Another thing in the safety department that sets the CB 350 apart is the traction control system. It is a handy feature that helps the rider maintain control under slippery conditions.
Verdict: At 2,28,500/ – (on-road Mumbai, DLX Pro variant), the H’ness CB 350 plans to take on the RE Classis 350 and the RE Meteor 350 and on paper, the H’ness leads the list with the sheer equipment it offers. It isn’t exactly cheap but it screams value. If you are someone who wants a neo-retro bike but you always wanted something different, here is your chance to get the right bike for you. But there are a few things you should note, this bike can only be serviced at Honda’s BigWing dealerships which are currently limited to tier-1 and tier-2 cities. However, if you want a strictly reliable bike and you want to stand out from the crowd, the H’ness is the right choice for you.
* Most refined engine in the category to date
* Suitable for spirited riding, great dynamics
* Good fit and finish quality with first-in-class features
What’s Not So Cool
* Instrument cluster is loaded but too small to read
* Space for the pillion is limited while the cushioning isn’t the best
* Features like dual-horn, Bluetooth and dual-tone paint are limited to DLX Pro variant
* Engine: 348.36cc, Single-Cylinder, Air-Cooled, FI
* Power: 21 PS @ 5500 RPM
* Torque: 30 Nm @ 3000 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed
* Fuel Consumption: 32 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Split-Duplex Frame
* Suspension: Showa Telescopic Forks (Front), Dual Hydraulic Shocks (Rear)
* Tyres: 100/90/19 (Front), 130/70/18 (Rear)
* Brakes: 320 mm Disc (Front), 240 mm Disc (Rear), ABS
* Length x Width x Height: 2163 mm x 800 mm x 1107 mm
* Wheelbase: 1441 mm
* Ground Clearance: 166 mm
* Seat Height: 800 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 15-litres
* Kerb weight: 181 kgs