Honda’s latest 160-cc premium commuter slots in between the CB Unicorn 160 and the CB Hornet 160R, and seems to possess the best of both worlds
The new honda hopes to make a mark in the 160-cc sporty commuter space
THE PREMIUM COMMUTER SEGMENT, which a few years ago was crowded with 110- to 125-cc economy-biased motorcycles built to a cost, has since grown to include bikes with capacities up to 180 cc and a healthy dose of style. this displacement creep and the inclusion of sporty design elements reflects the growing demand for attractive and modern motorcycles for the urban environment, without skimping on appearance and performance. Honda have retained a strong foothold in this segment, starting with the no-frills CB Unicorn 150, its larger sibling the CB Unicorn 160, and their sporty cousin with loads of street cred, the CB Hornet 160r. Both aforementioned 160s share the same 162.7-cc powerplant, albeit in different states of tune, and Honda have now filled the gap between the two with yet another 160-cc motorcycle: the brand new X-Blade that you see splashed across these pages.
the X-Blade is aimed at customers who want more than what the Unicorn 160 has to offer, and are attracted to the aggressive
styling of the cB hornet 160r, but do not want to pay upwards of rs 80,000 for a new motorcycle. With its sharp styling, refined engine and price tag of rs 78,500, the X-Blade gives the people exactly what they want from a modern urban motorcycle. Although it is based on the same platform as the cB unicorn 160 and cB hornet 160r, the X-Blade looks like an all-new machine. honda have clearly paid attention to the design to ensure that this bike stands out in a crowd. the first thing to strike me about the new design was the segmented LeD headlight, which almost looks like a robotic face from the
Transformers movies, and that substantial flyscreen above it. the 12-litre tank is sharply sculpted and endowed with plastic shrouds that extend forward and down, giving the bike an aggressive, forward-biased stance when viewed from the side, and the faux carbon-fibre finish around the fuel filler lid is a nice touch. All the plastic panels are also styled with much thought, and there are several different angles, lines, surfaces and textures juxtaposed together along the length of the motorcycle. With so much going on the design risks looking too busy, but honda have clearly thought this through and all the elements fall into place and complement each other; the result being a striking, somewhat futuristic motorcycle that looks like nothing else in the market.
honda’s existing 162.7-cc air-cooled single powers this bike and makes 14.13 ps at 8,500 rpm and 13.9 nm of torque at 6,000 rpm. in comparison, the same engine in the hornet 160r peaks at 15.1 ps and 14.5 nm, while in the cB unicorn 160 this mill, in a more relaxed state of tune, makes 14 ps and the same 13.9 nm of twist as the X-Blade. honda seem to have found the perfect middle ground with this powerplant and we can attest to its flexible nature after spending some time with the new motorcycle in and around pune. the refined engine works well with the smooth-shifting five-speed gearbox and is matched by ideal gear ratios to take on the urban sprawl. i was pleasantly surprised to note that the bike could pull from 30 km/h in fifth gear at a mere 2,000 rpm without knocking. cruising through the city, i noticed i was comfortably shifting up at about 4,000 rpm, allowing the low-end torque to work in my favour.
if you desire a little more spring in your step, the engine feels sweetest between 5,000 and 7,000 rpm, where there is enough torque in reserve to execute quick overtakes without the need to downshift. put the hammer down and the bike pulls strongly
Honda have taken a step in the right direction by creating yet another aggressively styled 160-cc motorcycle
towards its 9,200-rpm red-line, although vibes do start to creep in above 7,500 rpm. the X-Blade does 100 km/h in fifth gear at about 7,000 rpm, so smooth cruising at triple-digit speeds is also possible without the engine feeling one bit stressed.
the low blacked-out handlebar is responsible for the slightly forward-biased riding position, while the seat is flat, broad and extremely comfortable. the rider interface on the X-Blade is a fully digital LcD display with a large speed readout, a broad, easy-todecipher bar type tachometer running along the top and, a first for honda in this segment, a gear indicator. there is also a digital clock and a small bar-type fuel gauge alongside the switchable odo and trip meter display, although i did miss the inclusion of a range indicator. switchgear feels sturdy and works well and honda have even included a hazard light switch on the right bar, although the continued absence of an engine kill switch puzzles me. Although the suspension is tuned for comfort, it is well-damped, eliminating any sogginess over bumps or sudden fork dive when on the brakes, while still providing a pliant ride and accurate handling. the bike seems set up for all-day comfort over a variety of surfaces and the slight forward lean towards the bars gave me a nice, in-control feel.
After the refinement and flexibility of the engine, i was most amazed at the responsiveness of the brakes. the 276-mm wavy front rotor is gripped by a two-piston nissin caliper and, although this bike doesn’t get honda’s proprietary cBs (combined Braking system) or even ABs, the feel and feedback under hard braking is absolutely stunning. combined with the sticky mrF tyres, i always felt safe and in control, even when shedding speed rapidly over less than perfect surfaces.
After spending a day with the new X-Blade i can confidently say that honda have taken a step in the right direction by creating yet another aggressively-styled 160-cc motorcycle. this bike is sure to turn heads in our crowded metros and with that wide torque spread, excellent ride quality, agile handling and brilliant brakes, i am sure there will be no dearth of takers.
The bike seems set up for all-day comfort over a variety of surfaces and the slight forward lean towards the bars gave me a nice, in-control feel
Proven engine is smooth, refined and flexible Faux carbon-fibre panel adds even more character
Too many surfaces and textures to count, but the design works
Those have got to be the best brakes in the segment
T-shaped tail-light leds the X-Blade a unique rear signature