Honda X-Blade

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

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