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Honda H’ness CB350 Review: Worthy Alternate to a Royal Enfield Classic 350?

Honda H'ness CB350. (Photo: Manav sinha/News18.com)

Honda H'ness CB350. (Photo: Manav sinha/News18.com)

The Honda H’ness CB350 is Honda’s take on a retro motorcycle with a 350cc engine which actually turns out to be quite similar to the Royal Enfield Classic 350.

As they say, royalty takes its own time and this one certainly has. The Honda H’ness CB350 is finally here so let’s take a closer look at what the motorcycle is all about, what kind of a job has Honda done and whether this is the premium Honda motorcycle that we have all been waiting for, all this while.

Let’s start with the design of the motorcycle. Now yes, this is a subjective matter but as for me, I quite like it. The shape of the motorcycle is properly retro but Honda has given it modern elements which do not take away the retro spirit but add functionality. This includes all LED lighting on the CB350 and yes, those front indicators stay on all the time, unless you use them as actual indicators.

What you see here is the DLX Pro variant which costs Rs 6,000 more and gets you these dual horns which get chrome finishing on them along with the dual-paint colour scheme. Lastly, it also includes a Bluetooth system which we did not get to use because well, you need a headset to use those features and that’s an additional thing you need to buy and Honda does not offer that, even as an accessory. Also, there is an app which is needed for this system but that’s only for Android users as it’s not on iOS.

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The CB350 is actually very high on the features that it offers and prime amongst that is the traction control system which is always good to have. Other than that you get this part digital instrument cluster which looks fantastic and has all the tell-tale signs under the gloss-finished panel. The cluster shows everything you need to know including distance to empty and has the gear position indicator as well.

There is also a USB-C port which is actually a smart move by Honda because you keep motorcycles for years and everything will soon be USB-C, so it’s good future-proofing.

The build quality is top-notch and I love the paint finish too. Honda, however, has swapped the position of the horn and the indicator and that definitely takes time getting used to.

Let’s talk about riding ergonomics. To give you an idea, my height is 5 foot 10 and I could plant both my feet firmly onto the ground. The handlebar reaches to me naturally, I really like the footpeg positioning and the seats are really comfortable so I wouldn’t mind doing long-distance touring on this motorcycle but what really stands out for me is that the CB350 gives you that big bike feel. Talking about having a big bike feel, we have to talk about this engine. Now, this 348cc engine is what that really differentiates the motorcycle with the rest of the competition.

This engine is absolutely sublime. This is a 348cc single-cylinder unit that makes about 21 HP and a lovely 30 Nm of torque that is delivered as low as 3,000 RPM. The engine runs smooth like a hot knife through butter and has no annoying vibrations whatsoever. It uses a counter-balancer shaft and fuel injection and is extremely tractable, which means you can stay at high gears at low speeds without any hassle.

Speaking of gears, the lever feels ergonomic, well, weird, because it is placed way high above the footrest. So if you shift up using your ankle, it is just an uncomfortable thing to do especially if you are wearing proper riding boots like I am. Additionally, the gearing is really tall so if you are used to riding a motorcycle, like a Royal Enfield for example, you will find yourself wanting to stay a gear lower to stay in the meat of the power.

As for the riding experience, the motorcycle can touch 140 km/h and feels comfortable doing slightly over 100 km/h. It also gets a slip and assist clutch so the clutch lever is really light to use and that makes the motorcycle feel friendly in city traffic. The suspension setup is on point and the bike can take bad roads like a champ and same goes for the highways too.

It gets these fat MRF tyres which are decent at best. The brakes have the right amount of bite but lack feedback on the lever. But still, overall, the bike does what it is intended to do and honestly, it does it better than any other motorcycle in the segment.

And it’s a proper head-turner wherever it goes if you are into that sort of a thing.

So to sum it all up, well, I absolutely love the CB350 and its one of the most fun I’ve had during testing a motorcycle and I test a lot of them, that’s how good the CB350 is. Usually, at this point I tell you my concerns about the motorcycle that I am testing but frankly in this case, I don’t really have any. Except for the fact that Honda is selling this through its Big Wing dealership network and as of now, well, there aren’t a lot of Big Wing dealerships in India. However, I asked Honda about this and they assured me that within this year itself, we’ll see a lot of new Honda Big Wing dealerships all across the country. So, if you have a Big Wing dealership near you, I don’t think there is any reason for you to think twice before going for the H’ness CB350.

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