- Honda has unveiled its first mid range 350cc leisure riding bike CB350 that has been developed from grounds up keeping the Indian consumer in mind.
- It will be formally launched within the next fortnight. Pricing would be in the range of Rs 1.9 lakh and above.
- CB350 will lock horns directly with Royal Enfield's bread and butter Bullet, Classic and Thunderbird.
- The segment is heating up. Enfield will be launching the Meteor, the successor to the Thunderbird next week.
Japanese two-wheeler heavyweight Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India on Wednesday unveiled its first mid range 350cc leisure motorcycle-the CB350 Highness, wading into a fast growing segment that has been completely dominated by homegrown Royal Enfield to date.
The unveil that precedes the formal launch by a fortnight, comes a week before Enfield will be launching the successor to its Thunderbird with the Meteor. Honda said the motorcycle has been developed from grounds up keeping the Indian consumer in mind and will be priced around Rs 1.9 lakh.
"Globally, CB series of motorcycles symbolise Honda's history of challenges. For more than 60 years, Honda has consistently given the prefix "CB" to models representing on-road sports. Also, the riders have always been the focus in the evolution of the CB. It was once again the Indian riders who motivated the development of H'ness - CB350," said Atsushi Ogata, Managing Director, President & CEO, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt Ltd.
"To this end, the latest technologies are generously reflected in its 9 new patent applications. Today, we are proud to usher in a new motorcycling culture in the mid-size segment with this global unveiling of H'ness - CB350," Ogata added.
The motorcycle that will be sold through Honda's premium BigWing range of dealerships is powered by a 350cc, air cooled 4 stroke OHC single-cylinder engine equipped with PGM-FI technology. It delivers a maximum torque of 30 Nm@3000 rpm and peak power output of 20.8 bhp@5500 rpm.
"The basic value of H'ness is in its majesty which enriches rider's motorcycling experience to "go further with free spirit", encounter new roads and landscapes with Honda's unrivalled reliability," said Yadvinder Singh Guleria, Director - Sales & Marketing, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Pvt. Ltd.
"With its authentic roar, upright road presence and a wide range of new values, H'ness - CB350 delivers an unmatched riding performance. H'ness - CB350, proudly takes forward the rich legacy of Honda's CB DNA and provides the joy of riding through a wide range of situations like daily use in the city or long road trips," he added.
The motorcycle comes with a large tailpipe of 45mm that optimises balance with the muffler capacity, producing a bold low-pitched sound. A single one-chamber structure in the expansion chamber helps deliver a thumping exhaust note which Honda said was a pre-requisite for the engineers.
The engine uses offset cylinder position that reduces the sliding friction and asymmetrical connecting rod ensures minimum energy loss while combustion. It uses closed crankcase with a wall between crankcase and transmission reducing energy loss due to internal friction.
The air cooling system maintains highly dense air intake to improve efficiency and ensures favourable combustion in all rpm ranges by keeping the engine temperature within ideal range. The piston cooling jet improves engines thermal efficiency, leading to improved fuel efficiency.
The mid-range motorcycle segment classified as those with engine size between 300 and 500cc has grown rapidly largely on the back of the success of Riyal Enfield's Bullet, Classic and Thunderbird mobikes. In 2019-20, over 650,000 units were sold in this segment, with Enfield commanding a share of over 97 percent.
"It is a segment we have followed very closely over the last two years and believe we can play in successfully," Guleria said.
Honda believes it can counter Enfield's legacy and brand equity with advanced technological features. The CB350 comes with segment first Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) that helps in maintaining rear wheel traction by detecting difference between front and rear wheel speeds, calculating the slip ratio and further controlling engine torque via the fuel injection. It can be turned ON/OFF using a switch on the left side of meter. A 'T' indicator in the digital display flickers when the system is engaging.
Other segment firsts include Honda Smartphone Voice Control system (HSVCS) that allows superior connectivity of the rider's smartphone with the motorcycle via bluetooth. Once connected, rider can operate the system with controls on the left side of the handle bar to use distinct features such as phone calls, navigation, music playback and incoming messages. To facilitate complete concentration on riding, the information accessed will be communicated from the helmet headset speaker.
Similarly, CB350 gets assist and slipper clutch that makes gear shifts smoother while reducing clutch lever operation load ensuring less fatigue and more comfort during a rides that involve frequent shifting.