Honda is the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer. Since 1949, the Japanese giant has retailed more than 300 million motorcycles globally. India is one of their most important markets, both in terms of revenue and volumes. In the past year though, Honda has faced several headwinds which have adversely affected its volumes. This includes both industry related problems as well as lack of an exciting product portfolio.
With the Indian market maturing, volumes for affordable performance motorcycles have been increasing. Bajaj Auto has been growing in the sports segment thanks to an exciting product line up. In fact, even Hero MotoCorp, Honda’s erstwhile partner, saw sales of its performance models rise with the introduction of newer 200cc models. However, Honda, despite having several exciting products globally, has not launched anything exciting in India.
They did try to change that with the Honda CB300R, but the bike is available in limited volumes. It was never meant to be a volume changer. Its job is to revive the brand image which Honda has been enjoying the world over – the title of performance kings! Here is a list of 5 Honda motorcycles which we desperately wish to see in the Indian market.
Honda CB150R Streetster – the most stylish 150cc Honda motorcycle
Based on the CB150R ExMotion, the 2019 Honda CB150R Streetster carries forward the unique neo café racer theme seen in the CB300R. The Honda branding on the fuel tank has been placed in a cavity. The decals have been carefully crafted to complement the neo-retro look. Adding to that are the split seats, an underbelly exhaust unit and a rounded LED headlamp.
Powering the CB150R Streetster is a 149cc DOHC, liquid-cooled, fuel injected mill which also does duty in the new CBR150R. In the faired motorcycle, the engine produces 17.1 PS of power and 14.4 Nm of torque. Expect the CB150R Streetster to have a similar performance output. The gearbox is a 6-speed unit.
The bike is suspended on 41 mm upside-down fork up front and a monoshock in the rear. Brakes include a 296 mm petal disc with a radially mounted 4-piston caliper. The rear is a 220 mm petal unit. The instrumentation setup is all digital and gets a shift light, lap timer and fuel saving indicator.
Honda CBR150R – affordable, faired motorcycle
Honda’s answer to the R15, the CBR150R has been a much-neglected model in India. When on sale, the motorcycle was limited to only sticker upgrades. However, the bike has evolved to be a major power horse in the ASEAN market. It looks very similar to the more premium 250RR. It gets a taller windscreen, split LED headlamps, and digital instrumentation.
The powertrain is the same as seen in the CB150R Streetster. CBR150R is suspended over conventional fork upfront and monoshock in the rear, both being adjustable for preload. It gets a diamond tyre trellis frame and gets petal discs at both ends. The bike also gets an emergency brake light.
Unlike the Yamaha R15 v3.0, the CBR150R has a low seat height of 787 mm which is a boon for shorter riders. It tips the scales at just 137 kg and has a compact 12-litre fuel tank.
Honda CBR250RR – accessible race replica machine
It is no secret that Honda is the ruling monarch in the quarter-litre sports segment (well at least till the maniac 4-pot Kawasaki ZX-25R breaks cover). The CBR250RR is a purpose-built faired pocket rocket with sharp cuts which seem to be drawn by a scalpel. Twin LED headlamps add an edge to the bike.
The powerplant is a 249.7cc parallel twin mill which gets a Throttle-By-Wire System with Accelerator Position Sensor. It can churn out 38.7 PS of power and 23.3 Nm of torque. The bike is suspended over upside down telescopic fork upfront and a monoshock in the rear. The rear swing arm is made of aluminium to keep weight under check. CBR250RR weighs just 168 kg.
CBR250RR is the only bike in its class to get riding modes (Comfort, Sport and Sport+). The instrumentation is an all-digital, reverse backlit LCD panel. While all of this makes the bike a great proposition, its high price tag remains a major deterrent. However, Honda India can tackle that with high levels of localisation.
Honda XRE300 – Honda’s Brazilian adventure
The thirst for adventure tourers in India has been rising and the XRE300 can be a perfect machine to plug the gap. The utilitarian looks are mated with a long travel suspension setup and a reliable powerplant. In Brazil, the bike is offered in three variants (Standard, Adventure and Rally) which include mostly cosmetic changes.
Powering the bike is a 291.6cc air-cooled, DOHC, single cylinder mill which can run both on petrol and ethanol. Coupled to a 5-speed gearbox, the fuel injected engine can produce 25.4 PS of power and 27.07 Nm of torque. The fuel tank can store 13.8 litre of petrol and has a dry weight of 148 kg. Seat height though is on the higher side at 860 mm. XRE300 however, has a healthy 259 mm ground clearance.
Brakes include discs at both ends (256 mm front, 220 mm rear). The front wheel is shod with a large 21-inch wheel to climb over objects while the rear gets a 120-section 18-inch wheel. Lighting in the XRE300 is all LED and the instrumentation is taken care of with a blue backlit LCD. The upswept exhaust and a luggage rack will be a boon for trail riding.
Honda Rebel 300 – Japanese take on Bobbers
The Honda Rebel 300 may have been voted out by the management, but the bike can be a winner in India. Focusing on customisability, the bike features chubby tyres and minimal bodywork. Rear pillion seat is removable, and the bike is retailed in ASEAN region in several attractive colours.
At the heart of the Rebel 300 is a 286cc single cylinder, liquid cooled, DOHC mill which it shares with the CB300R. Mated to a 6-speed gearbox, the engine can produce 30.4 PS of power and 27 Nm of torque. Suspension duties are overseen by 41 mm conventional telescopic forks upfront and a mono shock in the rear. Rebel 300 weighs 170 kg and has a low seat height of 690 mm.
Brakes include discs at both ends. Headlamp continues to flaunt a halogen bulb unit to retain a retro look.