With the ever increasing petrol prices, the market of 150cc+ bikes started to shrink as the daily commuter bend towards the more frugal 100-110cc bikes, which resulted into a cut throat competition in 150cc+ bikes segment. Bajaj is the undisputed segment leader for more than a decade now, with its Pulsar 150, which actually can be credited as the first Indian sports bike.
A whole different segment of 150cc performance bikes also resides, which includes the likes of Yamaha R15 and Honda CBR150R, but the prices make this segment limited only to the enthusiasts. Honda also offers affordable 150cc bikes, including one of its earliest offerings CB Unicorn, sportier Unicorn Dazzler. I always liked the CB Unicorn's smooth engine and subtleness, but the bike misses the character of a sports bike, on the other hand the Dazzler looks sportier, but it never made a dent to Pulsar's huge approach.
With a dream to cater 10 per cent market of 150cc+ bikes, Honda recently launched the new CB Trigger, which is more of a makeover of the existing Dazzler with a few extra features. I personally believe that the naked version of CBR150R known as the Streetfire would have been a better choice than the Trigger. I was really disappointed, when I got to know that Honda launched the next gen Unicorn instead of the Streetfire. So, with a perception in mind, I recently rode the CB Trigger and checked the potential of the bike to figure out whether it can stand in front of Yamaha Fz and Pulsar 150?
The 150cc+ segment is not only about the performance, buyers also look for the style statement a bike carries to depict their enthusiasm. Therefore, the design and styling of these bikes are equally important aspects, and the CB Trigger doesn't fail to impress you. Right from the front this bike has a masculine appearance. The big hexagonal headlight with the bikini fearing and a silver visor with air scoops on it, make it look fresh, and with the CBR250R like front mudguard the front fascia is typical Honda.
The well sculpted fuel tank with wedges and 3D Honda emblem on it, give a character to the bike. The well designed air scoops merge well with the tank and add more to its appeal. We like the sharp side panels merging well in the stylish rear panels that combinedly make the side profile even sportier. The best element in the Trigger's design is its rear, the uniquely designed LED tail light not only looks good, it gives it a different identity to the bike that you can recognize it in the crowd.
The massive black exhaust further adds to its masculine image. In addition to this, the CB Trigger comes with a chain cover and a heel-toe shifter, which were missing on the Dazzler. All in all, the CB Trigger does look fresh and sportier than the phased out Dazzler, it still doesn't outshine the close competitor FZ. However, the build quality, fit and finish are top notch.
Switch Gear and Ergonomics:
Honda's bikes always score high on comfort and ergonomics, and the Trigger is no exception. It comes with a typical Honda style switch gear, with indicator, light, high/low beam and pass light switches with horn on left, and the ignition switch on the right (I didn't like the pretty basic ignition switch, it is just a square button, which doesn't go with anything else on the bike). But I like the fully digital instrument cluster. The easy to read panel houses the speedo, tacho and odometer with clock, fuel indicators and two trip meters. Other tale-tell lights are there just above the instrument cluster.
When it comes to ergonomics, the Trigger allows its rider to sit in comfortable upright position with the wide handlebars. The sitting position feels more like a commuter; however, the fuel tank gives a good grip and the sitting posture too makes you hold your knees to the tank for better feedback. I liked the rear grab bar, which provides a good grip. Like the Dream Neo, I didn't like the stylish angular rear view mirrors, which has a limited a viewing area. Rest, the bike is ergonomically well designed and Honda again proved that they made their bikes after a lot of research. Features like full chain cover and heel-toe shifter will be a boon in demanding Indian conditions.
Engine and Performance:
The 150cc segment bikes are more about performance but other factors like fuel economy and compatibility as a daily commuter are also important aspects, and Honda is well known for smooth and frugal engines. I was already aware that the Trigger uses the same four-stroke, 149.1cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled engine of the Unicorn, so I had no doubt about its responsiveness and smooth character. This engine churns out a maximum power output of 14bhp at 8500rpm and 12.5Nm at 6500rpm. The 5-speed gearbox, with 1-down-4-up pattern is slick and with Honda's typical light clutch, the gear shifts are even more precise and smooth.
Like the Unicorn, the smoothness of this mill will win your heart, it starts to pull from the word go and hits three digit speed without much effort. The availability of torque on almost all revs and linear power delivery make it an ideal commuter. I like the strong mid range and the flat torque curve, which means you can hit higher speed without shifting up so often, a boon in urban riding conditions.
It has shorter gear ratios which makes it more ridable and add to its commuter character. I managed to hit a mark of 110kmph, and there was no vibe apart from a little around the tank, which was negligible. So, it is an engine, which loves to be revved and you will enjoy the smoothness all the way till 110kmph mark. Honda claims a fuel economy of 60kmpl, however I managed to get a fuel economy of 52kmpl in city and 62kmpl on highway, which means an overall fuel economy of 57kmpl, which is highest in the segment.
Ride and Handling:
Featuring the same diamond chassis of the Unicorn underneath, the Trigger has slightly shorter wheelbase. The chassis uses the engine as stressed member in order to improve its rigidity. It accommodates the telescopic suspension at front and a monoshock at rear, which is same as the Unicorn.
I rode this bike in Delhi recently when the roads were not in good shape due to heavy rains, but the suspension is quite capable and it did absorb all the pot holes on the road. However, it is worth to mention here that the suspension is on a softer side, which cause a lack of confidence on higher speeds. One thing that I liked is that the well designed fuel tank with the scoops provide better grip to rider's knees, helping him ride enthusiastically.
The 137kg Trigger is easy to maneuver and you will like the way it takes on the corners, thanks to its better dynamics. The wide handlebar with precise and light steering movement allow you to change direction without any vagueness. The Trigger runs on 17-inch 6-speed alloy wheels with 80/100 tubeless MRF Zapper tyre at front and 110/80 at rear, which provide better grip in both wet and dry conditions. Braking is something, where this bike sets new milestones, for the very first time a bike in India has come with Honda's proven and potent CBS (Combination Braking System).
The CBS variant comes with 240mm disc at front and 220mm disc at rear, and it applies both the brakes when you press the rear brake. And fortunately we got the CBS variant for test ride, and I found that the CBS is quite effective and capable to halt the bike quite early. Honda claims that CBS reduces the braking distance by 32 per cent and I don't doubt the same.
Honda CB Trigger has all what you look in a 150cc bike, it has masculine and aggressive design, a smooth and frugal engine, better dynamics with improved ride and handling and CBS effective braking. A Rs. 85,200 on road Delhi price for the Trigger CBS variant is something that stops me go for this, however the DLX variant (with front and rear disc brakes) for Rs. 78, 150 makes for a good deal.
The Trigger is certainly a better Dazzler with several positive changes, though I personally belive that an affordable performance bike in the segment is what Honda should have brought in.