Honda CB350RS: Road Test Review
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Should you spend the extra Rs 10,000 on the H’Ness CB350?
In 2020, Honda came out with the H’Ness CB350 to go up against the Royal Enfield Classic 350. Last month, the company introduced the CB350RS, a slightly sportier derivative of the H’ness, at Rs 1.96 lakh. Does it make sense to shell out an additional Rs 10,000 on the RS (which, Honda says, is short for Road Sailing) variant? Or are you better off with the H’Ness?
Engine and performance:
- The Honda CB350 RS gets the same air-cooled, single-cylinder 348.36cc engine (from the H’Ness CB350),developing 21.07PS at 5,500rpm and 30Nm at 3,000rpm. However, being 2kg lighter than the H’Ness, the bike is a tad quicker in our acceleration tests.
- Unfortunately, sharing the same engine also means that the RS lacks the punch going off the line, much like the H’Ness.
- That said, the engine is quite enjoyable in the city once you get past the initial laziness.
- Adding to your woes is the tall gearing of the CB350RS. Overtaking or quickly gaining speeds is a bit of a hassle.
- This issue not only robs you of confidence while overtaking but also makes uphill riding on the ghats slightly less enjoyable. The RS feels a bit out of breath on inclines and requires you to ride it harder than you would normally do with a bike of this engine capacity.
- The refinement, however, is flawless. Even at 100-110kmph, there was barely any vibration at the handlebar or the pegs.
- Like with the H’Ness, the slipper clutch is a boon and is light enough to be operated by just one finger.
Ride And Handling:
- I was a bit apprehensive about the grip levels of the block-pattern MRF Zapper Kurve tyres, but they are a pleasant surprise. The tyres offer a decent grip on the tarmac and won’t rattle you even if you ride through gravel. That said, the wider rear wheel has made the RS a bit heavier to steer compared to the H’Ness.
- The slightly forward-arching riding position results in a better front-end feel. However, go beyond 120kmph, and the front end starts to feel a bit vague, just like it did on the H’ness.
- Honda has nailed it in the braking department as well. The Nissin callipers help in shedding speeds quite rapidly. The CB350 RS’s ABS calibration is quite predictive and not too intrusive, allowing you to brake hard without causing any jitters at either end.
- The suspension, too, works exactly like it should, not letting any undulation or pothole unsettle the ride.
- The overall ride quality is what you would experience from any Honda -- pliant.
- Despite the simple, minimalistic design, the CB350 RS is quite a looker. We had many people coming up to us and inquiring about the bike at traffic stops or during our shoot.
- The absence of chrome fenders and exhaust gives the bike a premium feel.
- With the new subframe and rear fender, the CB350 RS gets a new tail light neatly tucked under the seat.
- The paint quality and the fit and finish of this Honda continue to be top-notch.
Technology And Features:
- The Honda CB350RS is the only bike in the segment to offer all-LED illumination.
- It also comes equipped with a slipper clutch, dual-channel ABS, and even switchable traction control.
- Surprisingly, Honda chose to give Bluetooth-connectivity and navigation a miss, the former only available as an aftermarket accessory (for which you would have to shell out a bit more).
- That said, the instrument console is laid out well, and even the small digital inset is easily readable, even under direct sunlight. One can alter the brightness of the inset as well.
- The new handlebar and footpegs have resulted in a slightly forward-set position, but that doesn’t cause back or wrist aches after a long ride.
- The new seat is not just aesthetically pleasing but is equally functional. It is perfectly padded and won’t make you sore even after long hours in the saddle.
- At 179kg, it may not seem light on paper, but it doesn’t feel heavy on the road.
- Honda’s decision to switch the indicator and horn positions may feel strange initially, but you’d find it better ergonomically. However, the same cannot be said about the horn switch.
At Rs 1.96 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Honda CB350 RS is an expensive motorcycle. This price tag becomes a bit hard to digest when you consider that the DLX variant of the H’Ness 350 is almost Rs 10,000 cheaper yet offers USB-charging.
The missing features wouldn’t have been much of an issue had Honda defined the character better. Had they built either a cafe racer or an urban scrambler, it would have undoubtedly garnered more interest, that too among multiple customer groups. Instead, it now feels like a half-hearted attempt to make an alternative to the H’Ness, which doesn’t live up to the hype.
You could very well give it a miss and get the standard CB350 if you seek a chilled-out old school ride. But if you’re there for the looks and willing to splurge without getting anything extra in return, you can go for the RS.