Road Test: Honda CB Unicorn 160 review

Published On Aug 17, 2015 By Rommel Albuquerque for Honda CB Unicorn 160

The pros: The bike gets sharp looks, new headlamps, console, wider & longer seats. Engine generates impressive torque and power. Braking is enhanced by Combi-brake system.
  
The cons: Engine kill switch is missing, suspension gets quite stiff when you go long touring. Bike vibrates a little bit at high speeds.

The crux: Overall, the CB Unicorn 160 is a good complete package whether you’re commuting daily or crossing cities on the weekend.

Rating

HMSI got a great response from the Indian market when they launched the original Honda Unicorn years back. The Unicorn was one of the first motorcycles to sport a mono-shock suspension at the rear in the 150cc category at that time. As the years went by the Honda Unicorn became a name synonymous with a motorcycle that performed well, had excellent ride quality and gave a good fuel economy. Honda already have the focussed and sporty CBR 150R and the commute-friendly CB Trigger and the lowest rung in the 150cc hierarchy consists of the no nonsense machine that is the CB Unicorn.

According to Honda the new Unicorn 160 is a premium motorcycle with some sportiness that doesn’t sacrifice the important needs of customers like economy and comfort. Honda didn’t have a product that fit in that description and that’s where the CB Unicorn 160 comes in. So let’s take a look at what the new CB Unicorn 160 offers.

Compared to its predecessor, the CB Unicorn 160 gets a complete makeover where looks are concerned. It gets a sportier new headlamp along with the digital instrument console that you’ll find on the CB Trigger. An engine kill switch is still missing as with all Honda motorcycles and the build quality remains the same as with any other Honda motorcycle. The tank gets short angular shrouds but retains the 3d embossed Honda logo. The plastic side panels look decent and sweep well up to the quirky H shaped tail light. The biggest change besides the engine in the CB Unicorn 160 is the seat. The seat is slightly wider and longer. Honda has also engineered a new frame to fit the changes in the new Unicorn. This resulted in the motorcycle weighing 8kg less than the old Unicorn and 2kg less than the CB Trigger at 135kg. 

The engine in the CB Unicorn is the man game changer. Apparently developed from the ground up, it gets a longer stroke, a counter balancer to keep the engine running smooth at high revs and now displaces 13.9cc more than the standard Unicorn. The power output now is 14.7PS compared to the previous 13.5PS and the peak torque is at 14.6Nm from 12.8Nm. The transmission remains the same with its proven 5 speed box and a heel and toe shifter. 

Swing your leg over the motorcycle and you’ll sit comfortably in the upright riding position provided by the handlebar to seat to foot peg relation. Once you hit the starter button you’ll feel the engine come alive with a meatier sound than its predecessors. The engine though feels smooth as you go up the rev range and really picks up past 5,000rpm. The tall gear ratios let you pull along pleasantly in the city and even at high speeds on the highway, the motorcycle feels planted with very little vibrations. 

Its light weight and good low and mid-range torque make it easy to ride in the city and manoeuvres well through traffic. The suspension is the same with a telescopic in the front and a 5 step adjustable rear mono-shock at the rear. The suspension setup in stock condition is soft enough for city riding, and if you want to take it out for long rides or touring in the mountains, you can always stiffen the suspension a bit. 

The MRF Nylogrip Zappers with an 80/100×17 up front and 110/80×17 at the rear lend a good amount of grip. The braking power achieved with the front disc brake too is pretty impressive and with Honda’s patented combi-brake system, coming to a stop can be achieved a lot quicker. 

The Honda CB Unicorn-160 STD comes for Rs.77,337(ex-showroom Mumbai) while the CB Unicorn-160 CBS is for Rs. 82,844. Now the CBS version is just about a thousand rupees more than the CB Trigger but the STD version is 4 thousand more than the CB Trigger. If you were to compare the two, our pick would be the new Honda CB Unicorn 160. It looks much better, handles and performs just as well and offers great fuel economy. Plus the CB Trigger will soon be replaced by the upcoming CB Hornet 160 which is an even sportier looking motorcycle than the CB Unicorn 160. Overall the CB Unicorn 160 is a good complete package whether you’re commuting through the city every day or crossing cities on the weekend.

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