en you think 150cc segment, you think one segment, maybe two categories right? Well not according to Honda. They have split the segment into four categories based on image. Focussed and sporty machines like the R15 and CBR 150R occupy the top shelf ahead of sporty but commute-friendly machines like the FZ16, CB Trigger and now the Gixxer. The lowest rung in the 150cc hierarchy consists of old school, no nonsense machines like the original CB Unicorn. However, all the above three sub sen you think 150cc segment, you think one segment, maybe two categories right? Well not according to Honda. They have split the segment into four categories based on image. Focussed and sporty machines like the R15 and CBR 150R occupy the top shelf ahead of sporty but commute-friendly machines like the FZ16, CB Trigger and now the Gixxer. The lowest rung in the 150cc hierarchy consists of old school, no nonsense machines like the original CB Unicorn. However, all the above three sub segments account for just 50 per cent of the entire 150cc market, while the other half is taken care of by bikes like the Pulsar and CBZ Xtreme.
Honda describe these machines as premium, and aspiring towards sportiness but without sacrificing traditional virtues such as economy, comfort and restrained styling. Honda feel that they currently don’t have a product which fits the description which is what brought forth the CB Unicorn 160. So now you know why Honda think it should exist. The question is whether there is space for a fourth 150cc offering from the Japanese giant.
Honda are clear that they aren’t trying to upset the apple cart with the Unicorn 160, so you won’t see any outrageous bodywork or over the top graphic schemes. In the flesh, the bike looks pleasing to the eye with a smart headlamp, restrained tank shrouds and some smart plastic cladding along the sides. Adding a bit of individuality is an H-shaped tail lamp and a well designed exhaust. It’s not a particularly eye catching design but there are no offensive angles on it.
Build quality is typical Honda in most parts but the plastic panels along the side and under the tank are quite flimsy and flex easily. Switchgear is also typical Honda as in it gets the basic job done but doesn’t feel very special. The lack of a kill switch is quite disappointing as well. The seat is new and longer than the one on the Unicorn – it’s a nice balance between soft and firm but I did find it a little painful after an hour of riding. Since the engine and seat are new, Honda say that they have engineered a new frame to fit the changes. The result is a motorcycle that weighs 8kg less than the old Unicorn and 2kg less than the Trigger at 135kg. Suspension at the front and rear remain the same though.
The Unicorn engine has seen quite a lot of changes. In fact, Honda say that it’s new from ground up. The main changes from the old engine include a longer stroke and the addition of a counter balancer to smooth things out at high revs. The engine now displaces 13.9cc more than the standard Unicorn at a 163cc. New bearings and a new cylinder sleeve design help improve heat management and combustion efficiency. Compression ratio has also gone up from 9.9:1 to 10:1. You can see the changes from the outside as well with a new crankcase design that features small fins around the oil filter area. Transmission remains the trusty 5-speed box that still comes with a heel toe style shifter.
Thumb the starter and the engine springs to life before settling into a smooth idle that feels familiar for this engine. But blip the throttle and the engine feels a little more eager to rev. A more throaty intake, similar to the one in the Trigger, replaces the traditional whine this engine used to make and it doesn’t sound bad at all. Throttle feedback is crisp and the motorcycle feels quick to respond to inputs. The engi
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