Honda CB350RS vs Honda H’Ness CB350: Differences Explained
Is the newly launched CB350RS just another nip-and-tuck job or is there more than what meets the eye? We explain the differences
The recently launched Honda CB350RS is the Japanese brand’s second offering in the 350cc segment, following the Honda H’Ness CB350. The CB350RS is essentially a sportier version of the retro roadster, but are the differences merely skin-deep? We explain:
A more aggressive riding stance
For a more forward riding position, the Honda CB350RS features a flatter handlebar, slightly rear-set footpegs, and a tuck-and-roll seat. This is in contrast to the upright ergonomics of the Honda H’Ness CB350, which packs a taller handlebar, mid-set footpegs, and a bench seat. At 800mm, the seat height is the same on both the bikes, but its width is wider in the CB350RS. So shorter riders may find it a little tricky to use their feet to move the bike around. The gear lever is also now toe-only as opposed to the heel-toe shifter in the H'Ness. Even the brake lever is different in the CB350RS.
At 1441mm, the longish wheelbase still remains the same on both bikes. However, the sportier ergos on the CB350RS should ensure a more engaging ride around the ghats, unlike the straightline-friendly H’Ness CB350.
Got new shoes on:
The Honda CB350RS rolls on differently designed Y-shaped alloy wheels measuring 19 inches up front (same as the H’Ness) and 17 inches at the rear (just an inch smaller than the one on the H’Ness CB350). This enables Honda to fit in a fatter 150-section rubber at the rear (20mm more). Also, the tyres are the off-road-friendly MRF Zapper Kurve units as opposed to the street-oriented MRF Nylogrip Zapper FS up front and Zapper Y at the back in the H’Ness CB350.
At 168mm, the Honda CB350RS also gets a 2mm extra ground clearance than the H’Ness CB350. It may not sound as much, but the addition of the skid plate in the CB350RS coupled with its off-road-oriented tyres should make it easier to handle on bad roads. The CB350RS has also managed to shed 2kg, now tipping the scales at 179kg kerb.
Sportier than before:
The CB350RS features sleeker side panels, shorter and nattier front and rear fenders, and a more rugged headlight nacelle with brushed-metal finish. The side panels, and the underpinnings are all finished in black, while the engine case comes in a matte black finish. They give the bike a stealthy look. Only the exhaust heat shield gets a chrome finish, which, in our opinion, sticks out like a sore thumb.
In stark contrast, the H’Ness CB350 looks flashy with oodles of chrome on the fenders, headlight nacelle, powertrain, and parts of the suspension. While fuel tank shape and capacity (15 litres) are the same on both the bikes, the CB350RS gets a livelier paint scheme. Special mention of the red-coloured variant of the CB350RS, which comes with a racing stripe up top along with the ‘CB350RS’ logo.
Same old mechanicals and features:
The two motorcycles share the same 348.36cc single-cylinder air-cooled, counterbalanced engine producing 21.07PS at 5500rpm and 30Nm at 3000rpm. If our experience with the H’Ness CB350 is anything to go by, expect top levels of refinement from the CB350RS too. We’re yet to see whether Honda has made any change to the final drive in the CB350RS to match its demeanour. Of course, a rudimentary switchable traction control and a five-speed transmission with assist & slipper clutch are standard across both bikes.
The brakes are the same as well. Both use a 310mm front and a 240mm rear disc, with dual-channel ABS as standard. The semi-digital instrument cluster is the same as the one found on the base DLX variant of the Honda H’Ness CB350. That means, you don’t get the USB port, the smartphone-compatible turn-by-turn navigation in the CB350RS -- all standard on the DLX Pro model of the H’Ness CB350. It even misses out on a dual-horn setup.
All in all, Honda seems to have made only superficial changes to the CB350RS. Looks like the Japanese brand is playing safe by slotting the bike between a cafe-racer and a full-fledged scrambler. This way, Honda intends to retain the sporty essence of the former coupled with the practicality of a scrambler - rolled into one bike. Take a look at the pricing:
The extra Rs 5,500 seems fair, given the sporty genes of the CB350RS. However, if you compare the base variants of both the bikes, the price gap feels a little too much. In that case, you’d be better off with the H’Ness, considering it almost offers everything that the CB350RS does, except for the ergonomics, wheels, and tyres.
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