Honda Hness CB350 Review
The Honda CB350 was developed only with one intention – take some sales away from Royal Enfield. So the bike had to carry a few aspects like modern retro styling, a good exhaust thump and also lots of aspiration. While Honda managed to bring in some of these aspects to the table, it also got some more things that might make the CB350 Honda’s most renowned premium brand.
The Honda CB350 was developed only with one intention – to take some sales away from Royal Enfield. So the bike had to carry a few aspects like modern retro styling, a good exhaust thump and lots of aspiration. While Honda managed to bring in some of these aspects to the table, it also got other things that might make the CB350 Honda’s most renowned premium brand.
Now Hondas have been known for offering products with good quality. With the CB350, the story is similar. The fit and finish are great. The welds on the chassis have been neatly done. The paint used has some bit of premiumness. The overall quality of cycle parts are appreciable. The plastics in and around the switchgear are decent.
The grips too, feel solid. Coming to the seat, the cover feels premium and has some amount of finesse. But there are two things that we didn’t like – the rubber used to cover the type-C charging port and the grab rail. The former feels hard and cheap whereas the latter feels simple and part of a cost cutting measure.
The CB350 is more of a street bike than a cruiser and that is why there are centre-set footpegs, upright handlebar and long seat. So once you are on the saddle, the seat triangle is inviting – thanks to its upright and comfortable posture. The handlebars are also easy to reach. The pegs aren’t placed higher and there’s some decent amount of space in the seat to move around. And while riding, the bulky fuel tank allows the rider to hold it by the knee. The rider doesn’t really need to find that space. It comes naturally.
The 349cc single-cylinder air-cooled engine on this bike is brand new. It has been co-developed with Honda Japan. So we should expect extreme levels of refinement, right? We’ll get to that in a bit. Till then, let’s talk numbers. This engine displaces 349cc and it makes around 21bhp at 5500rpm and peak torque of 30Nm at 3000rpm. This motor is mated to five-speed gearbox that transfers power to the rear wheel via a chain drive.
With these power figures, it is clear that the CB350 isn’t a powerful motorcycle. In fact, the numbers are marginally more than the Classic 350 – its main rival. But there’s one aspect that we should focus first in this review as it was missing from the segment – high level of refinement. We know all Honda bikes exhibit a certain level of refinement and the CB350 is no different. From idling, to the mid revs and then all the way till higher revs – the CB350 has great level of refinement.
Coming to the power delivery, the bike doesn’t have a lot of torque in the low revs. In fact, the CB350 gains some excitement only at higher revs and that is something we didn’t enjoy much. Lack of torque at low revs mean you have to plan the overtakes every single time – be it in the city or on the highway. Plus, you need to shift gears several times and that increases some fatigue. I mean I know that the gear shifts are smooth, but your leg still has some work to do. But the clutch pull is extremely smooth and light. Something that will make riding in the city extremely comfortable.
The CB350 rides on the traditional telescopic forks at the front. And at the rear you have the twin shock absorbers. We see this setup in most bikes in this segment. The Classic 350 has this. Even the Meteor 350 comes with it. So it is clear that it doesn’t really matter what the bike has. What matters is how comfortable it keeps the rider on that saddle.
The setup on the CB350 is not really on the plush side. The low speed ride could have been so much better especially at the rear. But when it comes to high speed ride, this Honda does a good job. But to be honest, we were expecting this bike to have a really good ride.
The braking system works fairly well. The progression is nice. And there’s enough bite and power. But the feel on the front brake lever could have been a little better.
The CB350 benefits from great kerb weight, accessible seat height and good weight distribution. The view from the saddle is really good. So as a result, it’s extremely easy and comfortable to ride the bike in the city conditions. When it comes to filtering through heavy traffic, the CB350 does a fantastic job here. In the parking too, you can move it around comfortably. And when it comes to tight turns, the CB350 with its impressive turning radius, manages it without any drama. On the highways, the CB350 is a breeze to ride. It lacks a windscreen, but at 100kmph which is relaxed cruising speed, there’s minimal windblast. But in the corners, the bike gets a bit uncomfortable. You can push it a bit, but as you try to lean in more, you will clearly feel the bike’s reluctance.
The CB350 is a modern motorcycle. So like most other premium Hondas sold worldwide, the CB350 gets a good list of tech. The most popular one is the Bluetooth-enabled instrument cluster. This unit can be connected to the smartphone via an app. Once connected, the rider will be able to see lots of ride information along with calls, messages and even use navigation system. However, the navigation system can work only if there’s a headset connected. Also, on the cluster unit, there are information like clock, average fuel consumption, trip meters, odometer and an analog speedometer.
The other USP of this Honda is the presence of traction control system. It’s a first in the segment and it works. It’s a fairly simple system which works when the system detects a wheel slip that usually happen in the dirt or roads filled with gravel. There are other bits like slip and assist clutch, LED lights and hazard lights that make the CB350 quite aspirational.
The CB350 retured 32kmpl in our city and highway test runs. The figure is quite decent considering the fact that the bike has poor low and mid-range and to overtake, you need to open the throttle quite a lot. So with a fuel tank capacity of 15-litres, the CB350 can be ridden for approximately 450kms before heading to a petrol pump.
Fitness of purpose
The CB350 is largely suitable for riders who have been riding 125cc-150cc motorcyles for many years. But now, they want something more from their bike, something that will be easy for them to ride and also exhibit a sense of arrival in life. The CB350 that way fits that requirement quite easily. And now with its Bigwing showroom association, the CB350 has managed to become one great aspirational motorcycle to have.
The CB350 is priced at Rs 2.25 lakh on-road Mumbai and with this bike, it is clear that Honda is very serious about this segment. So serious that, it plans to bring in more motorcycles. But after spending close to three days with the bike, we can say that the CB350 is such a charming and comfortable motorcycle to have. It checks most of the right boxes. The engine is extremely refined and smooth. It has good performance. The riding stance is upright. The pillion too, can have a very good time. And it’s actually fun to live with on daily basis. But the most important aspect here is that the CB350 is such a head turner even with its simple classic lines. And then there are so many nice colour options to choose from.
But there are a few more things we expected from this Honda. Things like better overtaking abilities. A torquier engine. And a suspension setup that makes you feel at home. So we’d recommend you to buy the CB350 only if the showroom is available in your city. Because once you bring the bike, you have to keep it in good shape right and that’s obviously possible only at official SVCs. I mean you can definitely take it to your local garage, but then you are bound to void the warranty and you wouldn’t want that happening to your bike.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi
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