Honda CBR150R: Road Test
The CBR150R is Honda's attempt at populating the 'middleweight-in-India' sportbike segment, which till date had been occupied by a grand total of one bike. But how well does it hold up by itself? Nothing that a quick bout in the saddle can't sort out...
A run for your money
With the high, but peaky, horsepower output and the low amount of torque generated, it is a little difficult to predict just how quick the CBR150R will perform when it’s given the beans. But with the help of some hi-tech equipment (read RaceLogic DriftBox) and a low-tech, but extremely competent road tester (read Varad More), acquiring this data was no great shakes. And the figures are quite surprising to say the very least. At maximum attack, the CBR150R gets from zero to 100km/h in 11.87 seconds! That’s over a second quicker than its venerable nemesis, the Yamaha R15 and a hugely impressive figure by itself – not just for a 150cc motorcycle, but for Indian motorcycles in general. There are only a handful of locally manufactured motorcycles which can best that figure. But there is a downside to the performance as well.
The low amount of torque the bike makes, and the high rpm it develops that at, means that bottom-end tractability of the engine is pretty much non-existent. Ride the bike below 8,000rpm, and you’re practically not moving at all. Thankfully though, the short-stroke motor likes to rev with glee when you grab a handful of throttle after swapping for a lower cog. And while the 8,000 to 11,500rpm (where the bike redlines) is a pretty narrow powerband to play in, keep the revs there and this baby CBR really shifts. No doubt there will be many who’d like to crib about the lack of any low-end grunt from the piddly little mill, but I for one like the fact that this bike makes me work for going fast.
All the other things that matter
Where the CBR150R really stands out, and everyone from office who’s ridden the bike agrees with this, is that this baby Ceeber has possibly one of the best riding postures amongst any of the bikes we currently have in India, or at least amongst the ‘Indian sportbikes’. The seat is wide and comfy, the position of the footpegs is rear-set but not too extreme, the drooping handlebars are not too outstretched nor are they too low, and the recessed tank has a near perfect shape and width to lock one’s knees on either side, but at the same time not feel like one is straddling something ungainly. Even though you’re sitting in a slight race crouch, there is almost no pressure on your back or your wrists. Combined with the brilliant handling dynamics, the CBR150R is fun to ride everywhere – whether on straight highways or twisty mountain roads.
The handling really is something else. Changing directions is a smooth and precise process, and once leaned over, the stability really inspires tonnes of confidence to go faster and faster. In fact, it’s far easier to reach the limit of the standard Zapper Q tyres on this bike, than it is to reach the limit of the chassis, and that too by a huge margin. But this of course can be easily remedied with better replacement rubber. Overall the refinement of the Honda engine, even though it does sound a little gruff, warps all sense of speeds. You could be blasting down at 100+km/h, but you’d swear you’re not a notch over 60. And you’d only realise it when it was time to start braking. And speaking about brakes, the CBR150R has some of the best brakes in the business. Stopping power is good and it can pull up to a stop from 80km/h in just 22.6 metres, but it’s the feedback that will leave you astounded. Every time you squeeze the lever, you know exactly how much stopping force up for grabs and the precision, not the aggression, with which you’ll shed speed is nothing short of stunning.
Next Page: Verdict
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