Honda 350cc Platform: What’s Next?

Honda intends to take on Royal Enfield and Jawa even further in the 350cc space. Here’s a detailed analysis of what the first bike could be

Honda was recently reported to be working on multiple bikes under its 350cc platform. The first model to come out of this was the H’Ness CB350, followed by the CB350RS. What is the next obvious direction for Honda?

Entering a brand new genre!

Honda’s H’ness CB350 is already a perfect rival to the popular Royal Enfield Classic 350. For those who need a niche motorcycle, there’s the CB350RS with a neo-retro styling. What Honda currently lacks is a cruiser motorcycle to go up against the Royal Enfield Meteor 350. Making a cruiser will also give Honda a chance to go up against the Jawa Perak. Cruisers have been popular in the country owing to their laidback riding ergonomics, swanky, attention-grabbing styling, and, more importantly, their mile-munching character.

Hond hasn’t really dabbled in this segment in the past. Keen enthusiasts would recall it offered the VT1300CX, a.k.a., the Fury, but that was a little too much for the Indian market. With a big, burly V-twin, a luxury liner-like long wheelbase, and a raked-out fork, it was more of an American chopper than anything else. With the 350cc platform, Honda has a golden opportunity to offer a cruiser designed to ply our roads. Plus, it would make good business sense too.

Already has a versatile chassis:

The half-duplex cradle frame in the H’ness CB350/CB350RS is perfect for a cruiser. Honda will have to work on tinkering with the rake angle and tweaking the subframe, but that’s still relatively doable compared to developing a new chassis from the ground up.

If Honda manages to add a swooping peanut-shaped fuel tank, a slightly larger front wheel, and a contoured seat, the Japanese bikemaker will have a solid chance to disrupt the Royal Enfield Meteor 350’s dominance.

Money matters:

Pricing will also be crucial for the Japanese bikemaker to dent Royal Enfield’s market share. That said, Honda has the habit of pricing its products at a premium. The top-end variants of the H’ness CB350 and the CB350RS are currently priced at around Rs 2 lakh, whereas the Royal Enfield Meteor 350 retails at Rs 2,14,513 (all prices ex-showroom Delhi). If Honda manages to price the upcoming cruiser at a premium of around Rs 10,000-15,000 over the existing roadsters, we reckon Royal Enfield will have a real reason to start worrying. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Images used are for representation.

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