Can The Honda Scrambler Stir The Hornet’s Nest?
- Feb 5, 2021
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The Hornet 2.0 isn’t quite a 200cc bike, but with its 185cc motor, it’s the closest that Honda has ever come to the 200 mark in India. So what is this stylish new Honda all about? Read on to find out.
The Hornet 2.0 is definitely a looker. Compared to the old Hornet 160R, the headlight and instrument cluster have been moved lower down, so the 2.0 features a sportier, more hunkered-down appearance. But the first thing you’re going to notice is that gorgeous golden upside-down fork from Showa.
From the mid-point onwards, the 2.0 looks remarkably similar to the Hornet 160R, right down to the striking X-shaped tail lamp. But while the 160 had halogen lighting elements, the 2.0 steps into the modern era with LED lighting all around.
Unfortunately, quality levels are inconsistent on the Hornet. The black plastic along the centre of the tank feels quite flimsy and tacky, and the saree guard on our brand new test bike had spots of rust and paint flaking off. From a distance, the silver-finished cooling fins on the cylinder head are pretty neat, but up close, the finish is so crude that they look like they’ve been hacked off with an axe.
The digital LCD instrument cluster is similarly meh. It’s quite bright and clear, but the information it shows is rather limited. Sure, you get the gear position, two tripmeters and even a clock, but it shows you nothing on fuel consumption or average speed, and there’s no Bluetooth connectivity either.
The Hornet belies its displacement and power deficit, and is actually a pretty quick little bike. Very nearly as quick as the RTR 200, in fact! It may only have 17.27PS and 16.45Nm to pull itself around, but then it also weighs only 142kg and the gearing is quite short too, so acceleration is rather sprightly.
Venture out onto the highway, though, and things aren’t quite as peachy, because refinement levels are very un-Honda. Anything beyond 6500rpm and the Hornet begins to buzz in the bars, seat and pegs, and the engine sounds like something inside it has come loose.
With upright ergonomics and a roomy, well-padded seat, the Hornet remains comfortable even over long hours in the saddle. The shape of the seat makes getting your feet down quite easy, so long as you’re 5’4” and taller. The pillion experience isn’t exceptional but it isn’t a disaster either. The seating posture is comfortable and roomy, and the ride feels quite plush too.
Honda has gone the extra mile and thrown in that lovely golden upside-down fork from Showa, and the Hornet 2.0 even has all-LED lighting. But then it’s skimped in other areas, only offering single-channel ABS. Heck, the Hornet doesn’t even get a side-stand engine cut-off feature or an ACG starter!
The USD fork and the preload-adjustable monoshock are tuned slightly on the softer side, so most imperfections at city speeds are ironed out beautifully, but this hasn’t come at the cost of high-speed composure. Even over highway bumps, the Hornet remains stable and sure-footed, inspiring confidence.
Whether it’s maneuvering through traffic in the city or tipping into bends on the ghats, the Hornet is a willing companion. It’s not really an exciting or exhilarating bike to hustle up a mountain road, but it is easy and competent, and even mid-corner bumps fail to unsettle the Hornet.
Yes, the lack of ABS on the rear wheel is a disappointment, but that aside, the braking setup works rather well. ABS operation at the front wheel is good, and there is adequate braking power, modulation and feedback on offer at the levers. The initial bite is quite soft, so newbies won't be caught out in panic braking scenarios, but beyond that, braking force builds strongly with lever travel.
Yes, the Hornet is commendably quick, but the motor’s gruffness robs the bike of any capability to excite, and quality levels aren’t quite the leap forward we were hoping for. But the Hornet still has its strengths. With a frugal engine, agreeable ergos, light handling and a comfortable ride, the Hornet makes for a great, sensible city bike.
Unfortunately, this whole sensibility equation is thrown into turmoil when you factor in that Rs 1.27 lakh price tag (ex-showroom Delhi). Rs 4,000 is all it takes to reach up to the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V, which not only performs better but also packs in Bluetooth connectivity, ride modes, and even a preload-adjustable front fork, though the right-side-up kind. So should you bridge the gap and get that instead? Stay tuned for our comparison review to find out.
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