Honda’s ace of spades for the Indian market?
Honda finally stepped into the entry-level performance segment in India with the CB300R. The bike inherits Honda’s 'Neo Sports Cafe' design language, a sophisticated engine, and premium mechanicals for Rs 2.41 lakh. This price is likely to go up if the bike makes the cut for BS6 emission norms, making it an expensive proposition. So what if Honda were to bring in the smaller CB150R ExMotion to India and price it more competitively?
Why should it come to India?
Honda’s biggest hurdle is the segment and price bracket it competes in. You see, the market already has established options like the TVS Apache RR 310, Bajaj Dominar 400, KTM 390 Duke and the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, which offer more in terms of performance and features. Thus, making the CB300R a tough choice. The 150cc space, on the other hand, makes more sense for Honda. Granted, it too has a ton of options, but none of the streetfighters offer performance-centric kit like the CB150R ExMotion or look nearly as good.
What makes it special?
The CB150R may be a smaller iteration of the CB300R, but it packs similar mechanicals and features, something Honda doesn’t compromise on. And if the CB300R is anything to go by, the 150 streetfighter may handle equally well. You have the same ‘Neo Sports Cafe’ design which gives the bike a retro yet modern appeal, LED lights all around, a full-digital instrument console, and a sporty yet comfortable riding posture.
Is it powerful enough?
The Honda CB150R is powered by a sophisticated 149cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC engine. While the brand hasn't revealed the bike's performance figures, we believe it should pack enough punch to take on the likes of the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V or the Yamaha MT-15. It also features a 6-speed transmission which should aid its highway capabilities.
Unlike other manufacturers, Honda doesn’t believe in cutting corners. So you get what you see! The CB150R ExMotion, for instance, features a fat 41mm upside-fork and a monoshock for suspension duties. Helping you brake better are petal discs on both ends paired with dual-channel ABS. Heck, it even gets the same tyre dimension as the CB300R: 110/70-17 upfront and 150/60-17 at the rear. Its Indian rivals (discounting the KTM 125 Duke), on the other hand, make do with a conventional telescopic fork, single-channel ABS and skinny tyres.
The Honda CB150R ExMotion sure sounds like a tempting option which could change the game for Honda in the entry-level performance segment. That said, the Japanese brand needs to price the bike right. A price of 99,800 baht (approx. Rs 2,36,907) wouldn’t float well in a price-sensitive market like India.
But if Honda were to localise the product and position it in between the Yamaha MT-15 and the KTM 200 Duke, it could take the entry-level performance motorcycle segment by storm. A price of around Rs 1.5 lakh (ex-showroom) would hit the nail on the head!