Does Honda's latest 160cc bike manage to stand out from established siblings like the Unicorn 150 and CB Hornet 160R?
When Honda launched the X-Blade, pricing wise it sat bang in the middle of the now discontinued Unicorn 160 and the CB Hornet 160R. So where does it fit in between the Hornet and now the CB Unicorn 150? Part of the answer lies in the looks.
Also read: Honda X-Blade: Road Test Review
From any angle, the X-Blade is a sharp looking bike. The fuel tank, body panels and tail section feature sharp angular lines which, as a whole, give the bike a youthful appearance. However, on the whole, it is a very busy design. The fuel tank, the tail section or even the saree guard has three different plastic finishes.
The X-Blade's most striking feature is its headlamp design. According to Honda, its sharp-edged glass area mimics a robo-face. This is an all-LED unit.
Even the LED tail lamp which Honda calls 'Razer Edge Tail Lamp’, looks like the Batman symbol. It gets a usable split grab rail.
Like the CB Hornet 160R, the X-Blade gets an all-digital instrument cluster. It's a split unit with the top section displaying the engine rpm and the bottom one displaying speed, two tripmeters, odometer, clock and fuel level. The new console even has a gear position indicator, something even the Hornet 160R misses out on.
Parts like the switchgear are from the CB Hornet 160R. In place of the headlamp switch, you get a hazard light switch. We would have rather preferred an engine kill switch there. The switchgear is of good quality and the buttons have a nice click.
The X-Blade's 162.71cc air-cooled motor is shared with the CB Hornet 160R and the Unicorn 160 It's tuning though, is much closer to the Unicorn than the more powerful Hornet. The X-Blade makes 14.13PS at 8,500rpm. It is 0.11PS more than the Unicorn 160 but almost 1PS less than the CB Hornet 160R.
The torque figure of 13.9Nm at 6,000rpm is identical to the Unicorn 160, but less than the CB Hornet 160R's 14.5Nm. All three bikes get the same 5-speed gearbox.
This motor has good low-range grunt that lets you get off the line easily. Power delivery feels strongest between 4500-6000rpm. At this range, the X-Blade feels peppier than even the Hornet. The X-Blade does the 0-60kmph run in 5.3 seconds and the 0-100kmph run in 17.79 seconds. Meanwhile, the 30-70kmph roll-on comes up in 6.42 seconds.
Another area where this motor impresses is in the refinement department. It is more refined than both the Unicorn 160 and CB Hornet 160R and is almost vibration-free till the 9000rpm mark. Even the slick-shifting 5-speed gearbox contributes to a pleasant riding experience in the city. On the highways, the X-Blade is the most comfortable doing 85kmph at 5500rpm.
The X-Blade feels like a commuter from the moment you get on the saddle. The handlebars are well set for reach and let you get into a comfortable riding position, though it's slightly lower set nature might not appeal to everyone.
Where the X-Blade shines is in the urban environment. At 142 kg (kerb, with ABS), the X-Blade is the heaviest bike in the Honda 160 family, but manages to mask its weight well. The light front end makes it easy to manoeuvre the bike in traffic, and taking u-turns is also an easy affair. However, this lightness makes the bike a bit too eager to tip into corners and doesn't provide confidence when leaned over.
Where the front suspension shines is its ability to take on bumps. It glides over bad roads, soaking all the undulations with the utmost ease. In contrast, the rear feels a bit stiff in its stock setting. It ends up feeling a bit harsh on sharp bumps and transfers those shocks to the rider. Overall, the X-Blade offers a pleasant ride quality, which settles quickly after bumps, and for the most part, remains comfortable.
The X-Blade does feel lacking in the braking department. The front disc does manage to convey some kind of feedback, but the rear drum feels wooden and happily locks up under hard braking.
Note: The bike tested here came without a single-channel ABS setup.
Honda has taken the sensible Unicorn 160 and dressed it up with some hardware from the Hornet and bodywork inspired by the Transformers movies. So what you have is a bike that stays close to its commuter roots, feels quick enough and more importantly, offers properly head-turning looks.
At Rs 88,202 (ex-showroom Delhi), it is just Rs 6,400 more affordable than the CB Hornet 160R. So if you are looking for a sporty Honda, we suggest you spend the extra money and go for the Hornet 160R. If you are looking for a refined commuter that's easy to ride in the city but offers sporty styling, the X-Blade might be just be up your alley.