Honda H'Ness test drive: the cruiser for those long journeys

More competitors often make the game more interesting. If the winner is the same for all matches, spectators may not care much to watch the contest. So, newcomers, especially from across the seas, make the game exciting. The new star that has entered the Indian cruiser market to take on the reigning king Royal Enfield is Honda's H'Ness CB350. The entry of the H'Ness has already polarized enthusiasts. While one side has gone gaga over the new bike, others opine that no one is going to overthrow Enfield. Can the H’Ness knockout the Enfield Classic? Here we go.

Class looks

The H'Ness has the design DNA of some of the modern classics like Triumph Street Twin and T100. If you think this is blatant plagiarism, please google CB350 to clear your doubts regarding the lineage of the bike. The H'Ness traces its origin to Japanese classic bikes of 1960s and 70s. However, it closely resembles the CB750. The H'Ness comes in two variants -- DLX and DLX Pro.


There are several wow factors for the bike in the first look itself. The show stealer is the large fuel tank. The Honda logo on the fuel tank is a throwback to the models of 1980s. It has a capacity of 15 litres; its main rival Classic 350 has a capacity of 13.5 litres only. The top model DLX Pro has premium-looking dual-tone finish, which enhances its retro looks. The H'Ness is covered in chrome, including the headlamp, meter console mirrors, front and rear fenders and silencers. The chrome finish of engine fins stands out among black. All lights are LED. The H’Ness uses 19-inch tyres up front and an 18-inch at the rear and has a unique-looking Y-spoke alloy wheels. The space between the fenders and the tyres are just perfect. The raised handlebar is wide and angled towards the rider. The CB350 has a single-piece seat and has a seat height of 800 mm. Though the seat looks short, it can accommodate two people comfortably. The fit and finish are of high quality, especially the quality of paint.


Classic cruiser bikes are usually bereft of features. But not in the case of the H’Ness. Along with classic elements, it gets enough modern features. The instrument cluster is a compact analogue-digital unit. The DLX Pro variant also gets Honda's Bluetooth-enabled Smart Voice Control System, which alerts the rider on incoming calls, reads out messages and plays music. Honda has also incorporated a phone charging point under the instrument cluster; but it is a type-C port.


Though engine is key, most would be curious to know how it sounds. The engine sounds good and even has a clear and bassy thump. No need to spend extra bucks at accessory shops to recreate that classy thumping sound of Royal Enfield. The 348.36 cc single-cylinder engine produces 20.8 bhp of power at 5,500 rpm and 30 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm. In comparison, its main rival Royal Enfield Classic generates19.8 bhp of power and 28 Nm of torque. The ample torque is the highlight of the H'Ness. Another factor that needs mention is the lack of any vibration. At idling no amount of vibration is felt even in the mirrors. Honda has taken care of vibrations by providing balancer shafts and other additions. Ride is neutral and offers a relaxed riding position. The ride is made easy with mid-set foot pegs, raised handlebar and extra cushioning on the seat. The H'Ness offers good amount of low-end torque and throttle response is excellent. The five-speed gearbox is butter smooth. The H'Ness gets a side stand down indicator with an engine cut off feature. The bike has been built around a half-duplex cradle frame to offer a soft steering feel.

Ride quality is good and it remains quite planted and stable at higher speeds. The higher ground clearance of 166 mm is one of the plus points of the bike. It can tackle any road condition with ease. Moreover, since the exhaust muffler tip is titled upwards you don't need to worry about it hitting the ground. The H'Ness also gets Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system that helps in maintaining rear-wheel traction, which senses wheel slip and alters power and torque to the rear wheel to allow it to get better grip. Apart from this, there is a slipper and assist clutch that enables a lighter clutch lever pull and ensures more comfort during rides that involve frequent shifting.

With both front and rear discs, the brakes are precise. Dual-channel ABS comes as standard. If at all you want to find anything negative, it could be the tall gearing, where the H’Ness loses out to the Enfield Classic 350 in low-speed tractability, especially in top gear. In top gear, one needs to maintain a speed of above 60 kmph or else downshift.

Final lap

Superb fit and finish, a relaxed ride, refined engine and innovative features are the highlights of the Honda H'Ness CB350. Suitable for those who love long journeys of a cruiser bike.

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