Honda CB200X first ride review: A street naked in ADV clothes?
Late last year, Honda launched the Hornet 2.0 with a bigger engine, new aggressive styling and USD forks (a segment first) among many other updates to the original CB Hornet 160R. The bike was good in its own right but the asking price for the bike placed it in the company of certain 200cc nakeds that made for a much better buy. Now, the company has launched the CB200X, an ‘Urban Explorer’ as Honda calls it and on the surface, it seems like a Hornet 2.0 with fairing and an ADV look. But does it manage to differentiate itself from its naked sibling and be worthy of its rather pricey Rs 1.44 lakh (ex-showroom) price tag? Read on to find out.
Honda CB200X design
The Honda CB200X is a handsome motorcycle. It has all the makings (visually) of an adventure tourer. From the rear, it looks identical to the Hornet 2.0 but move to the front and it’s a different story. The CB200X has a big fairing and a relatively tall windscreen. It draws heavy design inspiration from bikes like the CB500X or the NC750X, especially so in the red colourway. And this definitely works in its favour. Also new are new handguards which have the LED indicators integrated into them. These look good but look built to a cost.
Honda CB200X ride and handling
The Honda CB200X is in essence a Hornet 2.0. What I mean when I say this is that it has the same frame, same suspension setup, same brakes. The only thing new in this whole setup is a revised handlebar. The handlebar is now taller, so the rider's triangle is more relaxed and you sit upright on the bike. The bike handles the city commute very well and a lot of it has to do with the new rider’s triangle. But then again this was never an issue with the Hornet 2.0, to begin with. That was a great city bike too. What is disappointing is that the rest of the chassis setup is identical to the Hornet 2.0. Yes, Honda doesn’t claim that it is an ADV or an off-roader, but the bike has all the visual cues to boot but it doesn’t have the chassis setup to allow you to take it off the beaten path. Just some mild soft-roading at best. The CB200X does get block pattern MRF Zapper Kurve tyres. They work well in the dry but these do hamper performance in the wet a fair bit. In wet/loose surfaces, it doesn't take too much for the front end to give way.
Honda CB200X engine
The engine is probably the highlight of the CB200X. But then again, it is not new, is it?. The engine setup, like most of the chassis, has been carried over from the Hornet 2.0 as is. Meaning, it uses the same 184.4cc single-cylinder engine that makes a smidge over 17bhp at 8500rpm and 16.1Nm of twist at 6500rpm. The engine is extremely tractable and you can always be in a gear or even two higher than you’d otherwise anticipate. This translated to very little time spent shifting up the gearbox. You can comfortably cruise between 85-90kmph in fifth gear and by this point, the engine is spinning at roughly 7000rpm. Go any further and vibration starts to creep in at the pegs and bars. But you really shouldn’t be doing that anyway because it’s a slow climb after you cross 100kmph anyways.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the CB200X is not a bad bike by any means. It looks great, has a sweet motor and has good riding ergonomics. But I don’t see it making a strong enough case for itself. Especially considering it costs almost Rs 13,500 over the Hornet 2.0 and doesn’t get anything extra, read long-travel suspension, more ground clearance or more power even. If you want a good ADV, with similar performance, then the Hero Xpulse 200 is still the bike to buy. So to answer my initial question does it manage to differentiate itself from the Hornet 2.0, not really!