You might have read and/or watched a few reviews of the Hornet 2.0 already, but you perhaps didn't know (until now, that is) that all the motorcycles in those reviews, including this one, are absolutely brand new units that haven't even had their first service yet. And why is that important for you to know? Simply because the information provided in most of the reviews might not be a hundred per cent accurate.
For example, if the reviewer says that "the brakes lack feel/bite", but forgets to mention that it's a new motorcycle and that they're still bedding in, then it's the reviewer's fault and not the bike's. Same thing for tyre grip, engine heat, and vibrations as well. It's equally important for you to note that each media house, including IBT, got to sample the bike for 3-4 days. I managed to clock a total of 310 km (that too in the city) within that span to bring this review to you. To ensure absolute transparency, let me tell you that I had picked up the bike at 110 km on the odometer, and returned it at 420 km. Don't let your mind conjure any funny connotations around that last figure.
Despite that kind of mileage, I still couldn't find anyone to sit pillion (social distancing has played havoc indeed), which means this review won't tell you about pillion comfort, in addition to a couple of other things. But I have requested the good folks at Honda to give me this motorcycle for a longer term again so that I can provide those details to you in its long term review. Well, honestly, it's just an excuse to ride this fun motorcycle a lot more. As of now, let me share my findings from the first ride.
Honda Hornet 2.0 Review | Design and Features
When it was launched a few months ago (full launch report -> here), almost all of us motoring journalists had shouted in unison that "Hey, it looks like the GSX-S750!" And it does, which is a good thing. At the stoplights, other bikers, who may or may not know of the Gixxus still mistake the Hornet 2.0 for a big bike initially, thanks to its golden USD fork. I would not be surprised that it becomes the major reason for many to buy the Hornet 2.0.
Overall too, the new Hornet is quite muscular. If it were a human, the Hornet 2.0 would be the most ripped guy in the gym. He would win the "best-proportioned physique" title as well. The crux is: the Honda Hornet 2.0 is the best looking naked motorcycle in the segment. There's one available in Repsol colours as well. The Hornet 2.0 gets a full LED setup, which means that the headlight, tail light, and even the indicators are all LEDs. There's a hazard switch too.
The instrument cluster comprises a negative (white digits on dark background) LCD that has a gear position indicator, two trip meters, clock, battery voltmeter, along with the obligatory rpm and speed displays. The brightness of the screen has five levels of adjustment.
All that sparkle gets a 5.0 Ah power source now; the 160 R had a 4.0 Ah battery. There are no phone connectivity options and while I am absolutely okay with that, the Millenials might be dismayed.
Honda Hornet 2.0 Review | Ergonomics
Looking at that USD fork and the overall muscular styling might make many perceive it as a heavy motorcycle. It's not—both theoretically, and practically.
Theoretically, with a full tank (12 L) of fuel, it weighs 142 kg, which is ten kilograms less than the RTR 200 4V's 152 kg (with 90 per cent fuel), and almost equal to the RTR 180 2V's 141 kg with the latter's 12 L tank filled 90 per cent. The remaining ten per cent (1.2 L) will bring the RTR's weight to 142 kg, right?
Practically, the Hornet 2.0 feels like a 100 kg motorcycle. For perspective, that's just a few kilograms more than the featherweight, and legendary, RX-100. That, coupled to the low saddle height of 796 mm, makes the Hornet 2.0 one of the easiest motorcycles to live with in the city.
The stock position of the handlebar is quite absurd though; it felt like someone with really long arms has adjusted the handlebar to his liking.
Therefore, full-lock manoeuvres for short people like me stretch our lats (latissimus dorsi), which is a good thing inside the gym, but not something you would appreciate in heavy traffic. But it's nothing to worry about, my dear fellow shorties. The adjustment (of the handlebar, and not your back) at the service centre will take less than ten mins (including the clutch and brake yokes' adjustment). I shall get it done when I get the bike next and let you know.
The adjustment might also make the rearview mirrors usable because this time they were only good at reminding me to clean my riding jacket. Because that's the only thing (my elbows actually) I could see in the mirrors, no matter how I tried to adjust them. Bigger riders might just use them as vanity mirrors.
Honda Hornet 2.0 Review | Engine Performance
Honda is absolutely clear about this motorcycle's positioning as a street fighter, and everything about its performance is centred towards it. The fuelling is butter smooth and the bike is a cinch to ride in the city. The Hornet 2.0 does not require frequent gear shifts. You can pull it cleanly from as low as 22 km/h in top (5th) gear! Same thing from 17 km/h in 4th, and 11-12 km/h in 3rd!
But that's not fun; is it? What's the acceleration and top speed like, you ask? Here are the figures for you:
0-60 km/h in 3.7 seconds
0-100 km/h in 10.7 seconds
Top speed: 130 km/h
For perspective, the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V's figures are as under:
0-60 km/h in 3.6 seconds
0-100 km/h in 10.0 seconds
Top speed: 139 km/h
These are the figures of the BS4 RTR I tested a few years ago; the BS6 bike could be a bit slower. If you must know, the BS4 RTR 160 4V did the 0-100 km/h sprint in 12.5 seconds.
You can clearly see that the fun quotient of the Hornet 2.0 is nearer to the 200s than the 160s. I am sure you'd also now want me to list the Hornet 2.0's power and torque figures, so here they are:
17.2 PS at 8,000 rpm
16.1 Nm at 6,000 rpm
Again, for perspective, the RTR 180 2V produces 16.8 PS at 8,500 rpm and 15.5 Nm at 7,000 rpm. The RTR 200 4V puts out 20.5 PS at 8,500 rpm and 16.8 Nm at 7,500 rpm.
What's also noteworthy is the fact that the new Hornet's 184 cc 2-valve air-cooled motor is comparatively unstressed. While most competitors' motors run compression ratios of 10.0:1 and above, the Hornet 2.0's runs it at 9.5:1. What does that mean for you? Less heat and more longevity, my friend.
To summarise, the new Hornet is the most tractable motorcycle in the segment, and its acceleration is on a par with the 200s. The top speed of most 200s though, except the 200s from Hero (they are the slowest) is much higher.
Honda Hornet 2.0 Review | Handling, and Ride Quality
The Hornet 2.0's handling is fantastic! In fact, it's so good that Honda should have a one-make race series for it. And while at it, they should include a race or two for us media folks as well (please!). It turns in with zero effort and remains absolutely predictable and stable throughout the corner. Cornering addicts will love it!
It sports the widest front tyre (110/70) in the segment which feels reassuring at all times without, as mentioned above, making the steering even a wee bit slower or heavier. The brakes are good too, but I have to say that Honda should have provided a dual-channel ABS system, at least as an option. It comes with a single-channel for now, and I am happy to report that it's less intrusive than our government. Unlike the latter, it intervenes until it's absolutely indispensable. That also speaks volumes of the grip provided by that fat tyre.
The ride quality is decidedly stiff, but before you cry about it, please try adjusting the preload. The monoshock is set at level 2 from the factory and while I prefer that setting in the interest of handling, you may go down to level 1 in case you find it too hard for your liking.
When I went to return the bike, I got it adjusted to its softest at Honda's service center (the bike was missing the tool kit, else I would have adjusted it myself) and rode the bike for half an hour before giving it back finally. Let me tell you something: the softest setting is soft enough for all you softies out there. You'll appreciate the change in ride quality.
The straight line stability isn't shabby either, though I was doing 120-125 km/h without trying much, the aforementioned lightness is not very confidence-inspiring at those speeds. Don't get me wrong; there are no issues with straight-line stability. It's just that lane changes at those speeds might just reinforce your belief in God. Keep it below 110 km/h and both you and the bike will be happier. That said, taking it to 120 km/h and beyond, and leaving the throttle just to hear the sweet sound of overrun is pure joy. I could do that all day while touring. Life expectancy be damned.
Confession: I did just that throughout the entire duration of the test and, therefore, I shouldn't be talking about its fuel efficiency at all. I promise that I'll give you the figure in its long term review. For now, I reckon that it will return above 40 km/l in the city.
Honda Hornet 2.0 Review | Verdict
The Hornet 2.0 is a brilliant city bike with sublime handling, and one that looks oh-so-goregous too. It's not the ideal motorcycle for "relaxed touring", but if you're someone like me who likes motorcycles that feel and sound alive, then the Hornet 2.0 could be the pick of the lot for you. And that's something you don't hear everyday about a small displacement Honda.