Honda Hornet 2.0 – First Ride Review

Honda Hornet 2.0

There is no doubt that Honda has become a household name, mainly due to its massively popular scooter, the Activa. With newer iterations spawning almost twice annually, it might seem that Honda has set its sights on becoming the leading two-wheeler brand in India, at least in the commuter segment. Nevertheless, its sporty heritage and the will to offer the best even in the smallest pushes Honda to do something out of the box. But what happens when you take something already good and make it even better? That’s what we found out when reviewing the Honda Hornet 2.0

Upgrades and changes:

When the BSVI emission norms were implemented, the world of automobiles underwent an overhaul. Many models were discontinued and those that were updated also got detuned to comply with the new standards. Honda, too, underwent this transition, albeit with a different point of view. Instead of offering the same engine with minor modifications, Honda decided to offer a bit more. Enter the Hornet 2.0.

The Hornet 2.0 gets significant mechanical changes such as a new chassis, a bigger engine and even sportier dynamics. Not to forget that the Hornet is aimed at the commuter market, so offering even slightly better agility and lightness makes a big difference. The Hornet 2.0 is based on the internationally sold Honda CB190R and although it bears a resemblance, it is aesthetically more appealing. It is also not mechanically identical as it gets fresh body panels, a brand-new LED headlamp, meaty golden upside down (USD) forks, and a new engine cowl.

The aesthetics surely call for a dominant and aggressive demeanour, while the riding stance gives off a streetfighter essence. Although the profile has become muscular, its fuel capacity remains unchanged at 12 litres. The split-seat setup also adds to the sporty looks and the quarter panels have been redesigned to look smoother, at least psychologically. However, the X-shaped LED taillight has been copy-pasted from the previous generation, which combined with the tail section looks unchanged, but we are not complaining. The key slot has also moved to the fuel tank, to imitate the feel of more expensive motorcycles. That kept aside, there is a certain premiumness to the motorcycle, probably because of the gung-ho look of the front three-quarters.


Honda Hornet 2.0

A negative-lit LCD instrument cluster greets the rider and offers two trip meters, a battery voltage meter, and a gear-position indicator. It also features five levels of adjustable brightness for a bit of personalisation from the rider. The Hornet 2.0 gets a switch for hazard lights as standard, along with an engine kill switch, both of which were missing in the previous generation.

The switchgear, although basic, does not contradict the appeal of the motorcycle and the all-LED indicators too do their job well,while looking good. However, a slight downer would be the single-channel ABS which does its job well but feels incomplete. Also, some of its competitors offer features like Bluetooth connectivity and slipper clutch, which acts as a big hindrance to the otherwise popular Honda. (Looking at you, TVS).

Riding experience:

Honda Hornet 2.0

As mentioned earlier, Honda has also overhauled the engine to comply with the BSVI emission norms. Now displacing 184.4cc, it has been bumped up by 22cc and also fuel-injected. The single-cylinder, air-cooled, two-valve SOHC engine makes 17.3bhp of maximum power and 16.1Nm of peak torque.

Since we got a crisp and fresh piece, its refinement was incomparable, but we are sure that will dwindle once the kilometres stack up. The engine is quite rev-happy and performs best when kept between 6000-9000 rpm, with peak power rated at 8,500rpm. That is quite commendable, considering it redlines at 9,500 rpm. Honda seems to have emphasised on midrange performance and the Hornet 2.0 nails that job.

Speed figures and acceleration will have to be determined with a Vbox data logger, though we can safely say that the engine is punchy and quite responsive. The 5-speed gearbox and the clutch work beautifully in tandem and offer a smooth and springy performance. These characteristics make the Hornet 2.0 an ideal choice for daily commutes. Even starting from a standstill in second gear won’t be noticeable under most circumstances.


Honda Hornet 2.0

Being over six feet tall, there are hardly any two-wheelers that intimidate me. Nevertheless, there was a slight air of diminishment when riding the Hornet 2.0. I was not overwhelmed, but I didn’t feel like I was dominating the motorcycle either. The riding position is almost completely upright, but it is mellowed down by the slightly raised handlebars that let you lean forward slightly as well as the almost rear-set footpegs.

Although I have long legs, I am pretty sure there would be hardly anyone who would have a problem putting their foot down while seated on the motorcycle. The golden USD forks are not just all-show either and offer better feedback than conventional ones. In conclusion, an ex-showroom price tag of Rs 1.27 lakh makes the Hornet 2.0 an appealing deal, though customers with a higher budget might opt for the Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 which offers better performance, or the TVS Apache RTR 200 with Bluetooth, Slipper Clutch, and Dual-Channel ABS.

FOR – Sporty looks, smooth performance
AGAINST – Lack of electronic rider aids

Read our website article on the launch of the Honda Hornet 2.0 here.