The Honda CB350 RS gets a few minor updates and is aimed towards a younger audience. We take it for a spin to find out if it's different from the H’ness CB350 in terms of its ride experience.
The H’ness CB350 has been a big hit, which is quite evident from the fact that HMSI has already clocked over 10,000 bookings of the bike since its launch. The H’ness is a modern-retro motorcycle, and in the 350cc classic-style segment, we think it’s the best motorcycle you can buy. Now, Honda has decided to launch another variant of the CB350, and this one comes with an RS nametag. We have already discussed the changes it comes with before, but this time we get to ride the bike to see how those changes affect its real-world ride experience.
Youthful & Modern Design
Just to refresh your memory the CB350 RS is exactly the same motorcycle as the H’ness. It only features some design changes to make it look more like a modern naked instead of a retro-classic, so that it can target a younger audience. These changes include a blacked-out look instead of chrome, shorter front and rear fenders, sleeker turn-signals, front fork boots, a bash-plate, and a new ‘tuck-n-roll' seat. The rear wheel is now a smaller 17-inch, but the tyre is now wider – both tyres are now new tread-pattern MRFs. The ergonomics have also been adjusted to allow for a sportier ride, the foot-pegs are now placed further back, and the handlebar has been lowered by 2mm. Everything else – the brakes, engine, suspension, and chassis – remains unchanged.
How is it different to ride?
Similar to the H’ness, the engine is a wonderfully refined 350cc single-cylinder unit with great power figures – 21bhp and 30Nm of torque. It feels and sounds fantastic. The only issue we felt during the ride was that it lacked that top- and low-end power, which has a lot to do with gearing ratios. I think most of us who rode the bike felt that its gears were much too tall and spread out. So, you really have to hold gears longer. If you don’t switch gears at the right time, you will find yourself struggling for power. Peak torque kicks in at 3,000rpm, which is pretty high, and unlike the RE Meteor 350, which has superb low-end and mid-range power delivery, the CB350 requires you to constantly switch gears to get the desired acceleration. But, if you do manage to ride in lower gears, with high revs, the engine delivers a powerful punch, and you can reach triple-digit speeds.
The suspension is on the stiff side, but it’s not as stiff as that of the Meteor or the Imperiale, and it can do a good job in absorbing hard impacts from bad road surfaces. The new seat also feels a lot more comfortable and it is a bit softer as well. The RS stands for ‘Road Sailing’, and the bike does a pretty good job at offering a smooth ride. The dual-channel ABS brakes are also very powerful and do a good job of keeping you in total control.
The main difference I felt while riding the RS is that its seating position is now a bit more aggressive, owing to the foot-pegs are now slightly more rear-set and 2mm lower handle-bar. I like this change, especially for city riding. It gives you a bit more control in the city, and the handling abilities of the bike are easier for you to play around with. It’s a very agile machine, and with the sportier riding-position, you can enjoy it a bit more. The smaller rear tyre, with a wider profile, also adds some more stability to the rear while cornering. Although it's only marginally felt, you can make out the subtle difference if you push the bike hard.
H’ness or RS?
So, is the RS better than the H’ness? Well, if you are a rider who likes a sportier riding style then yes. The H’ness offers you the traditional modern-classic approach and is a fantastic easy rider, which can also be fun to ride. The primary reason for introducing the RS version is to attract younger urban customers who don’t really connect with the modern-classic appeal. Instead, these younger riders in big cities want something more aggressive, which also looks sportier and leaner. However, it’s interesting to note that Honda has kept USB and Bluetooth features as options on the RS. Nevertheless, the CB350 RS looks like a modern motorcycle and certainly performs very well. It also offers you the big-bike feel as well as greater comfort, practicality, and value over, say, the sportier Duke 390 or G 310 R. It’s a wonderful bike, and I'd definitely prefer it over the H’ness.
- Honda CB350 RS
Engine: 348cc / Single-Cylinder
Power: 20.8bhp @ 5,500rpm
Torque: 30Nm @ 3,000rpm
Price: ₹1.96 Lakh (Ex-Showroom)
X-Factor: A good-looking, great-performing, and an affordable modern sports bike, with classic design elements.
• Ride & handling