Sharing a platform has its advantages; one of them being the fact that many models can be manufactured with the same components. Honda’s new CB350RS is one such example as it is based on its sibling, the H’ness CB350. With the RS, you get a sportier design and ergonomics, whilst retaining the frame and suspension from the H’ness. We get astride Honda’s new bike to see whether it really is worth that extra money.
For the young
It’s very clear that, with the styling of the Honda CB350RS, the brand has it sights on a younger market. Of course, it has a lot in common with the H’ness CB350, like the large fual tank and the LED headlight. We like the two-tone yellow and black paint theme; it gives out an ’80s motorcycle vibe, but the ring bordering the headlight in matte black is a modern touch. Even the new LED turn indicators hint at a modern design language. Along the sides, the panels are new and it’s nicer to see the CB350RS badge instead of the H’ness badge. You’ll also notice how prominent the black theme is, with the exhaust heat shield getting only sprinkles of chrome on it. Even the handlebars and mirrors get a chrome finish. The tail section is restyled to look stubbier and contemporary. It gets a nice, LED rectangular tail light with a grab-handle under the seat. What’s clearly visible is the 17-inch wheel, shod with MRF Kurve rubber. This also enhances the bike’s stance; in fact, the block pattern tyres, the new metal bash plate, the 19-inch front wheel and the fork gaiters could have you think it’s a Scrambler at first glance. It’s a great-looking bike for men and women, both. As far as quality is concerned, we have nothing to criticize, but we think the Honda CB350RS is short on equipment. Honda Bikes haven’t included the Bluetooth connectivity module and the Type-C USB charger on the bike, found on the H’ness CB350 DLX Pro.
The ergonomics on the Honda CB350RS have been changed a little, giving way for a sportier riding position. Gone is that upright seating posture; it’s now more forward-biased. Honda Bikes managed to pull this off by pushing the foot pegs backwards and the handlebar has been made wider and is placed higher too. The mildly curved seat provides good support, allowing the rider to sit comfortably while also giving a sense of sportiness. You really do feel one with the bike. The Honda CB350RS can tour for long distances and you won’t feel uncomfortable. The seat provides ample room for the rider. The mirrors don’t show a clear view of the traffic behind. Also, the horn switch has been placed a bit awkwardly.
The bike is powered by a 348.36cc, long-stroke single, just like the one on the H’ness CB350. The motor produces 20bhp and 30Nm of torque. Honda hasn’t fiddled with the bike too much, so you get the tall gearing with identical performance. Fuel efficiency is that bit better though. The tall gearing seems quite apt for a motorcycle like the RS. And when you are seated in a particular manner, the bike makes you want to push it hard. Even at high speeds, refinement is excellent and the smooth 5-speed gearbox works well along with the slip and assist clutch. Also, the raspy exhaust note only adds to the experience.
Astride the bike
Beneath all the bodywork lies the half-duplex cradle frame from the H’ness; even the steering rake and suspension units are identical. The biggest difference is the 17-inch wheel at the back and Scrambler-like block pattern tyres. The tyres offer good grip even around corners; the handling is just about right and predictable. First-time riders will appreciate the fact that the bike gets switchable traction control. Given the size of the wheels and the tyre tread patterns, you could take this bike off the road as well and the ground clearance proves to be excellent. At low speeds, ride quality is a bit stiff but the bike remains composed at high speeds, and it eats pot holes for breakfast. The brakes perform well and the ABS is calibrated accordingly. This is a highly desirable motorcycle for anyone looking at a Honda. Also, grab the latest info on the upcoming bikes, only at autoX.