Back in October 2020, carandbike exclusively reported that the Honda H’Ness CB350 platform will be used to develop new models. And Honda sure did launch a new model on the same platform a few months later, called the CB350RS! The two bikes get the same engine in the same state of tune, same cycle parts but have a slightly different flavour to offer. Sure, the CB350RS carries a lovely retro charm but in terms of design, it straddles between being a cafe racer and a scrambler and yet, it is neither!
What it is though, is a really good looking motorcycle. Better than the H’Ness, in our opinion. The look is a little more youthful, energetic, with the right amount of playfulness, courtesy of the fatter tyres with block tread pattern and the bash-plate. Plus, the seat of the CB350RS is ribbed, the LED headlight gets a new ring and the RS gets bolder colours like red and yellow, compared to the mellow colours that are offered on the H’Ness CB350.
The blacked out theme on the RS looks really good! The chopped fender, exposing the meaty rear tyre adds to the sporty appeal of the motorcycle, just makes it look sexier. Like we said earlier, the CB350RS isn’t a scrambler. So, the motorcycle is best enjoyed on regular tarmac or the occasional patch of a broken road. The new MRF Kurve with block pattern tread, a 2 mm higher ground clearance, thanks to the taller profile of the tyres, a metal bashplate and the overall stance set it apart from the H’ness CB 350.
Tech and Ergonomics
A small issue that arises out of it this is the positioning of the rear view mirrors. No matter how hard you try, adjusting the mirrors according to your liking is really difficult, which results in a compromised view of things that are happening behind you. The ergonomics of the bike is different too, with the footpegs placed 112 mm back and 12mm higher. Similarly, the handlebar is 10 mm higher, 4 mm wider and 41 mm farther away from the rider. So, this basically translates into a riding position which is sporty, engaging and comfortable at the same time.
Now one would expect get all the features on CB350RS, which are on offer on the H’Ness CB350. But that isn’t quite the case. The RS misses out on Bluetooth connectivity and a Type-C USB charger that the H’Ness gets as standard, although the USB charger can be fitted as an optional accessory. What the RS does get is Honda’s selectable torque control system, ABS and a side-stand engine cut-off system.
Performance & Dynamics
Sportier riding ergonomics naturally translate into a desire to ride faster. Now there are two sides to it! The engine is nice and refined, totally butter smooth! It makes you want to ride the motorcycle all day long. And the bike can do it easily too. A cruising speed of 90-100 kmph will not be problem for this bike. The other side is that the engine itself has a narrow power band and tall gearing, which means you have to work the gears when riding at city speeds. And if you want to get off the mark quickly, or overtake, you have to really, really work the gears. A little more spunk in the bottom end and the top end would have been better, something that a larger rear sprocket might just be able to address.
The engine is shared with the H’Ness CB350, so the 349 cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled motor produces 20.8 bhp at 5,500 rpm with 30 Nm of peak torque at 3,000 rpm. The engine gets a 5-speed transmission, along with a slip and assist clutch. The CB350RS continues to have the likeable thumping soundtrack that its sibling had.
The CB350RS is really slick in traffic. You find a gap ahead, point the bike in that direction and the bike will do the rest. It maintains its line around a corner too. And brakes work fine. They have the right amount of bite and the desired level of progression. The suspension setup is balanced and makes light work of broken tarmac.
Prices and Verdict
Despite the missing features, the monotone variant of the CB350RS is priced at ₹ 196,344 while the dual-tone models are priced at ₹ 198,344, which is ₹ 6,000 less and 2,000 less than the H’Ness CB350 standard and deluxe models respectively. Honda says that the fatter tyres, engine bash plate, rear grab-rail and fenders make up for the cost of the missing features.
The Honda CB350RS is a well-rounded package! Yes, it does skip a few features from the H’Ness and the price difference may not really make sense but it is a likeable motorcycle and is worth your consideration if you are looking for a ‘thumping’ motorcycle that’s not Royal Enfield, but is in the same price and performance bracket. Although Honda could have definitely come up with something better than ‘road sailing’ for RS!