Can Honda H’Ness CB350 Break RE Classic 350’s Dominance? – Analysis

honda cb highness 350-6

Honda H’Ness CB350 is the latest entry in India’s retro-style market space, and has a lot of premium features on-board

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India Ltd recently launched the Highness (H’Ness CB350) in India. The motorcycle has been priced at Rs. 1.85 lakh for the ‘DLX’ variant, and Rs. 1.90 lakh for the ‘DLX Pro’ variant (both prices, ex-showroom). The H’Ness will be sold via Honda’s Big Wing dealerships, and its biggest rivals in the Indian market are Royal Enfield’s motorcycles, mainly the Classic 350.

In the retro-style motorcycle segment, Royal Enfield is the biggest player in India. The brand enjoys a cult following in our country, and competitors have been unable to shake the brand’s dominance in the market. The Bajaj Dominar 400 tried to compete with it indirectly, offering a much more powerful and engine and better features than the Classic 350 (and the old 500), and even though it was decently successful, Royal Enfield still enjoyed an ardent fan following.

In 2018, Classic Legends introduced the Jawa and Jawa 42 in our market, which were significantly more powerful than the RE Classic 350 and Bullet 350. Earlier this year, Benelli also launched the Imperiale 400. Sadly, both the brands are only playing catch-up, unable to displace RE from the top spot. Does the new Honda H’Ness CB350 have what it takes to beat the segment leader?

honda cb highness 350-1

Considering everything that the H’Ness offers, we certainly think so. The styling of the Honda is quite simplistic, inspired by the original CB350 of the 60s and 70s. It also gets a healthy dose of modern tech, like all-LED lighting, dual-channel ABS, traction control (Honda Selectable Torque Control system), and Bluetooth-connectivity for smartphones with voice commands (Honda Smartphone Voice Control).

The semi-digital instrument cluster, with turn-by-turn navigation, is a brilliant addition for touring enthusiasts. The Royal Enfield Classic, on the other hand, doesn’t have any fancy equipment on offer. It gets single-channel ABS, but LED lights are not available on it. The next-generation Classic 350 is expected to offer turn-by-turn navigation feature, but that model could be delayed till mid-2021.

Honda H'ness CB350 Vs RE Classic 350-1

Honda‘s biggest tool, however, isn’t the premium equipment, but its engine. Its 346.36cc, which produces 21 HP and 30 Nm, is not only more powerful than the RE Classic 350 (19.8 HP and 28 Nm), but has a thumping exhaust note as well. Honda has played it smart, and offered potential buyers exactly what they wanted.

Both the engines are air-cooled, single-cylinder mills, and come paired to a 5-speed gearbox, although the Honda also gets slipper and assist clutch. At Rs. 1.61 lakh (ex-showroom), the Classic 350 is much more affordable than the Honda H’Ness CB350. That said, the Honda offers much better equipment, and in all honesty, is a better product overall.