We test these new premium 150-160cc motorcycles back to back to tell you which feels and performs the best in real world conditions
The Hornet showcased at the REVFEST 2015 had us all excited which made us finally think genuinely that a FZ and Gixxer rival had arrived from Honda stable. FZ has been at the forefront of the fight for bragging rights for some years now and not so long ago Gixxer came and blew the FZ off its crown.
However, FZ continues to clock healthy numbers. Eight years is a lot for the competition to wake up and reply and hence Yamaha continues to sell FZ despite its inferior numbers and performance against the Gixxer.
The TVS Apache RTR 160 is here in this test and for a strong reason. The RTR 160 was updated three years ago heavily and it has always something up its sleeve too. Pulsar AS 150 was not included in the test simply because it is in another category. Let’s begin then: Hornet is impressive at first glance and in the full blown comparison after riding all the bikes extensively over time, we have come with a conclusion down below!
CB Hornet 160R vs Apache RTR160 vs FZ-Fi vs Gixxer – Styling Comparison
Let’s start with the fresh bike of the lot. Hornet is a serious contender here. Muscular looks are the highlight of the bike. The way the tank and its extensions are done clearly remind us of the Pulsar but it’s surely the Honda way. Smart choice of colours seen on Honda these days makes the Hornet quite attention grabbing.
Gixxer, on the other hand, has muscles but the size is small which is something we have said in the past. Gixxer has more curves as well, which makes it a very appealing motorcycle. It’s the rear that is appealing and even the Hornet has an X design tail lamp which is a proper attention grabbing material.
FZ has now the MT headlight and rest remains the same, which means it is a muscular motorcycle, but only the tank rest is very modern and chic and the rear is totally uninspiring. Apache, on the other hand, has its own identity. Twin shock, small width, long and huge bikini fairing and headlamp cowl make it disproportionate in front of the others despite it looks attractive also thanks to LED eyebrows. Overall then, it’s between the Hornet and Gixxer and it’s the Hornet which is clearly the most attractive this time with some seriously striking elements it has and size of those elements is quite in your face.
CB Hornet 160R vs Apache RTR160 vs FZ-Fi vs Gixxer – Speedo and Switchgear Comparison
Cluster on all these bikes is all digital except for the Apache which has an analogue tachometer which keeps the old trend alive. FZ has nothing to offer in the cluster except an Eco light as it doesn’t show basic stuff like time and dual trip meters.
Hornet 160R has time, dual trip meters and that’s it. Apache has performance time recorders, all warnings, including service reminder, which the Gixxer also has. Gixxer also has eco and power modes, shift light, gear shift indicator and a welcome message.
Switchgear wise, all bikes except Hornet have a standard switch layout and have engine kill switch. Meanwhile, Honda continues to use commuter switchgear on this bike as well, which is a shame at this price. Gixxer clearly wins this part as it tends to provide more and offer value to customers as well.
CB Hornet 160R vs Apache RTR160 vs FZ-Fi vs Gixxer – Ergonomics Comparison
Ergonomics on all these bikes are quite similar to one point. All bikes offer sporty, yet comfortable riding position. Rearsets, wide handlebars, upright riding position give a feel of riding a bike above the segment they stay in. However, Apache here is the oldest and has always been unique to its audience thanks to tight ergonomics, which doesn’t suit everyone. All bikes have spring loaded rider pegs and at this price point, it’s a pity Honda doesn’t have it yet.
Japanese trio are quite similar to each other, but the Suzuki offers the sitting in the bike feel sporty. Meanwhile the FZ and Hornet are almost quite there as you can lock your knees easily and start attacking the twisities with confidence. Suzuki makes you feel you are on top of the handlebar while the others make the handlebar reach you.
Also Read: Honda CB Hornet 160R Vs Rivals – Specs Comparison
Honda CB Hornet 160R has a potential issue which our team faced. It was the peg position (gear lever) which was way too high and it made gearshifts harder and false neutral more often. Something could be one off or everything else could have faced the issue. However, that was not expected from Honda as all bikes are equal as a part of the quality management.
Pillion comfort was best on the Hornet as the seat of the pillion was wider and well foamed. New age FZ did the same too. Suzuki’s purposeful ergonomics meant there was a slight squeeze for the pillion as the seat was narrow and not so longer and flatter either. Apache offered just about adequate support and came last. Hornet’s seat was one of the most contoured seats after the Gixxer. FZ and Apache seats were flat and supportive on the rider-end.
CB Hornet 160R vs Apache RTR160 vs FZ-Fi vs Gixxer – Performance Comparison
These are the bikes whose craze doesn’t fade away among youngsters due to their performance. All bikes use same engine layout and has 2-valve, air-cooled engines that displace around the same capacity which makes for this entire segment attractive. 163cc means Honda is the highest followed by the Apache and it makes power more than the Apache by .6 PS at 15.9 PS. FZ makes the least of the lot with the Fi engine at 13.1 BHP and 12.6 Nm of torque. Gixxer makes a healthy 14.8 BHP and 14 Nm of torque. Clearly the Hornet 160R is ahead of everyone in every aspect.
How do those numbers, perform on road? All bikes have really good low-end torque. City rideability is excellent on all these bikes as they reach 60-70 km/hr with enthusiastic short shifting. Post that, a punch mid range is seen on all bikes except the FZ-Fi. FZ, after 70 km/hr, it starts to struggle reaching 90 km/hr and post that pushing the bike is like waiting forever, which also means poor top-end power.
Gixxer, on the other hand, pulls and does 100 in almost 4-5 seconds earlier than the FZ thanks to very neutral gearing and not dedicated shorter gearing on the FZ. Apache and Hornet 160R have a very good top-end thrust as they pull till 120 km/hr without any hesitation.
Hornet with its torque and power and displacement pulls like a train. So much torque is concentrated in the mid range and the way engine pulls till 100 km/hr and even 115 km/hr is also very easy and is segment best. Something we see on the Unicorn 160 as well. After that the extra weight and 140 section tyre slows things down, but it reaches a speedo indicated 125 km/hr which is mighty impressive and unseen on the FZ. The Gixxer also manages an easy 115 km/hr sprint. Apache RTR 160 also has similar top-speed as of the Hornet 160R.
Despite Honda being heavier than the Apache 160 by 4 kgs, it has more torque and power to compensate along with the shorter throttle play and overdrive gear, which helps it pull out all the ponnies from the Honda engine. Overall then, Hornet 160R has more performance in every part of the power band, Apache isn’t far behind, but the Gixxer is next and FZ clearly comes last.
NVH levels on all these bikes are really good, but the Apache vibrates at the top-end when redlined. The sound award goes to the Gixxer. It has some seriously loud exhaust in this test which matches the Apache but has a throaty yet simpler sound track and intake noise. Hornet also has a sporty note over the Unicorn, but it isn’t significant, but the work on it is surely appreciated.
FZ carb version made the right noises, but the FI is toned down so much that it’s the essence of the carb motor is what is left when it comes to noise. Mileage numbers are quite similar on all these bikes too. All of them can deliver 52-55 km/l if ridden sanely. However, real life numbers stand at 48 km/l for Hornet, 47 km/l for RTR 160 and FZ-Fi and Gixxer also deliver 48 km/l. FZ should have it a lot higher as power is at lower down and Fi system is here, but despite that it isn’t a substantial increase over the carb version.
CB Hornet 160R vs Apache RTR160 vs FZ-Fi vs Gixxer – Ride and Handling Comparison
Dynamically, Japanese trio has similar diamond chassis, fat front forks and monoshock suspension at the rear. Apache has twin-tube frame and twin shocks at the rear along with slim forks at the front.
Apache is very nimble, compact and stable through the corners. However, high speed stability is not so impressive and it does feel a bit top heavy when compared to the other bikes. Tyres are highly criticized on the Apache since day one. Let’s not forget, ergonomics also limit the bike to specific riders only.
FZ is clearly the lightest in the segment with a short wheelbase and it does turn in well and stays stable in corners and has tonnes of grip and you can reach the limit quickly as there aren’t ponies to play with. However, the u-turn radius is very high on the FZ due to that handlebar which is on the sporty side.
Gixxer, on the other hand, is similar in hardware and tyres. Front-end is the best of the lot and feedback from it is great. Raked in almost perfectly, it also turns in quickly thanks to a short wheelbase and stays stable through the corners as tyres are radial tyres are grippy.
Hornet 160R has taller tyres when compared to FZ and Gixxer which are more width oriented. Hornet 160R retains easy to ride nature of a Honda, yet, very much fun around the corners. It is raked out and wheelbase is long which means it is stable through the corners and extremely stable on the highway too just like other Japs. Front-end is one of the best seen on a Honda yet, but it isn’t exactly Gixxer level of precise and feedback rich.
You do feel that wee bit of weight in the corners, but our suspension setting was running soft, a few click up on the pre-load should make it lighter and tighter. Grip is really good, but it isn’t as sticky and flawless because it doesn’t offer radial tyres at the rear like Gixxer and FZ, and again, at the price point, it’s a shame.
Ride quality is good on all bikes. Gixxer is on the verge of being harsh, next comes the FZ. Hornet will behave the same once the pre-load is up, as of now it was offering good ride quality. Apache as always also offers good ride quality despite being stiffly sprung. Braking is best on the Hornet for sure as petal disc at the front and rear are being offered.
Next comes Gixxer which has feedback rich braking at the front. FZ comes next and last come Apache because of poor tyres it isn’t that inspiring. Apache also comes with rear petal disc as the Hornet and as we know Gixxer will get it very soon too.
Overall, as a dynamic package, FZ and Apache are great in their respective ways. However, it’s a tie between Hornet and Gixxer. However, the latter is more enthusiastic and sporty.
CB Hornet 160R vs Apache RTR160 vs FZ-Fi vs Gixxer – Comparison Verdict
Let’s wrap things up as shortly as we can. FZ is a good performer in certain ways, but in the FI avatar performance and efficiency numbers are still not that impressive means it doesn’t win this test just like the Apache. RTR 160 also has a great motor and good value for money package but certain limitations don’t help it ace the test either.
The motor of the RTR, which was the best, has been replaced by the punchy, freight train inspired Honda Hornet CB 160R. Gixxer has a good motor, which is almost as good as the Hornet, good dynamics as the FZ and offers value like the Apache and it should win the test. However, the Hornet’s riding experience, the overly well done motor and higher performance numbers with safety of CBS alongside good styling and quality level better than the Gixxer makes it a proper tie.
Sometimes our job can be the best or the most challenging in the world. Declaring a winner between the Gixxer and Hornet 160R is very difficult as both have their strong points, which isn’t going to be solved on a day long round table argument either. However, personally I am an engine guy over a chassis guy and I would pick the Honda Hornet 160R while our test team members still preferred the Gixxer. Hope this helps you decide!
CB Hornet 160R vs RTR 160 vs FZ-Fi vs Gixxer HD Picture Gallery