Tweaked ergonomics, decent amounts of grip and a sporty profile, add to the bike’s charm
The new Honda CB350RS is based on the popular, retro-styled H’ness CB350. However, it takes a slightly new approach towards design and ergonomics. Is it worth the stretch?
The similarities with the H’ness CB350 is evident in the shape of the fuel tank and LED headlamp. The dual-tone, black and yellow paintwork is attractive, while the headlamp uses a matt black ring instead of chrome and is flanked by new LED turn indicators.
The side profile also reveals the motorcycle’s predominantly black theme, with only a little chrome peppered on the exhaust heat shield, handlebar and mirrors. Besides that, the tail section has been redesigned for a compact, yet modern look.
Honda has integrated a rectangular LED tail-lamp and grab rail under the seat, while the small plastic fender puts up the new 17-inch wheel shod with a 150-section MRF Kurve tyre on full display.
Besides the design, the ergonomics have been tweaked for a sportier riding position by moving the foot pegs behind by 112mm and placing them higher by 12mm. The handlebar is a smidgen wide and placed 10mm higher and 41mm farther than the one on the H’ness. This, along with the scooped, yet firm and supportive seat, results in a riding position that is sporty, yet very comfortable.
Engine and performance
This 348.36cc, long-stroke single is in the same state of tune, producing 21.1hp peak power and 30Nm of peak torque; Honda has not tinkered with the internal gearing or the final drive ratio.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that the performance is nearly the same, despite the RS weighing 2kgs less than the H’ness. The fuel economy is marginally better, with the RS managing to squeeze about 1.5kpl more in the city or on the highway.
The slick 5-speed gearbox, along with the slip and assist clutch, makes light work of keeping the engine in the powerband, while the raspy exhaust note elevates the riding experience. It still struggles to climb up an incline in the top gear, though.
Ride and handling
Underneath the bodywork, the Honda CB350RS has the same half-duplex cradle frame as the H’ness; the suspension units and steering rake are identical as well. On the road, these tyres offer decent amounts of grip, even when the motorcycle is leaned into a corner, while the handling is neutral and predictable. Considering the 19-inch front wheel and the tyre pattern, you can ride the motorcycle down a trail as well, and the additional 2mm of ground clearance on the RS makes it fit to take on bad roads.
The Honda CB350RS comes across as a very well-rounded package. Although styling has always been a personal choice, the RS’ design will find universal appeal. This, coupled with the involved riding experience, makes the motorcycle worth considering. If you are considering a 350cc Honda in today’s time, the CB350RS is the one to buy.
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