The smallest Honda motorcycle yet is all set to create the maximum winds of change for the Japanese giant in India reckons
Bunny Punia Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Honda Motorcycle and Scooters India (HMSI) has often played its game differently in the Indian two-wheeler market. For instance, back in 2000, it made its debut in the world’s second largest two-wheeler market with the launch of a 100cc gearless scooter. This move, in a market that was running strongly with geared scooters like the Bajaj Chetak and the LML variants, raised quite a few eyebrows about their plans. However, much to the disappointment of the competition, the Activa went onto become the largest selling scooter in its class. HMSI also took a top-down approach to the motorcycling segment in India. Instead of launching commuter bikes first, in 2005, it rolled out the 150cc Unicorn and a couple of years later, the 125cc Shine. Having established a solid foothold in almost every segment it sells a two-wheeler today, it was time for the Japanese giant to go for a share of the money minting commuter segment, that of the 100-110cc bikes. With a dozen odd offerings (models/variants) from the competition already, it was wise to come up with something different. Plus the fact that recently, the company has often been using words like ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyment’ meant that the new offering would have to play a lot of roles, that of satisfying various demands of a typical commuter as well as the youth perfectly. HMSI also wished to target the college going youth, who often overlooked the commuter bikes while making their purchasing decisions mainly due to their sober and sometimes, low rent looks. With an aim to meet the above mentioned requirements, the CB Twister was born.

The prefix CB has been taken up from Honda’s world trend series symbolizing naked, like the CB1000R, while the word Twister depicts swirling winds with great strength. Like most small capacity Honda bikes, wherein design cues are often taken up from bigger capacity machines, the Indian CB too has enough curves and sharp angles, reminding you Honda’s much bigger bikes. In fact, see the bike from the rear three quarters and the huge tank along with the floating side cowl gives it a big bike look. The sharp small screenless cowl looks sexy for a small bike and houses the headlamp. However, there are no pilot lamps integrated here probably to keep costs low. The floating side cowl, when seen from the front angle, flaunts its insides pretty well again imparting a big bike feel to the Twister. In fact, there is no dearth of a sharp angular treatment to the side and rear cowls. The bike also comes with a CB1000R inspired rear grab rail as well as a meaty short exhaust. The only downside is the huge gap between the engine and the body, but this is expected as the bike houses a small 109cc motor and not a multi cylinder 1000cc one. Complementing the exciting looks are the various shades of colours on offer. The candy palm green seen here, for instance, looks smashing and it goes without saying that the Twister turns out to be the best looking small motorcycle in the country by a huge margin.

The Twister might look very compact but a swing a leg over and it feels incredibly spacious. Even for me, at 6 feet and weighing over a quintal, this little Honda felt mighty comfortable. In fact, it is one of the very few small bikes that didn’t make me look like, well, a circus bear on a toy bike! The footpeg-handlebar-seat geometry is very comfortable and even while riding the bike around Pune city for over 100km nonstop, I didn’t feel very uncomfortable at the end of the day. The instrumentation cluster looks neat though there are visible cost cutting measures around. The console does without a trip meter, for instance, and there is an absence of a pass light switch too. However, all the little shortcomings take a backseat once you thumb the electric starter. I am not really a small bike person, but the CB surprised me from the word go. The exhaust note felt throaty and grunty and the bike felt very eager and enthusiastic to lung forward, especially in the first two gears. In fact while slotted in fourth, the engine picked up well from speeds as low as 25km/h and this makes the CB a joy to ride in congested traffic. If you look closely at the engine, the long inlet manifold is clearly visible. This results in an increase of the gas velocity for better low and midrange punch and this is one of the main strengths of the bike. Even with a pillion, the capability of the bike to ponder through traffic in the third and fourth cogs is unbeatable. The 109cc engine puts out 9bhp of power along with 9Nm of torque. Weighing just 108 kilos, the CB has the best power-to- weight ratio in the commuter class. The engine remains punchy and vibe-free and surprisingly this little 110cc machine feels more refined at 70km/h than the elder 125cc Shine at similar speeds. The CB is also targeted majorly towards the youth and if you thought commuter bikes are slow and lazy, think again. A 6.99 second 0-60km/h timings knocks off the competition completely and the bike furthers goes on to register a true whack of 93 km/h. Honda has often been praised for their fuel efficient engines and this one is no different. Ride the bike carefully and it will end up drinking a litre of fuel every 70km in the city and 78km on the highway.

Notice the long intake manifold? It lends the bike terrific low and midrange – just what you need for daily commutes Sharp design of the console goes well with the overall look of the bike. However, a trip meter is sorely missed The front end looks cool with the sharp lamp and flowing side panels. However, we would have appreciated a full DC set up for the headlamp

Even though the CB comes with non-adjustable shock absorbers (cost cutting again?) at the rear, I never really had a reason to complain. The ride is slightly on the stiffer side but this helps while riding over bad roads. It also comes in handy while with a pillion as the rear hardly ever bottoms out. The diamond type twin pipe chassis feels very stiff and the bike takes on serious pushing around corners and flowing curves positively. In fact the 70mm front and 80mm rear tyres, both tubeless, hold on pretty well and due to the bike’s overall handling prowess even with a relatively small engine, an experienced rider can be fast around a set of twisties. The light weight of the bike along with a short wheelbase of 1262mm further makes it a delight to flick through traffic. The 240mm dia front disc is optional but is highly recommended.

The bike has quite a few firsts for its segment. The mass forward proportion, as Honda calls it, tubeless tyres, a short muffler, et al. The maintenance free battery and the low maintenance viscous air filter help a lot in the long run. I would have also appreciated a full DC set up for the headlamp which would have provided full brightness irrespective of the engine rpm.

The bike is aimed at people who are on the lookout for style and performance without sacrificing on the basic needs of fuel economy and comfort, all in a limited budget. Right then, even with a few visible cost cutting measures, the CB range starts from Rs 47,753 all the way upto Rs 54,357 (on-road, Pune) which doesn’t really make it as cheap as the competition at all. However, times have changed and most Indian buyers are ready to shell a few thousand rupees for added looks, performance and economy. This is where the CB will excel, finding its targeted buyer quite easily. If I was a 20 something guy, looking for an affordable new set of stylish wheels that I wouldn’t mind riding to work or college or a date, the CB Twister, in all probability, would be it. ‘Nuf said!'

Bike India Team – who has written posts on Bike India.

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