Coming to the heart of the matter, the engine of the hornet is a 184cc, single cylinder, air cooled unit which churns out 17.03bhp of power and 16.1Nm of torque. These numbers might not be extraordinary for this segment, but out on the road, it doesn't fail to impress.
As you get going, the Hornet starts picking up pace with vigour. The revs keep climbing linearly until 5,000rpm after which there's a pleasant shove of torque which lasts roughly up till 8,000rpm. The speed transitions are quick in the low and mid range of the rev band, which makes it enjoyable to ride, especially in the city. The engine feels relaxed and you can keep going even in a gear higher.
Another aspect that makes the city ride delightful is the profoundly light clutch and the slick gear box which has a long throw but shifts with minimal effort. Although false neutral was a rare occurrence.
Even at highway speeds, the Hornet doesn’t feel stressed as there are negligible vibrations, which creep in on the footpegs and handlebar only post 5,000rpm. Even the overtakes don’t require much planning. However, the highway cruisability would have been better, had there been a sixth gear. The charming engine character of the Hornet is complemented by a sweet humming sound, which is typical of a Honda.
Handling is one of the strong suits of this bike as the steering response is spot on and changing directions doesn’t require much of an effort. Filtering through busy traffic is literally a breeze. While it is nimble around tight turns, the long sweeping bends are handled with sheer stability too. This is also aided by the MRF Nylogrip Zapper tyres which we got to test only in dry conditions and experienced a fair amount of grip.
The ride quality of the motorcycle is not outright plush but you won’t end up with an aching back either. At slow speeds, the minor undulations send a slight jolt in the back but things never get too harsh. We were really impressed by the braking performance of the Nissin calipers. The front has gallops of bite and feel while the rear has the needed progression to avoid locking of the wheel. One of the downsides of the Hornet is that it comes with single-channel ABS only and dual ABS can’t be had even as an option.