Honda CB Unicorn 150 Review
We review Honda's hot-selling 150cc commuter motorcycle - the CB Unicorn 150.
What is it?
The updated version of Honda's commute-friendly 150cc motorcycle - the Unicorn. From the looks of it, the design is the same as the one launched in 2004, so what's updated? Well, Honda has made the engine BS-IV compatible to comply with the new emission norms. So, yes, there are no cosmetic upgrades on the motorcycle. The old-school styling continues with existing features like an analog instrument cluster and front disc brake.
This CB Unicorn 150 was replaced by the new CB Unicorn 160 in 2015. However, the demand of the 150 and the company's diminishing share in the 150cc segment of bikes made Honda re-launch it for the Indian market. And here it is, still available only after a waiting period and outselling the latest Unicorn 160. It's amazing to see how people who have so much faith in the Unicorn 150's capabilities, making it such a hot-selling model.
How does it ride?
The CB Unicorn always had an upright riding position with a wide handlebar and thankfully nothing has changed here. With nicely carved recesses on the fuel tank, the bike is perfect for comfort in the city. Thanks to this commuter riding position, there isn't any weight on your wrists. The long seat is nicely cushioned with the right balance of being soft and firm adding to the comfort. I did not feel even the slightest discomfort after a considerable amount of time in the saddle. The seat height isn't much and doesn’t taper upwards towards the pillion end, making it easy to climb on.
The engine starts with a crisp note as you thumb the starter. It settles into a smooth idle making it hardly audible. Even when you blip the throttle, the mill feels very eager to be revved. Also, unless you twist the throttle hard, you won't hear the engine. Even post 7,000rpm on the run, the refined engine doesn't sound bad at all. The throttle response is quick and the feedback is crisp too. While the 149.10cc, single-cylinder engine producing 13.14bhp and 12.84Nm of torque may not possess the outright grunt like that of the rivals like the Pulsar, but it makes up for it with its refinement and flexibility. It has a creamy, mid-range that will help you crawl even in a lower gear. That said, it isn't very torquey at low revs, but accelerates cleanly and linearly with a steady twist of the throttle. You won't find the need to downshift constantly even on the highway. And even if you do need to for a quick overtake, the engine and gearbox respond well. The motor revs cleanly while redlining at 10,000rpm. In the city, you will be happy weaving speeds around traffic while hovering between 3,000rpm and 5,000rpm. Then, out on the highway, you can reach triple digit easily post the 8,000rpm mark. However, it feels best to cruise at around 70-80kmph, when the tacho needle is hovering around 6,000-7,000rpm. At almost all times, things remain reasonably calm with slight vibrations filtering through the foot pegs beyond 4000rpm. The clutch is light and the good quality of the gearshifts from the five-speed unit amazed me. The one down four up gearshift pattern works efficiently without any false neutrals. Honda has tuned the gearbox well for city use and the gear shift actions are smooth. That said, the motorcycle won’t be bad for touring either. On our fuel efficiency run the bike returned a fuel economy of 55.03kmpl which is a very decent figure for a bike weighing 146kg.
The Unicorn will not build up the enthusiasm in you to charge at corners, but its chassis feels nimble to change direction with ease. The motorcycle's front isn't as light as you would expect a commuter bike to be, but then it gives a nice and planted feel even during a quick manoeuvre. The MRF Nylogrip Zappers (2.75-18 up front and 100/90-18 at the rear) provide sufficient grip and are tubeless tyres to reduce the hassle of punctures. The Unicorn's telescopic front and monoshock rear suspension are tuned comfort rather than handling, but are damped nicely to ensure a good ride quality particularly without thudding through potholes. Speed bumps, large potholes and even sharper obstacles are taken in its stride with ease. Braking duties are taken care of by a 130mm drum brake at the rear and a 240mm disc brake in the front. The rear brake is pretty mediocre in terms of feel and even the front brake isn't that sharp. It gets that bite only on giving the lever a good pull. Nonetheless, they aren't intimidating and work well to bring the bike to a halt.
Anything else I should know?
Design wise surely nothing has changed on the decade old motorcycle. On the bright side, there has definitely been an effort to improve the overall quality. The side plastic panels and rear cowl do not feel flimsy now and the metallic paint gives a nice premium feel. That said, the switchgear still feels pretty basic and a kill switch is still absent. Then, the analog instrument cluster might be too old for one's liking, but is pretty functional and gets the job done. Also, the heel-and-toe shifter will surely be missed. One glaring deficiency is the lack of a digital trip meter today, when even 125cc scooters offer part-digital gauges with twin trip meters and service indicators, the analog trip meter that can be reset by any passerby is an anachronism.
Why should I buy one?
This motorcycle is not for you if you are looking for a sporty looking bike that will make you feel special. You will be quite disappointed if you are expecting some fancy design and features. Conversely, this one's perfect for you if don’t mind a restrained styling but want a comfortable and economical bike. The motorcycle is known for its refined engine, long lasting build quality, low maintenance costs and a hassle-free ownership experience. Amongst the 150cc commuters available now in the Indian market, the CB Unicorn 150 is the most practical, no nonsense bike you can buy. Sourcing one from a dealer quickly might be difficult though, judging by the waiting period due to its high demand.
Where does it fit in?
At an ex-showroom Delhi price of ₹ 70,267, the CB Unicorn 150 competes with the Yamaha SZ RR V 2.0 priced at ₹ 69,279 and the Hero Hunk (₹ 71,020) or the Hero Xtreme (Rs 71,930). It also goes up against the Bajaj Pulsar 150 priced at ₹ 74,603, but the latter is equipped with more features like digital clocks and back-lit switchgear.
1. Bell Qualifier Helmet -
A visually appealing helmet with an aerodynamic profile. It is lightweight, warm-weather centric and gets a very well ventilated polycarbonate shell. Cheek pads are a snug fit with washable comfort liners. Bang for the buck. Price - ₹ 10,000 (before shipping and duties)
2. Icon Hooligan Street Jersey Jacket -
This jacket is great for our hot weathers and comes with a relaxed fit. The small mesh and big mesh pattern at the back provide increased air flow, so that you can get the air all the way through. But it has no 360 zipper, so isn't great with pants. Price - ₹ 10,000 (before shipping and duties)
3. Ixon Moto HP gloves –
These are high quality, full gauntlet, leather gloves suited for city riding, touring and track use. Offers good ventilation and a high level of protection. Expensive though. Price - ₹ 9,500
4. AGV Sport Airtex pants –
These riding pants with mesh in the crotch, calf, back of legs and thigh areas is a real boon in our hot weather. Price -₹ 6,500.
5. Sidi B2 boots –
These are all-round street and sports bike riding shoes, which are also suitable for track days. However, they are not ventilated, which can make them uncomfortable for everyday use. Price - ₹ 17,000
Pictures by Kapil Angane
Click here to read our First Ride Review of the 2017 Bajaj Pulsar 150
Full Review-Hide Review