Honda X-Blade Review
160 is the new black.
+ A refined engine and free-revving engine, comfortable seating
- Notchy gearbox, false neutrals, cluttered instrumentation
General Grievous was a four-armed lightsaber wielding Jedi hunter. A warlord who suffered great injuries in a ship crash, Grievous was rebuilt as a cyborg and went on to lead the Droid army. The skills of a Kaleesh warrior and the prosthetics of a cyborg made him a formidable rival of the Republic.
But why am I making these Star Wars references? Well, the X Blade is Honda’s very own General Grievous. It has the heart and soul of the CB Unicorn 160 paired up with the muscular styling inspired by the CB Hornet 160R.
And the similarities don’t end here. Look at it head-on, and fancy LED lamps give it a distinctive look, quite similar to Grievous’ face. The body is full of edges and creases, and the X Blade commands attention like no other small-capacity Honda. With these looks, you are sure to stay in the limelight wherever you go.
In true Honda fashion, the fit and finish of the X Blade is top notch. The fibre panels are of high quality and there is no sign of any rattle. Even the components like the rear tyre hugger, saree guard and the chain guard have been designed in keeping with the theme of the motorcycle. This specific bike features a matte green paint scheme, which perfectly complements the blacked out frame, engine, wheels and the exhaust. The dual-outlets in the exhaust might seem like an after-thought, but croons a sonorous and addictive sound track.
The wide handlebar, slightly rear-set footpegs and the low seat height make for an upright and comfortable riding position. The seat is wide and firm and you could spend long hours on it without tiring yourself out. Even the pillion seat is wide and comfortable. The tank also offers a good leverage for your thighs and is perfect for gripping onto it when you wish to get serious around corners.
The most remarkable aspect about the X Blade is the refinement. There are hardly any vibrations or signs of distress from the engine irrespective of how far or hard you push it. The exhaust note is muted while you are trundling around the city. However go past 4,500rpm and it gives out a loud and distinctive growl egging you to exploit the engine.
And exploit it, you will, for the X Blade feels so lively! A sizeable chunk of its torque is concentrated in the bottom end. The torque curve flattens out post the initial outburst, but it still manages to keep a smile on your face. Although the gearbox is notchy and plagued with false neutrals, the ratios are well spaced out. You could be trundling at 20kmph in the third gear in traffic without a word of complaint from the engine, and then hit triple digit speeds without an upshift.
The suspension is set up for a stiff ride, and things can get a little too bumpy for comfort, especially at the rear. However, the monoshock is adjustable for preload, tinkering with which should offer a more yielding ride. When it comes to handling, the wide handlebar offers good leverage to tip the bike in and the stiff suspension makes sure the bike doesn’t move around. This greatly helps your confidence when you chance upon a set of twisties. As for the brakes, the front disc offers a lovely initial bite and is backed up with good progression and stopping power.
The X Blade gets a LED headlamp which gives the front end a distinctive look. It also gets a new fully-digital instrument cluster, which now shows the gear position. It even gets hazard lamps. The bummer is that the switchgear continues to miss out on the engine kill switch. In the interest of keeping it price competitive, Honda has skimped on the rear disc brake, CBS and ABS. We wish these had been offered at least as optional extras.
Fitness of purpose
The seating triangle is comfortable and the engine is silky smooth, which makes spending time in traffic an effortless task. And given that the engine is borrowed from the Unicorn 160, there is no doubt that it will be light on your pocket too. Also, did I mention that it looks like a cyborg from Star Wars?
At Rs 80,161, the X Blade slots in perfectly between the Unicorn 160 and the Hornet. While the Unicorn 160 is a no-frills commuter bike, the Hornet is targeted at the executive crowd. The X Blade on the other hand, combines the best of what these two have to offer. And just like Grievous, the X Blade is a force to be reckoned with. The only problem I see is that there exists another bike, called the Suzuki Gixxer. Well, there is only one way to settle this, isn’t it?
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi
Helmet: Zeus ZS-811 Speedster - Rs 4,600
Jacket: Joe Rocket Alter Ego 3.0 - Rs 20,000
Gloves: Ixon Moto HP - Rs 9,500
Pants: AGV Sport Airtex - Rs 6,500
Boots: Sidi B2 - Rs 17,000
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