Reports Kilometers – 1700kms approx.
Duration – 1 month
This report has been a long time coming. Initially when it came, I was not able to use it due to heavy shoot schedules that required me to use cars in the MotorOctane longterm garage and finally I got hospitalized. Yes, in a world stricken by a respiratory disease i.e. COVID-19, a mosquito took me down. I was really annoyed. I came back from the Royal Enfield Classic 350 ride event and went straight to the hospital. After that for some days I was still weak and thus began going to office in my car. One week in, I could not bear seeing the black CB350 RS with the pearl yellow retro paint job sitting in my building parking spot just getting cleaned everyday. Something had to be done.
The Healing Begins
On my 5th day back from the hospital, I decided to keep my helmet, gloves, jacket and the CB350 RS keys in my car parked next to the bike. The bike was already filled with fuel. I decided to just clean the chain and check the tyre air pressure. The next day, early in the morning after getting ready for office, I told my brother to just unlock the car from his room so that I could retrieve my gear and keys. I swung my leg over the bike and turned the bike on. Oh how I love this bike’s cold start exhaust noise. The CB350 RS warmed up as I tightened my gloves and jacket to brace the morning chill that resulted because of the previous night’s rain. I looked up to just see my mother looking down from her room and I just waved to her before plonking the bike into gear and setting off. My first ride after being sick was a quiet and slow one but I was so happy to finally be back on two wheels after almost half a month. So the CB350 RS has my thanks for taking care of that. Now back to business.
Making commuting great again
Commuting – The main and only job of the CB350 RS in the MotorOctane garage undertaken by me. And I have to say it’s been doing a stellar job till now. To give the readers a brief rundown of my commute, let me just say it covers all aspects of riding conditions throughout the year and staying in Mumbai and travelling to Navi Mumbai means one faces all the seasons short of snowfall. So, be it sitting in traffic to riding all through a rain soaked monsoon thunderstorm or putting in highway miles – a daily 80 kilometer roundtrip to office and home has been exciting on the CB350 RS. In the city the bike has enough accelerating power to keep things interesting and on the highway there is great mid-range surge to slice through traffic. The handlebars, footpegs or seat don’t transmit any vibrations at all. I like the handling, it predictable and flickable too.
Ergonomics, features and looks
Well there are no features like the bluetooth connectivity or USB charging port that the Hness CB350 gets. The CB350 RS gets looks. I remember writing in a post when the Hness was launched that I loved the engine, gearbox and the chassis but what I wanted was the custom scene to give it a more retro look, rear set foot pegs, a different handle bar and maybe a halogen headlamp. So what Honda did with the RS really works for all. At a traffic signal, I always get people asking me about the bike, ogling it and complimenting it. It makes you feel special and after a tiring day when you get off the bike, you do look back and see how cool it looks one last time. The CB350 RS is a bike I really look forward to riding. Also, you can ride it a lot. On a full tank you are good to go for 510 kilometers which is good for city riding in the hands of a journalist who is never letting go of the throttle. I expect even better mileage on the highway in touring mode when the bike does not have to deal with traffic. Lastly on city usage, I should add the stock suspension handles potholes quite well but don’t go around hitting potholes hard as this does not come with long-travel suspension or spoke wheels (l guess Honda is planning all that for a Himalayan competition bike with this motor. Am I right, Honda?). On the subject of traction control, riding it in the wet and on the dusty edges of the highway while pushing it hard, it has allowed me some fun while not letting the bike spinout from under me all together.
Let’s start with ergonomics where everything is spot on for me except one thing. The switch gear placement for the horn is not ideal. I have now got used to it but deciding to swap the turn indicators with the button for the horn is not something I assume people like. Another thing is that the CB250 RS rider rides alone. On two occasions I have ridden with a pillion. A lady friend who is the smallest person I could get to sit comfortably also said, the lack of grab handles makes one a bit uneasy. Lastly, coming to the headlight – it’s good but like most LED headlamps in the market the spread is poor on the low beam while the high beam is good. But as the light is bright enough, I leave it on low beam and use the high beam to pass only.
With a total of 3 and a half weeks of solid use, the CB350 RS has yet to give me any big issue and is now going for a service soon. In the next report I shall try and give you a report about the service and some impression of touring or trail use. Till then it’s back to commuting.