“One look is enough” says the Honda promotional material for the X-Blade. How right are they? Bang on, I will say. In the 20 minutes since I picked the motorcycle, I have seen more heads turn than when I was riding the Triumph Bobber. Someone passed me on another 150cc motorcycle and gave a thumbs up as well. Well, I am not sure if he did that for my non-ISI helmet which might get banned soon or for the motorcycle. The Honda X-Blade first impression then is very positive. Time to give it the road test treatment then!
Is the Hornet going to be discontinued?
Nope. The Honda X-Blade was launched because the Japanese company took a leaf out from rival Bajaj’s page. The price gap between the Unicorn 160 and the Hornet which was the top dog in its 160cc lineup was Rs 10,000. So, to gain a wider audience, Honda introduced the X-Blade which sits bang in the middle. Previously, Honda had the CB Dazzler and Trigger in this space but both were discontinued due to lack of favourable response.
As you already know by now, the Honda X-Blade looks smashing. The prime attraction is that Robo Face design for the headlight. It’s an all-LED unit and is very attractive too. The meters are a digital unit, the design is similar to the Hornet’s but the execution is different. There is also a gear indicator on offer along with the rev counter, odo, speedo, fuel gauge and trip computer. A first in its segment and for a Honda commuter vehicle is the hazard light button where usually the headlight switch should be. The tank has got extensions and looks similar to the one used for the Hornet. While the cycle parts too are shared with the Hornet including the brakes, grab handles and the tyres, the seat is different. It is a hard thing and had me squirming after just a few hours in the saddle. Definitely not a comfortable seat this one. If I am buying this bike, then I will change it to a softer or better padded unit. What I like it the unique tail light, rear tyre hugger as well as the exhaust pipe.
The motorcycle is shorter but wider and has a longer wheelbase than the Hornet. It also sits lower to the ground and weighs more
Honda uses the trusted 162cc four stroke air cooled engine in the X-Blade. This motor though is in a slightly different tune, closer to the Unicorn 160, than the Hornet. The engine makes 13.9PS of power and 13.9Nm of torque compared to the Hornet which makes 1PS/0.6Nm more. A 5-speed gearbox is used to transfer power to the rear wheel. I had no issues with the shift quality of this box. The motorcycle feels energetic despite the weight gain and power loss. However, the top end suffers and you can feel that the engine is nearing its limit when you are reaching 100kmph. What is appreciable that in the city confines, the engine doesn’t need too many shifts. It is decently tractable but not the best one out there. In terms of 150-160cc tractability, nothing beats the Yamaha R15 now.
For the efficiency part, the Honda X-Blade turned out to be good. In the city, I managed to eke out 51kmpl whereas on the highway, the number increased to 57kmpl. This with the 12-litre tank will ensure you have a range of around 600km before needing to refuel.
The engine stays refined for the most part and is just about eager to rev as well.
Ride and handling
Honda uses telescopic front suspension and a monoshock at the back. The Honda X-Blade has been set up stiffly. With just the rider on, it feels like your spine will have to take the maximum hits. However, the first pothole you encounter and get past, you realise that it’s not as bad as it seems. There is some amount of suppleness dialled in and this improves with a pillion. The stiffness does help while taking a corner aggressively. I however felt that the tyres could have been a tad more stickier, especially in monsoon. Maneuvering the motorcycle feels just like any another 150cc machine – easy and predictable.
Honda offers a drum brake at the rear and forget ABS, there is also no CBS on offer here. The braking though felt reassuring and there is nothing lacking. The feel at the levers too is very good and the Honda tells you how much to squeeze the lever to get the maximum braking.
The riding position itself is neutral with a commuter-ish stance. The pillion seat is also slightly stepped up. So if your mother wears a saree and wants to sit pillion, she will not be scared to hop on to the seat. Also, unlike the Gixxer, there is plenty of space for the pillion.
What I didn’t appreciate and even my photographer is the mirrors. They are small and non-adjustable. There were multiple occasions when I had to actually turn behind to see if someone is riding or driving in the next lane. My photographer who rode the bike also felt the same.
Verdict of the Honda X-Blade
The Honda X-Blade then is a very nice option if you are in the market for a stylish 150cc commuter. It is priced right as well given that the competition is either expensive or blander looking. Build quality is typical Honda – very good. At Rs 81,129, ex-Mumbai, the Honda X-Blade though misses out on CBS/ABS and could have had better designed mirrors as well. If I were to buy one, it will be my primary motorcycle for point A to B jobs as well as for taking mom to the grocery store.
Things we love about the Honda X-Blade
Styling, brakes and efficiency
Things we don’t like about the Honda X-Blade
More power will not hurt, no CBS/ABS and better mirrors
The Honda X-Blade’s LED lights look good but they have a limited throw. In this aspect, the KTM’s projector or the LEDs Bajaj uses for the Dominar have a much better illumination property. This one is better than the FZ25 though.