Honda CB200X first ride review: Road bike masqueraded as ADV
The adventure touring segment is taking off well in the country, and not growing with the segment is a risk that some manufactures are unwilling to take. It was almost kicked off with the launch of the Royal Enfield Himalayan a few years back and later joined by other players such as the KTM 390 Adventure, etc. Hero also sells its XPulse 200 but that sits in a fairly entry-level segment and I wouldn't really term it as an adventure tourer. Now, Honda has its eyes at the segment with the new CB200X that comes out as a basic derivation of the Hornet 2.0. Needless to say, the CB200X does remind of its donor model from certain angles but has the platform sharing gone too far this time? Read on to know!
CB200X is definitely a handsome-looking bike, ill give it that. There are LEDs all around, a big and muscular front fairing that screams ‘adventure’, and the golden-dipped front fork that gives it a premium look. Honda says that the overall design of the CB200X has taken inspiration from other bigger adventure offerings in its lineup which is also pretty evident in the bike's design. It looks ready to give other bikes (in its price range) a run for their money, but beauty is subjective.
Honda has also maintained parts quality and fit, finish throughout the CB200X's body. Plastic panels look like they belong on an even costlier bike, and the split seats also give it a nice touch. The fully digital display gets a 5-step brightness adjustment, but the front windscreen remains fixed.
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Since the engine and frame have been sourced from the Hornet 2.0 there's nothing much to talk about it. There are no engine, transmission tweaks, no modification done on the frame, and also no efforts to improve the ground clearance as well which remains the same as the Hornet. This only implies that Honda wasn't exactly interested in changing the ride behaviour of the bike, which no doubt is well for a road bike, but where exactly does that take the CB200X?
To start off, Honda highlighted in the pre-ride briefing session that it is not an adventure bike, as funny as it may seem, it does purely look like one. Calling it a new “Urban Explorer", which basically means that it is a road bike, nothing more. And with this package, Honda is aiming to attract the audience that needs a big, and attractive looking bike that's practical enough to be ridden every day.
To make it unique (against donor model) Honda gave it a high-raised stance and tweaked the handlebar using raisers and also increased the seat height to 810mm (795mm on Hornet 2.0) using more padding on the seat. Yes, there are no changes done to the chassis to accommodate a higher seat but more foam.
Swing a leg over, and CB200X doesn't exactly feel bad. The posture remains upright, comfortable and not demanding at all. Also, the raised handlebar makes it fairly convenient to ride. Putting the feet down is easy, easy enough to ride it on a daily basis even in bumper to bumper traffic without the constant anxiety that regular ADVs generally invite. Also, its lightweight only adds to the convenience it aims to offer.
Tap on the starter button and the 184 cc single-cylinder engine fires up instantly, along with a soft puttering of the exhaust, reminding that it's a Honda. Paired to a 5-speed transmission, the engine manages to remain smooth and quick for city rides. It is only when you really rev the soul out of the engine that it gets a bit noisy at higher rpms, but not to forget, after all, it is just a 184 cc powertrain. The transmission remains slick but sometimes doesn't slot the gears with satisfaction.
The CB200X feels decent for the Indian roads and manages to boss over all the undulations the roads have to throw at it. Also, the rake, trail/steering geometry remains unchanged so it kind of handles like a street bike too, around the corners. But do not expect to feel the suspension working as you do on the regular ADVs; as Honda says, it is ‘not an ADV’ buy a show-off tool. Encounter a pothole deep enough and you will slam the front end hard, as provided suspension travel (130mm) isn't enough, clearly; forget going on off-road trails. The discs, on the other hand, manage to bring it to halt without any drama, so no complaints.
The final words:
Overall, the CB200X manages to come out as a sweet, good-looking, and easy-to-ride road bike disguised as an ADV. If you are a hardcore adventure purist, you will be disappointed, but it makes sense for everyday movers. Also, Honda isn't charging a bomb as it is only about ₹13-15,000 costlier than the Hornet 2.0, which places it in a sweet spot for buyers with affection to this category of motorcycles.