Honda recently revealed its EV roadmap for India, along with the announcement of a new bike based on the CB350 platform by the end of this year. This platform was designed to compete with the Royal Enfield 350cc lineup. And, given that Honda already has the H’ness to compete with the Classic 350 and the CB350RS, which is marketed as a scrambler, we expect this new bike to take the form of a cruiser and compete with the Meteor 350.
Cruisers are certainly a niche market, but the Meteor has been contributing around 8,000 units to RE’s sales figures most months. Our guess is that Honda is hoping to carve out a piece of this pie for itself, and if so, it may re-engineer the H’ness CB350 to do so. If Honda does use the H’ness as the basis for a cruiser, platform engineering history suggests that the main frame, as well as the air-cooled 348cc single-cylinder engine, will remain unchanged.
However, all of the extraneous styling is likely to be more in line with cruiser styling, and Honda could be inspired by something like its own Rebel 300 cruiser sold overseas. Suspension setup may also be altered to provide a more raked-out front end and make the bike ride lower to the ground, as is common with cruisers. Bottom-end grunt (as expected from a cruiser) isn’t necessarily a trademark of this engine, and Honda could experiment with gearing and sprocketing to compensate.
If the new bike is to compete with the Meteor, it will need to be priced similarly. So expect it to be in the Rs 2 lakh to 2.2 lakh range (ex-showroom). Honda says the bike will be available in November, but expect it to be available earlier, around the holiday season.