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Disappointed with Himalayan 450: Honda CB350RS owner after a test ride

The incredible specs on paper & the hype online make us imagine that the grass is greener on the other side, and then one test ride slaps us back to reality.

BHPian klgiridhar recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I finally went for a test ride at the ITPL RE showroom. The showroom was packed even at 7 PM with one Super Meteor, one Himalayan Kaza Brown delivery taking place, and many others checking all the other bikes.

I currently ride the Honda CB 350 RS. So, you can consider my opinions from the point of view of someone who has done close to 25k km on that bike. The test ride was not a long one, around 4-5 km as few others were waiting after me. The route I took was from the showroom - Hopefarm signal - Prashanth Layout - Vydehi and back.

Here are my observations. I am a little disappointed, to be honest, as the bike didn't feel worthy of the hype primarily due to its engine.

Before going there, let's look at the pros as well:

  • The fit and finish felt good with no rattling sound from anywhere.
  • The mirrors remained fairly clear with no signs of buzz, although the field of view could've been better but I got used to round mirrors with the RS.
  • The Suspension was the main highlight. If anyone knows the route I took, you would know that there are a lot of speed bumps, rumble strips, and a few patches near Brigade Tech Park where there is no road as well. I didn't feel a thing. On the CB, at low speeds, you do feel the bumps as it is slightly on the stiffer side (not uncomfortable though) but this one is at an altogether different level. Big thumbs up.
  • Even though the bike felt heavy to take off the stand, it felt light and easy when moving around. I am 5 ft 9 and I didn't have any problem moving it around. I was almost flat-footing on both sides.
  • The display felt crisp and with a nice resolution.
  • The engine has a strong and progressive pull as the revs climb.

Now coming to the cons from my initial impressions:

  • The engine was decent providing good punch from around 3.5k rpm but the low end was not the best, although decent enough. Coming from a long-stroke motor, I have expected this. But the main problem is the engine felt unfinished and rough, like a work in progress. The engine note is underwhelming as well.
  • I wanted purposefully to test ride at night first. And the headlight felt useless (same as my CB350RS). Need aux-lights if you prefer touring at night as well.
  • The position of the gear lever is bad and I didn't feel comfortable shifting the gears immediately, although might get used to it.
  • Though the fit and finish levels are good, the indicator, and the joystick all lack the tactile feedback expected.

Vibrations

Before bashing out on the bike, I would like to put forward that I didn't get a chance to test the 5th and 6th gears. And this may be due to the test ride bike as well but the test ride bike was in very good condition. So yeah, coming to the vibrations, they are delivered in truck-loads - on the handlebar, on the footpegs. The seat felt fairly isolated though. I was mostly riding in 2.5 - 4.5k rpm and my hands almost went numb in that 5km test ride. Looking forward to taking it out onto the highway to see how it fares at speeds between 100-120 kph but as things stand, this bike almost goes off my consideration list straight away.

Coming from a Honda, the vibes on the Himalayan never felt like a buzz, they were like actual vibes. Add to that the rough and unfinished feeling of the engine, by the time I finished the test ride, I was disappointed that such a brilliant suspension and chassis setup could go to waste with the feel of the engine.

After the test ride, I took the GT out for a spin, and what a creamy smooth engine it is. Loved it. Eagerly looking forward to the Shotgun 650 and the Scram 650. Both have/are expected to have better ergonomics than the Twins.

Finally, came back and sat on my bike, the CB350RS, and turned it on. Don't know what magic Honda does, but the experience was surreal, I felt that I was taken back to the future with the refinement that it has. I do a lot of highway touring and this bike is perfectly good until 110 kph, the only thing is it is difficult or almost impossible to make a quick overtake at speeds of 100+. The upgrade bug is biting me after close to 3 years because of this reason alone. Also, the gearing is a little tall but you get used to it, thanks to the slick gearbox. For everything else, the CB twins are great motorcycles to consider.

So yeah, with all the incredible specs on paper, the hype online making us imagine that the grass is greener on the other side, then one test ride slaps us back to reality and in a way, makes us appreciate what we have as well. I forgot all the features the Himalayan had the moment I started riding it. To each, his own. Do take a test ride, you may not feel the vibes that much but coming from a Honda, my tolerance levels are fairly low.

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