my honda h'ness cb350: buying & 5 months, 4500 km ownership experience

The weight distribution is amazing. I don’t feel the heaviness of the bike, which was evident on the Royal Enfield Classic 350.

BHPian vn11 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

My Honda H’ness/Highness recently completed 4500 km and about 5 months and I wondered what was the best way to celebrate other than writing down my journey with the beautiful machine.

my honda h'ness cb350: buying & 5 months, 4500 km ownership experience
my honda h'ness cb350: buying & 5 months, 4500 km ownership experience

A bit of background about me and how I decided to buy this bike.

I (25, Male) switched jobs at the start of the year and had to move to Pune from my hometown Lucknow. I felt it was high time to get a personal vehicle. I had lived in Lucknow since my birth and used my parents’ Mahindra Duro and then the Hero Maestro. I had no prior bike riding experience so sorting that up was the first thing. I watched some videos and practised using my friend’s bike which he no longer used. Now, deciding what bike to buy was a tough decision. I read as many articles as I could which mentioned what to look for in a first bike, but those just didn’t make anything easier.

I had a very flexible budget but did not want to go above 3.5L. I had some things very clear in mind when I started looking for a new bike:

  • No bike with sporty fairings and sporty riding stance- This removed KTMs, R15 and similar bikes.
  • I am 5’4” tall and weigh around 60kgs. This removed any ADV or tall bikes from my list.
  • Comfort was my priority since I had a messed-up lower back. (Yes, I’m 25 with back problems thanks to a football match where I injured my back badly).

I went to an RE showroom one fine day to check out Meteor and the 650 Twins. The 650 Twins were too heavy for me to comfortably control in traffic. I could not flat foot both legs and it made things more difficult. Meteor with its quite a low seat height fitted perfectly with my requirements. I could flat foot with boots on it easily. The Classic 350 was nice but it was way too common on our roads. Wanted something less common. I wanted to check out the newly launched Yezdi Roadster but the showroom was quite far from my place and I thought it’s better to give newly launched machines some time to niggle out issues. I also checked FZ and FZ-X from Yamaha which felt really manoeuvrable but lacked the wow factor.

I had nearly made up my mind to book the Meteor but decided to look at other available options. I went to the BMW showroom next to check out the G310R and man, that is one gorgeous machine. It had a very low seat, was light, very less units running on roads but carried a premium. Yes, before I get grilled that it’s a sports bike and I previously said no to them- I simply don’t know why but I fell in love with this machine. It had a premium feel to it. I forgot about the Meteor and booked it by paying a heavy sum of Rs. 30,000. But fate had something different for me. I was expecting my work from home to continue but I got a call to join the office in Pune in the first week of March. I started to weigh out options- to get the delivery of the G310R and ride it down to Pune OR to courier a brand-new bike to Pune which is really risky or lastly, cancel the booking and buy the same bike in Pune. Unfortunately, BMW had mentioned a deduction of 50% (i.e. Rs. 15,000 ) if I cancel the booking which was quite high. I have a thread on the very same topic on this forum. Shoutout to @Turbanator and @GTO for helping me get my full money back without much fuss.

I heavy-heartedly cancelled my booking, packed my bags and went to Pune where life happened and I got busy in flat hunting. Once I had a roof over my head, I started my search again. I came across a Honda showroom and had a Eureka moment that Honda had some Bullet-lookalike retro stuff in the market (CB350 fans, please don’t kill me for these words ). I fired up google chrome and looked around the offerings. The very next day I went to the Honda showroom, and got told that the CB350 twins are sold in BigWing exclusive outlets only, which for me was across the city. I spared some time one evening post office and went to the BigWing showroom. I entered the place to find the place filled to the brim with the CB350 twins and they looked simply stunning.

I asked for a test drive from the salesperson who was really polite. I test drove both – the CB350 RS and the H’ness and was simply blown away by the smoothness and refinement of the engines. The bikes simply glided on the road as if you had simply replaced the wheels with butter and are riding over a hot knife. The experience was nothing I had felt in the previous 5 to 10 bikes I rode. The only doubt I had in mind was will I look small on such a big bike (for my proportions) and will I be able to handle it since I was only a third of the bike’s weight.

My second doubt vanished on my second test ride, I went through heavy traffic and it was just effortless. The weight distribution was amazing I didn’t feel the heaviness of the bike, which was evident in RE Classic. At that point, I had made up my mind that I’m getting a Honda. Talked to my family about the colour choice and finally booked the Matt Green anniversary edition.

My reasons for going for H’ness over the RS at that time were:

  • H’ness looked a bit more elegant since I was more into retro looks.
  • Had Bluetooth connectivity which after 4000 km I have used only once.
  • Not sure if the seat heights are different but I felt a bit uncomfortable in RS. H’ness seemed more welcoming to me, especially the anniversary edition which has split seats and the rider seat is tapered in the front.
  • The Chrome elements on H’ness are just perfect. Not overdone or underdone.

I made the payment over a period of three days due to UPI restrictions. I had opted for Bharat registration hence the on-rod price came down a bit. The papers went to RTO on Monday and I had the delivery the next Monday. The process to get the Bharat series was quite smooth with only one hiccup which was due to some discrepancy in the documents I submitted, the rent agreement I submitted had a different owner’s name than that on the electricity bill. I had to submit a marriage certificate to sort that out. I am really thankful to my flat owners for being so helpful in providing the documents.

Let’s talk about some major aspects of the bike, mainly the issues since it is the least talked about aspect by an owner.

The engine

You will easily fall in love with the bike’s smoothness. Vibrations are minimal and start to creep in only when you get very close to the redline. The bike produces enough power and torque to easily climb up steep hills with a pillion (and honestly that’s what one wants with a bike, we have roads in the city- not racetracks). Highway trips are delightful as well. You can cruise around 90-100 kmph all day without the engine feeling stressed and just a bit of juice left for overtakes. Engine braking is quite good too and works well when you want to control your descent from a steep slope.

Quality of components

It’s a bit difficult to give a straight answer to this. In some places the quality of material and parts used is great but in some places, cost cutting is clearly visible. Let me elaborate on it a bit.

  • Quality of switches and plastics: Just amazing. The switches are very responsive and feel very premium. My friend purchased Scram 411 and there was a stark difference visible in the materials used for switchgear. The headlight could/shroud felt like made of cheap plastic etc.
  • Battery: They have used a Tata brand battery and it is a headache for users of these bikes. The battery fails all of a sudden without giving much warning. Numerous owners are stranded on the side of the road because the battery died all of a sudden and the bike refused to start. I am nearing 5k kms and didn’t have such an issue, but after seeing such reports on FB groups and YouTube I’ll possibly switch to Amaron or Exide pretty soon.
  • Paint quality: Once again, FB groups, YouTube and even our Team-BHP is filled with users facing rusting on chrome parts, around nuts and even on chassis. As far as I know, Honda is NOT covering this under warranty, please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I don’t know if this issue is with a particular batch or with every unit. As a precaution, I always spray the rust-prone areas with WD-40 post washes and I avoid pressure washes.
  • Rims and tyres- Some users have reported the rims getting bent even on small potholes. I have also driven by mistake into some notorious potholes but didn’t damage my rims. This could again be an issue with a batch.
  • The brake pads: My front pads got changed at just 3200kms. Some users are reporting even lesser distance. I was pretty shocked when I was going to the office and suddenly my front brakes wouldn’t slow down my bike. Luckily I had just taken my bike out of parking. I went to the service centre and found that the front brakes are busted. It was a surprise for me since I always practised engine braking and do not over speed. Checked the FB groups and yep, it’s a very common problem. Going for Vesrah ceramic pads once these wear out.
  • Mudguards: You would need a mudguard for the front fender the moment you leave the showroom. Also, advise the pillion to wear a raincoat else his/her back will be covered with mud after some time. I need to find a way to stop my bike from throwing mud on the pillion’s back. A tyre hugger is a good option but that would ruin a retro bike’s look.

Gearing

The gearing is very tall. You will need to get used to it and it somewhat takes some joy out while driving in the city. You will need to shift gears a lot and by ‘a lot’ I actually mean it. But that has its advantage also- you get pretty good fuel efficiency. It happens nearly every day when I see my friends go over potholes and speed breakers without even changing gear sometimes and I have to drop down till 1st gear so that the engine stops lugging.

The headlight

It looks gorgeous but it would be very risky to go on highways without AUX lights, moreover, it’s a death wish to drive in the Ghats with these headlights.

The fuel efficiency

For a 350cc bike, it delivers excellent mileage. I have got up to 46 kmpl on highways at 70 kmph constant speeds. In the city it drops to somewhere around 30-35 kmpl, mostly hovering around 32-33 kmpl mark.

Handling and riding

I am a 5’4” guy which makes it a bit difficult to manoeuvre the bike on bad roads since I can’t flat foot both my legs but with practice, it got easier. I cut out some foam and replaced it with gel, which lowered the seat height. Now I can flat foot my left leg like a breeze and the right leg can touch the ground simultaneously. Since I am a bit short for what this bike would like, I get some shoulder pain when driving 200+ kms. Thinking to install inclined handlebar raisers to solve this issue. I never felt that the bike is very heavy while filtering through traffic and it can easily help to find your way out.

The Bluetooth connectivity feature

Used it only once or twice and never found it useful enough.

Service experience

Have completed 2 free services as of now, both at the Rasta Peth service centre in Pune. The attention provided to the bike and the owner is just amazing. You will feel a bit relieved knowing that the premium you paid is showing up in the right places. Everyone is super polite and they listen to your issues patiently. Most importantly, they make sure you leave the place without any pending issues. They have a big window in the waiting area where you can watch your bike serviced and can even go to the service bay and watch by the side of the mechanic while he pampers your bike.

Summary

A lovely bike which feels effortless to drive but the above-mentioned shortcomings sometimes remind you that maybe Honda did not test it enough for Indian conditions- considering that they forgot very basic things such as not providing a longer fender/mudguard to avoid mud splashes.

Keyword: My Honda H'ness CB350: Buying & 5 months, 4500 km ownership experience

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