Honda X Blade review – Does it have X-factor?

When it comes to the entry-level segment in the performance motorcycle space, you tend to be spoiled for choice. A lot of different two-wheeler manufacturers like getting a chunk out of the sales pie, and Honda has been one among them. In 2018, Honda launched the X Blade, which sits between the CB Unicorn 160 and the CB Hornet 160R. We think the X Blade is, by far, the sharpest-looking Honda two-wheeler in India. We take this looker for a ride to see if there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Sharp as a blade

The X Blade shares absolutely nothing in common with other Honda motorcycles in India. Every panel is fresh; the panels on the sides look sharp, with a lot of layers on it. Some may think it’s overdone, while some may fall for it instantly. The styling is certainly aggressive and contemporary and can confuse you into wondering if it is a naked sports bike or an adventure tourer. The towering windscreen hints at an adventure motorcycle, with its high-set turn signals, the tank pad-like panels and beefy-looking grab handles at the back. The bike feels sporty the moment you’re seated on it, the handlebar is low-set, and the rear-set foot pegs remind us of the Hornet’s. The seat is all-new and provides ample space for the rider and pillion. However, a bit of firmness in the cushioning can be felt. The Honda X Blade is available in one variant that gets a 276mm disc up-front but doesn’t feature ABS or CBS, for that matter. The fully digital instrument cluster doesn’t look like what we’ve seen on other Honda Bikes; there’s even a gear position indicator and hazard lights. An engine kill-switch is missing, however.

Performance X-press?

The Honda X Blade undoubtedly looks the coolest in the Honda Bikes range, but performance is nothing great. It is powered by a 162.7cc engine, producing 13bhp and 13.9Nm of torque, mated to a 5-speed gearbox that shifts quite smoothly. The X Blade is a fun bike to experience. The idle is different and cannot be compared to the Unicorn 150. The bike shoots ahead with eagerness in the very first gear itself and it has a strong mid-range, which is useful in urban conditions. For as long as you’re not on a highway, the X Blade is fast enough – and if you push the engine to its limit, it starts to sounds rather nice, but not without feeling some vibrations. The Honda X Blade is a bike we’d recommend for the city.

X-cellent handling?

The bike is agile on its tyres and there’s a sense of stability in the way the bike handles. It’s not as sharp a handler as an Apache RTR 160 4V, but it’s exciting to ride in its own way and doesn’t lack the confidence in doing so. It gets 17-inch tubeless tyres at the front and rear that really help when it comes to staying committed on the bike. The Honda weighs 140kgs, making it that bit heavier than its siblings, but the extra heft doesn’t blunt the skills of the bike in any way. The riding position is spot-on for anyone who wants to feel like they’re going fast.

Also, since the bike looks a bit like it was made for adventure, we even took on some bad stretches of tarmac and found the telescopic forks soaking in the bumps impressively, while the monoshock at the back does an even better job. However, the X Blade is not what we’d call comforting, but the bike maintains composure well. The front brake lever doesn’t feel great but the brakes function well to help bring the bike to a stop. Even the drum brake at the rear does a decent job; we just wish it offered ABS.

X hits the spot?

The X Blade, we think, is better than its siblings, for it looks sharp and sporty, features an LED headlamp, comes with a comfortable seat and ergonomics perfectly suited for a first-time rider. It’s the bike you buy when you cannot push closer to a lakh of rupees. However, the absence of ABS upsets us. That apart, the Honda X Blade makes a solid case for itself. It is a stylish motorcycle with good attributes, but we’d definitely like to see this bike evolve into something far better. Also, grab the latest info on the upcoming bikes, only at autoX.