As a replacement for the Unicorn Dazzler, Honda has now launched the new CB Trigger as a premium 150cc. But can it take on the competition?

So far, Honda has never gone wrong with its motorcycles and scooters in 150cc and below segments. I know of many people who are extremely happy with their CB Shine and CB Unicorn. And they have good reasons to be – they get refined engines, durable build and good fuel economy. That’s almost everything an Indian mass-market motorcycle user wants.

But the Unicorn Dazzler didn’t sit well with the crowd it was targeted at – the young Indian biker. For most buyers, the styling just wasn’t right. They preferred the more sculpted design, fat rear tyre, aggressive riding stance and naked streetfighter styling of the Yamaha FZ-16/FZ-S. The Yamaha also doles out more power. So, has Honda taken a few cues from these rider preferences and made the CB Trigger more appealing for the target buyer? We take a ride and find out.

Styling

Before CB Trigger was launched, many motorcycle enthusiasts in India believed that Honda might be bringing in the CB150R Streetfire. But what Honda did was bring in similar design cues and slapped them on to its trusted Unicorn’s 150cc engine block. So that makes the Trigger a bit of a visual treat. The tank is well sculpted, with pseudo-intakes on either side, and the headlamp styling bears a strong resemblance to the CB1000R (except for the chin-strap).

The Trigger is based on the same diamond frame as the outgoing Dazzler, and also gets a fat exhaust along with a fully digital console that provides a lot of info and is orange backlit. Sadly though, the electrical switches are sub par. While the Pulsars get even backlit switches and the FZs get some premium grade ones, Trigger gets cheap plasticky ones. And guess what – there’s no engine kill switch either. From a buyer’s point of view, I’d want all of those if I am spending this kind of money.

Engine and performance

It’s clear that Honda just doesn’t want to do away with its single cylinder 149.1cc air-cooled motor that it has been using on the Unicorn. And maybe to play it safe, there has been no tweaking done with the power output (as was with Dazzler) as well. It continues making 10.3 kw (14 bhp) @ 8,500 rpm of peak power, and churns out a peak torque of 12.5 Nm, which kicks in at 6,500 rpm.

On paper, it sounds decent enough. In fact acceleration is typically Honda – the Trigger does a 0-60 and a 0-100 kmph runs very effortlessly. The 5-speed gearbox has short and crisp ratios, and with effortless shifting and a light clutch, it’s easy to go zipping around town. It does, however, feel fairly less torquey than the Pulsar and FZ. Also, the exhaust muffles things a bit too much. Sometimes, a motorcycle should sound like a motorcycle, especially if it’s to be pitted against hardcore streetfighters.

Ride quality

The Trigger is a well balanced motorcycle if you look at riding comfort. There is hardly any engine vibration unless you gun it past 90 and/or beyond 7,000 rpm. Even then the vibrations are acceptable. Under city riding conditions, the ride is neither too soft nor too harsh, thanks to a very responsive mono-suspension at the back. The saddle too, is a comfortable one, with enough width between the legs and nicely padded to keep your buttocks comfy even over the biggest potholes.

The mass is centralised, and unlike the front-heavy Pulsar, I found that throwing the Trigger around corners is quite easy. That said, on the same corners, I have been quicker on an FZ. And that I believe is due to a sportier stance with wider handlebars and the slightest lean-forward seating position. The fatter rear tires on the FZ also contribute to the speed and stability around corners. Though, fatter rear tyres alone don’t necessarily lead to better stability.

Honda has brought the Combined Braking System, or CBS (albeit with disc brakes) which we have already seen on its scooters. For those who don’t know, CBS applies a proportionate force on the front brake too when you push down the rear brake. That results in more efficient braking with less braking distance, and avoids the situation where only your rear wheel locks up and steps out (and eventually leading to a crash). The CBS option comes at a premium (Rs 6,000 more than the non-CBS rear-disc variant), but is very effective and something that less-experienced riders would appreciate.

Bottomline

The Trigger is undoubtedly better looking than its predecessor, and has a superb mill that screams refinement and delivers a claimed mileage of 60 kmpl. But somehow, it still looks and feels docile when compared to the FZ. In short, it may appeal to buyers who are looking for better styling, features, power and economy than a normal 150cc, but it is not likely to woo the young rider who wants an authentic street bike. The base variant with drum-rear-brake is priced at Rs 67,384 (ex-showroom Delhi), and the one with a rear-disc will cost Rs 3,000 more, and the rear-disc with CBS will set you back by another Rs 9,000.

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 22, 2013)
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