It’s not available in North America, but one of Honda’s most interesting bikes just saw a sporty sub-variant launch in India. The Honda H’Ness RS is on the market, after a bit of teasing, but it’s not the scrambler that many journos had hoped for.
The RS is basically a mildly made-over Honda H’Ness CB350, mixing up a bit of cafe racer flair with scrambler-style parts—but no real change to its capabilities. There’s a set of fork gaiters, some knobbly-ish tires, a flat seat, but no longer-travel suspension. Even the exhaust remains in a low-mount position, and the bike still has cast rims.
There’s still lots to like, though. It’s true the H’Ness isn’t as powerful as the original CB350 (it’s running an air-cooled single instead of a twin, and makes 20 horsepower instead of the original’s 36 horsepower). It’s also more than 20 pounds heavier than the original CB350’s 375 pounds, coming in just under 400 pounds fully-fueled. However, the H’Ness does have fuel injection, ABS, traction control, LED lights, and a slipper clutch. It also has built-in electronics that can sync a helmet comm set and cellphone; with this done, riders can skip through streaming music, or answer/reject incoming calls on their headset.
All in all, a wide range of fairly modern features for a 350, right? But that’s because most of this stuff is really just circuit boards, which are cheap enough to stamp out because Honda’s developed the tech on more expensive bikes over the years. In India, where the H’Ness is sold, this is considered a premium bike, and that means it needs premium features, especially if it’s to compete with the Royal Enfield lineup.
Will it come to North America? The KTM 200 Duke was probably the first made-for-India machine to cross over to the North American market, but the H’Ness would have looks that would bring in buyers, if the pricing was reasonable to match.