What’s this new Honda?

Design for 160cc naked sports bike could hint at a future styling direction for bigger machines

WE'VE been searching Honda’s massive bike range across the world trying to come up with a match for this machine that’s just appeared in a design patent filing and so far we’re drawing a blank.

Of course, we might well have missed it – Honda’s range differs around the world and there are dozens of variations between models – so if you recognise it, do let us know.

Technically, the bike appears to have the engine of the recently-launched, Indian market Hornet 160R. It’s an air-cooled, 162cc single making 15.7bhp. That’s not likely to set many western pulses racing - and given its carb-fed, air-cooled design the chances are it will never be sold in Europe, where meeting Euro4 emissions rules would be next to impossible, not to mention the fact its capacity doesn’t fit into the licencing regime here.

The chassis appears to be from the same bike, although the upside-down forks are new.

However, it’s the styling that's caught our eye. Honda tends to follow fixed themes in its styling choices, scaling similar shapes up or down to suit different models. So if this bike is under consideration as a small-capacity model, it’s more than likely that the same look could be carried over to larger bikes that would appeal to riders here.

The side profile most distinctly separates it from the Honda norm. The low-slung headlight and hunched fuel tank are reminiscent of the Kawasaki Z1000, and there are clip-on bars (albeit above the top yoke) rather than a single-piece handlebar. Allied to the visual weight that’s thrown forward by the large side panels that follow the lines of the forks, there’s an aggression that’s lacking from most of Honda’s naked offerings.

As a side note, bear in mind that Honda’s flagship naked bike, the CB1000R, has been largely overtaken by more modern rivals since its launch. Machines like the BMW S1000R, the new Yamaha MT-10, Suzuki’s GSX-S1000 and Kawasaki’s aforementioned Z1000 all outgun it for power. Then there’s the recently revamped Triumph Speed Triple to consider, as well as bikes like KTM’s V-twin 1290 Super Duke R.

There’s a question mark over the CB1000R’s ability to meet the latest Euro homologation rules, too, suggesting that a revamp for 2017 should be on the cards if Honda wants to be competitive in the increasingly popular naked superbike market.

While this design is clearly no superbike, it’s easy to see how the same style could be carried over to a larger machine.

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