The magazine in your hands is the 350th edition of Canadian Biker: “CB350.” Understanding the importance of the milestone and to help make it extra-special, Honda decided to honour us by reviving a classic bike from its glorious past—the CB350, which has arrived on the Indian market as a 2021 model bearing the name H’Ness CB350.
We made that up about Honda honouring us—they never have in the past, why would they now? But the part about the 2021 CB350 H’Ness is true. We’re not sure where the truncated Highness designation came from or why, but in theory this is a sweet little bike that is bound to stir feelings in many of us of a certain age.
Nostalgics will remember the CB350 arrived in 1968 as an OHC parallel twin with dual Keihin carbs and for five years reigned as one of Honda’s best-selling models. It was a thoroughly fetching bike styled with two-tone paint, wire wheels, real steel fenders and tank, chrome trim and throaty exhaust. Featuring highway-capable performance and all-day comfort it was plenty of bike for the city and just enough to make an economical move across the country to start university in the fall.
Over time the CB350 became a darling of the Cafe Racer crowd and bearing in mind we have something of a “motorcycles in film” theme happening with this issue, it’s timely to mention the snappy CB350 cafe custom ridden by the character Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) in 2011’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
To be sure, the new CB350 is a completely updated unit with the standard techy bits that are now apparently indispensable to a modern motorcycle: LED lights, bluetooth connectivity, variable torque control and Honda’s Smart Voice control system. And yes, there’s an actual bike hiding in behind all that. Whereas the original CB350 first arrived in parallel twin configuration, the 2021 H’Ness is now a thumper.
The five-speed bike with slipper clutch is a 348cc single-cylinder air-cooled offering built around a double cradle steel frame with garden variety hydraulic forks and twin rear shocks. There are disc brakes fore and aft clamping the 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels (100/90 and 130/70 rubber). ABS, fuel-injection fed by a 15-litre fuel tank, and a modest chrome package are among the other details.
Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) works by detecting the difference between front and rear wheel speeds, calculating the slip ratio and further controlling engine torque via the fuel injection system. HSTC can be turned ON/OFF using a gauge-mounted switch. An indicator in the digital display flickers when the system is engaging.
Honda calls its HSTC, a “segment first.”
Apparently another segment first is the Honda Smartphone Voice Control system (HSVCS) allowing the rider to connect his smartphone with the motorcycle via Bluetooth. Once connected, the system is operated by controls on the left side of the handle bar to use features such as phone calls, navigation, music playback and incoming messages, all of which play through a helmet headset speaker.
There’s more tech stuff of course, such as the “heritage inspired” digital-analogue speedometer displaying all the operational info feeding back from the previously mentioned HSTC, ABS, and HSVCS systems. The instrument informs you of gear position, battery status and fuel economy, which is displayed in three modes: real time mileage, average mileage and distance to empty.
There are myriad other features about the H’Ness CB350, which your dealer can explain with infinite detail if the bike ever arrives on North American showroom floors. If it somehow maintains the very affordable price it sells for in the Indian market, even better.
Canadian Biker Issue 350