The Warring Brothers…
Honda’s new sporty Unicorn Vs Hero Honda’s CBZ Xtreme
Sorry! Pulsar and Apache lovers, this is going to be the shoot out of a feud between brothers. Until 2006 Honda Motor Company and the Munjals(owner of hero group) are equal owners of Hero Honda (they own 26 per cent each), in the past 22 years the Japanese have allowed their partners a free hand in running the company. But the honeymoon between Honda and Hero group seems to be over. Now the Japanese major – Honda wishes to tap the Indian market alone. The message was clearly sent to Hero group when the Takedagawa was made the charge for Honda motor
Note: Both the new versions of Unicorn and CBZ X-Treme are revamped in studio not in the factory
Design and Engineering:
Styling and Power are the deciding factor in the 150cc segment. Recently both these manufacturers are widely criticized for their sticker jobs i.e. their new variants do not feature new engine or any other major revamp in design but with new graphics. Seeing their new models the criticism seems to be true. The new Honda sporty unicorn shed its multi colour and embraces two tone setting with black front forks, clear lens indicator (now seen in most two wheelers) and new sleek graphics. Honda’s limited/special grand prix (GP) version features orange mag wheels (red one is seen in recently launched Karizma) and new graphics. Sadly the new treatment for the unicorn is too little and too late to woo customers.
Hero Honda hopes to revive the CBZ brand with its new CBZ X-Treme. The CBZ was an extremely popular and stylish bike of its times when it was launched in 1999, the bike had no competition in the 150cc segment. But in 2007 Hero Honda knows that it is not going to be easy for to do it again. Hero Honda has concentrated much on design for its new CBZ X-Treme. Both unicorn and CBZ borrows many design cues and features from Karizma. The instrument pod and the overall headlamp assembly of the X-Treme have a more trapezoidal shape looking like Karizma. The new turn indicators have been integrated into the headlamp housing and the tail lamp cluster features a segmented stop and brake light section with the turn indicators built into a single unit that wraps around the brake light’s bottom side. Both these features will help you to save your indicators in busy road condition. LEDs have been used replacing the conventional bulbs and together with the new Bajaj Pulsar 180 DTS-i becomes one of the first bikes to feature this kind of lighting at the rear. X- Treme also features split grab rail first of its kind in indian bikes (also featured in recently launched Pulsar 200cc)
Both X-Treme and Unicorn features a large fuel tank which is more practical with a generous knee recess even for tall riders. Both these bikes also features black alloy wheels, black engine, black chain cover and three gauges – engine rpm meter, speedometer and fuel gauge. Use of chrome on side panels of both X-Treme and Sporty Unicorn demands a compulsive look from the pedestrian. CBZ X- Treme features body coloured rear view mirrors while the new sporty Unicorn retains the same black theme for its mirror. Finally, Unicorn is conservative in styling, whereas X-Treme’s look is stimulating. Also X- Treme gets higher rating than sporty Unicorn when comes to features.
Engine and Powertrain:
Hero Honda tweaked the engine a little bit for its new CBZ whereas the Honda retains the same engine for sporty unicorn. Hero Honda have not tweaked the Achiever-spec motor in basic configuration (bore, stroke, compression are identical), but it has increased the power to 14.2 bhp (first 150 to make more than 14 bhp). The extra grunt ensures the
X-treme makes it more powerful than the Unicorn. X-treme is quicker than Unicorn, Autocar achieved 0-60kph in a quick 5.24 seconds, with 100kph flying past in 18.27sec and a top speed of 113kph with the Xtreme. The vertical format engine, which is assisted by a constant velocity (CV) carburetor, generates a peak torque of 12.8Nm at 8,500 rpm, quite similar to the Unicorn’s engine. Both these bikes features five-speed gearbox – a one down, rest up shift pattern. Unicorn scores over CBZ X- Treme in being economical, Unicorn returns a combined fuel efficiency/mileage of 52kpl as against 48kpl returned by CBZ X-Treme. Unicorn is meant for performance savvy and CBZ X-Treme for power savvy.
Ride and Handling:
The new CBZ X-Treme’s chassis is a tubular, diamond-frame type with a single down tube and a box-section swing arm. The ground clearance is an adequate 145mm. 18-inch mag wheels are offered at the front and the rear of the bike. While the front features a 2.75-inch regular tyre, the rear tyre is 100/90 in size, which has been combined with a Tuff-up tube for the added advantage of a relatively puncture-free performance. I believe every CBZ X-Treme driver will enjoy the riding position. With neat handlebar-to-seat-to peg geometry and comfortable seating position I’m sure that X-Treme rider will be reluctant to get down from the bike. X-Treme with the steeped up pillion seat, carefully placed rear foot rest position and split grab rail it ensures a pleasant experience for pillions too. Both these bikes use telescopic forks at the front. 240mm disc brake at the front and drum brake at the rear are standard features.
Sporty Unicorn apart from the new wider rear tyre and its new badge sporty, it has nothing to match to sports character of CBZ X-Treme. But don’t underestimate the riding character of Unicorn. It is the most solid bike in this segment. Honda’s Unicorn features a diamond-type frame with single down tube, which is more rigid and is yet flexible enough to absorb the shocks that will be thrown up by Indian road conditions. The stiff chassis provides the Unicorn excellent straight-line stability and smooth, confident cornering ability. Mated to this diamond frame, the box section swing arm and the unique mono-suspension at the rear add even greater strength to the Unicorn handling dynamics. X-Treme’s outdated twin hydraulic units for rear suspension is no match to Honda’s mono-shock suspension. Honda’s Unicorn may lack sporty character but its handling ability is superior in its class.
Summing it up…
CBZ X-Treme self start is priced at Rs56,500,Honda’s grand prix(GP) version i.e. special/limited edition of Unicorn is priced at Rs59,425 and the sporty version at Rs58,150. (all are ex-showroom price,Delhi)
X- Treme is more powerful and comes with loaded features while sporty unicorn symbolizes performance and makes sense for practicality (even after named sporty). If you look for a sporty bike to intimidate your friend then choose CBZ X-Treme but if you are a looking for a family bike pick the Unicorn.
With Pulsar and Apache in the neighboring stands both CBZ X- Treme and sporty unicorn will find its way hard to grab the attention. Honda and Hero Honda have produced impeccable and reliable bikes (still fit and finish of these manufacturers are unchallengeable) and they have brought some high end technologies to Indian roads. It’s true that both Honda and Hero Honda are great manufacturers and they are capable of producing world class bikes but with aggressive players like TVS and Bajaj they have to be more cautious otherwise these warring brothers will become ageing brothers. Honda and Hero Honda should realize that their die-hard fans expect Fuel Injection for their new bikes not stickers!