Life hit me hard, literally, when I saw how drastically my persona had changed from riding gear, helmet and Kevlar shoes to a formal shirt n’ trousers, with a tie no less, and polished shoes!! Because motorcycles were everything for me back then and they still are, I took the drastic decision of quitting my job to pursue my passion… riding! I decided to put my nest egg of savings in my corporate job to good use and made plans to go to the North East on my motorcycle. But it was still a month away and since I was away from riding a bike for a long time, I needed to warm up a bit, so what could I spend my time doing? Rising, of course! That’s how the plan for Goa, riding the Hornet 160 with a few friends fell into place. After packing my bags, I picked up the Honda Hornet 160 from the showroom that night. Next morning, at around 7am I started my ride to Goa. I was riding the Honda CB Hornet for the first time and took my time getting used to this bike. We all assembled at the decided place for chai and fuelled up our motorcycles. With just a 12-litre fuel tank on the Hornet, I wasn’t looking at covering big stretches between fuel stops. Our first stop was Pune to pick up a few more friends. Who were joining us for the ride. We covered the distance between Mumbai to Lonavla in 2 hours and took a short halt for refreshments, right after which we shot for Pune assembly point which was Dehu Road Junction. In around 3 hours 20 mins from Mumbai, we were in Pune and waiting for our friends to show up near a dhaba. After a filling anda bhurji paav and chai for breakfast, and with the rest of the riders joining in, we started off for Goa.
It was a straight road for over 500 kms from the breakfast point with just 2 ghats, one near Satara and the other post Belgavi. With tummies and tanks full, we kept riding at a good speed of around 100 kmph, the speed varying across cities on the highway. In another 2 hours, we reached the Khambhatki Ghat. Until here the Hornet was surprisingly good! It could easily do and maintain speeds around 100 kmph, with the 160cc powerplant it comes with keeping cool and efficient even after a revving it a bit on the highway. The suspension setup on this motorcycle is a bit stiff, which makes the ride a little bumpy on bad roads. Entering the ghat, I wasn’t too sure about cornering the bike, yet kept revving it through the twists and turns. After a few corners, I was sure the bike could do better and I started having some fun on it. The MRF zapper tubeless 100/80-17 tyre in the front and 140/70-17 in the rear does a magical job here. In my experience, I have never seen any motorcycle in this segment which could corner so well. The shortly stiff suspension setup on this motorcycle does the trick here, keeping the body planted and taking the corners smoothly. Having the hornet under me in the Khambatki ghat was fun throughout the stretch and as we climbed down the ghat, I realized I just have to sit and keep throttling now for over 250 kms until Belgavi in Karnataka, as it was a straight highway.
It was 1pm in the afternoon and we were riding since 7am and had covered almost 220 kms by now. A little ahead of the Khambatki ghat is our favorite restaurant Aaram. Aaram is known for its quick service and delicious taste. It serves good food and is right on the highway so you don’t waste time looking for restaurants. With some piping hot chicken and rotis in our tummies, we just couldn’t miss the yummy Strawberry cream that Aaram serves. Since it is located right outside Wai from where Mahabaleshwar is just about 50 odd kms, they have a fresh stock of strawberries all round the year. If you are on the NH4, do not ever miss this delicious Strawberry cream at Aaram. Burrrpp!… And within 30 mins we were on our bikes again. The Hornet cluster display still showed half a tank full,coming as surprise to me, as I was expecting it to be 70% empty by now, if not more. A 12-litre tank was doing great job there. Proving that this motorcycle has a great fuel efficiency with numbers not less than 40 to 50 kmpl. Saddled in for another hour, the long, plush and comfortable seats on the hornet are a boon. Listening to favourite tracks through the Bluetooth-enabled speakers in the helmet kept me live and up for another 170 kms… that was another one and half hours of riding.
Nearing Kolhapur I could finally see that the Hornet was now nearing a fuel halt. That was around 390 kms, and it could still do another 30-40kms atleast, but we took a fuel stop. So approximately this bike has a good range of around 400 to 450kms in one fuel tank, which is quite impressive. It was around 4pm in the evening at the fuel station, so we refueled the bikes and our tummies with chai and garma garam spicy Kolhapuri Misal pav. Soon we throttled for our last leg of the journey for the day. From this point Goa was around 230 kms away, with one ghat on the way. The climate now was in our favor and we shot ahead as Goan fish curry and fresh beer was calling us. Riding from Kolhapur to Belgavi through the tight belgaum traffic, we reached the beautiful Chorla ghat. Chorla ghat is located in the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary. The road there is less travelled, isolated and hence in pristine condition. The constantly twisty tarmac stretch is my favorite road to ride en route Goa.
Around 6:30pm we took a small halt along the way, sitting on the bikes to see the fiery sun setting into the mountains. With a little light left on our hands to cover the distance, we throttled up. Just in two hours after sunset, we finally reached our destination. We had our stay booked at Palolem beach resort in South Goa. After a short while, fresh and relaxed around 9pm, we were back on bikes. We were heading for the Palolem beach for dinner which was around 3kms. The well-tuned gearbox on the Hornet which did great on the highway all throughout the day, is now even more impressive on the tiny lanes of Goa. The light weight and easy handling of the Hornet is a blessing at such places. It’s very nimble and swift, making you ride it effortlessly through tight traffic. The intelligently designed short chassis makes it a compact bike that helps park it easily even in small parking spaces. After a delicious dinner of yummy Goan fish curry, rice and beer, we rode back to the hotel and finally called it a day!
The next morning, I wanted to get the Hornet serviced and hence took it to the nearby service station. The technicians there promised me to give the bike back in 24 hours, and as promised the next morning, the bike was ready. Cleaned and serviced, with new engine oil, engine tune up, brakes and suspension tuned, the Hornet felt much better now.It had already impressed me on Day one, but it was simply amazing after the servicing!I was also highly impressed with Honda’s immediate response on the service request. After collecting the bike, we decided to checkout a few nearby churches and beaches, which Goa is famous for. On the Palolem stretch itself there are beaches like, Butterly beach, Palolem beach, Patnem beach, Rajbaug beach, Galjibaug beach, Colomb beach etc. This at the extreme end of Goa, after which Karnataka starts. All of these beaches are less explored, isolated and hence not crowded. South Goa is my absolute favourite destination because its clean blue water, beaches and real Goan food. The Palolem beach is fairly commercialized and adventure lovers have a lot of options like paragliding, jetsking, deep-sea diving, kayaking etc. to satiate their thirst for adventure. Taking the Hornet to a few places around was fun. By now it was Day 3 with me on the Hornet, and I was in love with it!After all, a Honda is a Honda. It’s super-refined engines and fabulous build quality which is seen in every product, talks of its success over all these years.
3 nights in Goa is all we could get, and sadly we had to move out the next morning. Where do we go now? I had quit my job and the other riders were on a long vacation. We were definitely not going home this soon. Packed the luggage, tied it on the bikes, sitting in a restaurant munching on some fried prawns, we planned the next destination. Ganpatipule! Right after breakfast around 9 am, we started rolling towards Ganpatipule, the distance from Goa being around 350 kms. Since we were in the extreme south of Goa, we had to travel through the whole state up till north Goa, and then take an exit. It was a good time to test the bike through tight traffic situations. We were cutting the distance slowly but steadily, as the roads were narrow and crowded throughout. The bike had enough fuel to cover another 250 kms and hence we did not worry about fueling up until we reached the most visited place of Goa, that is the Candolim-Calangute-Baga-Vagator stretch. We stopped for refueling near Calangute beach and headed straight to our favourite restaurant, the Starlight in Arpora. Famous events like Goan Carnival, Sunburn Music Festival, Royal Enfield Rider Mania, India Bike Week, etc., happen around this part of Goa, with these events attracting a huge crowd every year. The restaurants, clubs, discos here run all 24×7 making it the perfect party place. Starlight serves absolutely amazing food, with lip-smacking delicacies like Prawns fry, Crab masala, Bombil fry, Fish thaali, Crab thaali.
After having some delicious Crab, we thought of visiting the Baga beach for a hookah. We rode to Baga, parked our bikes and walked to the beach where we had hookah and some chilled beer. Around 4, when the heat was a little less, we decided to move towards our destination. We had completed around 100kms and had another 250kms to go. With tanks full and tummies too, we had nothing to stop us. We kept riding straight out for a very long time as we had to cover the distance and reach in time. Taking the Coastal is amazing, it adds up a few kms but it’s absolutely beautiful to travel on. There is less traffic, land on one side and the never-ending Arabian Sea on the other. The road condition here is a little bad, there are patches which have broken tarmac, but the sights make up for it all. From Palolem to Baga the bike performed really well.Constant shifting of gears wasn’t a task and easy manoeuvring through densely populated Goa was fun.
But now was the real test, with us entering a patch where the roads were really bad. The stiff suspension setup on the hornet wasn’t really helping me find comfort on the road, but the wheels were doing a great job.The dual disc brake setup on the hornet works well in synchronization since the Hornet is equipped with combine braking system (CBS), the 276mm front petal disc and the 220mm rear petal disc brakes are well designed to suit a wide range of road conditions. We were riding slowly and just in sometime it was dark.Thankfully, we had crossed the section where the roads were bad, in daylight. The road from here was narrow but the quality was good. The lights were on, the Trapezoidal head lamp with two pilot lights on the Hornet are adequately bright and help the rider to see comfortably in the dark. Also, the X-shaped LED tail light is sporty and helps the bike to be more visible to others in the dark. The turn signal indicators on this bike are bright and easily visible, be it day or night. Since it was dark already we had slowed down, and in a few hours of riding we reached Ganpatipule. It was a little late and we were tired riding throughout the day. We checked into our rooms and logged out for the day.
Next morning, we got up pretty early as we were to visit the over- 400 hundred year old Ganpati temple that Ganpatipule is famous for. Other than that, it has a beautiful beach to take a long walk on. The idol of Lord Ganesha in the temple is said to have sprung up from the soil on its own and hence its widely famous for its presence. The temple was not too far from where we were staying, so we chose to walk to the temple. The temple is located right on the Ganpatipule beach, so after the darshan we decided to take a walk on the beach. This beach is kept clean by the Government since it houses the Ganpati temple. Clean blue water, gushing waves,and a cool morning breeze made it all the more pleasant. After breakfast at one of the eateries on the beach, we walked back to our hotel. Always bitten by the travel bug, we aren’t the kind to sit still in one place for long.With the intention of exploring around, we were back on our bikes.The first place we visited was called Prachin Konkan. Here, we got to see how the konkani/malvani man worked his way up in the past. Next on our itinerary was a light house near Ratnagiri. It isn’t very often that we get to see a light house. Right next to the light house is an ancient Bhagwati temple and the Bhagwati Fort that often attracts tourists. Back from the fort riding through Ratnagiri city, we were looking for some food as it was lunch time. Ratnagiri is known for its cashew nuts and the locals here make a variety of delicacies using the locally produced cashews. One such restaurant had the cashew-nut based spicy curry served with steamed rice. We all loved it and went for a second round. After fuelling our souls up with enough cashew curry, we rode back to the hotel for a siesta.
We had spent enough time lazing at one place and now it was time to get back on bikes and ride home. So after two days of doing nothing but eating and sleeping, we packed our stuff and were on the bikes again. Mumbai was the set destination. We decided to take the National Highway 4 (NH4) back home, and to reach the NH4 we had to go through Ratnagiri, Chandoli, and Karad. The road was narrow, but good tarmac till Karad, from where we were going to hit the national highway. We started riding at around 11 in the morning and within two hours reached a place called Chandoli. Having covered around 100 kms, we decided to take a lunch break. On the way, we’d seen a billboards saying ‘Welcome to Chandoli National Park’. We got to know that this is a recently opened tourist destination and said to be a perfect weekend outing spot. Without any further delay, we booked in at Chandoli for 2 nights. Till now the Hornet had done a good stretch of 400+ kms and was nearing the E line. So we took a fuel break and reached the Chandoli National Park. We had our stay booked at a Government Guest House for 2 nights with all meals and the package included a jungle safari too. Around 3pm we were fresh and out of the room and jumped into the jeep. We were provided with a driver and guide who took us through the jungle trail. The guide had good knowledge about the jungle and was taking us through the most interesting parts of the jungle. It was green and dense from all four sides and newly opened for the tourists, hence less explored. The 3 hour trail got over too soon and we didn’t even realize it was 6pm already. Because we weren’t lucky that day to see any wild animal, we decided to book an extra jungle safari for the next morning.
Next morning we were ready and in the jeeps by 8 am. We got the same driver and guide even this morning, and as we entered the core of jungle, we knew it was our lucky day. We spotted a giant squirrel, a bison, and a barking deer. 3 hours were up and we were back in the guest house for brunch. After eating, we took out the bikes and gave a visit to Marleshwar temple. I was already in love with the Hornet.It constantly kept pinging me in my head, saying let’s ride! Smooth, comfortable riding posture helped me ride without ever getting tired.The refined engine had enough power to offer for any day to day terrain, and with a good fuel efficiency it was even affordable to take a unplanned detour like Chandoli. That night when I parked the bike at the guest house, I realized that it even looks good, better than any of the bikes available in the segment. The bike looks very aggressive, stylish and modern. The trapezoidal headlights with twin pilot lamps, sharp curves on the fuel tank, and an X-shaped LED taillight and split grab rail make the Hornet quite an eye candy to look at. The bike also sports a new design of multi-spoke alloy wheels, which we believe are designed to add strength to the magwheel’s structure. It also sports a fleshy short exhaust muffler and carbon finish on the centre body panels and the fuel tank, adding to the raw look.
After our long saga, we finally decided to head back home.The tanks were full and Karad was just 80 kms from where we were to enter the NH4 to ride straight 300kms home. The knowledge that we don’t have to fuel up till we reach Mumbai helped us in saving a lot of time. We started early in the morning at 6 so that we could coverthe maximum distance with relatively less traffic on road. From Karad we rode straight to the base of Khambatki ghat covering 180kms and took a halt again at hotel Aaram at 10am. After having the breakfast and ofcourse the strawberry cream,our Pune friend left for Pune and we shot off towards Mumbai. As we had left early that morning and we had no fuel stops, plus less traffic on the roads, we could actually rev the bikes to test out their limits. The hornet was doing a good 120+ speed on the NH4 when revved hard. The maximum touched was 123kmph, a good figure for a 160cc powerplant which generates 15.9 Ps of max power and 14.8 Nm of max torque mated with a 5 speed manual gearbox working efficiently on any road conditions.The smooth shifting between two gears was sheer bliss, be it the national highway or the broken tarmac. In around 2 and half hours from hotel Aaram, we touched Lonavla., After a short lunch break,we started the last leg of our journey. Again doing good speeds, holding over 80kmph on most stretches, at around 4:30pm we were in Mumbai!
After 10 days of riding the Honda CB Hornet 160, I still couldn’t get enough of it. A well designed motorcycle, with great riding comfort, a fuel efficient engine mounted on a rock-hard diamond chassis. A fairly-tuned telescopic suspension in the front and a mono suspension in the rear, does quite a good job on most stretches. The wheel setup on this one is up to the mark and delivers great comfort and confidence while on the roads. Also on corners, the suspensions and the wheels tune up keeps the bike firmly planted. The electronics are intelligent and the lights on the bike are adequately powerful. The short exhaust muffler looks great and sounds awesome while revving it on the highway giving the rider the tune of his ride. Overall I was highly impressed with the Honda Hornet 160. And I will be sorry to see her go back.