Honda Motorcycles & Scooter India has plans to launch a new range of motorcycles exclusively for India. Honda has set up a team of engineers, both from Japan and Thailand, to work in India on this new middle-weight bike segment, which consists of bikes with displacement in a range from 250cc to 750cc.
Honda strongly believes that it has the expertise and technology to compete head on with Royal Enfield. Design, development and production will be undertaken at the company plant in India. The new Honda Rebel 300 cruiser has been patented in India.
In an interview with CarAndBike, CEO and President of Honda Motorcycle and Scooter Limited (HMSI), Minoru Kato stated the following regarding this upcoming motorcycle – “We have strong intentions to start this project, and it will depend on the decision making process, which includes creating a concept, selecting the engine capacity, type, model, etc. It will be 100 per cent made in India, otherwise it’s very difficult to compete from a cost-competitiveness point of view.”
Royal Enfield, a highly successful two wheeler brand in the country, continues to lead the market with almost no rival. Obviously, with the demand for 250-500 cc motorcycles on the rise, Honda also wants to compete in this segment in India.
Honda need not look far for ideas. They already have Rebel 300 and Rebel 500 on sale in International markets. 2017 editions of Honda Rebel 300 and Rebel 500 were showcased at Long Beach Motorcycle Show recently. The cruiser was originally introduced in 1985. It is for the first time that Rebel series will be offered in two versions now.
Rebel 300 is powered by the same engine seen on the CBR300: a 286cc single cylinder, water cooled engine. Rebel 500 has a liquid cooled parallel twin engine also seen powering the CBR500. This engine is capable of 45 bhp peak power and 44 Nm peak torque. Both engines are 4 valve, DOHC, fuel injected, tweaked to offer better performance on the Rebel 300 and Rebel 500.
Strikingly similar in design and features, Honda Rebel 300 and Rebel 500 sport a new trellis frame with 41mm telescopic front forks and twin rear shocks. They sit on 16″ wheels, and offer lower seating at just over 27 inches. Similarities are also seen in the fact that both models sport 130/90-16 tyre in front and 150/80-16 tyre at the rear. BS will be offered as an option.
The bikes are fitted with a single 296 mm disc in the front and a 240 mm single disc at the back. Weight is where the difference lies. Rebel 300 will weigh 364 pounds (370 pounds with ABS). Rebel 500 tips the scales at 408 pounds (414 pounds with ABS).
Already launched in US, Honda Rebel 300 sports a price tag of $4,399 (INR 3,01,221) while Rebel 500 is priced at $5,999 (INR 4,10,781). Both these bikes, if launched in India, could be good contenders to rival the likes of Royal Enfield and Bajaj Dominar. Only issue will be price. Will Honda be able to price them as aggressively as RE and Bajaj?