Ownership Review: Aditya’s 2000+ kms Story of His Honda CB Unicorn

by Kannan on May 5, 2013

Background

Surprising as it may sound, I was quite averse to the idea of bikes in my childhood. While other ten year olds idolized John Abraham and his Hayabusa in the movie Dhoom, the revving of the throttle never really caught my fancy. I concede even before stating that it is rather difficult to believe that my entire perspective changed within barely twenty seconds.

Honda CB Unicorn Ownership Review by Adithya Ramchandran Iyer bikeadvice in (4)

One evening, a brave fellow 15 year old friend of mine (remains the best rider I’ve seen to date) asked me to try riding his Splendour. I did and I was abysmal. I could hardly handle the clutch for a very long time but within the first few seconds, I fell in love with the very idea of biking. Fast forward to June 2012.

A year had passed since I had joined law school in Kolkata, nearly 2000 kms from my hometown Mumbai and almost three years since I first rode the Splendour. Amidst the voracious reading about motorcycles and the sporadic opportunities to practice on some noble hearted friends’ bike, the desire to own a two wheeler of my own become evident and pressing.

After a lot of (believe me this was the toughest bit) of convincing my mom that I wasn’t going to go all Velentino Rossi on the streets of Cal, she finally relented and allowed my dad to get me a vehicle.

The Decision

Since it was my dad who was paying, I was clear I wouldn’t buy a bullet, which already has rights over my first salary. I needed something that was

  • Heavy (considering my bulky 6.2″ frame)
  • Fuel efficient (Hostels leave you with little money left for petrol which is as it is costlier in Kolkata) and
  • Reliable as I fret running around getting things fixed in general. I had an upper limit of about 80k in mind.

After much confusion between the Pulsar 180 and the Honda CB Unicorn, I chose the latter, rather reluctantly I must add. I was always skeptical about the praise everyone kept showering on the Unicorn perhaps because of it’s unassuming looks as opposed to the Pulsar’s attractively sporty design.

Honda CB Unicorn Ownership Review by Adithya Ramchandran Iyer bikeadvice in (1)

However, there came a point when I just could not ignore twenty people drilling it in my head that it was a no contest and that I would thank them for going for the Honda. So I went with the popular advice backed by some solid reviews online and booked the bike without taking a test ride. You know the regular ‘test bike is out for servicing’ excuse.

I was in no mood to wait so I told him to dump the test ride and give me the vehicle in black by the next day, promising him every showroom hassle’s magic remedy, full cash payment. Suddenly, a fortnight’s waiting period turned into an affirmative handshake and by noon on the 27th of July 2012, I had my first bike, Rs. 76,800 on road.

The Bike

To be honest, I didn’t really expect much in terms of acceleration but I was rather surprised. It was more than comfortable even on that rainy day of delivery to show some surprisingly good pick up. It was even a little scary at first, always a good sign. The handling was beautiful, no turn seemed too difficult.

Honda CB Unicorn Ownership Review by Adithya Ramchandran Iyer bikeadvice in (4)

I found this astonishing, considering the fact that the Unicorn is a reasonably heavy bike. Also, few people appreciate the handling while reviewing the vehicle, something I find quite strange. Now, something that people do appreciate a lot, the engine. The engine lives up to all the hype and delivers a stellar performance through and through.

Be it patiently tackling the overcrowded (by vehicles, people and animals) streets of Howrah or breezing through the broad roads of Rajarhat, I can proudly say that there is not a single moment when my bike has let me down. Hats off to Honda for building such a peach of an engine.

It reminds me somewhat of Rahul Dravid, in the sense that it is so good, so reliable, yet most people take it for granted. Only when you do not have such an engine do you realize how good this one is. The mileage is pretty awesome considering the mostly congested roads and constant braking required in the city.

At worst I get about 45-47 and and best about 53-55 kmpl. This again is significant in my case because not only are the roads here testing of the bike’s mileage, I myself am very heavy and more often than not, I have a pillion rider accompanying me. Thumbs up once again. The tires are sturdy and provide reasonably good grip even on wet roads.

The service centre folks are friendly once you meet them but are painfully uncooperative if you ask them for an early slot. Perhaps this is because of the jam-packed calendar they have generally, so I let that one pass. In terms of ownership experience, I really cannot complain about anything as right from pick up to mileage, everything is splendid.

Honda CB Unicorn Ownership Review by Adithya Ramchandran Iyer bikeadvice in (3)

If I were however, asked to give some constructive criticism, I would say that the instrument cluster feels dated and that the brakes could have been a wee bit better. Also, the presence of an engine kill switch would have been very useful as the key gets jammed sometimes and you need to apply oil on it to ensure it turns smoothly.

These little things aside, it has been an extremely enjoyable 2000+ kms, some of it through insane traffic, some along the lush green outskirts of the city. But most remarkably, I look back fondly at the hundreds of hours of effortless travel, which has replaced possibly thousands in inhumanly crowded buses or impractically expensive cabs.

Indeed, I do thank those people today, every bit of the appreciation is thoroughly well deserved. Still not the Dhoomesqe adrenaline but My Unicorn continues to cheer up the little kid in me who first sat on that Splendour, for the very first time.

Regards,
Adithya Ramchandran Iyer

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Crazywheels May 6, 2013 at 9:26 am

Unicorn is the most comfortable bike within the price range of 1L, all-though the design is a little outdated. Its the comfort that makes customers going to unicorn even these days.

Reply

faisal May 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Outdated design yes, but people still buy the bike eyes closed, shows the confidence people have in this product and it is selling well even though its old.

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Crazywheels May 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Rightly said bro. Some of my friends also changed to unicorn since they experienced back pain issues in their previous bikes. Afterall comfort and good health are the main priority in buying a motorcycle. isnt it?

Raghu May 7, 2013 at 7:51 am

Unicorn rocks…you can rely on this engine with no doubt… I wish, I had buy this last year… pulsar sucks…..

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Shiva May 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Nice Review Adhi… I too own a Unicorn and it’s a really awesome bike…

So sturdy.. i have put it down thrice… still rock solid…
Engine.. best in class… once worked even when it got submerged in water on a rainy day…
Brakes… Good in class …
Mileage- 47 to 55 based on drive style…

Only con is that.. the style can be modified as it looks outdated…

Reply

sunil dhumal May 29, 2013 at 9:49 am

UNICORN?????? AFTER USING FIERO FOR 11 YEARS RIDING FOR MORE THAN 120000KMS WITH OUT ANY PROBLEM, I CHANGED THE BIKE AS FIERO WAS DISCONTINUED PRODUCT, I SALED IT AS MARKET VALUE WAS VERY LOW AND AVILAIBILITY OF SPARES IN FUTURE WOULD BE PROBLEMATIC. AFTER GOING THROUGH REVIEWS I SETTLED FOR UNICORN AND PURCHASED ONE ON AUGUST 11,TILL NOW I HAD COMPLETED 15000 KMS.CHASIS OF THIS BIKE IS REALLY STURDY & STABLE, BUT ENGINE IS NOT GOOD AS EVERYONE PRAISED IT , IT IS SILENT, IT TAKES TIME TO WARM UP.,IT DOES’T START AT MORNING IN FIRST KICK EVEN APPLYING CHOKE ( FIERO USERS WILL NOTICE THIS DIFFERENCE, DUE IT ITS DIGI TECH). RECENTLY IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE TO USE UNICORN FOR SEVEN DAYS, WHEN I TRIED TO START IT DID’NT START, KICK WENT VERY LOOSE, NO FEELING COMPRESSION .AS AUTHORISED SERVICE WAS FAR, I TOOK IT TO LOCAL GARAGE, HE OPENED THE PLUG AND POURED OIL INTO IT AND FOR SEVERAL TIMES, PLUGGED THE PLUG,KICKED BIKE STARTED, THIS PROBLEM I HAD NEVER FACED WITH SUZUKI FIERO EVEN NOT USING IT FOR MORE THAN 7 DAYS. I AM NOT PROMOTING SUZUKI OR NEGATIVITY OF HONDA BUT FACT IS FACT, WHAT I HAD EXPERIENCED, ADVANCE TECHNOLOGY MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.
ALL WHO HAD USED SUZUKI FIERO WILL NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE.

REGARDS
SUNIL DHUMAL

Reply

SRIRAM November 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Hi Sunil,

I agree your point, since I am a owner of Unicorn for last one year and going to reach 10000 kms, I am a automobile Engineer and I can understand this issue, since the Fiero Engine Cylinder block is made up of Cast iron, its heavy and long life and will get heat up very soon and also Fiero Engines are not recommended for current pollution norms, it also have negative points like more vibration and harshness compared to unicorn.

I believe Unicorn is with Euro 2 Engine norms and vibration and harshness are reduced, this Unicorn Engine is made up of Aluminium, and all day recent day Engines are made up of Aluminium, which is low is weight and can with stand all operating conditions.

for the current generation I hope Unicorn will suit without doubt and I agree its outlook is outdated and its Trigger and Dazzler or not impressive

Reply

Denzil November 17, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Honda Bike is good but accessories and honda dealers are the worst .unfortunate but true

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