Honda CB Twister: A Comprehensive Road Test Report

‘Wake up to a new dream’ seems to be the new mantra for today’s youth. At least that is what HMSI wants us to believe. Honda has been busy promoting their latest offering in the 100cc segment, CB Twister. Many biking enthusiasts accuse Honda Motorcycle & Scooters in India (HMSI) of making bland looking bikes. And to turn all your accusations to bay, HMSI launched the stunning looker 125cc Stunner and now the ravishing 110cc CB Twister. How many of us noticed that contrary to what other companies do, HMSI followed the higher capacity to lower capacity hierarchy in India. They started their operations with the 150cc Unicorn, launched 125cc Shine a few years later, followed it up with yet another premium 125cc bike Stunner and now comes a bike in the sales rich 100cc commuter segment, 110cc CB Twister which incidentally doesn’t look like one! We try to unearth the question, “Does this bike have anything deeper than its looks?” Read on as we talk about this bike in depth.

STYLING, BUILD & DESIGN: CB Twister is inspired from the mean looking CB series famous worldwide and as obvious, draws its major cues from the CB1000R and others and dare we say it looks fiery, agile and gorgeous, all at the same time! The visor less front cowl strikes resemblance to the Pulsar 135 LS and is similarly housed between two separate panels with the difference being the lack of gap in the Honda. However, we would have liked to see clear lens on the headlamp.

Pilot lamps have also been omitted from the bike. On the styling front, every inch of this bike oozes out style and Honda seems to have stuck the right angles and curves at exactly the right places. The huge extended tank shrouds act as beautiful design elements which play a very vital role in the overall looks of the bike. They are big but not overdone and help the bike stand a front biased stance. The tank is big and muscular which has extensions and bends at absolutely right areas with the typical trademark Honda knee recess which we like very much in almost all Honda bikes. The knees get so very well plonked into them that you will feel the bike is tailor made for you. The conventional fuel tank cap acts as a dampener here. A better designed fuel tank cap or the one that is put on the latest Unicorns would have added to the charm. The seat looks compact from a distance but is wide enough to carry decent sized butts and the cushioning is also a right mix of hard and soft which also enhances the comfort level. Fortunately, Honda’s sticker mangling team has been kept away from this product so far and we expect Honda not to destroy another fantastic looking product by the addition of some crappy unnecessary gleaming stickers in future upgrades of CB Twister. The upswept rear is beautifully crafted with gorgeous contours which go in line with the front. In fact no part of this bike feels oddly placed; almost every little part complements each other. The rear panels on all colors are silver grey in color, which apart from the Red colored variant, gels well with all the other colors. However, the exhaust looks funny and seems to be taken from some of their scooter models, polished, covered and attached onto this bike. Honda definitely could have made a better attempt at it; It seriously looks like a roadside job! Front mudguards are small but designed with a lot of detail and lot of curves and edges.

Inbuilt with the rear section are the innovatively placed grab rails which need some time to get accustomed to but provide ample amount of space for all your fingers to grab them. Tail lamp looks good but again clear lens might have done a better job. Hondas red color fetish continues as they have painted the rear shock absorbers with red color as standard. They do add a bit of style to the bike but unfortunately, they are non adjustable! The half chain cover does add a dash of exclusivity in this segment but will also bring in the worries of taking extra care of the sprocket-chain set.

The six spoke wheels are basic in looks but the black coating on them as well as the engine feels good in quality, however, we still love the designing of the Unicorns engine and the detailing which has been done to the designing on that bike. Due to the tank shrouds Honda did have an option of filling up the gap between the small engine and the tank but they probably had other priorities in mind and overlooked this. Nonetheless, it’s nothing grave and doesn’t need that big a mention. Overall, Twister takes the crown of being the best looking, perfectly designed bike in this segment and did we say, comfortably! Build quality of major part of Twister is top notch but there are a few areas which needed that extra care. On the whole, construction quality is impressive and care has been taken to cover up all the unwanted gaps, welds and screws.

Styling, Build & Design: 9/10

ENGINE, TRANSMISSION & PERFORMANCE: As a matter of fact, Twister sports a 4 stroke air cooled 109cc engine which churns out 9.13 PS of handsome power which peaks at 8000 rpm and 9 Nm of torque which maxes at 6000 rpm. These figures make the Twister the most powerful bike in this segment and by a good margin. Along with these superb stats, the low weight of 108 kilograms only renders the bike the segment best power to weight ratio of 84.53 PS/Ton. And let us inform you that the difference is significantly noticeable and the performance figures scream at the top of their voice to reveal the same.

This bike does 0 to 60 kmph in around 7 seconds flat which even puts some 125ccs to shame. Along with these ground shattering figures (for a 109cc engine these are ground shattering!), the bike does a Speedo indicated top whack of 100 kmph which is close to 95 kmph true! Astonished? Wait we have more. Twister is the bike this has the best roll on times amongst any bikes in its segment and is even close to some starting 125ccs.  Thump start the bike, flip the throttle and you would notice the bike’s urge to move forward rapidly. The exhaust note is also meaty and the sound from the silencer also adds to the overall fun factor. The torque build up right from the word go is fantastic and the way the bike pulls up had us excited about every little prospect the bike offers. Even at as l speeds as 20kmph, the bike pulls up in 4th gear with considerable ease. The best feature about this bike is the lovely spread of power and torque towards the lower range keeping the city driving conditions in mind. Contrary to what Shine has been infamous for, this bike oozes out Honda at every little RPM. The engine is silky refined and even at higher rpms ‘behaves itself’. We were doing 75 kmph on the Speedo with a pillion and only a glance at the console made us believe that we are actually travelling that fast. Only at extreme rpms vibrations crept in but still were tolerable and much to our disbelief had us applauding this mill all the way, simply because we never expected such a response from as puny an engine as just 109ccs! Twister comes with a 4 speed gearbox with the regular 1 down 3 up pattern. In keeping with the overall sporty nature, the bike comes with a toe-only shifter which might not be liked by all age groups especially the above 30s. Gear change is fairly smooth with a typical Honda ‘buttery’ clutch but we did land on false neutrals a couple of times. Overall feel of the box is slightly on the harder side with the bike requiring slight effort for gear change especially while shifting up to higher gears at mid rpms. The default lever was also set to a slightly lower groove so we hope HMSI might move it up a groove or two. The front foot pegs are wide enough but are non adjustable. On the other side, rear foot pegs are adjustable but the overall quality was not very much applaud able. Summing it up, this bike is more refined than both of its siblings Shine and Stunner (PGMFI version included) and even more responsive then all the HMSI bikes in the market obviously considering the respective engine sizes. On the cons side, the gearbox could have been bettered!

Engine, Transmission & Performance: 8.5/10

CHASSIS, HANDLING & DYNAMICS: The diamond twin pipe type frame with the engine as the stressed member feels sturdy and lends the bike with fantastic handling abilities. On the looks of it, the pipes resemble the classic Pulsars. The front does with nice telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers whereas conventional spring type shock ups do duty on the rear.

Although they are set to slight stiffer settings, city drive is smooth and the presence of the rectangular swing arm also helps in the fantastic cornering abilities of this bike. To be frank, we are yet to come across a Honda bike which doesn’t handle or corner well! A setup of 70/100 and 80/100 17 inchers do the rubber duties on this bike. The good part is that both of them are tubeless. The bike which we rode sported MRF Nylogrip Zapper both at the front as well as the rear. As a result of this setup knee scrappers might find this bike an ideal companion on those hard cornering days and we assure you that the bike would respond with full aplomb. In city handling is boosted by a relatively smaller wheelbase of 1262mm and the bike feels at home while zipping through congested traffics. The saddle height of 800 mm is on the higher side and will make it slightly difficult for people below 5 feet 8 inch to land their feet on the ground but a high ground clearance of 180mm acts as a boon on Indian roads keeping the deadly potholes devoid of kissing the bikes lower. Overall, the whole geometry is fantastically crafted and the bike feels like a quality product from all the technical aspects related to the chassis and handling.

Chassis, Handling & Dynamics: 8/10

ELECTRICALS & INSTRUMENTATION: On the instrumentation front the bike has a neat looking all analogue console which sports basic functionality. On a blue colored background the Speedo meter has been calibrated until an optimistic 140 kmph. Apart from this, the console has an odometer, fuel meter, neutral gear indicator, upper beam and side blinkers indicator.

Sadly, this bike does without a trip meter as well. Honda has never been a gizmo geek and always follows other manufacturers on this front. Also an all DC setup would have added to the bikes, but Honda wanted to keep price under control and did not want to go overboard with features probably! But the design of the console is fresh and complements the sporty nature of the bike. The headlamp is illuminated by a 35 watt halogen. We did not ride the bike in the dark but considering the good throw of Unicorn, we expect this one also to be a decent night bike as well. Switchgear is also very basic and lacks quality as well. We have a light switch, side blinker tab, upper-dipper switch and the horn, all funnily housed on the left hand side. The electric start versions have the thumb starter towards the right side. The switchgear assembly does without an engine kill switch. Absence of pass switch even on the top of the line version is also one disappointing cost cutting measure. Honda has always been accused of using sub standard plastics and this bike is no exception. Lack of quality is clearly visible on this bike and we hope to see a product from Honda’s stables which will sport good quality plastic, one day! The rear view mirrors also get curvy and angular which display a fair vision of the rear traffic.

Electricals & instrumentation: 7/10

MILEAGE & BRAKING: No matter how sporty can a bike look, a 100cc (or a 109cc) bike will have extreme expectations on fuel efficiency from all probable prospects. And here is one more area where Twister steals the show despite all ‘odds’. Twister is the most powerful bike in this segment and this might have given it leverage had it not returned expected fuel efficiency figures.

But expect the bike to be as frugal as other 100ccs. Twister will return anything in the region of 67-70 kmpl under city driving conditions with this figure moving northwards as you hit wider long ways where you need lesser gear shifts. These figures, by any standards, for a 9PS bike are commendable. With a tank capacity of 8 liters, this bike would run for around 550-600 kilometers before gasping for breath. Braking is pretty ordinary on the base versions which sport 110mm diameter drum brakes and comparable to any other drum brake laden 100cc in town. But the real talk is the top of the line version which comes loaded with 240mm front discs. With a low weight (of the bike) to counter, these brakes act as a magic. Braking is very impressive and precise. Feel of the brakes is also soft.

Mileage & braking: 8/10

BIKEADVICE VERDICT: Honda has launched three variants for Twister in the market. The base variants with kick start and drum brakes costs Rs 48,666. The intermediate variant with electric start and drum brakes costs Rs 52,024 and the top of the line variant with electric start and front disc brakes as standard costs 55,294 (all prices on road Pune). The bike is offered in five color options; Pearl night star black, Pearl Fiji blue, Candy palm green, electric yellow metallic and Pearl Siena red. Honda is also providing a 12 Volt 3Ah maintenance free battery and a low maintenance viscous air filter which has become standard on all Honda models. Launch of Twister in this segment marks a new beginning of sporty 100ccs and the way Honda has played the game, it seems to be a winner all the way. Many would argue that aren’t these hefty prices for owning ultimately a 100cc bike? True, but at this price you would get everything under the sun all in one bike! Twister is intended for people in the age groups of 18-25 who seek style as the prime most criteria, without compromising on performance and mileage and then who mind paying those extra dollars for a complete package. Many feel that this bike might hurt splendors sales but we feel otherwise. Twister is not directly aimed at Splendor, neither pricewise nor segmentwise. Splendor is preferred for its ease of use and probably ‘lack of sportiness’. Twister is an out and out sporty 100cc bike which basically targets young college goers or new job-getters. People above 30 would avoid this bike because of its looks, sporty nature and the ‘not-so-ease-of-use’ this nature brings for them. Yes, the bike which will be hurt the maximum would be the Passion and rightly so. Twister is many times better bike than Passion and people considering Passion should seriously consider Twister as their new bike. Our take on Twister is that it’s one of the most refreshing products in the market launched recently and especially when it is coming from Honda, it’s a welcome change. The bike looks ravishing, performs outstandingly well, returns magnanimous fuel efficiency and handles like a Honda. If a sub 100cc bike is what you have in mind Twister is the best bike in the market currently for all your needs. If price is what is deterring you from considering Twister, think again! You get a complete package and a 125cc-like performance at less than 55k. And all those googly glances from both sexes come complimentary! Twister signifies a tornado, a violent whirlwind which can cause great damage. Much to the relevance of name, we expect this bike to be a revelation in the otherwise sad looking (bikes in) 100cc segment.

BikeAdvice Rating: 8.5/10

– Saad Khan