2010 Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler Review
India gets another naked sportster from Big Red
We were surprised by the large amount of traffic garnered by our news and subsequent review of Honda’s little 109cc CB Twister, a sporty new commuter directed at the streetbike market in India. So when Honda recently launched a “top-class” 150cc motorcycle in India, we wanted to find out how it performs and if this petite little bike makes any sense for American riders.
Honda’s first motorcycle in India was the conservatively styled Unicorn, a 150cc bike that launched in 2004. There have been several successful scooters as well as other Honda bikes since, but most were boring commuter models below 150cc, with nothing sporty enough to satiate Indian bike enthusiasts on a shoestring budget, who require something quite a bit south of a CBR1000RR.
The CB Unicorn Dazzler is a premium 150cc bike that aims to bridge this gap, bringing Honda’s latest styling to India.
Unique, with styling cues from the VFR1200F, this bike is relatively athletic and lean, with smart alloy rims and glistening paint.
The Dazzler’s front end is characterized by a beaky-like headlight, providing a bright, well-spread beam. Compact, digital instruments are dominated by a large tachometer, with an ice-blue readout indicating motorcycle data, as well as the time.
Switchgear on this little Honda is comprehensive, with a pass light flasher and push-to-cancel indicators included, although we found the Dazzler’s switches don’t work as well as we would have liked, and the bike completely lacks an engine-kill switch.
You can however expect palm-friendly grips, comfortable levers and neat mirrors that show waver-free rear view. An up-market touch is the Dazzler’s stylish aircraft-type fuel-filler cap. This Honda’s lithe 12-liter (3.2-gallon) tank ends in broad, attractive side cowls but feels too narrow, offering little grip for thighs.
The saddle is lightly stepped, with a dual-tone color scheme. Eyesores on the latest Honda are its long, boring exhaust and standard looking tail-light. Fit-and-finish, plastic, rubber and overall quality are all up there with the best.
The Dazzler comes with an electric-started, four-stroke powerplant, with a single, vertically placed and air-cooled cylinder. Twin-valves punch within the alloy head, with the cylinder measuring almost square bore/stroke dimensions of 57.3mm x 57.8mm. It’s a thoroughly refined engine. The cable-operated clutch is well-weighted, and the five-speed gearbox shift smoothly.
The Dazzler’s 149.1cc engine is based on its Indian predecessor, the Unicorn, with a modified, more aggressive high-lift camshaft, larger CV type carburetor and shorter gear ratios, all aimed at infusing some zip in this time-tested engine. Features carried forward are an offset crankshaft, roller bearings (to lower friction and enhance efficiency) on the rocker arms and a two-way, air-cooling jacket that tunnels within the head.
Honda claims a peak output of 14 horsepower at 8500 rpm, while maximum torque of 9.4 ft-lbs is twisted out at 6500 rpm.
Smooth and soft sounding, this Honda boasts an edge over other Indian 150s and provides its rider a responsive and peppy feel. The Dazzler revs clean and vibe-free through its wide powerband, strongest through midrange to redline before it slams into its limiter just below 10,000 rpm. Like all Honda’s, the Dazzler engine imparts a reliable, built-to-last feel. Gear ratios feel perfectly spaced.
Our performance tests confirmed the Honda as zippy enough for a fuel-efficient 150, but it’s definitely no fire-breather. It reaches 60 kph (36 mph) in 5.19 seconds from rest, en route to 100 kph (62.5 mph) achieved in 17.73 seconds. Flat out with the throttle pinned to its stop in top gear, its top speed is a genuine 114 kph (71 mph).
Honda’s provided the Dazzler a single downtube frame, which bolts on its engine as a stressed member, culminating in a 304-lb fully fueled package. Suspension is a telescopic fork in front, with a monoshock (no linkage) rear, working together with a rectangular-section swingarm. Seventeen-inch rims are standard fare, front and rear.
The Dazzler seats its rider in an upright, commuter-friendly riding posture, forward in the bike and close to a narrow handlebar. Its seat is perfectly padded, while the suspension offers ride that is more firm than plush, still well sorted. The Dazzler is stable but also feather-light and neutral to steer through urban conditions. It performs well even when riding fast over badly surfaced roads, and holds its line nicely when keeled over in bumpy corners at high speed.
The Dazzler comes with disc brakes and tubeless tires at both ends. Brake feel is excellent, with progressive feedback though the front brake lever, and the rear disc never bites too sharply, as is common on light motorcycles with rear disc brakes.
Bikes that can’t provide good economy don’t sell in India. You could be riding a Suzuki Hayabusa, but the first and last question at every traffic signal will be the same: How many kilometers does it return to every litre? The Dazzler does well to provide 51 kpl (120 mpg!) on a mix of really crowded Indian city, plus open highway test routes.
So that’s the Dazzler, a handsome commuter with an enthusiastic and proven engine, but we were expecting a little more from Honda – more in terms of performance and more in terms of handling, to help this new and significantly more expensive motorcycle to differentiate itself from Honda’s existing 150cc model in India, the Unicorn. We expected this, bearing in mind the Dazzler will sell alongside the Unicorn, and does not replace it.
Still, the Dazzler is hard to beat as a well built, light-handling and really fuel-efficient 150cc bike. One that proudly flaunts Honda’s famous winged badges emblazoned across on its tank.
|Honda CB Unicorn Dazzler Specs|
|Price (Ex-showroom, India)||65,022 Rupees (approx. US$1,425)|
|Wheelbase||1328mm (52.3 in)|
|Curb Weight||138kg (304 lbs)|
|Engine||Single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke|
|Power||14bhp at 8500rpm|
|Torque||1.3kgm at 6500rpm|
|Gearbox||5-speed, 1-down, 4-up|
|0-60kph (37 mph)||5.19 seconds|
|0-100kph (62 mph)||17.73 seconds|
|Maximum speed||114kph (71 mph)|
|Estimated fuel economy||51kpl (120 mpg)|
|Front suspension||Telescopic fork|
|Rear suspension||Mono shock, rectangle section swingarm|
|Front brake||240mm disc|
|Rear brake||220mm disc|
|Tire sizes (front-rear)||80/100 x 17 - 110/80 x 17|
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