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  • Sachin Sen

Honda SP160: A Stylish and a Sportier Avatar of the Unicorn

Honda SP160
Honda SP160: 162cc | 13.4 PS | 14.58 NM | 141 kg for twin disc variant

The Unicorn was Honda’s first motorcycle in India that came with a rear monoshock. Not only that, it was the first motorcycle in its segment to have a monoshock, or among any motorcycle made in India at that time. It had a 150cc single-cylinder engine, which was known to be exceptionally smooth. Today, the Unicorn still sells with the same old design, more or less, but with a different 162cc engine.

In fact, the Unicorn is quite literally an old-school motorcycle as of today. Besides sporting its original design for nearly 20 years, it still has a halogen headlight, non-LED indicators and tail light, as well as a truly analog console. And yes, it still comes with a rear drum brake, with no option of a disc brake setup. Truly traditional.

And HMSI doesn’t really have any motorcycle that competes directly with the likes of the latest Bajaj Pulsar P150 and the N160, or the Suzuki Gixxer and the TVS Apache RTR 160. To fill that space, Honda has launched the SP160, a new motorcycle with a relatively sportier design, but still a commuter in spirit.

Honda SP160

Honda SP160
Sportier, yet easy on the eye, and looks good in red

The SP160 is Honda’s move to bring the SP design language (from the SP125) into the 150-160cc segment. This is why you’ll see similarities in how the SP125 and the SP160 look, especially the headlight assembly. On the SP160, everything appears a bit larger or more substantial. That being said, there are clear aesthetic differences between the two motorcycles.

This new motorcycle is powered by the existing 162.71cc single-cylinder, air-cooled, 2-valve engine, which also powers the Unicorn. It produces 13.4 PS of power at 7,500 RPM and 14.58 NM of torque at 5,500 RPM. It is a long-stroke motor with a bore x stroke of 57.3 mm x 63.096 mm. These figures are exactly the same as in the Unicorn, indicating that there’s no difference in the engine’s state of tune. Now, I have ridden the Hornet 2.0 extensively which has the bored-out version of this engine at 184.4cc and I didn’t find it particularly smooth. On that basis, I’m not carrying high expectations from the SP160’s engine when it comes to refinement. With the reliable PGM-Fi system though, I’m expecting the fueling to be absolutely smooth.

Honda SP160
LED headlight, LED tail light, and an LCD display console

Compared to the Unicorn, the SP160 has some modern bits; for example, the LCD console which displays all the information, such as the speed, average speed, RPM metre, fuel efficiency, gear position, time, and service indicator. Also, the headlight and the tail light are LED as well. The bike gets the option of a rear disc brake and it has 17-inch wheels at both ends, highlighting the bike’s sportier intention.

The handlebar is also flatter just like on other sportier motorcycles in the segment. There’s a 276 mm disc at the front with Nissin calliper. A similar setup is present on the Hornet 2.0 as well and it is fantastic. The brakes are progressive and strong with excellent bite. I expect it to be equally impressive on the SP160. The optional 220 mm rear disc also gets the Nissin calliper. However, the ABS is only single-channel even on the dual-disc variant.

By all means, the SP160 is basically a sportier version of the Unicorn. The engine is exactly the same, so any performance advantage (in terms of handling) over the Unicorn will come from the sportier setup; 17-inch wheels, slightly rear-set footpegs and flatter handlebar for aggressive riding stance, and twin disc setup.

Honda SP160
17-inch wheels, disc brakes front and rear with Nissin callipers, and single channel ABS

The SP160 should appeal to people who want the simplicity, reliability, and longevity of the Unicorn, but are too bored of its old design. The SP160 promises a comparatively more exciting riding experience and should be an interesting competitor to the Pulsar P150, N160, Gixxer, and perhaps the RTR 160 as well.

It is priced at INR 1,17,500 ex-showroom, Delhi, for the single disc variant and at INR 1,21,900 for the dual disc variant.


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