Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Ben's Corner #2: Horns of the Hornet Exposed?

The transition from BS III to BS IV was one of the greatest setbacks for the automobile industry this year. This was due to their blatant neglect of the Supreme Court order on strictly enforcing it from 1 April, this year. Above all, automobile manufacturers were in great disappointment as they had expected the Central government to give more room for selling the old BS III stock.

Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Ltd (HMSI), was one of the worst hit by the Supreme Court order as thousands of their BS III scooters became useless overnight. To overcome this, the brand offered a discount of up to Rs 22,000 on some models on the last day of the deadline.

Pic source: Honda's official website
But, Honda was also one of the forerunners in introducing BS IV vehicles in the country. Yes, the Hornet 160R was one of the first BS IV bikes in India. The premium 150 cc bike also turned to be the fastest accelerating bike in its segment with a staggering output of 15.67 Hp and 14.76 Nm.

But everything went fine till the 31 March deadline when Honda decided to sell all the older stocks of Hornet 160R even offering discounts on the bike. Moreover, the brand also introduced the 2017 version of the Hornet 160R recently. So, questions arose as to what was the need for taking such measures on a bike which was already BS IV compliant. Rumours intensified when Honda made another bold move of announcing a power drop for the Hornet 160R a few days ago. Yes, the 2017 model now produces only 15.04 Hp, a 0.63 Hp drop over the 2016 model.

A lot of Hornet fans bashed the brand on its official YouTube channel claiming the previous generation Hornet was just a mere BS III bike and Honda deliberately cheated customers by claiming it to be BS IV compliant. But to put an end to rumours, a couple of days back, news was circulated stating that the Hornet was updated to comply with the Centre's new rule to implement 'all-time headlight ON' (AHO) feature. The news further said, 'Since the headlight should remain ON regardless of the time, the dynamo always draws more power from the engine thereby resulting in a drop in overall power output.'

Pic source: Honda's official website
It is learnt that most of the BS IV vehicles have faced a drop in overall performance from their BS III counterparts. With this, Honda has turned out to be the first manufacturer in India to blame a mere headlight for a significant drop in power. Moreover, unlike many other premium bikes, the Hornet's headlight runs in AC power drawn directly from the dynamo without the use of battery power and sports a conventional 35 watt halogen bulb. If the circulated statement was scientifically true, almost all other bikes will face such a drop in power and if the former was false, then, the reason why they reduced the power remains unknown. Only time will unveil the answers.


Facts on Hornet

Vapour pressure significance

In the past BS III vehicles can have a fuel vapour pressure up to 2 per cent but now the new BS IV rule doesn't permit the build up of vapour pressure inside the tank. In order to achieve this, the use of an offset valve is recommended. But manufacturers have designed a simpler way of tightly sealing the fuel tank. Such a measure has turned disastrous with a Pulsar RS 200 recently catching fire in Chennai.

No deadline

While registration of BS III ended by 31 March, there is no such strict order from the Supreme Court regarding the sale of vehicles without AHO feature. It's still unknown as to why Honda followed the deadline for the inclusion of the AHO feature while it had more room for implementing it at a later stage.

DC electricals

The use of DC electricals will not have an impact on the power figures of the engine because the dynamo just recharges the battery and the battery supplies power to all the lights of the bike.


- S Ben Raja
Chennai, May 16, 2017

The above review/analysis is completely the perception of S Ben Raja alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only. This author is correspondent for an English daily working on auto beat stories for over a year. Reach him at benraja4@gmail.com.

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