The New ACE
Nothing denotes more of Honda’s involvement and achievements in the realm of MotoGP championship racing than a bike adorned with Repsol S.A. factory team livery. We were fortunate that the CB190R loaned to us for review came in the orange, white and red colors of Honda Racing Corporation instead of the more reserved red or black versions for street commuting. Sure the GP Repsol version costs a few hundred dollars more but we were sure the bike would ride snappier and better, just like a red Ferrari always goes faster.
Racy colors and matching painted wheels aside, the Honda CB190R is a huge improvement from the more subdued small capacity Honda street motorcycles of the past.
Carrying some of the ‘DNA’ from serious Honda naked bikes like the CB1000 and the CB650F, the CB190R spots much better attention to design and detail, such as sharp-looking panels and well thought-out component selections.
Unfortunately for a class 2B category bike at below 201cc capacity, there isn’t a whole lot of revolutionary technologies or innovations engine-wise so we begin evaluation of the CB190R’s looks and design first.
Regardless of what three colors the CB190R comes in, the bike looks tall and poised from every angle as we walked carefully around it. Styling starts aggressive straight from the nose-job, where the Honda’s front LED headlights extend way forward in a pointed beak-like design. Off to very nice start indeed. Surrounding the sides are forward-pushing tank shrouds with faux air scoops leaving the engine completely exposed just like a typical naked bike should.
The low profile seat and thin pillion pad complements the overall design and doesn’t look like a post-design afterthought and extends rearward to a very compact and short tail end. Overall we love the design and bodywork of the CB190R and can’t really nail down any shortcomings in the looks department.
The CB190R excels in the components department as well, and riders will be pressed-hard to spot any cost-cutting measures undertaken by the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer. At the front is a sweet setup of gold colored inverted forks and wave disc brake rotors on painted orange wheels. We have seen quite a few liter-capacity naked bikes out there in the past with painted black front forks and it is a delight seeing Honda going ‘all the way’ with something so premium-looking like gold forks.
The front forks are non-adjustable to keep costs down but we’ll rather have the gold theme than suspension adjustability. We have never needed to adjust forks on a road-based 200cc bike and neither should you. The rear suspension has an adjustable sprint however and riders can get the damping to hard or soft to their preferences.
Situated above the headlight is a low-profile fully digital LCD ash which displays the usual ride numbers via the tachometer, speedometer, odometer and a fuel gauge bar meter. The fuel tank is large for a 200cc category bike at 12 liters and fuel efficiency is superb with interesting mileage readings reported by many delighted CB190R owners.
The CB190R’s flat low-profile seat is surprising comfortable as we rode the Honda throughout the afternoon zipping through heavy traffic conditions at Shenton Way, which was a part of our test route. The low seat also makes the bike accessible to shorter riders with a seat height of only 771mm.
Perhaps the final finishing touch to a great overall effort by Honda is the ‘hidden’ under-engine muffler exhaust. In simple performance terms, this keeps more of the bike’s weight down low and improves overall stability. We can’t argue with that. Stability of the compact bike is further improved with Honda’s choice of bigger radial tyres on the CB190R. More grip on a fun-looking naked is always a good thing.
A bike is only as good as its engine and the CB190R’s small 184cc air-cooled powerplant puts out a claimed 16 bhp at 8,000rpm. It is quite revvy but small capacity bikes always are and more importantly the bike’s low weight at 140kg and strong second gearing means you will experience a decent acceleration pull once you start to move off, unless you weigh more than 100 kilograms.
However before you start to get ahead of yourself with the CB190R’s looks and features, do make a mental note that this is still a sub-200cc single-cylinder powered machine so temper your racing emotions but do expect a consistent fuss-free reliable ride on the Honda.
To conclude, we find the Honda CB190R to be the definitive ace in Honda’s fleet of class 2B motorcycles. The Honda CB190R’s great looks, unbreakable engine reliability, excellent fuel efficiency and a rewarding component spec has created a fun beginner bike for all new riders out there.