When Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) first launched the H’Ness CB350 in 2020, we went kind of crazy. Now, be honest; how much did you want one? If you’re reading this in India, of course, all you had to do was go to your closest Honda Big Wing dealer to get one. For anyone outside the country, though, we had no choice but to wait. Would this very sweet little 350 eventually get exported elsewhere?
By January, 2021, we had our first glimmer of hope. That’s when Honda Japan launched the suspiciously familiar-looking GB350. Lo and behold, it was a rebadged H’Ness CB350, built in India by HMSI and exported to Japan. A retro-modern 350cc gem like this would sell well in many countries, so could that mean Honda might consider exporting it elsewhere, as well?
According to Indian news outlet Zee News, the answer is yes. In fact, HMSI sales and marketing director Yadvinder Singh Guleria referred to it as “one model which is Made in India for the world.”
“There is big potential. We are waiting and once we get a green signal from headquarters in Japan, we can start the exports. Potential does exist and we are quite hopeful,” Guleria added.
We’re also quite hopeful, Mr. Guleria. The global motorcycle industry keeps shifting, but for the moment, India is still the largest motorcycle market in the world. Most internationally-focused OEMs either have manufacturing facilities or deals in place with Indian OEMs like Bajaj to make bikes in India.
Now, it’s also true that most of the bikes made in India by non-Indian OEMs are also sold in the Indian market. That’s not true of all bikes in that category, though. For example, both KTM and BMW sell sub-400cc models that are made in India throughout the world. Why couldn’t Honda take that approach, as well? There’s a first time for everything, and then those changes just become normal, everyday practice.
So, does that mean we can one day hope to see a rebadged Honda H’Ness CB350 in the U.S.? Big Red already sells the CB300F, CB300R, and CBR300R here. We’ve already seen how great the retro-modern appeal is in the States with the ongoing popularity of the Monkey, the Super Cub, and the excitement over the brand-new Trail 125. While there’s been absolutely no word from Honda about it happening, we certainly wouldn’t say it’s impossible.