Since its debut in 1985 the Rebel has also offered a light, fun and reliable cruiser for urban commuters seeking something with a touch of style.
But with 31 years on its relatively unchanged clock, the time has come for a serious refresh.
The all-new Honda Rebel is a fresh take on the growing entry level market—with built-in engineering forethought towards customization. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty on that below, but when you see how many builders are flexing their chops on small displacement bikes these days—and how the custom scene is playing a major role in riding’s resurgence—it makes a lot of sense for Honda to tap into this scene. Especially with something as approachable, both financially and physically, as the Rebel.
There’s no denying the refreshed Rebel was penned with an Instagram feed in mind. And that’s not a bad thing. Unlike the staid and traditional approach of its wimpy looking, mini-me predecessor, this generation will cost a chrome dipper his job in exchange for a completely blacked out treatment.
The clean-sheet design was concocted with a back-alley, urban approach to minimalism. The teardrop tank and tractor seat offer up a retro nod, while the decidedly phat wheel and tire combo are an appreciated dash of modernity. Even better, this layout actually contributes to rider comfort without dulling feedback.
The package is narrow, nimble and approachable—without making the bike look or feel diminutive.
Engine & Ride
The Rebel 500 hangs the CB’s 471cc, liquid-cooled, parallel twin from its trellis frame and gives riders about 47 horsepower and 32 lb-ft of torque to play with.
Braking is tackled by identical Nissin single-disc set-ups, both front and rear. ABS is available as an option but experienced riders will probably only see it as a 6-pound penalty.
One of the Rebel’s ever-enduring hallmarks has been a low and approachable seat height and that hasn’t changed here. The saddle sits comfortably at 27.2-inches, meaning nobody a smidgen over three apples would have an issue being flat footed when riding the Rebel. The pegs sit comfortably between mid and forward positioning and the bars are an easy reach, creating an engaging yet relaxed rider triangle.
Instrumentation is clean and clear with a single, round digital speedometer. Although there isn’t a tach readout, the fuel gauge was a welcome treat as the slender peanut tank only holds about three gallons of go-go juice.
The front fork angle rests at 30-degrees, with rake and trail set at 28-degrees and 110mm respectively, meaning parking lot maneuvers are a breeze. The Rebel casts a 58.7-inch shadow between contact patches.
Thanks to the short wheelbase and 16-inch hoops, both flavors of Rebel surrender quickly when approaching a corner. The raised foot pegs offer more lean angle than most cruisers are comfortable with too.
And the chassis is entirely engaging. The stiffness of the frame creates a nimble little machine. With regards to the suspension, there’s no adjustment for damping, either front or rear though, and a heavier rider would easily explore its limits.
For the first time in a long time, small displacement, entry-level motorcycles have become a point of focus for manufacturers looking to expand markets.
This is good news for everyone: Increased options mean added competition, and that means every OEM wants to make their option the best one. Honda has a long history of doing it right, and the changes to the Rebel have made an aging but good bike better in every possible way.
|Bore × Stroke (mm)||67 x 66.8|
|Engine Displacement (cc)||471cc|
|Engine Type (cm³)||Liquid-cooled, DOHC|
|Max. Power Output||33.5kW/8,500rpm|
|Oil Capacity (Litres)||3.2 litres|
|Suspension Front||41mm Telescopic forks|
|Suspension Rear||Showa with pro-link system|
|Tyre Size Front||130/90-16M/C 67H|
|Tyre Size Rear||150/80-16M/C 71H|
|Wheels Front||16M/C x MT3.00|
|Wheels Rear||16M/C x MT3.00|
Dimensions and Weights
|Battery Capacity (VAh)||12V|
|Dimensions (L×W×H) (mm)||2,188 x 820 x 1,094|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres)||11.2L|
|Ground Clearance (mm)||136mm|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||190kg|
|Seat Height (mm)||690mm|
|Clutch||Wet multiplate Hydraulic|
Instruments and Electrics
|Tail Light||Bulb 8.3W|
For all the full report, more details, hi-res photos and technical information, read the original article on Bike-Exif; Excerpts republished here by permission.