2021 Honda Rebel 500
Honda Rebel is one of the most iconic motorcycles in the history of riding. Why? Because it has always been affordable, accessible by middle class, minimalistic and easy to ride around town. In 2021, things are not much different, but Honda added more modern tech to keep it relevant, while still keeping iconic features and silhouette.
As of 2021, there are three different Rebel versions, 300 being the smallest one, 500 is the second smallest engine, and Honda added the new Rebel 1100 to their model lineup this year, which we will review it soon. For now, let’s see how Rebel 500 performs in its natural habitat.
Honda Rebel has been on the market for almost 40 years, and it kept its main design elements throughout the years. The current model was first introduced in 2016, and is being sold since 2017. Last year, Honda has changed few important things including technical changes such as firmer suspension, slipper clutch and LED headlights.
Rebel 500 comes with round shaped digital cluster that shows the speed, fuel consumption and also gear indicator which is a huge plus for newer riders. It does not show how many RPM it spins, you need to rely on your ears for optimal gear change. Seat comfort is okay for the purpose of the bike, good for short and urban rides, but it can be uncomfortable if you take long trips.
Though Honda Rebel looks like a traditional cruiser to an untrained eye, it is more like a hybrid one. It carries over some naked/sport bike features, such as chain drive instead of a belt. Seating position is also a mix of a cruiser and naked bike, which means it has mid controls. Seat height is pretty low (690 mm) making it one of the easiest small bikes to ride especially for shorter riders.
Seating position is very relaxed, perfect match for daily riding or commuting. You sit very upright, meaning that you have a great vision. At 6’1″ I felt a little bit cramped due to footpeg placement, but for short urban rides it is totally fine. As you sit upright, it puts a lot of pressure to your spine, and for longer rides it may feel uncomfortable. This bike is definitely designed for shorter rides around the town, or you can always get aftermarket seat for more comfort.
You also understand that it’s an urban bike by the design of fuel tank. It’s pretty small and narrow, it is not easy to squeeze the tank with your legs. Engine placement also would not help, as you constantly hit your bone to clutch cover. I don’t find this very comfortable especially if you try to squeeze the tank. If you ride in a relax position like the way it is supposed to be, it is all good!
Speaking of engine, let’s get into the details. Rebel 500 comes with parallel twin 471cc engine that produces almost 46 horsepower at 8500 rpm and 31.9 lb-ft of torque. It has 180 degree firing order and it sounds like a traditional parallel twin. It has decent amount of torque in the mid range, nothing mind blowing but more than adequate for daily and urban riding. On the highway, it can still keep up with the traffic easily.
Due to thick tire profile, the engine feels mellow, nothing is overwhelming about the powertrain. Gear ratios are tuned in a way that is more suitable for urban riding, it has a little bit short gear ratio for long highway trips. In our test, it averaged about 5.3 L/ 100 km fuel consumption which is okay, considering it’s fat tires and short gear ratios. If you ride below 100 km/h, you can take the consumption down to 4.5 L easily.
Brakes are also not the sharpest, it comes with 296mm single disc brake matched with Nissin calipers in the front, and 240 mm single disc brake also comes with Nissin rear brake calipers. For daily riding and for most circumstances they are more than enough, although I think the initial bite is a little bit weak, at the end of the day it is a budget oriented cruiser.
Suspension tuning, like most cruisers it is on the harsher side especially over big bumps. One of the reasons why cruisers always have firm suspension is that due to their lower stance and ride height, they have shorter suspension travel and as a result the rider has to be careful going over the big bumps. When Honda refreshed the Rebel last year, they also used revised struts and it is good for the price range. Fat tires in the front and back also acts like a suspension, and it absorbs a lot of small road imperfections.
Since it has firm and non adjustable suspension settings, it means it provides you decent amount of feedback when you are cornering, it is surprisingly confidence inspiring. Of course, fat tires helps a lot in terms of traction, but it also makes the bike not to turn so fast. So even though it is a very lightweight motorcycle, it does not feel as nimble as it should be. It also has more lean angle than traditional cruisers as it has mid-controls.
Rebel 500 is one of the rare motorcycles that reminds you that motorcycling should be accessible, affordable, and easy to operate. It’s a moment when you feel going back to basics can still be fun. There is nothing overwhelming and offensive about the Rebel 500, even for brand new riders. I also like the white color, I think more cruisers should be in white color, or any color other than black.
For cruising world, customization is very crucial and this is where Rebel 500 is lacking a lot. Honda should offer more aftermarket parts to make each Rebel unique. It may not be an old school cruiser, but it is definitely a great option for people looking for that cool looking bike while still easy to ride around town. There is only one price for 2021 Honda Rebel 500, it sets you back $7,749 and there are only white and dark gray colours available.
For more details – please visit https://motorcycle.honda.ca/