2021 Honda Rebel 1100 vs 2021 Harley-Davidson Street Bob
There is no doubt that cruiser market is very important for every manufacturer, as almost 30% of total motorcycle sales are cruisers in North America. Harley Davidson is probably the first brand comes to mind when it comes to cruisers, as they have more than 10 different models, whereas Honda just have the Rebel. Let’s see how the new Rebel 1100 can keep up with a proper cruiser.
Cruisers are usually known motorcycles for older demographics, but that’s not the case with both bikes. Potential buyer age for both Rebel and Street Bob is younger than average cruiser, which shows that both Harley Davidson and Honda wants to aim towards younger buyers. Both bikes look quite good, but the Street Bob draws attention more than the Rebel.
Though they both aim younger buyers, their design language is completely different. The Street Bob took the more traditional approach, as expected from Harley Davidson. It has a nice curved handlebar for more classic look, whereas the Rebel comes with flat handlebar, much like a naked bike. You sit more upright with the Street Bob due to handlebar design.
Two cruisers have completely different dash design, Honda decided to keep it more modern. It comes with a basic digital screen that allows you to see essential information, as well as driving modes. You don’t get any type of connectivity unlike bigger Honda bikes.
Harley Davidson decided to put probably one of the smallest screens (2.1 inch) in motorcycling world, it only shows essential info and you can go through the menu by clicking a button on the left side of the handlebar. An analogue speed and RPM gauge would have looked much better if you consider the design of Street Bob.
The differences continue throughout the bikes, including the seats. They both have pretty approachable seat heights, but Street Bob’s seat looks more upscale but it feels more uncomfortable after certain period of time. Rebel’s flatter seat design feels a little bit more comfortable but not great as well.
Despite the differences, there are some similarities. For instance, both bikes have mid controls and you have quite stretched riding position, but they are comfortable enough for short trips. Both bikes are not good for long highway trips as they lack wind protection.
Both bikes have some modern features such as ABS brakes, LED headlights and they both perform quite well. Honda Rebel also has cruise control and IMU system standard, which is not even an option with the Street Bob. I think it should have been at least an option with the Street Bob, considering it’s price tag.
Things get more different when you start riding both especially back to back. Let’s start with the Rebel 1100. Though Honda is not new to cruiser world, they added parallel twin 1084cc engine that they used in Africa Twin to Rebel lineup. It comes with different exhaust pipe and tune, and as a result it sounds different than the adventure bike.
The fundamentals of 1084cc parallel twin engine is the same. It is a liquid cooled engine with 270 degree firing order that makes it feel like a V-Twin, and it is a great sounding engine. Compared to Africa Twin, the bike feels a little bit mellow due to different tune, gear ratios and fat tire profile. However, it is still pretty fast bike and revs up to 8200 rpm.
2021 Harley-Davidson Street Bob comes with air cooled Milwaukee 114 engine. Milwaukee 114 engine is pretty well-known for Harley fans, and as expected it sounds pretty much like a traditional American V-Twin. It can only rev up to 5700 rpm due to the huge displacement and pushrod style valvetrain. The air cooled engine has its own unique character that makes it feel more special compared to Rebel 1100.
Both manufacturers won’t declared actual horsepower figures, but both bikes feel quite fast at different speeds. Harley’s V-Twin engine has tons of torque between 2000 and 5000 rpm. Whereas Honda’s peppy parallel twin engine has significantly more torque over 4000 rpm, it makes it feel like Rebel is more of a hybrid cruiser that has some naked bike characteristics.
That character difference continues in the handling department. Honda Rebel 1100 comes with adjustable suspension in the front and rear. Front suspension is not inverted, but still it’s a 43mm telescopic fork with 121mm travel, and rear shocks are dual Showas with pressurized reservoirs and 95mm travel. As a result, it is quite capable not only as a daily rider, but also on twisties since it has more lean angle than the Street Bob.
The list of technical differences don’t end here. One of the biggest differences, in fact, is the way that they transfer the power. Honda Rebel traditionally has the chain drive, whereas the Street Bob comes with drive belt. For a cruiser, dealing with chain may be an extra hassle, as you have to adjust and clean it regularly whereas belt is usually maintenance free.
Although the Street Bob has no adjustability, it still comes with telescopic forks with 130mm travel and it has Showa’s Dual Bending Valve technology that delivers more performance based on road conditions. Rear suspension is buried behind the rear wheel and I believe suspension tune is pretty impressive for a cruiser, though it has less travel (86 mm) compared to Rebel.
Riding the Rebel and Street Bob back to back gave me the chance to see how different cruisers can be, even though they are technically in the same segment. Despite being a cruiser, Honda Rebel 1100 feels much more smaller and as a result more nimble. It is a great bike for city riding, lane filtering and riding through tight spots as the bike has pretty narrow profile.
The “narrow” profile means it is significantly lighter than the Street Bob. Honda Rebel 1100 weights only 224 kg with the manual transmission, and 233 kg if you choose the DCT automatic transmission. If you just ignore the looks, Honda Rebel feels more of a naked bike with extremely low seat height than a cruiser, makes it more of a hybrid cruiser.
Aside from the overall dimensions, Honda Rebel 1100 feels like a typical Japanese motorcycle. It feels extremely precise, predictable, and easy to operate. However, Rebel feels more like a budget oriented cruiser, as it uses some common plastic parts and buttons that are used in cheaper models. You can get the optional DCT automatic transmission to make it even easier to ride around the city.
As mentioned, Harley Davidson Street Bob feels heavier, because it is heavier on paper. It weights almost 300 kg which is a huge difference, and it is noticeable as soon as you get on the bike. There are few reasons why that’s the case, but one of the most significant factors is the huge 114 cubic feet (1868 cc) V-Twin engine, whereas Rebel 1100’s compact parallel twin engine is much more compact due to smaller displacement and due to the nature of parallel twin engines.
Though the Street Bob feels harder to ride as a daily rider, it is definitely a head turner and offers enjoyable riding characteristics if you like to take the backroads more than city driving, thanks to it’s more relaxed riding ergonomics. The iconic V-Twin engine as well as overall build quality makes the bike much more enjoyable for weekend rides.
At the end of the day, there is no winner in this comparison as both bikes are great options for different types of riders. If you are looking for a cruiser for daily riding, or commuting to work, Rebel 1100 would be a better option. If you are looking for a traditional cruiser with it’s unique character and great build quality, you can’t go wrong with the Harley Davidson Street Bob.
There is no doubt that pricing is an important factor when you choose your cruiser, and Honda Rebel 1100 is a clear winner if you are looking for value. If you want to have the manual transmission, it is priced just below $13,000 CAD mark, and DCT version sets you back additional $1000. If it was my own money, I would definitely choose the DCT version as it adds extra comfort which is important for cruising around the city.
2021 Harley Davidson Street Bob is priced few thousand dollars more expensive than the Rebel 1100, it starts at $17,599 and if you choose any color other than black is an additional $450. If you are looking for a fast cruiser with iconic American V-Twin, the Street Bob is the way to go.
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