A Sportier Look And A New Attitude

Honda brought one of its most recognized model families into the 21st century with a complete overhaul of the much celebrated Rebel range in 2017. Available as the Rebel 300 and 500, this reworked line features water-cooled mills and fuel-injection induction control to meet modern and near-future emissions standards. A sportier look greets the eye this time around, though the Rebel still targets the same small-[cruiser-mot392], entry-level market.

Continue reading for my review of the Honda Rebel 300 and Rebel 500.

  • 2017 - 2019 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
  • Year:
    2017- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel-Twin
  • Displacement:
    471 cc
  • Price:
    6199
  • Price:

Honda Rebel Design

2017 - 2019 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
- image 794717
It has a much more modern look with elements borrowed from the sportbike sector that gives them an edgy, modern appeal.

The original Rebel was released in 1985, and was designed to reflect the custom culture popular among cruiser riders at that time, and the bobbed fenders, low seat height and buckhorn handlebars struck a chord with the riding public. As popular as it was then, the design was getting rather dated as years went by. Enter the new-from-2017 Rebels that retain the same small-cruiser stance but with a bit of a nouveau-bobber finish. An experienced eye will pick out the similar flylines between this gen and the previous one, but everything below that point are as chalk to cheese.

A fat front tire leads the way beneath the cut-down front fender, and the fuel tank looks cut back as well over the exposed frame members. Unlike the originals, this new generation comes with a solo seat instead of a two-up saddle with an unusual loop behind it that closes off the frame and acts as a mount for the canted-forward shock absorbers. One can only hope the seat is more comfortable than the original, ’cause I can tell you from personal experience that my ’87 Rebel was softer than a cinderblock, but not much. Overall, we have a much more modern look with elements borrowed from the sportbike sector that don’t look at all out of place on these pocket cruisers, but instead gives them an edgy, modern appeal.

Honda Rebel Chassis

2017 - 2019 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
- image 794706
The front forks are rather beefy for such a small bike and they provide a fairly plush ride, but come with nothing in the way of adjustments.

A tubular-steel frame connects to the engines at three points with a pair of downtubes that mount the radiator up under the steering head. Instead of the old backbone-style frame, this new set of bones has an external structure similar to a Trellis frame, and a die-cast aluminum subframe mounts the rear fender struts while keeping things light at the ass end. A tubular swingarm completes the standing rigging with a pair of coil-over shocks on damping duties.

The 28-degree steering head angle and 4.3 inches of trail gives the Rebels a stable demeanor that helps keep the ride from feeling too squirrely, but depending upon which model you choose you are looking at something between 364- and 414-pounds curb weight so that will only help so much. You’re still going to feel every gust of wind and pressure wave from the surrounding traffic.

At 41 mm, the front forks are rather beefy for such a small bike and they provide a fairly plush ride with 4.8 inches of travel at the axle, but come with nothing in the way of adjustments. In back, the dual coil-over shocks give up 3.8 inches of travel and come with the usual (read: minimal) preload adjuster but nothing else. One thing that hasn’t changed much is seat height; at 27.2-inches tall the new gen is only around a half-inch taller than the original. I gotta say that if that’s too tall for you, perhaps the two-wheel life isn’t in your cards.

Cast 16-inch wheels mount the 130/90 front and 150/80 rear hoops, and I’m happy to announce that Honda finally abandoned the rear drum brake on the Rebel family. A single-pot caliper binds the 240 mm rear and 296 mm front disc, and both the 300 and 500 have ABS as an available option.

Model: Rebel 500 Rebel 300
Front Suspension/Travel: 41mm telescopic fork/ 4.8 in. 41mm telescopic fork/ 4.8 in.
Rear Suspension/Travel: Twin shock/ 3.8 in. Twin shock/ 3.8 in.
Rake (Caster Angle): 28º 28º
Trail: 110mm (4.3 in) 110mm (4.3 in)
Brakes, Front: Single 296 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; (ABS model W/ABS) Single 296 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; (ABS model w/ ABS)
Brakes, Rear: Single 240 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; (ABS model w/ ABS) Single 240 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; (ABS model w/ ABS)
Tire, Front: 130/90-16 130/90-16
Tire, Rear: 150/80-16 150/80-16

Honda Rebel Drivetrain

2017 - 2019 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
- image 794700
The engines are close in power delivery to the CBR-R models of similar displacement, so you can consider the Rebels to be plenty strong enough for a pocket cruiser.

Everything up to this point has been consistent across the range, but naturally we have some differences when we get to the engines (hence the ingeniously clever names). At the bottom of the scale we have a 286 cc thumper that breathes through a 38 mm throttle body with electronic fuel injection to meter the juice. This one-lung mill runs a 76 mm bore and 63 mm stroke with a somewhat warm 10.7-to-1 compression ratio.

The larger of the two engines doubles up with a twin-cylinder layout, and the 67 mm bore and 66.8 mm stroke measures out to a total of 471 cc with 34 mm throttle bodies feeding the mill. Dual over-head cams time the four-valve heads across the board, and liquid cooling manages the waste heat for the whole family.

A six-speed gearbox keeps the rpm in the usable range for both models, and unsurprisingly, we have a standard clutch with no slipper or hydraulic-assist in evidence. As usual, Honda is keeping its cards close to the vest, but the engines are close in power delivery to the CBR-R models of similar displacement. The CBR300R puts out 30 horsepower and 20 pounds of grunt, and the CBR500R cranks out 46.9 horses and 31 pounds of torque, so you can consider the Rebels to be plenty strong enough for a pocket cruiser.

Model: Rebel 500 Rebel 300
Engine: 471 cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin four-stroke, DOHC; four valves per cylinder 286 cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke, DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 67.0 mm x 66.8 mm 76.0 mm x 63.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI; 34mm throttle bodies PGM-FI; 38mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized w/ electronic advance Computer-controlled digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Transmission: Six-speed Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain; 15T/40T Chain; 14T/36T

Honda Rebel Pricing

2017 - 2019 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
- image 794703
Without any significant changes from last year, you can figure MSRP running about a bill over 2018 prices.

These new models retain the affordability factor of the originals with reasonable price tags. For 2019, the Rebel 300 rolls for $4,499 without ABS and $4,749 with. MSRP on the 500 is $6,199. ABS adds $300 to the price.

Model: Rebel 500 Rebel 300
Model ID: CMX500 CMX300
Warranty: Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan
Color:
2017: Matte Silver, Bright Yellow, Black, Red (ABS: Black) Matte Silver, Matte Pearl White, Black, Red (ABS: Black)
2018: Candy Lightning Blue, Matte Silver Metallic, Black, Red (ABS: Matte Silver Metallic) Candy Lightning Blue, Matte Silver Metallic, Black, Red (ABS: Matte Silver Metallic)
2019: Matte Fresco Brown, Candy Orange, Matte Gray Metallic Pearl Gray, Matte Gray Metallic, Candy Orange
Price:
2017: $5,999 $4,399
2018: $6,099 $4,449
2019: $6,199 (w/ABS:$6,499) $4,499 (w/ABS: $4,749)

Honda Rebel Competitors

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
- image 730253
2017 - 2019 Honda Rebel 300 / Rebel 500
- image 760189
Both the Rebel and the Street 500 are built for a younger market, and as such carry features and looks that somewhat blur the line between sport and cruise.

The usual suspects just didn’t seem appropriate anymore since they are all so last century, so instead I looked for another sporty pocket-cruiser and found a likely competitor in the Harley-Davidson Street 500. Both are built for a younger market, and as such carry features and looks that somewhat blur the line between sport and cruise. Granted, the Rebel carries more of an Asian/Euro sport flavor blended with its cruise-tastic ingredients and the Street reaches for more of a cafe’ racer look that is equally as sporty, just with a healthy dose of Americana mixed in.

ABS is optional across the board, but Harley adds a security option that has no equivalent on the Honda side. In one of the few times Harley didn’t exactly wow us by offering only red, blue and two shades of black on the palette in 2017; it was a let-down from the King of Paint, but it allowed for a competitive comparison with the plain-Jane offerings that is usual from Honda. For 2018, Honda lost that foothold when Harley expanded the palette for the Street 500 to its more usual plethora of eye-catching paint.

At 491 cc, the H-D mill has a few cubes on the Honda’s 471 cc displacement, and embarrassingly for Harley, the Rebel 500 cranks out 1.5 pound-feet more than the Street 500’s 29.5 pounds of grunt. Sorry Harley, but you guys need to tighten up a little bit! Honda picks up another win at the till with a price of $6,199, while Harley asks $6,899 for its Vivid Black model, and jacks it up to $7,194 for the color selection options or a little more for two-tone.

In the end, they are comparable, and folks who have to have a Harley won’t bat an eye at the price difference, but folks not Hell bent for leather are going to find the new Rebel an attractive alternative.

He Said

“As much as I liked the original Rebel, I gotta say the new one is pretty boss. The design is modern, but not overly so, and while it doesn’t look much like the original it does enjoy a certain charm all its own. Having said that, the previous gen enjoys a rather devout following with a whole custom culture built around it, and only time will tell if the new gen will draw the same kind of fanbase. “

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "When I first saw the new Rebel, I said ’Wow!’ But now that the initial surprise has worn off, I’m not sure what to think about it. Yes, it is more modern and it will attractive some new folks to the fan-base, but I wonder what the die-hard Rebel fans are going to say. I think I prefer the old Rebel look, but I do like the technology on the new model, if for nothing else, at least for the rear disc brake."

Honda Rebel Specifications

Model: Rebel 500 Rebel 300
Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 471 cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin four-stroke, DOHC; four valves per cylinder 286 cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke, DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 67.0mm x 66.8mm 76.0mm x 63.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI; 34mm throttle bodies PGM-FI; 38mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized w/ electronic advance Computer-controlled digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Transmission: Six-speed Six-speed
Final Drive: Chain; 15T/40T Chain; 14T/36T
Chassis:
Front Suspension/Travel: 41mm telescopic fork/ 4.8 in. 41mm telescopic fork/ 4.8 in.
Rear Suspension/Travel: Twin shock/ 3.8 in. Twin shock/ 3.8 in.
Rake (Caster Angle): 28º 28º
Trail: 110 mm (4.3 in) 110 mm (4.3 in)
Brakes, Front: Single 296 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; (ABS model W/ABS) Single 296 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; (ABS model w/ ABS)
Brakes, Rear: Single 240 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; (ABS model w/ ABS) Single 240 mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; (ABS model w/ ABS)
Tire, Front: 130/90-16 130/90-16
Tire, Rear: 150/80-16 150/80-16
Dimensions & Capacities:
Seat Height: 27.2 in. 27.2 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.4 in. 5.9 in.
Wheelbase: 58.7 in. 58.7 in.
Fuel Capacity: 2.96 gal. 2.96 gal.
Fuel Economy: 67 mpg 78 mpg
Curb Weight: 408 lbs.(ABS: 414 lbs.) 364 lbs. (ABS: 370 lbs.)
Details:
Model ID: CMX500 CMX300
Warranty: Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan
Color:
2017: Matte Silver, Bright Yellow, Black, Red (ABS: Black) Matte Silver, Matte Pearl White, Black, Red (ABS: Black)
2018: Candy Lightning Blue, Matte Silver Metallic, Black, Red (ABS: Matte Silver Metallic) Candy Lightning Blue, Matte Silver Metallic, Black, Red (ABS: Matte Silver Metallic)
2019: Matte Fresco Brown, Candy Orange, Matte Gray Metallic Pearl Gray, Matte Gray Metallic, Candy Orange
Price:
2017: $5,999 $4,399
2018: $6,099 $4,449
2019: $6,199 (w/ABS:$6,499) $4,499 (w/ABS: $4,749)

References

Harley-Davidson Street 500

2016 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street 500 / Street 750
- image 730253

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street 500.

Honda CBR300R

2015 - 2018 Honda CBR300R
- image 790253

See our review of the Honda CBR300R.

Honda CBR500R

2015 - 2018 Honda CBR500R
- image 794643

See our review of the Honda CBR500R.

no article
- image 794666

Read more Honda news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended.Image Source: powersports.honda.com, harley-davidson.com

Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: