Honda’s iconic Rebel, now with a slip-and-assist clutch

Honda rolls into the new decade with the first overhaul to its newest-generation Rebel range. It has only been a few years since the classic Rebel line was replaced by the current iteration, and the added features are largely due to feedback from the new rider base. New suspension components improve the ride along with upgrades to the lighting and clutch pack to increase overall safety and expand its buyer base.

  • 2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel Twin
  • Displacement:
    471 cc
  • Top Speed:
    95 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    6499
  • Price:

2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500 Design

  • LED lighting
  • Blackout styling
  • Plusher seat
  • Low seat height
  • Gear indicator
2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
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2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
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The new Rebel 300/500 carries itself with much the same panache as the initial “new” Rebels, but with a few important distinctions. First, the headlight was reshaped and repositioned with a quartet of LED emitters set behind a round lens, blackout housing, and chrome bezel. The homegrown-custom blackout continues throughout the design of both displacements, and it would be easier to tell you what didn’t get hit with the dark finish: the inner fork tubes and brake discs out of necessity, and the aforementioned headlight trim for the sake of vanity. This effectively gives the Rebel a home-built vibe, but it doesn’t stop there.

Fenders front and rear are both heavily bobbed with builds that seek the lightest balance between weight and function, and this, too, adds to the homemade look. The exposed framing goes with the design flow and adds an industrial edge to the package. Stock, the new Rebel line rolls with a solo seat, but if you like to share the fun, you can peruse the well-populated accessory catalog for all the extra gadgetry you’ll need to bring a friend.

A blackened, short-rise handlebar and low-rise clamp push your hands back just a skosh to make for a comfortable, relatively upright riding posture in keeping with the longstanding cruiser tradition of the Rebel family, even if the foot controls are in a sportier, heels-under-butt position.

The unusual way the oddly-shaped, 2.96-gallon fuel tank is perched on the frame lends even more custom flavor to the mix to finish off the aesthetics in a way that, I gotta’ say, looks nothing like the original Honda Rebel that launched a sub-genre and inspired a cult-like following. Not sayin’ that’s a bad thing, just making an observation.

A 67 mpg fuel-efficiency rating gives the 500 a range right around 200 miles per fillup, which should be plenty for some very light long-distance work right along with urban commutes. One thing is certain; the 27.2-inch high seat is an improved feature that will endear itself to your butt with its new plusher foam construction and especially to shorter riders as it provides plenty of leverage for riders with less-than-athletic legs.

2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500 Chassis

  • Stable tracking
  • Lightweight
  • Choice of with or without ABS
2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
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2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
- image 878046
2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
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Steel-tubing members make up the completely exposed fame with plate gussets for stiffness. The 28-degree rake angle and 4.3-inch trail helps it track to combat the squirreliness that a sportbike’s steering geometry would provide. It’s billed as a cruiser, and those are some mighty cruise-tastic steering numbers to go with the 58.7-inch wheelbase.

Since the 300 weighs in at 364-pounds wet and the 500 weighs in at 408-pounds wet, there’s no getting around the fact that these are very light bikes. The good news is, even the largest of the pair is easily finessed without being reduced to a wrestling match of mass versus muscle.

It should be very unintimidating to riders who are new to cruisers, or just plain new to riding altogether.

Right-way-up, 41 mm hydraulic forks float the front end on 4.8 inches of travel with dual, coil-over shocks to support the rear and tame the motion of the swingarm while they allow a 3.8-inch range of motion that should be sufficient for any urban jungle. A set of 16-inch, cast-alloy blackout rims round out the rolling chassis with a chunky-looking 130/90 leading the way ahead of an even fatter 150/80 – dimensions that reinforce the custom vibe further yet.

You can choose to take or leave the ABS protection since both displacements come with and without an anti-lock version. May I add, if you’re a new rider, it’s probably safe enough to cut your teeth on an ABS bike since that technology is nearly ubiquitous nowadays and you can rely on it becoming even more widespread in the foreseeable future.

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

2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500 Drivetrain

  • 286 cc thumper or 471 cc parallel twin
  • Slip-and-assist clutch
  • 300: 27.4 hp and 19.9 lb-ft
  • 500: 45.9 hp and 31.9 lb-ft
2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
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2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
- image 878086
2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
- image 878085

The Rebel line splits along the displacement break with a choice between the 286 cc “300” model and a 471 cc “500” version. At the bottom of the foodchain is the 300 that rocks a 76 mm bore and 63 mm stroke thumper with a 10.7-to-1 compression ratio that turns out a total of 27.4 horsepower and 19.9 pound-feet of torque for a top speed of 85 mph. The 500 measures in with a nearly-square 67 mm bore and 66.8 mm stroke and the same compression ratio as its smaller sibling, just with a parallel-twin layout. It cranks out 45.9 ponies and 31.9 pounds o’ grunt with a top speed around 95 mph.

Both engines run with DOHC valve timing and four poppets per cylinder along with a water jacket and radiator to deal with the waste heat. New for this year is the slip-and-assist clutch that delivers a light lever pull and protects the rear contact patch from the effects of excessive drag torque under heavy engine braking and hard downshifts.

That's the extent of the fandanglery on these essential little bikes, so they can be counted upon to deliver the power along with honest feedback.
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; 34 mm throttle bodies PGM-FI; 38 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Full Transistorized ignition Full Transistorized ignition
Transmission: Six-speed Six-speed
Final Drive: O-ring-sealed chain O-ring-sealed chain

2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500 Pricing

2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
- image 878074
2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
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2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
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There are actually four separate models in play here. We have the 2020 Rebel 300 and 300 ABS for $4,499 and $4,799 respectively, then there’s the Rebel 500 non-ABS model at $6,199 with the ABS version priced three Benjamins more.

Model: Rebel 500 Rebel 300
Model ID: CMX500 (ABS: CMX500A) CMX300 (ABS: CMX300A)
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: Matte Armored Silver, Matte Blue Jeans Metallic, Graphite Black Matte Blue Jeans Metallic, Matte Fresco Brown, Graphite Black
Price: $6,199 (ABS: $6,499) $4,499 (ABS: $4,799

2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500 Competitors

2016 - 2019 Suzuki Boulevard S40
- image 811882
2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500
- image 878049

Honda kinda went in a bold new direction with the look of its interminable Rebel line, but its competitors are still working off the old mold and a perfect example of that is the Boulevard S40 from Suzuki.

Suzuki Boulevard S40

2016 - 2019 Suzuki Boulevard S40 Exterior
- image 744455

Like the outgoing Rebel design, the Boulevard S40 carries itself with a ’70s bobber look that borrows heavily from the custom bikes of that era. Blackout treatment is another constant across the board, though the Boulevard doesn’t suffer from quite the same dearth of chrome as the Rebel.

An old-school teardrop tank and duplex seating defines the S40’s flyline in a way much like the Rebel used to. Standard forks and coil-over shocks deliver a non-adjustable ride, not a great surprise at this price point, but what is surprising is Suzuki’s insistence on using an antiquated drum brake to slow the rear wheel instead of a hydraulic disc like the front wheel and most of the rest of the full-size motorcycle world.

Rather than going with low, fat hoops, the Suzuki rolls on a 19-inch front and 15-inch rear wheel for a large offset that leaves it with custom roots of its own. Too bad for Suzuki, it has no answer for the Honda’s (optional) ABS feature, and so it falls behind in the only gadgetry category the Red Riders bring to the table.

The S40 runs a 652 cc, air-cooled thumper that churns out 31 ponies and 37 pounds o’ grunt against 45.9/31.9 on the 500 for the trade off I’d expect to see from similar displacements in a one- versus two-cylinder layout. Suzuki slips again with a standard clutch against Honda’s slipper clutch.

It seems the only thing the S40 really has going for it is the $5,799 sticker that lands almost a grand less expensive than the Rebel 500.

Read our full review of the Suzuki Boulevard S40.

He Said

“I’m kinda torn here. As a former Rebel rider, I will always hold the old design close to my heart and this new machine looks nothing like it, but on the other hand, it was a dated design and the younger riders make up the target audience for this bike. Got to cater to your crowd, ya’ know? Looking at the rider’s triangle, it certainly seems like the new Rebels are going to be as cramped for taller riders as they ever were.

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I was never really a Rebel fan back in the day, but I am digging the new styling and getting more appreciation for this iconic little ride.”

It's very approachable and unintimidating; so for new riders, this is right up your alley. For experienced riders, it's nice to just get on and feel comfortable.”

“One thing I will say, though, on the 500, the clutch cover seems big and a bit intrusive right there at the rear brake lever. I can see that being a bit wearisome after a long ride..”

2020 Honda Rebel 300 / 500 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: 67.0 mm x 66.8 mm 76.0 mm x 63.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.7:1 10.7:1
Induction: PGM-FI; 34 mm throttle bodies PGM-FI; 38 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: Full Transistorized ignition Full Transistorized ignition
Transmission: Six-speed Six-speed
Final Drive: O-ring-sealed chain O-ring-sealed chain
Chassis:
Front Suspension/Travel: 41 mm telescopic fork/ 4.8 in. 41 mm telescopic fork/ 4.8 in.
Rear Suspension/Travel: Dual shock/ 3.8 in. Dual shock/ 3.8 in.
Rake (Caster Angle): 28º 28º
Trail: 4.3 in (110 mm) 4.3 in (110 mm)
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: TBD TBD
Curb Weight: 408 lbs.(ABS: 414 lbs.) 364 lbs. (ABS: 370 lbs.)
Top Speed: 95 mph (est) 85 mph (est)
Details:
Model ID: CMX500 (ABS: CMX500A) CMX300 (ABS: CMX300A)
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: Matte Armored Silver, Matte Blue Jeans Metallic, Graphite Black Matte Blue Jeans Metallic, Matte Fresco Brown, Graphite Black
Price: $6,199 (ABS: $6,499) $4,499 (ABS: $4,799

Further Reading

Honda

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TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
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All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, suzukicycles.com

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