2017 Honda Rebel 300

Editor Score: 80.5%
Engine 16.0/20
Suspension/Handling 10.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 8.0/10
Instruments/Controls4.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 7.0/10
Value 8.5/10
Overall Score80.5/100

Before you begin wondering if you’ve taken your medication this morning, let me preface this review of the new 2017 Honda Rebel 300 with the fact that it will share a lot of thoughts and observations with last week’s review of the Rebel 500 that was introduced simultaneously. These two bikes share everything in common, except for the sewing machine some little old lady left inside the chassis of the 300.

2017 Honda Rebel 300 Review: First Ride

The Rebel 300 is 2017’s closest relative to the classic, approachable, and affordable Rebel 250 that motorcyclists have become familiar with since its debut in 1985. The Rebel is known by many as the bike they learned on, may have even taken that special girl to prom on, but most importantly triggered their passion for bikes. The Rebel 300 carries on the “my-first-bike” torch starting at a very reasonable $4,399 for the base model, and $4,699 with ABS.

2017 Honda Rebel 300 left

The little cruiser that doesn’t look so little at first glance.

Honda designed the all new Rebel to be a blank canvas for new riders to customize and make their own, which is largely responsible for the Rebel’s minimalist, bare-bones styling. From the blacked-out components, the classic single large round LED headlight, the angled teardrop tank, and the exposed trellis frame, Honda has taken the Rebel in a new direction that I am a fan of. Honda decided not to simply make a miniature cruiser, lead engineer Keita Mikura pointed out, but an approachable bike that shares its styling with big-boy cruisers, including its wide 130/90-16 front tire and 150/80-16 rear with bikes like the Indian Scout.

If we’re talking customization, I would go ahead and remove the full steel rear fender that was purposefully designed by Honda to be easily disposed of via few bolts, giving it the complete bobber look that the kids sure do love these days, as well as add some clip-ons because dammit, I think that would look cool. Color options for the standard Rebel 300 are Matte Pearl White, Matte Silver Metallic, Black, and Red, and puzzlingly only Black for the ABS model.

2017 Honda Rebel 300 engine

The CBR300R’s user-friendly Single finds a new home.

In addition to the facelift, the Rebel 300 has gotten an overdue performance upgrade bringing it into the modern fuel-injected era. Instead of the old air-cooled carbureted 250cc Twin that barely chugged your prom date uphill, the Rebel 300 gets its mojo straight from the CBR300R, a fuel-injected liquid-cooled 286cc Single with four valves-per-cylinder, tuned for the Rebel to deliver better bottom-end power than its sportier cousins and surprisingly capable of huffing up a pretty sweet growl even with the stock exhaust. You’ll be thankful for the claimed 71-mpg fuel efficiency, allowing a range of 210 miles on the 2.96 gallon tank the Rebel is equipped with.

040517-2017-honda-rebel-300-lrg__dsc2386

Compared to the Hyosung GD250 I sampled a few weeks ago, the Rebel is light years ahead in its transmission, and, well, its overall quality. A Rebel 300 rider winds up shifting a lot, flying up through the gearbox from every stop, with first gear barely making it through 15 mph. I could see this bike being great for meek beginners or for simply putting around town. Highway speeds are pushing it but do-able, and with its comfort and handling, the Rebel 300 holds its ground. Still, I’d try to find the extra $1,600 for the more capable Rebel 500.

2017 Honda Rebel 300 instruments

The instruments and controls are basic, with a round LCD panel that includes displays for a speedometer, clock, fuel gauge, and odometer.

The neutral riding position fits well with this bike’s overall goal of approachability. I thank my lucky stars Honda had the sense to avoid the tailbone-crunching outstretched cruiser peg position, and that the bars have been positioned in a natural location that has the arms out straight with a slight elbow bend. All together the Rebel’s ergonomics and stature with its low 27.2 inch seat height will fit most riders well and provide plenty of comfort.

2017 Honda Rebel 300/500 ergonomics

The 6-foot-tall me fit fine on the Rebel 300’s nearly identical twin.

Even after gaining the 33 pounds along with 52cc from the Rebel 250’s specs, the Rebel 300 feels light and nimble. It shines when riding through heavy L.A. traffic and tight parking lots, feeling stable and easily maneuvered, but also keeps steady and confident at highway speeds. That is until the uber-soft suspension hits a series of bumps and begins bobbing away, even scraping pegs when cornering hard and pushing the ol’ girl. The Rebel is a great handling bike that is held back by its soft suspension, but then again, the type of rider to push the 300 to such a point isn’t exactly the Rebel’s target audience, and the softness is appreciated at slower speeds providing a cushy ride on the 4.8 inches of front travel on the 41mm front fork, and the 3.8 inches of travel from the rear shocks.

2017 Honda Rebel 300 rear brake, exhaust

The Rebel’s new rear Nissin disc brake and preload-adjustable shocks.

Along with the engine, the Rebel has gotten a braking upgrade as you can now find disc brakes at the front and rear compared to the previous generation’s front disc and rear drum brake. With the Rebel’s relatively light weight, and Honda’s high standards even for its “affordable” bikes’ components, the brakes work great and provide plenty of stopping power.

With the Rebel’s target audience in mind, and Honda’s high standards for finish quality and ease of use, the Rebel 300 is a great package for new riders looking for a tame, comfortable, and maneuverable cruiser to gain their confidence on.

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  • kawatwo

    OK, Kawasaki and Yamaha how about a new Eliminator 300 and a Virago320 :). Both would be much better on the freeway and still be around that 375 pound mark.

    • c w

      What? no love for the Suzuki GZ250? Since I took a refresher course a few years ago on one, I’ve had a soft spot for that bike. I had been on a rebel and hated, but the GZ has surprisingly standard ergos and didn’t feel as tiny as the Honda.

      The TU250 is cool, too. It would be nice to see it get a bump to 500cc and a mini scrambler version probably would hve been a good idea by now, but ‘Zuk probably doesn’t have the market share for both in the US.

      • kawatwo

        The GZ ain’t exactly any more powerful than the Rebel 🙂 The Kawi and Yamaha parallel twins would make much better all around useable “beginner” bikes.

        • c w

          By that reasoning neither would either of the bikes you mentioned. The criteria seemed to be old bikes to update.

          Furthermore, power doesn’t keep the 250-era versions from being good starter/beginners as well. They are light, easy, simple bikes. The main advantage of an update would be cleaner emissions and less maintenance.

          Of course, the main advantage to the rest of us would be a glut of good, cheap used bikes to take on as 2nd, 3rd, 4th or project bikes.

          • kawatwo

            True. I just know how much fun those baby ninja motors are, having owned the 1st generation Eliminator 250 and several 250 ninjas and can only imagine how enchanting a new version with the 300 motor would be. So I am trying to comment on all of these stories hoping Kawasaki USA will see them and build the thing already:)

  • John B.

    Very good writing in this article and the one from last week. Congratulations!

  • SteveSweetz

    Every single review of this bike has mentioned how easy the rear fender is to remove as if Honda contractually obligated the reviewers invited to the press event to say it.

    It just seems a little odd to bring up as a review point. I mean where do the lights go when you remove it? Does the bike have something built in to mount them to the back of the seat? If not, the ease with which the fender can be removed seems like a largely “academic” advantage, if you then need to have the skills to fabricate something on which to mount the lights. I suppose there will be pre-made aftermarket options, but still, it’s an odd talking point. It’s like a review about a CBR500R saying it’s really easy to put a slip-on on the bike. Sure, but is that really that special?

    • ZoMbiE

      Well said! 😀

  • Steve

    I just can’t get past the odd angle of the gas tank and upper frame. It looks awkward, like the bike got into a collision and the frame bent up and back. The handlebars and foot pegs make it seem like a nice light standard bike then they jacked up the gas tank to try to make it into a chopper-looking thing which it really just isn’t. It fails from a styling perspective and just isn’t attractive to me in the slightest. The engine, frame, fat tires, and seat have potential, but that tank. Ugh.

    • w2e2b

      It keeps the gas cap at the top of the tank.

    • c w

      Didnt like it at first, left, came back, dig it now.

      I think this may be case of “ugly on th e ‘net; fine in-person”.

    • Jason

      I agree. The tank is way too high and at an odd angle like they are going for the 70’s chopper look. The seat is also too low.

  • RandleMcMurphy

    Regardless of what you think about this bike, I feel that it’s a good thing for motorcycling in general. If it brings in new riders that’s a good thing. I started out learning on a Rupp mini bike>Honda Trail90>Honda MotoSport 100.

    Honda at least makes this a modern, refined, economical bike with bullet proof reliability that at least to my eyes, looks pretty nice.

    If it gets more folks out on 2 wheels it’s a success.

  • Maximiliano Ricardo Elias

    Two question , HP ?? TOP SPEED ??

  • Lorena Ferchaud

    I am probably one of the “target audience” for this bike. (working grandma, late 50’s, etc) I had a Yamaha Vino scooter for 10 years and wanted to move up to a bike I could handle with both size and weight. I love the look of this bike and being 6 month post knee surgery I appreciate the low seat as this was a big concern about being able to put my leg down at a stop sign. The seat is a bit hard and I do miss the storage that I had on the scooter, but other than that, I really love this bike.