2017 Honda Rebel 500

Editor Score: 82.5%
Engine 17.5/20
Suspension/Handling 10.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 8.0/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 7.5/10
Value 8.5/10
Overall Score82.5/100

I’m not sure if it’s my naturally rebellious nature, being a man who microwaves his food still in the tupperware and even known to occasionally fill water cups up with soda (that’s right, bitch), that got me the chance to head up to Venice Beach, California, for the launch of the new Honda Rebel 500, but I think it might be because the rest of the Motorcycle.com staff (except Troy) is in the tin-foil reusing, cabbage-scented stage of life.

The Rebel was first introduced in 1985 as a way for Honda to target a younger generation, typically new to motorcycles, and broke. Which is especially true today where a coffee and bagel costs an hour of labor, and the idea of owning a home almost anywhere in California is a long-off and mystical dreamscape. With strange quinoa and farro dietary options on every corner, Los Angeles is the ground-zero dwelling of the hip Instagram demographic that Honda hopes to see straddling its extremely user friendly, affordable, and bare-bones styled new Rebel, which starts at a very reasonable $5,999 for the base model, and $6,299 for ABS.

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I think the bike looks awesome. I am a huge fan of the minimalist, exposed, and simple styling of the Rebel. The classic large round LED headlight at the front, black trellis frame, and angled teardrop tank all are simple and work well together. You can get the 500 in Tennis Ball Yellow, Matte Silver, Red, and Black; the ABS model is strangely available only in Black. And even though the Rebel comes in a smaller displacement (more on the Rebel 300 next week), it has the styling of bigger cruisers. The Rebel’s lead engineer, Keita Mikura pointed out it shares its fat front 130/90-16 tire and 150/80-16 rear with bikes like the Indian Scout.

2017 Honda Rebel 500 ergonomics

I’m nearly 6-feet tall, with 31-inch legs, and the Rebel fits me just about right.

The stripped-down styling leaves a lot of room for customization, something that Honda really wants to encourage with the Rebel. The steel rear fender is purposefully designed to be completely removable via a couple bolts, giving the bike a full-on bobber look. I personally would rip that rear fender off and throw some clip-ons on ol’ bessy like the custom P-40-styled Rebel 500 seen below, but that’s just me.

2017 Honda Rebel 500 P-40 Warhawk custom

This P-40 Warhawk-inspired custom 500 built by Honda is an example of the customization it hopes to see owners experimenting with.

The Rebel has gotten a huge performance upgrade in addition to its makeover. Instead of that weezy old air-cooled carbureted 250cc Twin (or the old 450 Twin), the Rebel 500 gets its ponies straight from the CBR500R/CB500F/CB500X 471cc fuel-injected liquid-cooled parallel-Twin with four valves-per-cylinder, which has been tuned for the Rebel to deliver better bottom-end power than its sportier cousins. There is plenty of fun to be had on the Rebel 500; while it’s not going to win many drag races, it is a perfectly capable, tried and true powerplant that you can still rip around on with ease and cheapness, since it’ll go 60 miles on a gallon of gas – a thing you will appreciate considering its rather small 2.96 gallon fuel tank.

2017 Honda Rebel 500 instruments, speedometer, clock,fuel tank

Simple Honda instrument panel and controls. A speedometer, clock and fuel gauge is pretty much all you get.

The transmission is plenty smooth with no need to fight through gears, and the clutch is nice and light. At highway speeds, however, you’ll find a buzz throughout the bike at around 65 mph. It’s not going to rattle your fingers numb or coax a bowel movement out of you, but it is noticeable and mellows out above or below that range in sixth gear. But the comfort and handling of the Rebel is what allows its motor to shine.

The riding position is natural and perfect for this style bike. I am very happy Honda didn’t go with the the outstretched cruiser pegs that tend to make me feel like I am hanging on for life by the bars at high speeds. The pegs are in a natural position, and the seat is a bit firm but comfortable. The bars have been positioned in a solid location that has the arms out straight with a slight elbow bend. Altogether the Rebel has an approachable and comfortable stature with a nice and low 27.2-inch seat height.

Me racing to get some new beard oil.

Me racing to get some new beard oil.

The Rebel is also nimble, and with its raised footpegs, cornering isn’t something that will make you pucker your keester, well, depending on the situation. Navigating at slows speeds is easy and natural, and at higher speeds you’ll find it… semi-confident and sturdy. It really hits the sweet spot of maneuverability in situations such as parking lots and heavy L.A. traffic. But cornering confidence is dented once you realize how squishy the suspension is. One of the first things I noticed is how much the 41mm fork compressed with a simple push on the front end with the bike stationary and the front brake locked. The softness is nice in certain instances, providing a cushy ride, but it takes on a floaty-ness underneath you if you hit a series of bumps while hauling ass. This softness works against the performance promises offered by decent cornering clearance from the relatively high footpegs. If you’re ripping around on the Rebel, you’ll find that 4.8 inches of front travel disappears quickly; its rear 3.8 inches of travel on its dual shocks was better controlled.

The Honda Rebel also received an upgrade in the brakes department from the previous Rebel’s rear drum and lonely front disc. You’ll now find disc brakes at the front and rear, which provide plenty of stopping power for the 408-pound cruiser. You can brake hard with confidence on the fat front tire and not worry about pinching your fingers off with the brake lever like I did on the 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750 that I had tested when it was first released. Everything on this bike feels a bit “affordable” but it is Honda affordable, which means “pretty good.”

2017 Honda Rebel 500 parked sunset

The 2017 Rebel carries on the torch for newer riders and looks great doing it.

Considering the intended riding style for this bike and its reasonable price, great styling, quality parts and materials, the Rebel 500 is solid choice for beginning or intermediate riders when it hits the showroom floor in April.

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  • Hmmmm. What about US models?

    • denchung

      We’ll have to wait for the official announcement from either Suzuki or NHTSA.

      • Old MOron

        Good find, Dennis.

  • Treeman

    I had plans for a new 2016 Burgman 650, but this issue is troubling.

  • w2e2b

    That would suck if your bike didn’t start to show the problem until some time after the 2,485 mile mark for the automatic parts replacement.

    • Sentinel

      I’ve got over 20,000 miles on my Gladius. I’m about ready to open up the top end of the engine and have a look.

      • w2e2b

        It seems to say, once you cross that 2,485 mile mark you are on your own, no matter what you find now. Getting 20,000 miles would seem to indicate your bike didn’t have the problem described.

        • Sentinel

          No, that’s not what it says. Here’s what it says,

          “Suzuki dealers will inspect recalled motorcycles and conduct necessary
          repairs. In Canada, vehicles with odometer readings of 4,000 km or
          greater (2,485 miles) will receive new valve tappets and camshafts if
          the clearances are greater than specification.”

  • Ron

    30,000 miles on my 2013 DL650 and no problems so far. Still, hope this recall comes to the US soon. I don’t want to get stranded a thousand miles from home.

  • JBC

    I just went to http://www.suzukicycles.com/Recalls.aspx and put in the VIN number of my 2013 V-Strom and got the following info. It has a NHTSA recall number. NHTSA Recall NumberSuzuki Recall NumberRecall DateRecall DescriptionSafety Risk DescriptionRepair DescriptionStatus15V-852QMNOV 19, 2015Contamination between the tappet and cam may cause the hardened surface of the tappet to peel if the surface shape of the tappet is convex. This would allow the inner part of the tappet to come in contact with the cam. If the hardness of the inner part of the tappet is at the low end of the design specification, both the tappet and cam can wear, increasing the tappet clearance. If the tappet clearance becomes large, it can cause an abnormal noise and in the worst case can cause the engine to stall.Engine stalling can increase the risk of a crash.For motorcycles with odometer readings of 2,485 miles (4,000 km) or greater, dealers will inspect the tappet clearances and will replace the tappets and camshafts if any of the tappet clearances is greater than the specification. For motorcycles with odometer readings of less than 2,485 miles (4,000 km), dealers will replace the tappets and camshafts, because the tappet clearances may be within the specification at low mileage even if there is abnormal wear.Recall INCOMPLETE

  • faztang

    Honda seems to keep making head scratching decisions. Offer a variety of colors in the base version and then you get “punished” with only one color option if you buy an ABS version. Mr. Marketing Man, why? If anything it should be the other way around. The more expensive version gives you ABS and more color options.

    • spiff

      I would advise any new rider to get ABS. Why would they limit them to one color option is beyond me.

      • Tom Byrne

        ABS is helpful, but not a deal breaker. In fact, I would advise new riders to learn without ABS. Technology is very beneficial, but many riders and drivers get into trouble by using it as a crutch and riding/driving what is beyond what conditions call for.

        But then, I still blast around on the weekends on a CB400T with drums front and rear. My commuter F650GS has ABS, though.

        • spiff

          Ha, my Dad has put over 15000 mile on a CM400 over the last 3 years. People tell him “you can’t ride that bike across country”, and he says “yeah”. He has does it anyway. Opened my eyes to what a small bike can do.

          • Tom Byrne

            I don’t doubt it. The little twins keep going and going. Is he on the Honda Twins board?

          • spiff

            No, he isn’t on any boards. Some guy did write a theard about him on a Texas based forum. He rode all over the place on his way to Texas to pick up a truck for a friend. Loaded the bike in the truck and went home.

          • John A. Stockman

            When I was able to return to riding again in May 1983 (a genetic defect ate away all my joint cartilage and fused my joints at the age of 14), I got an early 80s KZ250. I endured numerous joint-replacement surgeries and tortuous physical therapy to get atrophied muscles working again. My dream was to be able to ride a motorcycle again. I put 38,000 miles on that KZ250 in two years, riding all over the west and much of Canada. I was in Westlock, Alberta on the 250 and some guy said “you can’t tour on a little bike like that”. I told him I’m from Olympia, WA and there is no truck or trailer around. A small deflector screen and some over-the-seat saddle bags, a small tent and sleeping bag was all I needed. All those years on crutches with fused hips, I thought my motorcycling days were over when I realized I couldn’t spread my legs apart enough to even straddle a bike seat. I grew up in a family of motorcyclists and started riding a small dirt bike at the age of 9 in 1968 and rode in junior motocross locally. I wasn’t going to let a “little” bike keep me from living my dream. I graduated to a KZ440 in ’85 and owned 2 more 440s up to ’97. I piled the miles on those KZ440s also, “touring” the US and Canada. Guess I didn’t know any better! I’m glad to see a resurgence with these smaller displacement bikes. I was looking at a Rebel 250 and the Yamaha 250, but a co-worker said he was selling his wife’s KZ250 with only 500 miles on it. I did get to test ride the Rebel 250, and I knew right away I wouldn’t be able to ride the distances I wanted. Foot pegs out front didn’t work for me and whole ergonomic layout was very uncomfortable after about 20 miles. Nice to see a more standard riding position on this new Rebel 500. Great write-up, a bit over 400 lbs., sounds good to me! Here’s that little 250 I started out on… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95057c464477da673dc60a2ad992e1e939c252dcee391ef634149bcd5fe2adbc.jpg

          • spiff

            Some of my greatest accomplishments are because I didn’t know any better.

          • Malatrope

            I love my little Yamaha V-Star 250. It’s narrow, low, comfortable, gets 100 MPG at 60MPH, will cruise at 70MPH if you don’t mind being tossed around a little (it only weighs 326lbs), and it’s cheap.


            I traveled 3800 miles over mostly gravel roads in my area last summer.

        • SteveSweetz

          “Technology is very beneficial, but many riders and drivers get into trouble by using it as a crutch and riding/driving what is beyond what conditions call for.”

          Your evidence for this claim is what exactly? I see this repeated time and time again in ABS/anti-ABS debates with no evidence to support it. In fact, when pressed, most who spout it can’t even produce a single informal anecdote supporting it; it seems driven more their ego being wrapped up in the belief that they are superior riders for having learned to ride a bike about ABS, and then subconsciously producing a completely made up narrative to reinforce that presumption.

          Meanwhile there is hard data showing that bikes with ABS are involved in less crashes than those without, to tune of 30% or so.

          • Tom Byrne

            One, it was my opinion. Two, I have witnessed it among my own family and friends, where they would drive to fast or insufficiently careful for conditions, believing ABS, traction control ad/or AWD meant that they were impervious to a low traction environment. What I am saying is that people need both, technology and the knowledge of how to properly ride or drive in adverse conditions.

            Don’t worry, pretty soon the vehicle will drive itself and we can all text and Facebook while we travel.

          • Born to Ride

            As long as it is an excellent ABS system I agree with you. But many are not. The hydraulic kickback on my dad’s T-Bird comes on way too early. I know I can stop that bike faster than the computer says I can.

        • JWH

          I think you’re making too much out of that issue. The only issue I can possibly see with ABS is that going to a bike without ABS might get the rider in trouble. However, ABS is just going to become increasingly ubiquitous as time goes on. Braking without ABS will become as useful a skill as double-clutching is today.

          • I totally see what you’re saying, but that’s not the case right now. there are plenty of bikes without ABS and I think it’s smart to learn on a bike without ABS and then move to a bike with ABS. Still, you’re right about it being ubiquitous as time goes on.

    • Kenneth

      Honda Canada took that sensible approach: non-ABS in black, while the ABS model comes in any of the 4 colors. Go figure.

      • faztang

        They seem to have figured it out up there. Canadian version of the F6B offers ABS, the US version still does not. Another moronic move by Honda.

    • Tom Byrne

      I agree. I don’t understand why ABS cannot be an option (or standard) with any color. It i just a matter of slapping the “right color” tank as the ABS bikes come down the line.

    • JWH

      Agree, and of course it doesn’t come in an actual color. If you want ABS it has to be blacked out. Why?

  • Starmag

    I really like the riding shot from the side and your stating your size for an ergos perspective, which look good, but the tank is an abomination to my eyes. Maybe that’s because I’m in the ” the tin-foil reusing, cabbage-scented stage of life.” with the rest of the MO staff. LOL.

    “the idea of owning a home almost anywhere in California is a long-off and mystical dreamscape.”

    “The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.”- George Carlin

    • Born to Ride

      My 25 year old childhood friend just bought himself, his wife, and two kids a house in the socal suburbs after successfully starting his own small business selling and installing tile. He works his ass off for it, but his American dream is a waking pursuit. Nobody gave him anything but a decent public education and an apprenticeship laying tile. Defeatism is a disease in this country.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        And he is going to be working his ass off for the next 30 years to pay it off at three times its value (including interest). According to bankrate.com, a $400,000 30 year 10% interest loan costs $1,263,703 by the time you pay it off,

        • Born to Ride

          Before I decided to respond, I texted him to confirm this, but he paid 250k for the house and mortgaged 220k at 3.55% fixed rate for 20 years. The house is a total fixer upper and he is in the process of remodeling, but it is 3 bedrooms and 3 baths with a half decent back yard and a 2 car garage. Even with his PMI he is still paying hundreds less a month on his mortgage payment than he was renting a house in the same neighborhood last year. Who the hell signs on the dotted line for a 10% fixed mortgage? That is just shenanigans.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I agree buying is better than renting. So he is going to be remodeling the house as well as working his ass off. Hats off to him.

          • JWH

            That says it all right there. $250k. Your friend lives in an area with affordable housing. My son is 24, and will likely own his own home before long as well. However, that in no way diminishes the problems the majority of millennials face on the Eastern seaboard or California, which combined houses a surprisingly huge percentage of millennials. Wunderkin MIT grads aside, not many of them see home-ownership in their future.

          • Born to Ride

            Other houses in the area are in the 350 – 450k range. He bought a home that needed renovation. Luckily he has the skills to get it into a liveable condition shortly after he purchased it and was able to move out of his rental immediately. I will agree though that if you live in the heart of LA or orange county, your housing prices are astronomical and it is unlikely that the house you buy was built in the last 70 years for that price.

        • Tom Byrne

          But it is his. He can do what he wants No one will raise his rent. No one will force him to move. He can decorate an modify as he chooses. It is his own little place in the word. He answers to no one. Admirable goals to work one’s ass off for.

          The alternative is to work your ass off for a rent payment, have less security and have nothing to show for your efforts, after 30 years. Either that or live with mom.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            It is not his until it is paid off.

          • Tom Byrne

            Sure it is, He can do what he wants with it. It is just as much his as a financed motorcycle. Paint it, change it, etc.

      • BDan75

        Not saying anything about your friend’s particular situation, but way too many people in this country falsely believe that “no one gave them anything.”

        • Born to Ride

          Yeah I agree. That’s why I qualified the statement with decent education and a good apprenticeship. His dad is a contractor for home remodels and hooked him up with one of his best tile installers. Worked for him for 5-6 years, saved up enough money and built up good enough credit to start his own business. Didn’t try anything fancy, he just stuck to what he knows and he is doing very well for himself and his family.

          • JFin

            Not to discount how hard he worked but the fact that his dad had experience to give and knew the right people certainly helped. Not everyone wants to do what their parents do for a living or knows what they would like to do for a career.

          • Born to Ride

            It bothers me when people that wait until their mid-late twenties to decide “what they want to do”, then blame society when they run into economic barriers. As long as you’re big enough to admit that your socioeconomic status is a result of your indecision, and not the man keeping you down, then feel free to think about your career in that far off dreamscape. BTW I don’t mean “you” as you. I was speaking reflexively in response to your comment.

          • CNotez

            Not everyone can own a business, some people have to be the workers and they need to live too. That’s the big issue these days. The owners can survive, the workers have a harder time.

      • Craig Hoffman

        Maybe he can sell the house for a nice profit and move out of California. Bought my Long Beach home in ’05 and sold it in ’04 for 3x it’s original purchase price. Been mortgage free in Colorado ever since. Now that is the ‘Merican dream. 😛

        • Born to Ride

          The only other place in the US that I’d live is Colorado. I may very well retire to that state someday. It’s beautiful country and I’m an outdoorsman at heart. Plus with those new snow bike things and aerogel apparel becoming a reality, i wouldn’t have to give up my all year round riding habit.

          As far as German cars go, they aren’t worth the cost of ownership. Just lease one and trade it in every 5 years or whatever if you really want it. I’m more of a Cadillac man myself tho.

    • TC


      • Starmag

        The EIC didn’t think so Mr. Excitement. Check the upvote.

        • Kevin Duke

          I was upvoting the comment on the selection of photos and the cabbage reference, but I’m also okay with a tangent!

  • Kenneth

    Ergonomics like this (i.e., accommodating for a normally-sized male) would have made the new H-D Street Rod 750 – with its cramped rider triangle – much more interesting to me.

    • Douglas


    • John A. Stockman

      The pics in this article show a good foot peg, seat and handlebar layout. Not the feet-forward, weight on your tail-bone arrangement. The foot peg locations on the HD SR 750 look uncomfortable, along with the rest of the ergonomic layout. The expected “cruiser” ergo triangle was what kept me from buying an original Rebel 250. Feet out front puts too much weight on my tail bone, punishing my spine very quickly. After riding that Rebel 250, I rode a KZ250. What a difference having the foot pegs right under the seat. I packed a lot of miles on that KZ250, 38,000 in two years before I moved to a KZ440; with foot pegs still under the seat, standard-style on the next few KZ440s I owned.

  • TheMarvelous1310

    If it had a bit more motor(say, 750cc-HINT-HINT)and a stouter suspension…

    … You know what? I’d STILL consider this against a Street Rod at that price! It’s a hell of a modern cruiser for a damn good price. I feel like it captures the way a Japanese cruiser should look better than the Kawasaki Vulcan S without blatantly copying somebody else’s look like the Bolt, it has a great no-compromise seating position, but it could definitely use a bit more engine and a lot more tank!

    Waiting on you, Indian. Scout 60S?

  • Bmwclay

    I would like see a comparison test between this bike and the 71 CB450. My 450 seemed very fast and handled extremely well. Plenty of room and comfort for me and my girl. And all that chrome just made her sparkle and bought a lump to my throat. (the bike, not the girl)

    • Tom Byrne

      My son has a 70 CB450 and I have a 79 CB400T. As this bike has similar power/weight as the old CBs, I would expect similar performance, in terms of acceleration. I agree, the old CBs were zippy, more than most of today’s riders might expect.

    • TC

      I had a CB450 after high school, because it was used and cheap, not because I thought it was a great bike. Prior to it, I owned a Kawasaki H1, more exciting to ride with the flexy frame, lousy brakes, and abrupt power delivery. The H1 was on it’s 3rd rebuild at 30,000 miles, but the CB450 needed only a valve job in the two years I rode it. I don’t think the 450/500 class is big enough for two-up distance riding, but it’s fine with solo rider.

  • Nice writing Ryan! Lots of LOL moments.

    • john phyyt

      Agreed x10

  • James Edward Zeiser

    “Instead of that weezy old air-cooled carbureted 250cc Twin (or the old
    450 Twin), the Rebel 500 gets its ponies straight from the CBR500R/CB500F/CB500X 471cc fuel-injected liquid-cooled parallel-Twin with four valves-per-cylinder.”

    That weezy old twin has powered many people to incredibly high mileage with stone ax reliability. While magazine editors enjoy the idea of million dollar fuel injection and water cooling those of us with limited budgets enjoy a single carburetor and British Twin sounds coming from the engine. Will this configuration be around in 32 years like the original or disappear when Honda discontinues the 500 and 300cc engines when they fall out of fashion?

    • Tom Byrne

      My 79 CB400T makes 43 horsepower. The new 471 makes 45 hp (in CBR500 form), albeit with a bit more torque. My CB400T is not wheezy. At least it is not anymore wheezy than the new 471. You are correct, the old twin has “stone ax reliability).

      • Kevin Duke

        I’m skeptical a CB400T puts out 43 horses to its rear wheel. Are you referring to its factory rating at its crankshaft?

        • Tom Byrne

          All advertised horsepower ratings are at the crank, unless specified rear wheel. Thus, when you see HP ratings on manufacturer websites it is at the crank. The Ducati Scrambler makes 75 HP at the crank. The SV650 makes 73 HP at the crank. My CB400T makes 43 HP at the crank.

          • Kevin Duke

            The problem with crank ratings is there’s no easy way to verify them, which is why we do our own dyno testing. The CB500F spat out 43 hp to its rear wheel. I’ll bet dollars to donuts the CB400T is significantly less.

          • Tom Byrne

            The CB500F spat out 43 at the wheel? I seem to remember that Honda rated its 500 at 45 at the crank, but I read today that was closer to 49 at the crank. Another publication but the Rebel 500 at 46 HP, at the crank, but with more torque. I believe the CB400T tests in the mid-high 30s at the wheel.

          • JWH

            Is that the problem with crank ratings, or is that the reason they use crank ratings? I think the difference is telling.

  • SteveSweetz

    No tach? I know it’s a cruiser, but still, that seems like an odd omission on a bike with sport/standard derived engine.

    • Tom Byrne

      I agree.

    • Douglas

      Agree….and the front tire is too big. Hopefully they’ll have a good accessories catalog, like a usable windscreen, small fender rack with some small trunk/bag options that’ll easily install/remove (so you could carry at least a few things)….and self-cnxl signals (which every bike should have). Other than that, it’d be a consideration….if I were in the mkt for a 5th bike, which I’m not, thankfully.

      Personally, I think 500cc is plenty for a lightwt single-seater, unless you dress out around 250 or better. I had an ’83 Virago 500 for a few yrs and it was a great scoot for almost everything except 600 mile days. 55mpg, cruise at 60-65, butter-smooth throttle & trans/clutch, quiet, maint-free shaft drive…wish I still had it, if I had room….

      • Campisi

        The front forks, rear sprocket spacing, and overall tyre/wheel heights are the same as the other CB500 models. Throwing a matched pair of Honda factory seventeen-inchers on there should be a bolt-up affair.

        I’d install a CB500X Rally Raid kit on mine.

      • Tom Byrne

        I am close to 250, with gear and my CB400T moves quite well. Surprises many people.

  • Deryl Clark

    Ugliest motorcycle Honda has ever made.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The slanted tank does look odd. Honda has always gone its own way whether people like it or not. Consider the Rune, Valkyrie, F6B, NM4 (Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost) … Some odd styles do take off like the Grom.

      • Tom Byrne

        I agree, but I interstand why they did it. It as to clear the tall parallel twin while keeping the reach to the bars manageable. I would have preferred a more horizontal tank, myself.

    • Tom Byrne

      No. That honor goes to the PC800, There are many bikes that Honda has made that are uglier than this one. In fact, other than the CB1100, this might be the best looking bike in its current lineup (although I do like the CB500F). The CTX700 is pretty hideous.

      Right now, Honda has the ugliest bikes, Suzuki the blandest, Kawasaki the quirkiest (in a good way) and Yamaha, the coolest, at least among the Japanese Four.

      • Born to Ride

        See, I have it as
        Yamaha = Ugliest but otherwise desireable
        Honda = Conservative and Bland
        Suzuki = Finally catching second wind/ Looking promising
        Kawasaki = Bold and cutting edge design/performance, also ugly

        • Tom Byrne

          The only Yamaha bikes I consider ugly are the FZs. However, they are excellent machines. Suzuki had better do something. The company almost didn’t make it out of the financial crisis alive.

          • Born to Ride

            I consider the GSX-S 1000 a slam dunk really. 140hp , 450 lbs, fully adjustable suspension, all for 10 grand. To my eye it looks better than all the other Japanese nakeds as well. If I were in the market for a naked sports roadster, I would absolutely have to consider it despite my love for European bikes. The new gixxer thou with its vvt looks like it might be a real contender too. I have high hopes for Suzuki at this point.

          • Tom Byrne

            The 1000 is a nice bike, but the 750 is meh. The key market will be the middleweights. That is where demand is, today, middleweight nakeds and retros. I have written several articles discussing trends.

            An increasing number of older and young riders now view 140 horsepower litre bikes a bit overkill. 400 lbs and 60 to 80 hp is where it is at, for now. As the motorcyclist population ages, lighter weight and manageable power will mean more.

            The SV650 is very nice and should sell well, if it is not “too much” like the used SV650s on the market. I think Suzuli needs to make another attempt at the GSX-S 750

          • Born to Ride

            Yeah I agree that a GSX 750 that performed as well as the Street Triple R would be amazing, and possibly even a contender for my cash. In fairness to Suzuki though, they have yet to update the bike. I believe that it has been the same bike for 5-6 years now. That being said, I doubt they will do with it what we all want.

          • Tom Byrne

            Thw GSX-S 750 was released in the U.S., just a few years ago. I actually like the bike, but it is just ok. It reminds me of my 89 750 Katana, which I still ride, occasionally. I just wish it looked more “inspiring” or had something different about the engine.

            Of course, if the 750’s engine is like it’s predecessors, it is one heck of a reliable energy. My 89 Kat has 43,000 miles and the knucklehead kids I got the bike from were not keen on maintenance. Still, she runs and runs and runs. It only gives up 5 horsepower to the new 750.

          • Born to Ride

            Well the 2018 supposedly fixes a lot of the things people didn’t like about the bike. It got new brakes and swing arm, and the lower ratio gears 1-5 with 6 gear overdrive and 8 more horsepower should hopefully give it the acceleration that testers said it was lacking. Idk, if it wasnt for the 465lb curb weight there really wouldn’t be anything to complain about.

          • Tom Byrne

            That is good to know. Eight more horsepower doesn’t matter to me. I cant even use the 100 hp at the crank (90 at the wheel) on my 750 Katana. Doing so would get me arrested and/or be dangerous. All the twisty roads by me have 40-45 MPH speed limits. The GSX-S 750 weighs about the same as my Kat. I agree, at $8300 there will not be much to complain about. I hope it becomes a little more naked. Maybe a retro version like the XSR900?

            Speaking of retro, I would love to see a scrambler-type version of the SV650. If not, you can build one yourself. That platform has so much potential.

  • Tom Byrne

    The only thing I am not crazy about is the tank, but it is not a deal breaker. I wish Honda would have made a 650-750 version, keeping the parallel twin format. I know that would compete with the Shadow, but a more sporting cruiser, like the Rebel, would be a more enjoyable ride than the heavy Shadow.

  • Chuck Smith

    I saw this bike at a motorcycle show and aside from it being physically too small for me to consider I thought it was one of the more interesting designs at the Honda booth. I like it and if I were a young kid or smaller in stature I’m sure it would make me happy.

  • notfishing

    Bowl movements, us old people need help there — sometimes. Smaller and lighter than our present liter cruisers or my sport touring bike (yes old people do ride sport bikes). Put a couple of hard bags on it and this would be better competition to a scooter, if you can still put a leg over it – another failing of old riders. I started on a Honda 125 maybe I should return to Honda.

  • Robert Webster

    You did not post the HP rating for this bike, or did I miss something?

    • Kevin Duke

      American Honda doesn’t supply power ratings, but the CB500F kicked out 43 horses to its rear wheel, and this should be very close to that.

  • Kenneth

    Hey, MO/EiC: Thanks for all the useful photos of the bike + bike-with-rider! I like photo galleries that show how a rider looks on the bike in a normal riding position (rather than an abundance of shots with the rider at lean angles that are not really informative). You guys are good about this.

    • John A. Stockman

      Completely agree. Seeing the test rider on the bike gives me the perspective of the ergonomic layout. Don’t mind the leaning-over shots, as it lends to being able to determine lean angles…sometimes. After some tire-levering-off-the-tarmac moments on bikes with approx. 25-28 degrees lean angle and at best 2″ of rear suspension travel, usable lean angle/cornering clearance is important. A tick over 400 lbs. including gas and other fluids, another plus. Thanks for the very-informative write up.

  • Rob H.

    Round mirrors, round headlight, round single gauge, round cross-section frame and swingarm tubing, hideous rectangular taillight pulled from a dusty parts bin untouched since 1981. Makes sense. :-/

  • RandleMcMurphy

    I fully expected to hate this bike. Instead, I find it appealing. Very much so. Honda is to be commended for encouraging owners to come up with their own version of this bike. I do agree with what others said about the only black ABS version. Still, I really dig the looks of this. It’s not some 500 pretending to be a cruiser or 1200cc bobber. It’s a stripped down commuter “get on and go” bike. I lke that. Yeah, I suppose I’d rather see a big single cylinder thumper or 650 or so twin but, this is a bike that’ll last forever.

    I STILL think Honda should bring back something along the lines of a 450 Scrambler. Even a retro CB350! How many of us learned to ride on these? Bring back the Trail 90 too. They’d sell like warm donuts. Not a moped. Not really a true MC but, I see a niche market for something similar. Maybe a 125cc.

    Anyways, I give this Rebel 500 a solid thumbs up. Nice job Honda!

  • Martin Buck

    I think we have found a great new staff writer here. Second generation, no less. Who got a jump on the competition with this story. Great job, kid.

  • Staunch_Republican

    Seriously you guys at Motorcycle.com think this is a good looking machine? Has the entire world gone tone deaf to beauty? This bike if butt ugly at best. Maybe you millennials have an entirely different view of beauty but the machines being designed and built today are anything but beautiful. It looks like it was hobbled together in a warehouse of some amateur bike builder. I guess the days of beautiful machines is about over. Harley Davidson still builds good looking bikes. I have given up on seeing something pleasing to the eye by Kawasaki. Honda up till now was still making a few good looking machines but nothing beautiful. To me the bikes built back in the late 60’s to the 80s classified as beautiful machines. Today all you have is hobbled together scrap.

    • john burns

      gee the old LaSalle ran greaaaaat,
      those were the daaaaaaaaysssss!!!

      • michaelfalke

        Nobody likes a smartass

      • John A. Stockman

        Hey, so did grandpa’s Packard! And those new-fangled brakes and what’s that, suspension? It’s a new era!

      • Staunch_Republican

        Don’t need to fire up some mythical Buick pal. The fact is your generation has no appreciation for true beauty. This is what you get for being raise on playing with Transformer toys.

  • throwedoff

    Why do manufacturers try to create “retro” looking bikes but insist on stacking the fuel tank on top of the frame? Why do so many new “retro” bikes have to have a trellis type frame wrapped around the engine with the ugliest fuel tank ever designed stacked on top at an ungainly angle? I guess it has to do with economics and economies of scale. Well, at least Triumph still knows how to do it!

  • John B.

    “… the tin-foil reusing, cabbage-scented stage of life.” If only that were the worst of it.

    The Baby Boom generation was/is the most spoiled and self-indulgent generation in history. Not only did they live through the most prosperous era in American history, but their collective insatiable appetite required the government to incur $20 trillion in debt. That’s $225,000.00 in public debt for each American family. Now, Boomers are busy driving Social Security and Medicare into insolvency even as they hold most of the country’s wealth, and require young people buy health insurance to keep the healthcare system afloat. (There is no lockbox or public trust for Social Security. Long ago, politicians spent the money Boomers paid into the system.)

    In 2016, Bruce Springsteen generated the most concert revenue of any musical artist. A quick look at the top touring artists of the last decade reveals Baby-Boom era artists at the top, and throughout the list. There’s simply no end to the Baby Boom generation’s quest for self-gratification and entitlement.

    In short, never before in history has a generation that so greatly prospered left such a heavy burden for the younger generation. To Generation Y, we hereby bequeath onerous debt and insolvency. Soylent Green anyone?


    • john burns

      top rant, JB!

    • bb49

      Sucks to be you, whiner.

  • JWaller

    I enjoyed the review, if not for the bike so much, for the humor and the wit. MO, when/if John Burns decides to hang it up, you’ve got to keep this guy around. The Burns clan make entertaining reads no matter what they are writing about. I think this guy could review a toaster oven and I’d be interested in the review, just for the way it’s written.

  • D. Paul League

    It’s ironic Honda would have a special P-40 painting on their bike when this was the fighter which ended Japan’s domination of the skies over China. Even so it is impressive to say the least.

  • TimCC

    The squishy suspension was the only complaint that I had with my CB500X. The Rebel500 appears to have the same front fork as the CB500F and R. There are not yet a lot of options for upgrades for the fork that I have seen outside of Rally Raid in UK. I bought one of their kits and am still dialing in the settings but the ride is greatly improved. I can see hanging on to this bike for a long time.

    • Born to Ride

      I’m sure someone makes a cartridge emulator that fits that diameter tube. Springs, oil, and emulators will go a long way to improving the compliance of a damper rod front end.

  • J. R. Boedeker

    I know we’ve been friendly for over 70 years now, but isn’t it a little strange that Honda built a custom bike stylized after the P-40 Warhark, a WWII fighter renowned for fighting the Japanese? Especially with that Flying Tiger toothy grin?
    It looks pretty cool though!

  • Ian Murray

    Ryan, what do you mean by “and even known to occasionally fill water cups up with soda (that’s right, bitch)”? “That’s right, bitch”? Please explain. I looked for your email, but couldn’t find it.

    Ian Murray
    Ontario, Canada

  • Paul Bryant

    Oh Honda, once upon a time you were my best friend, It’s like I don’t even know you anymore. It’s not me, it’s you. NM4, CTX, whatever this Rebel is supposed to be etc. etc…………. I want a divorce.