At a special engagement in the speakeasy basement of the Federal Bar gastropub in downtown Long Beach, CA, Honda surprised attendees with the reintroduction of a classic. The Honda Rebel can trace its roots back to 1985, but these new-model Rebels are far removed from their predecessors.

2013 Honda CB500F And CBR500R Review – First Ride

Like the original 250 and 450 Rebels, the 2017 iterations come is two sizes, 500 and 300. The Rebel 500 utilizes the 471cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel-Twin powering the CB/CBR500s, while the Rebel 300 uses the 286cc liquid-cooled DOHC Single found in the CB/CBR300s. And that is, largely, the only difference between the two except for tentative pricing: $5,999 and $4,399 for the 500 and 300, respectively. Both come in ABS models, with prices to be determined for those.

honda rebel

The Rebel 500 comes in Matte Silver (tank and rear fender), Bright Yellow (tank only), Black (pictured), Red (tank only), the ABS model is available only in Black. The Rebel 300 swaps Bright Yellow for Matte Pearl White (tank only), but is otherwise available in the same color combinations.

From there, the two Rebels share everything. Same tubular steel frame, same 296mm single front disc brake, same 27.2-inch seat height, same 41mm telescopic fork, and twin rear shocks, same 16-inch front and rear wheels, same three-gallon fuel tank, etc. Claimed curb weights vary from a low of 364 pounds of the non-ABS Rebel 300 to 414 pounds of the ABS-equipped Rebel 500.

Because the two bike share everything, except for engines, it’s difficult telling the Rebel 300 (above) from its 500 counterpart in the previous image (dual exhaust pipes on the 500 are the obvious giveaway). Note how the brake rotor carrier matches the spokes of the front cast wheel. Nice touch!

Because the two bike share everything, except for engines, it’s difficult telling the Rebel 300 (above) from its 500 counterpart in the previous image (dual exhaust pipes on the 500 are the obvious giveaway). Note how the brake rotor carrier matches the spokes of the front cast wheel. Nice touch!

The Rebel’s new profile is unmistakable, with a severely sloped fuel tank first grabbing your attention. The way in which designers wrapped the tubular steel frame around the outside instead of in a backbone manner is also glaringly different from tradition. The rear subframe follows the contour of the rear fender for an eye-pleasing effect. The rear fender and subframe are also removable for creating a customized look, with the ability to easily return to stock form.

2014 Lightweight Naked Shootout

In stock trim both Rebels come with only a solo saddle. A pillion and passenger footpegs will be offered as accessories, as will other bolt-on equipment. According to Honda the new Rebels will be available for purchase by early Spring. Prior to that time look to Motorcycle.com for a full review of both models.

This custom Rebel 500 has the rear fender and subframe removed, but uses only bolt-on equipment and paint to achieve its one-off stature.

This custom Rebel 500 has the rear fender and subframe removed, but uses only bolt-on equipment and paint to achieve its one-off stature.

2017 Honda Rebel Specs
Model Rebel 500 ABS Rebel 500 Rebel 300 ABS Rebel 300
Engine Type 471cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin four-stroke 286cc liquid-cooled single-cyilnder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke 67.0mm x 66.8mm 76.0mm x 63.0mm
Compression Ratio 10.7:1
Induction PGM-FI; 34mm throttle bodies PGM-FI; 38mm throttle bodies
Ignition Computer-controlled digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
Transmission Six-speed
Final Drive Chain; 15T/40T Chain; 14T/36T
Valve Train DOHC; four valves per cylinder
SUSPENSION
Front 41mm telescopic fork; 4.77 in. travel
Rear Twin shock; 3.77 in. travel
BRAKES
Front Single 296mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; ABS Single 296mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers Single 296mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; ABS Single 296mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers
Rear Single 240mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; ABS Single 240mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers Single 240mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers; ABS Single 240mm disc w/ hydraulic calipers
TIRES
Front 130/90-16
Rear 150/80-16
Rake (Caster Angle) 28º
Trail 110mm (4.3 in)
Seat Height 27.2 in.
Ground Clearance 5.4 in. 5.9 in.
Wheelbase 58.7 in.
Fuel Capacity 3 gal.
Color Black Matte Silver, Bright Yellow, Black, Red Black Matte Silver, Matte Pearl White, Black, Red
Curb Weight* 414 lbs. 408 lbs. 370 lbs. 364 lbs.

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  • spiff

    If you took the forks off and showed me a picture I would have expected a bunch of rake. Cool little bike.

  • novemberjulius

    Wow! I’m not a cruiser guy or retro guy, but these are cool.

  • Auphliam

    Should’ve stuck with the 250/450 nomenclature. Always better to under promise and over deliver, than vice versa.

    Edit to add: Not entirely sold on the kidney bean gas tank, but that custom 500 looks like fun.

  • SRMark

    Yuck. IMHO.

  • Craig Hoffman

    That 500 is a good motor. Would love to see it find a home in a seriously off road biased light ADV bike like the proposed Yamaha T7. Of course, it looks like Yamaha is actually going to build the T7, which uses the excellent FZ07 engine, so a Honda 500 competitor might be too little. Still, if it was lighter, it could be righter.

    These do not rfeally interest me, but a new rider could do a lot worse. I like the perimeter frame design.

    • Gabriel Owens

      The better bikes today start at 3.5 Groms imho

      • DickRuble

        The best bike on the market is about 2.5 Groms take or leave, depending on trim.

        • Gabriel Owens

          The Versys is not that bike.

  • DickRuble

    Makes sense for Honda to build a product for those who desire a cruiser of small proportions. There is nothing else to compete in this segment. The looks and ergonomics are …well, what that kind of buyer wants, but probably better than other offerings.. the quality is Honda quality and performance wise, likely better than a Sportster 800 or even a Made in India Street 750, not to mention again the quality.

    • David

      While you can’t go to a Harley show room and buy one, I have modified 2 pre-04 Sportsters, slamming them with Burley kits so that my 91 lb, 5 foot tall, 64 y/o wife, can ride her own bike with the family. One is an 883 bagger with a Hoppe fairing and the other is a 1200 with knobby street tires for pavement/dirt riding. these are quick to 60mph, 70- quick to 85 mph truck passers. There are TONS of after market ‘change your bike’, parts for Harleys.. Dennis Kirk’s Harley parts catalog has 1632 pages. The only other street bike she’s owned was a 2009 Vstar, which we had to lower. she loved that bike but It just wouldn’t stay in group with the quicker Sportsters.

      • DickRuble

        Get your wife this Honda and she’ll love you..After the Sportster, the Honda will be Nirvana.

        • David

          Pretty hard to talk her off the 1200! The 883 sits most of the time.

    • GodWhomIsMike

      There is the Vulcan S with the ergo-fit.

  • Old MOron

    “Note how the brake rotor carrier matches the spokes of the front cast wheel. Nice touch!”
    Yup, best part of the whole darned bike.

  • Old MOron

    So is that lead photo really from Long Beach?
    Man, it looks like it comes straight from Indonesia.

    • I didn’t get the correct spelling of his name or I would have used it, but the guy in the photo is direct from Honda Japan’s engineering department. Note the vault door he’s standing in front of. The Federal was a real bank back in the day.

      • Old MOron

        I’ve been to the federal bar. I suggest you go there for coffee in the morning. They use a Dutch brand called Dawe Egberts. Best stuff I’ve ever tasted!

        • Ian Parkes

          Douwe Egberts

  • TheMarvelous1310

    Personally, I like the hell out of it. Proof that cruisers don’t need to be slavishly retro or dynamically inferior to be cool, and the frame is great-I could rake it out and go full chopper or push the pegs backwards and go café, and that’s a good intersection to start at.

    • Prakasit

      I hear you. My problem is on the other end of the spectrum. At 5’8″ and 31″ inseam, pretty much all the adventure bikes are out of the question for me. I guess it is hard or economically not viable to engineer a given model to fit different body sizes. You know, like how they do bicycles but not that far. That is, keeping the frame the same size but swap out sub frame, handle bar reach and pegs location to fit.

      • TheMarvelous1310

        Yeah, the only people even coming close to that kind of thing is Kawasaki with that Ergo-Fit cruiser. And it’s a cruiser.

  • Tim Sawatzky

    I like the idea of it, the different motors, really everything except the tank. It looks like they forgot it needed a tank, then slapped something on. Or maybe it’s a sport bike frame that they are trying to make into a cruiser. Either way I like everything about the bike except the tank ruins it. Honda makes some great bikes, but when they try to do a cruiser they miss by a mile. I’m not a sport bike guy, but I’d buy a cb500f way before this. It’s a much more cohesive design. IMHO

  • kawatwo

    It’s about time! Come on Kawasaki and Yamaha follow suit! I would hope the Kawasaki and Yamaha’s would be better looking though:) More muscle bike than bobber please.

    • spiff

      Kawi has the Vulcan 650 with adjustable ergonomics. I think it will out shine these two.

      • kawatwo

        Yes, the Vulcan S is a great looking bike but a different class and much heavier. A Ninja 300 based “Eliminator” like the old 88-89 EL250 would rock.

  • HazardtoMyself

    Whether you like the new styling or not, all I can say is about time. I rode a Rebel once. That old go nowhere fast 250 and don’t expect to stop this decade drum brakes kept me from ever wanting to get on one again. Very reliable bike I have heard, but just never felt safe in modern traffic.

    I think Kawasaki made a hell of a decision putting the Ninja 650 motor in the new Vulcan. Instead of getting your typical low power 600 whatever cruiser they made something that can go.

    Seems like a great decision Honda made to put the CBR engines in these. At least they should be able to get to freeway speeds and hold them respectably. With the ABS and disc brakes, hopefully these can now actually stop decently enough.

  • Old MOron
  • Andrew Capone

    One thing I can’t wrap my head around…offer only one color on ABS bikes (black) and a variety of colors on non-ABS. They did this on the 600 and 650 as well. In fact, on entry level, beginner- friendly bikes of this kind, in 2017, why not make ABS standard?

    • Jens Vik

      This mainly an issue on the american market. In europe ABS is mandatory as of 2017.

      I always ask myself why are some americans buy non-ABS bikes. Usually the price difference is only a few hundred dollars.

      • Born to Ride

        Because often times the difference isn’t just a couple hundred bucks, C-ABS Honda models were a 1000-1500$ premium for a number of years. Suzuki charges 500$ for the smarter binders. That’s not chump change when the dealership is already raking you over the coals for “set up and destination” charges. Personally, I have no qualms about riding a bike with ABS and welcome it as an objective improvement to motorcycle safety. However, I have never owned a bike with ABS, and in 8 years I can think of precisely 3 times I locked the front brakes hard enough to induce a slide. Every time I was able to reapply with no issue and stop in time. Maybe next time I’ll go down and ABS would have saved me, but I can understand how an experienced rider could think “nah, I’ll spend that 500$ on that Givi top box I need instead”

      • Jeevan Chaukar

        ABS is a blessing. While obviously American traffic is infinitely more orderly than what we have to deal with in India, it still has its unpredictable moments which I have witnessed during my stays in America. ABS surely helps in those unpredictable moments a lot. I rode Non-ABS vehicles from 1995 to 2015 but in 2015 I switched to Triumph Street Triple 675 ABS. Definitely I have come to appreciate this function. In peak traffic when you are lane splitting and someone suddenly decides to change direction (either other 2-wheeler riders or car drivers) ABS comes in handy. Despite very good practice and eye-hand coordination, ABS still helps majority of us. Hardly anyone is as good as certain Valentino Rossie!! So better to have it rather than not have it and be sorry. You can switch it off when you feel like deliberately sliding the rear or doing stoppies but rest of the time, it should be there.

    • GodWhomIsMike

      I HATE black bikes. I want to be seen on a bike. That black bike is rarely seen unless it is loud or under an inattentive motorist’s vehicle. Give us ABS and some bold colors. Red, hi-viz yellow, hyper blue, etc…

      • Kenneth

        ‘Always different opinions on this topic, but I think a high-viz helmet catches more attention from drivers to the front and rear.

      • Donald Silvernail

        Safety, safety, safety. That’s all I hear about related to bikes these days. Isn’t it a bit ironic that we have the safety mantra constantly going in one ear and the brag about the 175hp. motor in the other? We used to ride bikes because they were dangerous. This generation is killing it for me now.

        • GodWhomIsMike

          It’s more that it is really boring that manufacturers are just doing ho-hum bland black bikes. The bikes I remember back in the 70s were the neon greens and neon yellows used by Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki. Even Honda had ultra bright neon blues and yellows. These days, it is all about bland boring gray and black. Most bikes are boring as hell. Look at the colors offered on Yamaha’s cruiser bikes for the 2017 model year, they are almost all black with almost no color options. The bikes of yesteryear were also better looking because they were offered in sharp exciting colors. In 2016, it’s all about boring color schemes. That’s why I posted that I liked the colors on the non-ABS model, and was really meh on the ABS only being offered in black. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/85e27151f189b71b33706d0c5e4bd7f63bf3866fe728be2fc423f5a940e98936.jpg

          • papagrune123

            Henry Ford is now in charge of motorcycle manufacturing. You can have it any color you want as long as it’s BLACK.

        • Kenneth

          “Safety, safety, safety. That’s all I hear about related to bikes these days.”
          Really? That’s all you hear about? Hey, there’s still LOTS of room for you to be “dangerous” out there, if that’s your wish.

      • Aye

    • Kenneth

      I just checked Honda’s Canadian website; the Rebel 500 ABS (didn’t check the 300) will be available in all 3 colors, up there. I can’t “wrap my head around” this, either.

      • denchung

        Because the market is much smaller, Honda Canada has to order much smaller volumes which affects its strategy when it comes to ABS. For the most part, Honda Canada will go with ABS whenever possible and several models are only offered with ABS (both the CBR1000RR and CBR600RR are two examples).

        Regarding the Rebels, Honda Canada took the opposite approach from American Honda, offering color options for ABS but only one color option for non-ABS models. The non-ABS Rebel 500 in Canada will only be offered in black while ABS versions will have black, silver or red options (no yellow for Canada). For the 300, ABS versions will come in red or white while the non-ABS version will only be in red (the US also gets the silver color for non-ABS models).

        • Kenneth

          Thanks Dennis. It’s sensible to me that the non-ABS version should be the most basic, all-black bike (which it is in that more-civilized country 20 miles to my north). It seems like American Honda is encouraging buyers – who simply want a color – to choose the non-ABS model. ‘More NC700X-style marketing nonsense from American Honda.

      • Sherlock Ohms

        Its a style thing not a budget choice.

    • GodWhomIsMike

      Can we bring back the exciting fun colors motorcycles came in back in the 1970s. I am so sick of the black (or white or silver) only colors that manufacturers are going with these days. Could be the most exciting bikes, but ruined with only being offered in the most mundane monochromatic color. Can we please bring back the fun colors

      • Sherlock Ohms

        That bike has a gas tank to repaint if you want to, its not like its a car.

  • Ulysses Araujo

    This is what the CTX700/ NC engine cruiser should have been.

  • Born to Ride

    Stylistically, I think they could have gone with a 29in saddle height and took away some of that extreme angle on the slope of the tank, while ensuring that anyone north of 5’4″ could still flat foot it. Plus, legroom is kinda nice.

  • Dootin

    $6k for the 500 is a joke, right.

    • Ian Parkes

      If cubic capacity matters to you you are not going to buy this bike. However, for that money you get a lot of other things that have an irreducible cost – chassis, wheels, cockpit not to mention easy, useable power, and a light maneuverable bike. A lot of people buy much more bike than they need or can handle comfortably, for no good reason, and they are missing out on fun. I recently rode a Honda 500 around the glorious winding roads in the hills of Northern Thailand and had an absolute blast. I hope this does well for Honda.

  • JMDonald

    They must sell. I wonder how many.

  • sgray44444

    What happened to the rest of the gas tank? Perimeter frame screws up the lines completely. They made half of a nice bike. Leave it to Honda to, yet again, answer a question that nobody is asking. This time it’s “what would happen if an SV650 mated with a bolt?”

  • Brian Clasby

    I like the fat front tire.

  • David

    We had a Rebel 450 in the pack for a while. The daughter rode it for 6 mos. It was a pretty neat bike,holding 65 -70 on I-5. I never understood why they didn’t keep building them. Maybe afraid sales would cut into other lines of their bikes ? With 500 cc Vulcans being around for almost 20 years and 650 Vstars for as long, (we’ve had one of each of these too) I’m wondering why they stopped with a 500. Maybe tax considerations in other countries? (now we’re a total Evo family…torque and hyd-lifters!)

  • Buzz

    It looks like a two-wheeled lawn mower.

    • Pook

      Time to visit the eye doctor…

  • Bud

    I gave my 2007, 1200cc Shadow Sabre to my son a few years ago. Got bad shoulders and feet so it got just a taste heavy. This just may get me back on two again..gotta go look.

  • GodWhomIsMike

    I was totally sold on a Vulcan S as a second bike, and then Honda had to go an do a Rebel 500. Decisions decisions.

  • Harry_Wild

    Beginner just don’t want to spend the extra cost for ABS brakes. They probably will never reach 200 mph on the 500 so why buy this option? I going to buy this for my motorcycle licenses and not planning on buying the ABS model either since I doubt I will be going past 100 mph on it! I will eventually buy a big Harley that I will be going over 120 mph on it like I do with my daily driver SUV!

    • Kenneth

      “…not planning on buying the ABS model either since I doubt I will be going past 100 mph on it!”

      After just 1 painful and expensive crash at even 30 mph (especially likely when you’re a beginner), you’ll reconsider ABS as cheap insurance.

    • Kenneth

      You’re definitely too cool for this Honda, Harry. You need to buy a Ducati Monster 1200 – with a “muffler shop” exhaust, of course! Then again, it’ll probably only do 150 mph.

    • Sherlock Ohms

      ABS is not for going 100 mph unless you plan on panic braking with water , ice ,paint ,oil or grease on the street.
      The center of every lane at every stop has built up oil etc, imagine a rookie is approaching a stop sign or light , grabs the front brake as he passes over oil, WHAM on the ground.
      Rain is the prime time to thank God for ABS, my bike has adjustable ABS from off to 8, 8 being the rain setting where you can stomp on the brakes yet never lock the wheel. I saw a demo with Corvettes driving through a slalom course of cones that was wet and braking while weaving around the cones, the non ABS cars locked up and skidded over the cones while the ABS Vette was able to easily weave through the slalom and maintain as much braking as possible. This will save many people.

      • Ian Parkes

        Really? You still have a built-up oil in the centre of every lane? Surely not. I’ve noticed you have a lot of Japanese cars now, like us in NZ, and oil on the road has been very rare here for 20 years. We get the occasional diesel trail from dickheads but not oil slime.

  • 40mmtrsmith

    Ok Honda how about $2500 for one of the many leftovers you’ll have in 2018.