If the test of time is what determines a great motorcycle, then the Rebel wins. When Honda built the first one in 1985, David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel was only 11 years old, Bill Clinton was in his second year being Boy Governor of Arkansas, and it was, sniff, “Morning in America” as Ronald Reagan’s second term was beginning. Yamaha’s newly re-introduced SR400 is about seven years older, but when you’re talking continuous production, no other motorcycle for sale in the U.S. has outlasted the Rebel.
That kind of longevity doesn’t just happen, and the reason why the Rebel’s been around for so long is not just because it’s been the go-to motorcycle for new rider training programs forever. It’s also because it’s a seriously good around-town bike: easy to ride, light and low of seat, fast enough, really cheap to keep. Maybe what’s really kept it around is its styling: For $9 more, Honda’s completely modern CBR250R will run rings around the old Rebel in every performance category including fuel economy – but the plastic-covered CBR doesn’t have that classic American cruiser look that the Rebel’s designers got right from the start.
Small people fit the Rebel best, and even the wee-est among us have no trouble throwing a leg over the 26.6-inch seat and being in complete command of the bike’s 331 pounds, including 2.6 gallons of regular. All controls – clutch, shifter, brakes and throttle – are light and typically Honda precise, and all those factors add up to a motorcycle that’s stupid-easy to ride, quick enough for short freeway hauls (top speed’s right around 80 mph), and about as economical as they come – we’ve logged 55-60 mpg numbers during testing with our greedy throttle hands. Casual riding can net fuel economy closer to Honda’s 84-mpg claims.
|Honda Rebel Specs|
|Engine Type||Air-cooled SOHC parallel-Twin, two valves per cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke||53mm x 53mm|
|Fuel System||Single 26mm diaphragm-type constant-velocity carburetor|
|Frame||Tubular steel double cradle|
|Front Suspension||Telescopic 33 mm fork; 4.6 in. travel|
|Rear Suspension||Dual shocks with five-position spring-preload adjustability; 2.9 in. travel|
|Front Brakes||Single disc with twin-piston caliper|
|Seat Height||26.6 in.|
|Curb Weight (claimed)||331 lb.|
|Fuel Capacity||2.6 gal., including 0.7-gal. reserve|
|Colors||Black, Candy Red|
|Warranty||One year, unlimited miles|