2021 Honda Rebel 1100 DCT Video Review

John Burns
by John Burns

For a helluva lot of American motorcyclists, tradition is important, and a lot of people want something that looks traditional on the outside, even if it’s verging on revolutionary inside. I think that’s kind of what’s going on with Honda’s new Rebel 1100. The profile says cruiser, but a slightly closer look reveals Honda’s done trying to copy Harley with fake cooling fins and plastic chrome gewgaws (though the Fury et al remain in the lineup). The new Rebel wears its liquid-cooled 1084cc Unicam parallel Twin from the Africa Twin right out in the open.

2021 Honda Rebel 1100 DCT First Ride Review

The Rebel’s cruiser ergos had my hip flexors concerned at first, but even my old body adapted pretty quickly to the highish pegs beneath the 27.5-inch seat. I could hang my 30-in legs atop the pegs when droning along to stretch them out. For 5’8” me the handlebar was a bit forward; later I was able to rotate it down and rearward a smidge, where it was just about perfect. For me, the thick seat’s a fine shape and comfortable enough.

For sporty backroad use, the suspension’s dialed. With 4.3 inches of trail, a 59.8-in. wheelbase, that fat 18-in. front tire and its low cg, the Rebel’s more about stability than quick handling. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as fun as any other motorcycle to throw at corners. Honda claims it’s got 35 degrees of lean in both directions, but it feels like more. The footpegs don’t begin to drag until it feels like you’re going plenty fast for the Dunlop D428 cruiser tires. For a sportbike, 509 pounds is a bit porcine; for a cruiser it’s pretty light.

The intended milieu of the cruiser, though, is cruising, and for blathering around town the Rebel, especially the DCT, is king. The low seat is swell for stop-and-go. Sitting there on the Rebel on a nice day’s as easy as sitting in a car with an automatic, seeing and being seen. Short bikes make you look taller. Oh yess… I’m a bad boy, a Rebel. Great bike!

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John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 12 comments
  • Jack Meoph Jack Meoph on Mar 23, 2021

    Almost every review I've read on this bike is positive. The fuel range is questionable, but can be overcome. I'll have to remember to look for one on the floor next time I'm at a Honduh dealer, as I usually walk past cruisers.

  • 12er 12er on Mar 23, 2021


    Well, I received the ECU back from Ivan's Performance on the Z900RS, slapped it in and went for a quick 60. The bike is now an absolute riot. Idles smooth as silk, revs so fast I swore half the flywheel is gone and it feels like someone went through and tightened everything on the bike. Front lifts in first with a twitch of the wrist. Shifting is better, drive lash is completely gone and it feels like I'm running a gear lower. Low to Mid is on point and there is a touch more up top as well. Ivan was top notch, within two hours of delivery he was on the phone shipping it back to me.

    The Good; The bike is amazing, feels like a direct link to the pavement from your right wrist. Completely modern, feels like a sport bike.

    The Bad; I now see how much work Kawi put into the bike to make it feel like they do. Gone is the lumpy Idle (bummer) and in its place is the slightest bit of I4 buzz in the seat that the strum of the lumpy Idle did not create. The drive lash reminded me of a little throttle cable slop, now completely gone. Also the popping and burbling off throttle is gone (which I loved the sound of). I didn't notice how much it felt like an older bike till its gone.

    All in all Ivan perfected it and I wouldn't go back but in smoothing off the edges it lost a little something something that Kawi worked hard to put in.

    Next up the Header, should be delivered today.