Honda’s commitment to bringing new riders into the motorcycle fold has never been more evident. From its lovable MSX125 to the commuter-centric NC750X, Honda’s rang of novice-friendly models cover the gamut. Now, Honda aims to stroke the fire of the young and restless with its all-new 2017 Honda Rebel 300 and Rebel 500, a pair of bobber-style models with a cool minimalistic look and attractive price.
Both Honda Rebel models share identical styling and chassis components. A low 690mm seat height, mid-mount foot pegs, and low-rise handlebar – all providing a balance of style and control. Backing out of a parking stall is light duty, as is low-speed maneuvering. Handling is light and neutral with easy turn-in feel and a very good sense of stability. Cornering clearance is adequate for a bit of spirited play but grounded in cruiser roots when pushing the pace.
Ride compliance proved up to the task of soaking up some of Bangkok’s more battered roads, and the 43mm forks offer good support under hard braking. The brakes provide ample stopping power with intuitive feel with the ABS, though a longish reach to the nonadjustable clutch and brake levers may prove a stretch for youthful and female hands.
The 286cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke single-cylinder powering the Honda Rebel 300 produces good bottom-end power for super-easy leaves from a stop. Spot-on fueling, linear clutch engagement, and low-ratio bottom gear of its easy-shifting six-speed gearbox will help beginners get under way cleanly. The trade-off is a need to upshift to second by the time you reach 25m/h. Roll-on response from 40km/h in fourth gear was very good with sufficient passing power.
Keeping pace with 105km/h plus highway flow saw the single zinging with engine vibes felt through the grips, building notably beyond 75km/h in top gear. While the Honda Rebel 300 can manage, the 471cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin-cylinder powered Honda Rebel 500 felt notable more relaxed and at home on the open road.
The added engine performance and wider spread between shifts result in a bit less footwork. I also preferred the twin’s throatier intake sound and visceral beat, which remained pleasantly subdued under 100km/h.
Deciding between these Honda Rebels comes down to the price, the Rebel 300 is around 150,000 THB while the Honda Rebel 500 is priced at 220,000 THB. If money is of no concern, weighing one’s city versus highway needs may guide the decision. Either way you can revel in hip style.