Honda’s commitment to bringing new riders into the motorcycle fold has never been more evident. From its lovable Grom to the commuter centric NC700X, Big Red’s range of novice-friendly models cover the gamut. Now, Honda aims to stoke the fire of the young and restless with its all-new 2017 Rebel 300 and Rebel 500, a pair of bobber-style models with a cool minimalistic look and attractive price.
Both next-gen Rebels share the same chassis components, from their crosshatch handgrips right down to the fat 130/90-16 front and 150/80-16 rear Dunlop tires. In fact, Honda says the only difference between the Rebel 300 and 500 is the engine itself. (Buy both front and rear tires now!)
As a natural successor to the venerable Rebel 250 that introduced countless folks to street biking over the past three decades, the new Rebel 300 makes use of the 286cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke single found in the CBR300R. Likewise, the Rebel 500 is powered by the same basic 471cc liquid-cooled, parallel-twin used in the CBR500R. Honda has altered engine tune to endowed both of these DOHC, four valve per cylinder, fuel-injected models with greater bottom-end delivery than that of their respective sportbike sibling.
The riding position is relaxed and neutral with an easy reach to the low-rise bar and foot peg placement that greets the feet in a natural mid-mount location. The 27.2-inch seat height feels lower yet as the Rebel’s mid-section is very narrow where its 3-gallon peanut tank and tractor-style saddle intersect. The trellis steel tube frame appears beefy in appearance and well braced.
The sturdy looking 41mm fork is set at 28-degree rake with 4.3-inch trail and 58.7 inches between the axles; I will be completely dismayed if the Rebel’s handling is anything short of the perfect blend of easy steering and solid stability. The Rebel also appears to offer enough cornering clearance to allow for some spirited fun. Honda’s claimed (fully fueled) curb weight of 364 pounds for the Rebel 300 and 408 pounds for the Rebel 500 (add 6 pounds to each for ABS) is light enough for easy parking lot maneuvering, yet offers enough road hugging weight to feel comfortably content on the freeway.
Pricing remains tentative at this time with Honda considering $4399 for the Rebel 300 and $5999 for the Rebel 500, in non-ABS versions. Honda promises a definitive MSRP announcement in December and expects bikes to arrive in dealerships by April 2017. Color options are Matte Silver, Black, and Red for both models with Bright Yellow exclusive to Rebel 500 and Matte Pearl White to the Rebel 300.