REBEL WITH A CAUSE

If you like the looks, can stom­ach the name – this is one fun-lov­ing an­i­mal

Motorcycle News (UK) - - THIS WEEK - By Jon Urry MCN GUEST TESTER

What is it about in­ap­pro­pri­ate bike names? The least scary dogs are of­ten iron­i­cally named Fang or Killer, while huge body­builders are called Tiny by their mates. So what were Honda think­ing when they called their new A2-le­gal cruiser the Rebel? There’s very lit­tle re­bel­lious about this CB500based par­al­lel-twin, but it seems like too much of a stretch to think that they were be­ing in­ten­tion­ally ironic. Ei­ther way, it shouldn’t be called the Rebel, it should be called the Hoot or Blast – as this small-ca­pac­ity ma­chine is sur­pris­ingly good fun.

De­signed by the same man who penned the con­tro­ver­sial NM4 Vul­tus, the Rebel’s styling aims to chal­lenge con­ven­tion. Its fat bal­loon tyres and chunky bars hint at a clas­sic bob­ber, but then the LCD dash and high front-end are more mod­ern de­sign cues. And if you like the styling, you’ll love the way the Rebel rides as it de­liv­ers far more joy than you might ex­pect.

Based around the CB500’S par­al­leltwin motor, but with a slightly dif­fer­ent fuel map to lower the point at which peak torque is de­liv­ered, the Rebel makes an A2-le­gal 45bhp with 33ftlb of torque. The en­gine is housed in a pretty ba­sic tubu­lar steel frame with 16in wheels shod with bal­loon tyres hang­ing off fairly ba­sic sus­pen­sion. On paper this doesn’t sound very ex­cit­ing, but the Rebel comes alive on the move.

The cruiser- style seat­ing po­si­tion and rel­a­tively low 690mm seat height, com­bined with mid­set pegs and high bars, give a re­laxed rid­ing po­si­tion that re­minds me of Har­ley’s 883. It’s com­fort­able and feels sur­pris­ingly cool, which gets you in the right frame of mind for the ride ahead. And the en­gine has the same in­stant charm.

There’s noth­ing par­tic­u­larly out­stand­ing about the 471cc par­al­lel-twin, but it is re­fined, smooth and packs enough grunt to get the Rebel cruis­ing at above the na­tional speed limit, while re­main­ing ex­tremely ver­sa­tile in town. The clutch is light, and although the gear­box is a touch clunky it’s hard to fault in op­er­a­tion – and the throt­tle re­sponse is nice and pre­cise. So what makes the Rebel so much fun? Sur­pris­ingly, the an­swer lies in its chas­sis.

Tip­ping the scales at 190kg, the Rebel feels light on its wheels at slow speed and has an ex­cel­lent turn­ing cir­cle, mak­ing U-turns a dod­dle. But it’s when you up the pace that the Rebel re­ally sur­prises.

Through tight and twisty bends it’s an ab­so­lute blast, far more com­pe­tent than it has any right to be. The pegs hit the deck eas­ily, but this only adds to the fun, and while the sus­pen­sion is soft and the sin­gle front brake fairly lim­ited, nei­ther get over­whelmed.

I can see the Rebel tak­ing off in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to the MSX125. On paper the MSX should be a dis­ap­point­ment, but it has some­how found a niche and with it a pas­sion­ate fan base – and the Rebel might just re­peat the same trick. It’s just a shame Honda gave it such a ter­ri­ble name.

‘Through tight and twisty bends, the Rebel is an ab­so­lute blast’

A low seat and a lively en­gine makes the Rebel great in town

Funky styling and sur­pris­ingly com­pe­tent when rid­den at pace

Sim­ple clock for a sim­ple bike

Stick a #ride5000mile sticker over the ridicu­lous Rebel name and you’re off

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