For a whole generation of motorcycle riders the name Rebel probably rekindles fond memories of a time when the original CMX250C cruiser was a prime choice for entry into the world of motorcycles. Introduced in 1985 with the Nighthawk's 250 cc in-line twin, the Rebel remained in production for several years providing trouble-free commuting services and an excellent base for customizing throughout the 1990s.
When Honda decided to resurrect the historic name, its lineup offered a variety of ready-to-use solutions. The new Rebel may be formally called CMX500H after its predecessor, but starts its second life as part of the CB500 model family, powered by the proven 471 cc, 45 hp (33.5 kW) liquid-cooled parallel twin engine with a reputation for reliability and fuel efficiency. Honda reveals that the motor is carried over from the sporty CBR500R, obviously retuned for punchier low and mid-range performance.
The announced performance specs are almost identical to those of the CBR in peak values, but we should expect a torque curve beefed-up all the way to the 6,000 rpm maximum of 44.6 Nm (32.9 lb-ft). Honda makes no mention of changes to the ratios of the six-speed gearbox though, suggesting that the transmission has not been altered at all.
Rolling on thick 16 inch tires, the steel diamond frame has been redesigned for a 28 degree caster angle, 110 mm (4.3 in) trail, 1488 mm (58.6 in) wheelbase, with the seat settling down to 690 mm (27.2 in). In ready-to-ride trim the EU-spec Rebel weighs 190 kg (419 lb), while the US version appears on paper to be 5 kg (11 lb) lighter.
Opting for a slim silhouette with clean lines, the motorcycle actually looks like a blank canvas for customizing. Honda's accessories list contains only some very basic bits – like a short screen, rear rack, and saddlebags – although a wider range of gear from third party manufacturers sounds like a very reasonable expectation.
The general spirit of simplicity filters down to the Rebel's standard equipment. Its suspensions feature non-adjustable 41 mm conventional forks and a pair of rear shocks with 2-step preload settings. The front brake employs the same two-piston front caliper as the CBR, gripping a 264 mm (10.4 in) disk, with a single-piston unit at the rear, complemented with a two-channel ABS system.
Its fuel tank has been designed primarily with bobber looks and small dimensions in mind, shrinking to just 11.2 l (3 gal) compared to the 16.7 l (4.4 gal) of the CBR500R. As prudent as it may be in guzzling down fuel, cutting the capacity by almost a third will certainly impact the bike's range considerably.
Honda also announced a 300 cc version of the new Rebel, built around the 30.4 hp (22.7 kW) liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine of the CBR300R. The smaller model has been confirmed for the US market, while Europe and Australia will only get the 500.
Honda North America has announced that the Rebel 500 will retail for $5,999 and the 300 for $4,399.
Going up against popular motorcycles like the Harley-Davidson Street 500 and Kawasaki Vulcan S, the 2017 Rebel is expected to start shipping in April 2017. Until then, Honda's stylish video below serves up a first taste.