If you take away Harley, Victory and Indian – companies that only build cruisers (and an Empulse but is anyone, anywhere counting the Empulse?) – you are pretty hard pressed to find a ground up new cruiser being introduced to market. Not that many years ago the Japanese manufacturers were bountiful with cruisers but those offerings have been pared way, way down. One of Honda’s last great cruiser introductions was the Fury – an extreme style chopper with all the polish that comes with a Honda, a beautiful bike but unfortunately Honda jumped on the bandwagon just as the wagon wheels of the mainstream chopper trend went over the cliff. One could argue that the Valkyrie or F6B Honda introduced a few years ago would qualify as cruisers but in reality both are plays on the Gold Wing platform that may or may not extend that line’s staying power a few more years. Some claim that the shrunken state of the metric cruiser market is the result of demographics and cost. Cruisers at their peak were expensive, accessory and chrome laden machines that belonged to a better economic environment. To introduce the cruiser segment to a new, younger, less affluent breed of rider you have to give them a less expensive option. Give Honda credit for doing just that by resurrecting the Rebel name in the form of both a Honda Rebel 300 and a Rebel 500. Powered by a single and a parallel twin motor respectively the two Rebels bring a retro bobber vibe to the entry level market complete with solo seats, fat tires front and rear and a relatively low price. While Canadian prices for the bikes have not been announce the US price for the Honda Rebel 300 in non-ABS format is $4399 and the 500, $5999. If we had to guestimate the price of the 300 in Canada we would have go with about $5899 to take into account both the exchange rate and the fact that Honda is unlikely to bring the non-ABS bike into Canada. Let’s hope for the best on this new metric cruiser rebirth. Finally because nothing can lay on the accolades quite as thick as a press release let’s turn it over to Honda for a final description of the two machines:
Simple and raw, Honda’s new Rebel models are exercises in straightforward, minimalist design where every detail matters. Low, lean silhouettes are crowned by iconic fuel tanks, aggressively raked front ends and fat tires on large-diameter wheels, along with a stamped-steel rear fender and narrow frame body, resulting in stripped forms that express offbeat individuality from every angle. The evocative round, glass headlight sits up high in a die-cast aluminum mount, the speedometer is a compact dial with negative LCD display and blue backlight, and the ignition is housed below the left side of the fuel tank. Everything that can be is blacked out. With a 471cc parallel twin, the Rebel 500 has strong bottom-end torque and a smooth, linear power delivery, while the Rebel 300 is powered by a peppy 286cc single cylinder engine. In both cases, the bikes’ riding positions are relaxed and neutral, with arms gently outstretched and feet dropping straight down to the mid-mounted pegs. The versatile Rebels are fun to ride slow and fast, great for day trips, jaunts to the coffee shops or even sporty sessions on winding roads; low weights, slim frames and short seat heights equal agility at lower speeds, whereas good ground clearances allow surprisingly sporty lean angles.