What's Your Reaction?
Honda beats the competition at its own game with this twin-cylinder Rebel 500 cruiser.
Honda’s Rebel cruiser was the gateway for many into the rip-roaring and fun world of motorcycling. For 2020, Honda has outfitted its budget-friendly Rebel 300 and 500 with a handful of improvements aimed at making it a more competent steed for new and experienced riders alike, as we’ve learned after spending a few hundred miles riding it.
to receive our newsletters. Get the latest in motorcycle reviews, tests, and industry news, for our YouTube channel.
Editor’s Note: We’ve outlined the technical changes in the . Finally, we swing a leg over it in this review.
Make no mistake about it, the 2020 Rebel 500 ABS ($6,909.70 as tested) is the motorcycle its Bar & Shield foe should have built years ago. Styling-wise, it is especially handsome in its Matte Blue Jeans Metallic colorway. It’s a tasteful color that appears modern and shows off its well-proportioned lines, metal rear fender, and peanut-shaped 3.0-gallon fuel tank. Full LED lighting helps the Rebel stand out in traffic and the four-element headlamp throws off a bright beam of light for after-hours rides. Other optional styling touches include the accessory fork boots ($29.95), headlight cowl ($95.95), and quilted rider custom seat ($64.95).
If you’re a height-challenged rider, then you’re going to appreciate straddling the Rebel. With a seat height just over 2 feet, it’s a motorcycle that nearly anyone can feel comfortable riding. The seat pan is form-fitting which helps keep the rider in position during acceleration and braking.
Mid-mount footpegs, with large rubber inserts, come with an upright, albeit narrow handlebar. If you want to bring a passenger, Honda sells an OE passenger seat and footpeg kit for an upcharge. The clutch and brake lever lack adjustment, but their reach is oriented toward riders with small- to medium-sized hands (good thing). Clutch lever pull is so light, you can actuate the clutch with a pinky.
On the road the Rebel’s 471cc water-cooled parallel twin delivers respectable oomph away from stoplights along with a respectable growl out from its black swept-back muffler. It pumps out nearly 41 hp at the 16-inch Dunlop back tire and 90 percent of peak torque from as low as 2,400 rpm. There is a degree of vibration felt through the controls, but we wouldn’t deem it excessive. The slick-shifting six-speed gearbox complements the engine’s powerband well, and a slipper-action clutch prevents instability if you downshift into too low of a gear for vehicle speed.
A tasteful round-face gauge keeps tabs on bike vitals and now includes a handy gear position indicator as well as a fuel gauge. More experienced riders may gripe there isn’t a tachometer, we wouldn’t deem it a deal breaker. Our testbike was outfitted with Honda’s 12-volt Accessory Socket ($43.95) which allows you to power a GPS or other compatible device.
More heavy-duty suspension is a welcome upgrade with damping that is more calculated and precise feeling than we recall on the 2017–2019 model. This nets a more regal-feeling ride over bumps and turns alike. Ground clearance is more limited as compared to more sporty machines, but the Rebel has enough cornering clearance for occasional cloverleaf strafing missions. A pair of hydraulic disc brakes with ABS keep speed in check and are matched well to its 414-pound curb weight.
Those seeking a well-engineered and affordable small-displacement cruiser won’t do better than Honda’s 2020 Rebel 500. Polished in every way, the 500 has enough power to satisfy more experienced urban riders yet is well suited for those looking to get into motorcycling without the worry of having to upgrade to a bigger motorcycle after a few months of fun.
Helmet: Shoei RF-SR
Jacket: Rev’It Hudson
Gloves: Racer Guide
Pant: Rev’It Austin
Boots: TCX X-Cube
2020 Honda Rebel 500 ABS Technical Specifications And Price
|Price||$6,909.70 as tested|
|Engine||471cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 4 valves/cyl.|
|Bore x Stroke||67.0 x 66.8mm|
|Transmission/Final Drive||6-speed/O-ring sealed chain|
|Front Suspension||41mm fork, 4.8-in. travel|
|Rear Suspension||Dual shocks, 3.8-in. travel|
|Front Brake||Hydraulic disc w/ ABS|
|Rear Brake||Hydraulic disc w/ ABS|
|Tires, Front/Rear||Dunlop; 130/90-16 / 150/80-16|
|Seat Height||27.2 in|
|Fuel Capacity||3.0 gal.|
|Claimed Curb Weight||414 lb.|
|Warranty||1 year, unlimited mileage|