Torrance, California - This is Honda's first factory-built bobber, with all the styling cues of the genre: big chunky tyres, minimal bodywork, and an almost obsessive lack of coherent styling.
The first bobbers were built, if you can call it that, by American GIs returning from the Second World War, who got hold of army surplus despatch bikes and simply unbolted (or sawed off) every part of the bike that wasn't involved in making it go.
Honda has never been one to jump on bandwagons, so the CMX500H Rebel, to give it its full name, has been a while coming, but the end result is remarkably neat and designed to be as user-friendly as a Labrador puppy.
The 471cc DOHC parallel-twin engine is borrowed from the CBR500 sports twin range, detuned in this application to deliver a claimed 33kW at 8500rpm, but with a fat torque curve that tops at 44.6Nm at 6000rpm. It's fed by Honda's familiar PGM-FI fuel-injection, via a pair of 34mm throttle bodies, and drives via a conventional six-speed gearbox and chain.
Unsurprisingly, the Rebel is aimed squarely at the hipster generation who have adopted the bobber genre more as a style statement than for any practical reason; in common with 'lifestyle' machines from a number of makers, customers are encouraged to personalise their Rebel from an extensive palette of aftermarket replacement components - “add-offs” rather than add-ons, if you'll forgive the pun.
Nevertheless, its kerb weight of 188kg without ABS, cobby 1491 wheelbase and knuckle-dragging seat height of just 690mm will make the Rebel a very accessible ride for newbies and the vertically challenged, as well as a no-hassle round-towner for anybody who wants more a bit more attitude from robot to robot than you can get from a scooter but isn't willing to go the whole Hog with a 250kg Sportster.
The Rebel will come with ABS as standard issue when when it’s released in the United States in April 2017; in most markets anti-lock braking will be an extra-cost option. We’re waiting on an answer from Honda SA as when the 500 Rebel will be introduced in South African and whether ABS will be available here.
Honda CMX500H Rebel
Engine: 471cc Liquid-cooled parallel twin.
Bore x stroke: 67 x 66.8mm.
Compression ratio: 10.7:1.
Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.
Power: 33kW at 8500rpm.
Torque: 44.6Nm at 6000rpm.
Induction: PGM-FI digital electronic fuel-injection with two 34mm throttle bodies.
Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorised with electronic advance.
Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.
Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with shaft final drive.
Front Suspension: 41mm non-adjustable conventional cartridge forks.
Rear Suspension: Dual hydraulic shock absorbers adjustable for preload.
Front brake: 296mm disc with Nissin dual-piston floating calliper (and optional ABS).
Rear brake: 240mm disc with Nissin single-piston floating calliper (and optional ABS).
Front tyre: 130/90 - 16 tubeless.
Rear tyre: 150/80 - 16 tubeless.
Seat height: 690mm.
Kerb weight: 188kg (190kg with ABS).
Fuel tank: 11.2 litres.
Just for a giggle:
Like its CBR500 and CBR500F cousins, the CMX500H is built in Thailand which, until 1939, was known as Siam; thus a Rebel owner will be able to say with perfect truth that he is riding a Siamese twin.