Rebel 500A: Best woman's motorcycle.
I have been riding a primo 1999 Rebel for years. Just bought my new Honda Rebel CMX500A. Went riding Saturday. WOW! I am 4'10” / 125lb woman who has limited bike choices. Seat height is not a selection criteria, it is the ONLY criteria. I tried out the following low-seat bikes in the last six months, and liked them all but... in alphabetical order:
- BMW G650 GS – “This is the BMW for short women” he said. Apparently short German women are at least 5'9” tall...
- Harley Davidson Slim – Stylin, but the engine felt too heavy and center of gravity too high for me.
- Harley Davidson 500 & 700 – OK bikes, but I just did not like them, personal preference I guess. Plus the Harley sales staff had this macho male thing going, subtitle but condescending. Grrr. :-(
- Honda Shadow 750cc – looks good but heavy and slow compared to the Rebel 500.
- Honda NM4 670cc – maybe, but a bit long in the arm reach for me.
- Indian Scout and Scout 60 – Beautiful and fits me. Really liked it. It may be my next bike with the Indian reach-reduction parts. But at 100hp/78hp & 560lbs I felt like I needed an intermediate step right now, and it's $4K more.
- Kawasaki Vulcan S 650cc– Good bike for both tall and short people, it can be made to fit with reduced reach kit. But the headlight styling is, well, not to my taste.
The new 408lb 2017 Honda Rebel 500 ABS is perfect for me. Honda removed the old painful square battery boxes so I can finally comfortably flat foot the ground on both sides with 2” heel riding boots. Several other old-Rebel design shortcomings have been fixed too. Best is: I can pass semi-trucks at freeway speeds. 46Hp in the light Rebel frame is AWESOME. We live in rural Pacific Northwest mountain country. Big trucks riding my tail going up long hills used to really irritate and sometimes frighten me. No longer. Drove it up the famous “Cabbage Hill” on I84 out of Pendleton Oregon. LOTs of power. Going 70mph up miles of 7% grade and it could still accelerate out of the corners and into the straight sections. My husband can accelerate on any hill on his Honda Valkyrie. Now I can too. It's about time. The new Rebel no-choke fuel injection is pure water-cooled horsepower magic in the mountain passes. Drop it to 5th gear and you are zoom zoom gone...
The new headlight with glass bezel is very bright. I put a 2013 headlight on my old Rebel so it wasn't bad, but the new 2017 lens design seems to put more light on the road. On the showroom floor, the taillight seemed a little big and square. However now that I have used it, I like it's functionally. Mine holds an oversize 625 lumen LED bulb that just blasts the highway behind and to the sides with red tail light. I will never change it, maybe, unless I do... but it's safe safe safe.
The brakes are amazingly effective. I bought the ABS model, with the hopes of never needing the ABS brake feature to work, but it just seemed like a smart thing to do. The old Rebel fought and dove in really hard braking; skinny tires, small forks and small brakes. The new one – its like it's on rails. Both front and rear work so much better with the modern suspension than the old Rebel. The front brake also seems smoother and easier to pull for small hands. The big Dunlop tires and steering are much more stable. I can feel the improved gyroscopic stability at every speed. Everything about the new 500 Rebel feels safer, faster, better, and more comfortable. Which interestingly enough the small bobber seat is more comfortable for me too. It looks thin, but it's got some rubber mounts underneath and excellent padding for a 120 lb person. Being narrow in front, it is a much better shape than my old Rebel seat, which BTW, I loved – until I got the new one.
On the other hand, it is not a great seat for my tall 300lb husband – too narrow and a bit small. In fact, the entire bike geometry is too small for him. He can ride it, but the seat:foot control distance is too short. Sort of a circus bear sort of image, just like on my old Rebel. This is not a bike for big guys.
My old Rebel had beautiful red paint. I planned, and still may, have my new Rebel painted House of Kolor “classic purple” pearl. But after living with and admiring the Honda fit and finish of the black on black for a couple weeks, I like the black on black badass look. So for now, it stays. A “Spitfire” windshield and Viking leather covered hard bags fit well and give it a completed look.
So in summary, if you are hesitant about the new Rebels modern design features, it's because you don't actually own one yet. Sell your classic unsafe-on-the-highway Rebel 250, and upgrade to a new Rebel 500 ABS. You will thank yourself every time you ride it. Do not wait. Remember: safer, faster, beautiful, and more comfortable.
The Rebel 500 is perfect for the petite wild woman with the perfectly filled leathers who just passed you like you were sitting still. See you out there. :-)