Honda CMX1100 Rebel Review (2021)

 

Cruisers, eh? Chrome bedecked, wobbly handling, lumpy-engined and slow – they are all like that, right? Well, not according to Honda.

Either someone in Honda's R&D department was reading the wrong spec sheet when they put the new Honda CMX1100 Rebel together, or cruisers (or bobbers if you prefer) have come on leaps and bounds since we last ventured out on one.

My money is on the latter as the new Rebel feels too well put together to be an accident, and while the spec sheet might read like the latest sports bike with Showa adjustable suspension front and rear, radially mounted Nissin brakes, decent ground clearance and a punchy free revving engine, the styling is most definitely that of a blacked-out bobber.

We spent a (mostly wet) week with the new Honda CMX1100 Rebel to see if the bike can live up to the spec sheet, or if we were right all along about cruisers.

 

For and against
  • Torquey engine is strong yet willing
  • Compact bike makes for light handling and unintimidating ride
  • DCT gearbox suits the bike so well
  • Spider's eye headlight looks out of place
  • Cruise control can a bit fiddly
  • Styling might not suit everyone
Gun Black metallic, or Bordeaux Red metallic. Cowl is extra.

 

CMX1100 Rebel Price

A stock, manual geared Rebel 1100, with no extras will cost you just £8999, which considering the spec, is fantastic value for money, undercutting the competition by nearly £3000.

Start adding on the extras and the price soon starts to tot up though. The DCT version I'm testing here starts at £9899 and once you add on the £175 headlight cowl, £95 brown seat ('a brave choice' as it was described to me), and £220 for the stubby front fender, the bike starts to look less of a bargain, coming in at £10,389.

It's still a good £1500+ less than the cheapest Harley in the range at the moment, but considering the Rebel is designed to be a blank canvas for further customisation, it’s can be  pretty costly starting point.

As outright purchase is beyond the purse strings of most of us though, Honda has a range of finance deals on offer with initial deposits as low as £1250 for the manual, or £1395 for the DCT version and monthly payments of £119 or £129 respectively, leaving anywhere between £4700 and £5200 as a final payment, or just hand the bike back, or upgrade to whatever else takes your fancy.

It's difficult to predict residual values, being such a new model, but based on the low monthly payment values and the residuals of the baby-brother CMX500, it's likely that these will hold their value well, but probably not quite as well as similar American metal.

 

Engine looks the same as in the Africa Twin, but has different internals. DCT means no clutch or gear levers. Weird, eh?

 

Power and torque

Developing 'just' 85bhp at 7000rpm, the 1100cc engine that we know and love from the Africa Twin looks decidedly down on power (the AT makes 100bhp at 7500rpm in comparison), but figures can be deceiving, and, on the road, the combination of usable power and torque mean that the bike never feels underpowered.

Even at motorway speeds the engine has plenty in reserve and top speed is limited more by wind resistance than any lack of power. On the subject of top speed, I can confirm that the 100mph soft limiter that the US spec bikes are fitted with wasn't evident on the UK bike tested here.

Torque might not be on a par with the mighty Milwaukee Eight competition, but at 72 ft-lbs at just 4,750 rpm, it makes for strong yet unintimidating acceleration and safe and swift overtakes in all road conditions.

 

Rivals to the Rebel 1100

With the recent resurgence in retro bikes and, in particular, bobbers, there are similar bikes to the Rebel from Triumph, in the form of the Bonneville Bobber, Indian, in the form of the Scout and of course Harley-Davidson, with the Street Bob.

Here's how they stack up on paper:

 

 

Honda Rebel 1100

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

Indian Scout Bobber

HD Street Bob

Engine

1084cc parallel twin - 270° crank

1200cc parallel twin – 270° crank

1133cc V-Twin

1868cc V-twin

Power

85.5 bhp @ 7000 rpm

76.9 bhp @ 6100 rpm

94 bhp @ ?? rpm

86bhp @ 5020 rpm

Torque

72 ft-lbs @ 4750 rpm

78 ft-lbs @ 4000 rpm

71 ft-lbs @ 5600 rpm

114 ft-lbs @ 3250 rpm

Weight

223Kg

251Kg

252kg

297Kg

Seat Height

700mm

690-700mm

649mm

680mm

Price

From £8,999

From £11,850

From £12,295

From £13,995

 

Engine is smoother than an off-set crank twin should be, while the exhaust is as loud as Euro will allow (not very).

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

While, from the outside, the engine looks the same as that found in the 2020 Africa Twin, there have been some changes under the skin. A 32% heavier flywheel means that the engine is a little slower to spin up, but maintains momentum on the overrun, giving it a slightly lazier feel. This is aided by revised valve-gear and tweaks to the electronics, all of which helps the engine with low down torque rather than the wide spread of torque needed for the adventure bike.

On the road, the engine is an absolute treat to use, with great low speed tractability, yet a smooth and free revving top end.  The 270° crank offset delivers enough roughness to suit the bike (my only gripe of the 500 was the too-smooth engine), give the exhaust a nice growl, yet be almost vibration free and a pleasure to use.

We've written about DCT before, so I won't go into too much detail here other than to say that, while it does take some getting used to, especially with its propensity to change up as soon as possible in the quest for mpg (it was in 5th at 28mph at one point), it suits the Rebel really well, giving a nice relaxed ride in most modes with the option to go full-on Banzai if the mood takes you.

Even in automatic mode, you still have the option to override the gear selection and I often found myself changing down much earlier than the 'box was planning on the approach to corners to take advantage of the engine braking and set up the bike to power out the other side.

It's amazing how quickly you adapt to the auto changing though and if you just leave it in 'Drive' and don't touch the changers, you soon forget about the lack of gear changes and just get on and enjoy the ride. Once you stop the internal dialogue of "oh, I wouldn't have changed there…" you realise how much more bandwidth you have to enjoy the ride and make the most of the flexible engine. If you are any doubt that DCT is a glimpse of the future, book yourself a test ride and spend a few hours with a DCT equipped bike. You will be convinced.

Alas, Euro 5's tight grip on emissions means that the days of exhausts popping and banging with unburned fuel on the over-run are long gone. Instead, we get restrictive air paths, particulate filters and a reduction in noise that each of those brings. Despite all this, the Rebel still manages to provide a pleasing soundtrack to your journeys. Admittedly, it’s no screaming eagle slash cut soundtrack than many crave, but, especially under load, the exhaust does it's best to provide enough bass to cut through the wind noise, and very pleasing it is too. A quick google shows that the market is already awash with aftermarket cans for the Rebel 1100, but personally, it wouldn't be on my list of things to swap out in a hurry (much to my neighboughs' relief).

 

Ride it like you stole it, and expect to see low 40's on the MPG-ometer

 

Economy

Honda quote an official fuel consumption figure of 57.6mpg which, should you ride the bike as intended, in a serene and smooth manner, I have no doubt is achievable, but where's the fun in that? The combination of easy handling and free revving engine almost egg you on most of the time and having put the best part of 200 miles on the bike over a combination of nadgery B-roads, sweeping A-Roads, flat-out motorways and stop-start city traffic, I managed a less-than-impressive average figure of just 40mpg.

Granted, the engine is brand-spanking-new and will loosen up over time, and the initial giddy excitement will also fade, so I would expect that figure to improve dramatically, but if you are planning some longer runs, you could be looking at around 100 miles between fuel stops.

 

Showa front and rear - noice!!!

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

This is the bit where you're expecting me to start "For a cruiser…", but I'm not going to (apart from when... I... just did… er, but anyway). The Rebel handles really well, not just cruiser well, all-round-road-bike-really-well. OK, I did touch a peg down very slightly on a particularly tight and bumpy bend, but that was more from my exuberance and confidence that bike imparts than any lack of ground clearance.

In fact, Honda give the maximum lean angle as 35° which, if we're honest, is more than enough for most of us, and well beyond the innate 20° lean that most people find to be the limit of comfort (according to Bernt Spiegel's book 'The Upper Half of the Motorcycle: on the unity of Rider and Machine" if you fancy a good read).

The Showa upside-down (or right-way-up, if you are of a certain age) forks and twin rear shocks feel planted and confidence inspiring right from the off and only on long sweeping bends at silly speeds did I feel any vague hint of wallowing or squirming from the cruiser biased tyres. This was easily fixed by lifting off a touch, or better still, just keep the power on and enjoy the ride – it never feels dangerous or out of control.

The Rebel comes as standard on Dunlop D428/Elite4 tyres – a dual compound performance tyre designed to give extended range while maintaining grip levels. On the road, they are instantly confidence inspiring with loads of grip at lean and a light easy feel, despite the oversize 130/18 front and 180/16 rear combo.

At 223Kg, the Rebel is only 40Kg heavier than its little brother 500 and on the move, the two bikes feel very similar, with the bigger Rebel carrying its weight well. Even pushing the bike round in my (increasingly crowded) garage, the Rebel needs a fraction of the effort that other big cruisers need, and the low seat and compact wheelbase are also evident on the road where the Rebel is light and agile.

 

Once the preserve of superbikes, radial brakes have become the norm - which is good, because they are great! Handbrake is for DCT only.

 

Brakes

Its testament to the quality of the Nissin radially mounted front brake that Honda deemed a single 330mm disc sufficient to haul a 220Kg bike to a stop, but clearly the calculations were done, and the proof of the pudding is in the er... stopping! Admittedly, you won't be lifting the rear wheel into corners as it's just not that kind of bike, but in Sport mode, where engine braking is turned up to max, the Rebel never feels unwieldy or bum-clenchingly reluctant to stop.

On the back, the Rebel gets a smaller, 256mm disc and a single pot caliper which, despite its lack lustre spec, is more than adequate, especially when coupled with Honda's excellent ABS system.

If you choose the DCT equipped bike, the back brake tends to get a lot of fine use as a substitute for slipping the clutch when filtering in traffic or on slower turns and the Rebel gives just the right feedback to allow a delicate touch when needed.

 

Rider comfort is good, less so for the pillion. Optional seat 'stitching' looks a bit budget though. Underseat storage is a nice touch, and is big enough for a few bits - plus waterproof USB charging port is a nice touch.

 

Comfort over distance and touring

While the Rebel isn't really the sort of bike that you'd take on a three-week tour of Europe, it's pleasing to know that it is comfortable enough to spend a long day in the saddle without too many aches and pains. The mid mounted foot controls help enormously with this as they are mounted close enough to seat to allow you to lift you bum off the seat over the worst of the potholed roads, or if you just need to change position. I have previously found that with bikes such as Harley-Davidsons Softail Standard, where the foot controls are more forward mounted, this wasn't possible, and bum-numb is quick it set in.

The silky-smooth engine, combined with the easy-as-you-like DCT 'box, meant that of all the bikes I've taken on my usual test route, the Rebel felt the most relaxed and comfortable.

If you are planning on doing some longer trips, there are a number of factory fit touring accessories including 'comfort' seats for rider and pillion, rear panniers, a sissy bar for the pillion seat, and a batwing, bar-mounted fairing with a taller screen. While these will no doubt help with the practicalities and reduce wind buffeting, you'll still need an understanding pillion, as overall pillion provision remains basic at best.

 

As with all Hondas you'll be parping the horn when trying to indicate, but everything is within easy reach. LED headlights - here to stay? Let's hope not!

 

Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

Aside from the DCT box which you will already know about if you've decided to stump up the extra for, the standard Rebel is still bristling with the latest gadgetry. We get a range of rider modes from the low power 'Rain' to the full-on 'Sport', with a middling 'Standard' in between – all of which can be swapped on the fly - we get ABS all-round as you would expect, but surprising for a bike of this price bracket, the Rebel 1100 comes with cruise control as standard. From the little that I used it, it works as you would expect, with a button to activate and up-and-down toggle to set the speed, but I did find it a bit tricky to set as you need to keep a constant speed when flicking the toggle – no mean feat when its all controlled via the right-hand switchgear.

Following the styling of the smaller 500 Rebel, we get LED lights all round, including the bug eye headlight which, for me, misses the mark in terms of styling. It might be an age thing, but I much prefer a simple, more traditional headlight design. I don't dislike LEDs, although for night riding, I find the reach limiting, but I can't bring myself to like the multi-lens design of the Rebel. Maybe that money I saved on not swapping the exhaust can be spent on a more traditional headlight unit?

Like many of their other 2021 bikes, Honda have resisted the urge to slap massive TFT screens on their bikes and have instead opted for a reverse LCD look on the Rebel with a plain grey-on-black design in keeping with the bike's moody looks. All the readings you could need are there, including dual trip counters, average and instant mpg figures, range and reserve counter, coolant temperature, fuel gauge and a nice large and easy read speedo. The only thing missing that would have been nice, and something that the engine must measure for emissions, is an air temperature gauge.

In addition to the touring accessories mentioned above, there are also a number of more street-biased styling accessories including the brown 'stitched' seat fitted to this bike, a rear luggage rack to take the place of the pillion pad, the mini headlight fairing as fitted to the test bike and the stubby front fender which also carries a Rebel decal, and as you would expect, heated grips. Thanks to the popularity of the Rebel 300 and 500 in the US, there is also already a plethora of aftermarket accessories available from third parties.

 

2021 Honda CMX1100 Rebel verdict

Cruisers have long been unpopular in the UK – seen as dated, slow, heavy and unfashionable, most of our objections are (rightly) based on bikes from the eighties. Things have come a long way since then and the 2021 Rebel 1100 is testament to that. Developing as much power as an early 90's CBR600, while only weighing 10% more, but pumping out 60% more torque, the Rebel 1100 represents what cruisers can be if the right frame of mind is applied and many of the conventions and clichés left behind.

A truly enjoyable bike to ride, the Rebel 1100 deserves to be the bike that causes Britain to fall back in love with bikes that make you look good, feel good and put a smile on our face, but don't take my word for it – book yourself a test ride and find out for yourself.

 

Street pack and Touring pack add all the essential accessories

 

2021 HONDA CMX1100 REBEL spec

New price

From £8,999 (manual), £9899 (DCT)

£10,389 as tested

Capacity

1,084cc

Bore x Stroke

92mm x 81.5mm

Engine layout

Parallel twin, 270° crank offset

Engine details

SOHC, liquid cooled, 4-stroke, 8 valve, EURO 5 compliant

Power

85.8 bhp (64kW) @ 7,000rpm

Torque

72.3 lb-ft (98Nm) @ 4,750rpm

Top speed

110 mph (indicated)

Transmission

6 speed manual/6 speed dual clutch transmission, chain drive

Average fuel consumption

40 mpg tested /57.6 claimed

Tank size

13.6 litres

Max range to empty

120 tested / 172 miles (theoretical)

Reserve capacity

30 miles

Rider aids

ABS, 4 rider modes (Sport, standard, rain and user), traction control, DCT, cruise control

Frame

Steel diamond

Front suspension

Showa 43mm cartridge telescopic forks

Front suspension adjustment

Preload only

Rear suspension

Twin Showa piggyback shocks

Rear suspension adjustment

Preload only

Front brake

Single 330mm floating disc, single radially mounted Nissin four-pot caliper

Rear brake

Single 256mm disc, Nissin single-pot caliper

Front tyre

130/70 B18 63H Dunlop D428 / Elite4

Rear tyre

180/65 B16 81H Dunlop D428 / Elite4

Rake/Trail

28°/110mm

Dimensions

2240mm x 853mm 1115mm (LxWxH)

Wheelbase

1520mm

Ground clearance

120mm

Seat height

700mm

Kerb weight

223kg

Warranty

2-years, unlimited miles

MCIA Secured rating

Not yet listed

Website

www.honda.co.uk

 

Looking for motorcycle insurance? Get a quote for this motorbike with Bennetts bike insurance

 

Honda CMX1100 Rebel 2021 Review Price Spec (46)

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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