New Honda Rebel vs. Old Honda Rebel

Does the new Rebel stack up to Honda’s old-school baby cruiser?

New Honda Rebel or old Honda Rebel. Which would you choose?Photo: Honda

In 1985 Calvin and Hobbes made their first appearance in newspapers, the US was hit with one of the coldest winters in history, Route 66 was removed from the highway system, and Honda rolled out the Rebel 250.

2017 Rebel 300

$4399 ($4699 with ABS); 286cc liquid-cooled single; 6-speed transmission; Fuel injected; 27.2-in. seat height; 364 lb. (claimed, wet); 3.0-gal. tankMotorcyclist

When the Rebel hit the streets, our predecessors at Motorcyclist aptly observed that, “By targeting the bike to a young audience, Honda hopes to attract newcomers and expand the motorcycle market.” It worked—young, small, and new riders flocked to the Rebel. As the de facto MSF training bike and one of the most affordable, approachable, and durable small motorcycles on the market, the little Rebel is responsible for introducing thousands of people to the joys of riding. Amazingly, the Rebel has remained in Honda’s lineup, largely unchanged, for the past 32 years.

2016 Rebel 250

$4190; 234cc air-cooled parallel twin; 5-speed transmission; Carbureted; 26.6-in. seat height; 331 lb. (claimed, wet); 2.6-gal. tankMotorcyclist

Finally, for 2017, Big Red saw fit to update the classy little cruiser.

With modern liquid-cooling, fuel injection, optional ABS, black paint where chrome would be, and cast hoops instead of wire-spoked wheels, the new Rebel 300 is poised to carry on the tradition of its predecessor. With any luck, the new Rebel will be as successful at attracting new riders as the original.