HONDA CMX1100 REBEL (2021 - on) Review
- Characterful parallel-twin engine
- Great handling for a cruiser
- Relaxed riding position not too extreme
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The 2021 Honda Rebel 1100 is further proof the firm build bikes that shock you with their simplistic brilliance.
The original parallel twin CB500s were such bikes, and so was the current CB500 range that includes this Rebel’s little brother.
- Latest news: French custom house reveal two CMX1100 Rebel specials
- Related: Honda Rebel 500 review
The Rebel 1100 is a genuine giggle. As nonchalantly non-plussed by bimbling along a seafront basking in its bassy tones and admiring glances, as it is capable of blitzing a mountain road with the sort of composure plenty of naked bikes can only dream of.
So don’t dump its talents in the ‘cruiser’ pool and think that its remit is the limit of its skill set – there’s no escaping the SoCal styling or inherently cruisery riding position – but the chassis is a peach, the engine your peppy partner in crime, the riding experience oddly juxtaposed to its intent.
So long as you can cope with a slightly numb bum you won’t stop grinning until long after you’ve put it away in the garage.
And at sub-£9k I had to double check the price wasn’t a mistake. Bargain.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Barely more than a ’box worth of shifts after pulling away and it’s only taken metres, not miles, to slip under its spell.
While many a feet-central/forward cruiser leaves you dangling off the bars like a prostrate bodybuilder attempting chin ups on the handlebars, you sit in the Rebel in supportive calm.
Yes, the seat starts to get uncomfortably pushy on your tailbone and numbs your bum after 50 miles in the saddle, but feet never float from the pegs, and neither arms nor neck muscles ever feel stretched even if you’re tanking on at near three-digit speeds. Impressive.
Much of that surprising pace and composure is thanks to the poise and balance of the chassis – again, despite figures on the spec sheet suggesting less deft control would be on offer.
The Rebel wears its mass (223kg) with athletic ease, and it’s all so low to the tarmac that it feels 40kg lighter the scales say. Steering and cornering manners should also lack refinement, but the chubby 130/70 R18 front and 180/65 R16 Dunlop D428 tyres somehow deliver a neutrality, lightness and precision that’s backed by the chassis’ composure and stability.
At walking pace it suffers none of falling-in or tiller-like steering characteristics of many a cruiser, and at pace it feels more like a low (the seat height’s a pretty dinky 700mm) naked bike than a boulevard bruiser.
There’s no weave, no wobble, and even on its ear, boot heels grinding to dust as you edge it over to its 35-degree max dangle angle, there’s no loss of composure. You can be brutal with direction changes, lean hard on the brakes and treat the throttle like a switch – it’s soaks it all up.
Only the twin rear shocks show any sign of being flustered, stiffish settings and short travel causing the rear wheel to skip if you hit a sharp bump while canted over mid-corner.
And if changing gear feels all too last year, you can opt for Honda’s latest-gen DCT transmission instead.
It’ll swap the cogs for you with a level of refinement and accuracy missing from earlier iterations of their clever tech, boasts three modes and you can programme your own settings – or treat it as a push-button manual if you want to take back full control.
EngineNext up: Reliability
An Africa Twin engine you say? Well yes, and no. Honda say the engine is largely unchanged in terms of architecture.
A 32% heavier flywheel for more inertia joins forces with revised valve timing and ignition settings and a suite of rider modes (three set, plus a user-defined fourth) to choose from – conspiring to drop the AT’s best punch down to just shy of 86bhp @ 7000rpm and a sparrow-fart over 72lb.ft torque @ 4750rpm.
It feels fitter, dramatically denser, more guttural, punchy and characterful than the relatively bland AT.
Right from the get-go there’s a personality to the 270-degree off-beat Rebel’s yell that raises a quizzical eyebrow to the potential. Get moving and that burbling but crisp promise matches beautifully to the equally crisp and light gearbox, cogs well-spaced to make the most of the grunty delivery.
Far from being a lazy laid-back layabout, the Rebel’s got an energy to it that rewards input. As you revel in the very un-Africa Twin bark and bite, you can’t help but be surprised by how easily the speedo is piling on proof of its pace.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The old adages around Honda reliability are still largely true – but they’re not infallible, and this Rebel is built down to a very attractive price point using an engine from a far more expensive model.
What does that mean? There must have been plenty of efficiencies made elsewhere.
But they’re hard to spot. The electronics aren’t all-singing – but that means there’s less to go wrong, and the finish and design of most of the bike appears good – albeit on a brand-new bike that’s not yet been subjected to any serious use.
If I wanted to poke any accusatory fingers of disappointment at the Rebel, the only one with any real weight behind it would be prodding the exhaust – which looks like it’s been welded together from off-cuts of other systems, then mated to a scooter silencer.
The sidestand looks like they forgot to put one on and the janitor spotted the error and tacked one on for function without any thought for design, and it clearly lacks Ducati Diavel levels of sublime detail and finishes.
But it also lacks its price tag. As a sunny Sunday cruiser, expect very few significant niggles.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Blimey the CMX1100 Rebel is cheap. Not cheap as in shoddy, flimsy, tacky or outright nasty – but as in super-solid value for money.
There’s very little to go wrong, no glut of insurance-blitzing performance to mitigate, it’s probably not really sexy enough to be on any thief’s top 10 nick-list – and with everything accessible barring the underside of the tank without needed to wield a spanner, it’s not going to need eons in the workshop for servicing work, either.
At £8999, it’s both cheap, and great value for money – and those two things are not always synonymous.
You have to push very hard to provoke the Rebel, but if you can make it bite back there’s 3-mode traction control to keep things under control, plus ABS and – comically – a rather superfluous wheelie control system.
Standard, Rain and Sport modes mete out different throttle and power characteristics, but I could find no reason to deviate from Sport.
There’s a User mode if you’re into setting your own settings, too. I’d trade the wheelie control and modes for cornering ABS, but despite some heavy braking on dirty grit-strewn roads it never got out of shape or triggered assistance. Or maybe I’d trade it for a quickshifter/blipper. The sweet gearbox would take it well, and it’d be a pleasing addition.
For a single disc set-up on a heavy sled, the brakes are well up to the job, too. And usefully, under the rider’s seat is a handy 3-litre storage compartment and a USB-C charging point, accessed via the ignition barrel that’s side-mounted on the Rebel’s left flank.
The neat round dial is a pleasant mix of modern and retro, but the reversed-out screen can be a pain to read in direct sunlight and feels (like all Honda’s clocks that use this style) a bit ‘Casio-watch-from-1983’. But – it’s got all the info you need, is a doddle to navigate and doesn’t dominate your uncluttered view of the road ahead.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel-twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||13.6 litres|
|Front suspension||43mm telescopic fork, preload adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Twin piggyback shocks, preload adjustable|
|Front brake||Single 330mm disc with four-piston radial caliper. ABS|
|Rear brake||256mm single disc with twin-piston caliper. ABS|
|Front tyre size||130/70 x 18|
|Rear tyre size||180/65 x 16|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||86 bhp|
|Max torque||72.3 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
2021: All-new model
DCT version available, £9899
Owners' reviews for the HONDA CMX1100 REBEL (2021 - on)
3 owners have reviewed their HONDA CMX1100 REBEL (2021 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
I fell in love with the looks before I’d even ridden it. Throbs like a twin should and makes an even better noise.
Feels nicely planted and low centre of gravity makes it easy to ride. Don’t be put off by the single brake disk in the front, it hauls this beast to a standstill without any worry at all.
Bumbles along in standard mode no problem but switch to Sport for a more responsive but possibly twitchier ride.
Too soon to tell as I’ve only had it a few weeks.
Again, too soon to judge
Great tyres, vocal exhaust, what more could you want?
I am returning to biking after 35 years and was looking for something that looked good, was easy to ride and above all else could hold its own on the motorway. It certainly looks good, its low seat height and low centre of gravity make it a doddle to ride both at speed and in city traffic. The engine and gearbox are not stressed at all when more speed is required quickly. If you like this style of bike, what's not to like, (except the rather firm ride).
This bike feels rock solid in the corners and instils levels of confidence that make you want push on a bit harder. Brakes are up to the job. I didn't test ride this bike before buying and what I consider to be firm ride and hard seat would not have put me off buying it if I had.
It sounds great and the DCT gearbox is sublime. Vibration is minimal and not a problem.
Ok, its only a month old and with 900 miles on the clock, but its a Honda right!
50+ MPG so far
Display can be a bit difficult to see if the sun happens to be in the wrong position. Perhaps its my fault for not having long enough thumbs but some of the controls are a bit of a stretch. Self cancelling indicators would have been nice.
Tailor made for me
Seat is numbing but will fix that with aftermarket seat, break pedal gets in the way of my toe a bit but no real niggles to speak of
Trying not to give this bike 5 out of 5 for everything but can’t help it
Only 600 miles done but have to give it the benefit of the doubt
175 mile tank range good for this style of bike I owned a ‘48 which did exactly that mileage when the petrol light came on, owned a triumph bobber which wasn’t much better so good MPG with the rebel
Has everything it needs, cruise control is icing on the cake
Buying experience: Simple and got a good trade in for my tiger 900rally