The 2022 CMX500 Rebel from Honda is a pretty unique offering, an A2 cruiser that aims to be more accessible, more stylish and more versatile than you might expect and it succeeds on all counts.
I had the chance to take the latest Rebel out for a few days and see how it performs in a variety of conditions and honestly, I was impressed. Let's get into some details shall we?
We can start with the obvious, this is a great looking bike. It is available in silver, blue or green but the version we had came in all black. For the price range and category this motorcycle occupies, it looks outstanding. I said at the beginning, the Rebel feels like a pretty unique motorcycle and that uniqueness starts here.
With a fully blacked out engine and dripping with style, it's very reminiscent of the old Harley Iron 883; it looks like a badass but it is relatively slim and lightweight for a cruiser (weighing just 190kg with a full tank) and with a less extreme riding position. Since Euro 5 put an end to the Iron, the Honda CMX500 is pretty much the only option if you are after a beginner friendly cruiser in this style. Fortunately, it's also a lot cheaper than the iron was at just £6,199 brand new.
There are a bunch of optional accessories available, including a diamond quilted seat, fork protectors, front screen and a luggage rack. For an extra £400 you can get the special edition which comes with all of the above, as well as a sweet looking cowl around the front light.
The next unique thing about the CMX500 is its riding position. It has a very low seat (690mm) which has you reaching out front for the straight bars like a traditional cruiser might. The difference here is in the pegs, which are positioned very centrally, more like a naked street bike. The result is a ride position somewhere in between the two. This is obviously a deliberate choice on Honda's part, the aim is for a bike that will do your commutes and every day riding very comfortably, almost like an upright naked but it still maintains enough of the cruiser attitude to be its own thing.
The fuel tank is only 11 litres, so if I am being nitpicky, I would have liked it to be a little bit larger. The bike is so comfortable to ride, you could easily do longer distance journeys on it and a bit more fuel in the tank would help out there. Still, the Rebel is obviously designed to be an urban machine and that is where it excels.
Excellent A2 performance
The Rebel's engine is a 471cc twin cylinder with 45bhp maximum output, so it sits safely in A2 territory, which combined with a few other things we will get to later, make it a superb choice for beginners. The torque peaks at 43Nm @6,000 rpm, so it has plenty of pull at the low end and gets up to speed nice and swiftly. The Honda CMX 500 Rebel has been a consistent big player in our top a2 cruiser motorcycles articles for some time, and with how the 2022 version performs it's hard to see that changing anytime soon.
There is enough power to easily cruise at 70mph with plenty left in reserve too, so there is certainly some fun to be had on this motorcycle. That means it can be enjoyed by more advanced riders too, perhaps looking for a stylish all-rounder that doesn't break the bank.
One of the upsides of the 11 litre tank is that the motorcycle feels very slender and along with its low weight, quite agile. It is extremely easy to ride and easy to manage, in fact while riding you may forget you are on a cruiser at all.
One last word here on the stock exhaust. I think Honda have done a great job giving it a lower exhaust note with a bit of rumble, which is exactly what you want to hear in a cruiser. It may not match the larger capacity twins out there but as far as A2 stock exhausts go, this one sounds excellent.
Keeping things basic
When it comes to tech and gadgetry, Honda have kept things minimal. It has a full set of LED lights but there aren't any ride modes or fancy features aside from two-channel ABS and that is how they have managed to keep the cost so low. The bike certainly doesn't suffer for it either, everything feels smooth and comfortable and performs very well.
The Rebel does have one nice feature up its sleeve though and that is the addition of a slip and assist clutch. If you're unsure what that does, it basically smooths out the revs on a downshift and makes changing gear feel effortless. The clutch itself is feather light and very comfortable to use with no fatigue on the wrists at all. Combined with its lovely comfortable seat, I could easily ride this all day long with no problems.
When it comes to the transmission, there is a 6 speed gearbox and I will say that it requires a bit more of an engaged approach, at least at low speeds. The Rebel doesn't really like being low down in the revs and the first few gears are relatively short, so you will find yourself having to cycle through the gears a bit or it will start to stutter. Fortunately because it is so easy to change gear, that isn't a problem and once you get up to higher speeds, the upper gears are a bit longer and you can cruise with minimal effort.
The dash is also very basic, it has a nice clear speedo that is easy to read at a glance and you can cycle through the trip meters with a button on the side. There is a gear indicator which is a nice touch but strangely no rev meter. It isn't really a big deal but it would make a good addition in the future, just to see exactly which ranges the bike feels most comfortable in.
Brakes and suspension
The CMX500 has non adjustable 41mm telescopic forks on the front and preload adjustable SHOWA pro link twin shocks on the rear. Again, for a budget setup it works very well. It feels nice and firm but could still absorb the bumps of Norfolk back roads without any jarring impacts.
For the brakes we have a 296mm single disc with a twin piston caliper on the front and a 240mm disc with a single piston caliper on the rear. If I am being critical, the brakes are perhaps the weak point of this motorcycle. They are certainly adequate and get you stopped okay but I would have liked a little bit more responsiveness in the front brake. It's fine when things are nice and relaxed but I did find myself having to combine the rear brake if I wanted to feel like I was going to stop in good time. You can't rely on the front brake alone.
The best A2 cruiser?
Overall, the CMX500 is a blast to ride. It's light and agile, corners well and is surprisingly nippy for an A2 bike. It has a fun and engaging ride style, the lightest clutch I've ever touched and while looking like a real badass cruiser, is still very comfortable and effective for every day riding. If your looking for something more powerful than the 500 Rebel, than make sure to check out our 7 things to know about the Honda CMX 1100 Rebel.
This is a motorcycle you can commute to work on, ride around the city looking cool on or just use as a weekend toy and it will perform great. If you enjoy the cruiser styling, I don't think you will find anything that can match this in the A2 category, especially for the money.
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