Sitting side-by-side, the Rebel 500 and CB500F don’t appear to be kin, the only potential giveaway being the “surname” (i.e. Honda wing) on each one’s tank. It may surprise you to learn that they actually share an engine and are priced within $100 of each other (the CB500F starts at $6,099). But the family resemblance ends there; while both can lead you to the common conclusion of “great first bike,” they take different paths getting there. Where the Rebel is punchy down low, with the off-the-line grunt required to do battle in city traffic and a modern, blacked-out bobber look heavily influenced by cruisers of the late ’70s and early ’80s, the sporty CB500F is ready to take on the nearest twisty road, with its
version of the 471cc parallel twin tuned for mid-to-high-end excitement and suspension better suited to strafing corners than the Rebel’s squishy underpinnings.
Around town, the CB500F is smooth, predictable and easy to handle. Its 30.7-inch seat height is 3.5 inches higher than the Rebel’s but still reasonable, and narrow-ish bars don’t require a long reach for lock-to-lock parking lot maneuvers. Hunt down some twisty roads, and the CB500F shows its true colors, encouraging the rider to wind it up above 5,500 rpm and have some fun. In fact, while the Rebel makes slightly more torque below 5,000 rpm for easier riding at lower engine speeds, thanks to its rev-happy nature the CB made almost 6 more peak horsepower than the Rebel on the Jett Tuning dyno, an increase of 15 percent.
Price-point components aren’t race-spec, but they don’t need to be. The suspension is adjustable for preload both front and rear, and while it’s soft by sportbike standards, it’s well suited to the CB’s weight and power. The single 320mm disc up front and 240mm disc in the back are enough to slow the 420-pound (wet) bike down, and, like the Rebel, ABS is a $300 option. With the 4.4-gallon gas tank full, it should be possible to string together a nice long, twisty ride (our test bike averaged 62.4 mpg on regular fuel, good for 274 miles per tank).
Both the Rebel and the CB are image-conscious designs with a riding experience to match. Whichever one speaks to you (minimalist and hip, or sporty and athletic), you’ll likely end up with a smile on your face and enough cash leftover in your pocket to snag that new helmet you’ve been eyeing.
Helmet: Bell Star
Jacket: AGV Sport Arc
Pants: Joe Rocket Alter Ego
Boots: Fly Mile Post Air
Thanks for the review Jenny. I am thinking about getting a Rebel for my wife. Principally for the low seat height and suitability for a new rider (she has just passed her test). You seem to have spent most of your time on the F model – do you have any additional Rebel specific insight?
Hi Steve, I spent quite a bit on time on both the Rebel 500 and CB500F…I just preferred the CB500F for commuting because it sits higher, making it easier for me to see around cars (and for them to see me!). I actually preferred the riding experience on the Rebel though. It’s punchy and fun and just plain cool! Not that the CB isn’t cool, but it’s sort of just like all the other naked sport bikes out there. The Rebel turned heads everywhere I went, and it’s fun to ride. If your wife is looking for a low seat height, I think the Rebel would be an awesome choice! Definitely go with the 500, not the 300. It’s not much heavier and will be something she can grow into, rather than outgrowing it in a couple of months. I hope that helps! -Jenny
Great thanks for the advice Jenny. Happy riding.
Are any of the features new for 2017 or will the the 2016’s be the same? When I look around, I have trouble finding a 2017, but not 2016’s.
Also, will you be comparing the 500X sometime soon? I am looking for a “reasonably priced” bike that would be good for light touring, including the occasional dirt roads involved in getting to camping sites. The 500X seemed like it comes better equipped for that sort of task than the 500F.
As far as we know, the bike isn’t changing much from 2016 to 2017–just new colors/graphics. In fact, it hasn’t changed much at all since we wrote this Road Test Review in 2013. It might give you some insight into this cool little bike. (Spoiler: EIC Tuttle likes it better than the “F” variant.) http://ridermagazine.com/2014/01/02/2013-honda-cb500x-road-test/
A 500 makes a good last bike to. I have had larger higher horse power bikes but the CB500 makes more sense. Before the big cc craze started a 500 was considered a good sized bike.
I still don’t believe new riders should start at 500 level.
I agree, new riders need to be on a sub-300cc bike. Find a 2008 Honda CB250cc for $1300 and really learn how to ride it before advancing. Heck take a year, or two. It is irresponsible to suggest to a new rider that a 500cc bike is a beginner bike.