Is the Honda Rebel 500 a good starter bike?

The Honda Rebel 500 might be the best starter bike for any beginner rider as it is easy to ride and looks uniquely good. There are only a few other motorcycles that can offer you everything essential you need like the Rebel 500 can, especially if you are into cruiser style bikes. Though the comparable Rebel 300 will hardly keep you excited about riding after the first few months.


In this article, we look into why the Rebel 500 might be the best motorcycle for any beginner rider. We also look at how it compares to the Rebel 300 which is almost identical except for the smaller engine displacement.

We will discuss the following:

  • Why the Rebel 500 is a good starter bike for beginner riders
  • Why the Rebel 500 might be the best starter bike
  • What you might not like about the Rebel 500
  • Why you should or shouldn’t buy the Rebel 300 instead of the Rebel 500
  • Other starter bikes you might also consider

Why the Rebel 500 is a good starter bike for beginner riders

Let me start off by saying something you might have heard many times before, smaller engines don’t make a bike easier to ride. It’s true. In fact, I find it extremely unpleasant to ride a small cc bike like a 250 that is listed as a starter bike.

And I know it’s not because I’m used to riding bigger bikes because I had to teach someone how to ride. She had her first solo ride on my CBR1000RR which is dangerous, I know. But after that, she got her own CBR250 and surprisingly she said my bigger bike was much easier to ride even though she wasn’t able to pick my bike up if it had fallen over.

The thing that you have to remember is that most motorcycles don’t have automatic gearboxes so the rider has to learn how to control the clutch when they pull away. It gets way more difficult if you need to control the throttle at the same time because of the small cc engine that stalls if you don’t give some throttle.

To riders that have had some experience, this comes naturally and they don’t need to think about it. But for someone who needs to learn how to release the clutch, apply brakes, signal, watch for cars, balance the bike and try not to focus on people watching all at the same time, anything else that they have to do becomes a big problem.

This is why I would recommend a larger cc bike for beginners. There is no need to be afraid of the Rebel 500 throwing you off. If it does, it’s definitely not because it had too much power.

Why the Rebel 500 might be the best starter bike

Besides having the perfect amount of power needed for a beginner, the Rebel 500 really does look good even if all its plastics are kind of cheap and less appealing from a closeup view.

To be honest, you’re not going to want to ride this bike forever. At some point, you are going to want something with more power and capability on the highway or between traffic lights. But having a 500 cc engine will extend the time you will be satisfied with the amount of power it has. It might be a year or two before you consider trading it in for something bigger.

During the time you have your rebel 500, you are going to want to make it more unique in a way that doesn’t contradict your personality (just like everyone else who owns a motorcycle).

This is what the Rebel 500 and 300 is really good for. You can customise your ride in many ways and it’s just bolt-on bolt-off for most of it. This is where you discover that the pleasure of riding motorcycles isn’t just about riding it. They say that if you don’t look back after parking your bike, you bought the wrong bike. And in many ways that is true but the person who said it didn’t consider that your motorcycle is what you make of it.

If you’re still wondering why I haven’t thrown in a bunch of figures from the spec sheet in this article, it’s because it doesn’t really matter. Yes, really.

Most of the figures you see on spec sheets either don’t tell the full story or make it seem like a motorcycle is capable of something it really isn’t. And I’m talking about all motorcycles from all manufacturers. If you want my advice, ignore the specs and ask people who have owned the bike and who have sold it again for their opinion.

I said the Rebel 500 might be the best starter bike for a reason. Not everyone likes the way it looks and even if they did, not everyone wants to ride a cruiser style motorcycle. You have to be satisfied with how your bike looks. To me, both Rebels look good but I wouldn’t buy either for myself just because I need more power as an experienced rider.

I don’t get paid to write nice things about Honda or any of their motorcycles. It’s my personal opinion. If I had to teach someone how to ride a motorcycle again, I would without a dought recommend that they learn on a Rebel 500.

What you might not like about the Rebel 500

In my opinion, there are few things not likeable about the Rebel 500. But there is one thing that bothers me and you might only realise this later which is alright since your main concern now is learning how to ride a motorcycle.

The thing that bothers me is the sound of the Rebel 500. I’m sorry if you can’t unhear it now but I think it’s better that you know before you buy. This is not unique to the Rebel 500 or Honda. All starter bikes sound awful if you exclude the H-D 883 Iron of course.

It doesn’t matter what starter bike you buy, they will have this annoying cheap sound and there isn’t “really” anything you can do about it. But once you master the Rebel 500 after a year or two, you have the chance to buy a suitable bike that you could be riding for the next five years or so.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should listen to the difference in these two sound clips. The first one is the Rebel 500 and the second is the Harley-Davidson 883 Iron which I would recommend you consider when growing out of the Rebel.

Honda Rebel 500 sound
Harley-Davidson 883 Iron sound

The Rebel 500 doesn’t sound that awful but it’s also not delightful to hear.

I would say that you shouldn’t be too worried about the sound right now. But it’s good to know what you are buying and not be surprised when you start it up the first time thinking you were going to cause some windows to crack and you hear this.

Why you should or shouldn’t buy the Rebel 300 instead of the Rebel 500

The Rebel 500 weighs 185 kg or 408 lbs. In comparison to the Rebel 300 which weighs 165 kg or 364 lbs, the difference is really not that much and since the engine sits quite low, it means that the centre of gravity will be positioned higher on the Rebel 300 when you are seated.

This could make it more difficult to handle, although not that much. But still it quite the opposite of what you would expect. A smaller cc bike isn’t easier to ride and as I said before, you might struggle learning how to ride when you don’t have the necessary power without tweaking the throttle at takeoff.

Besides the Rebel 500 being easier to control, you are going to grow out of the Rebel 300 really fast.

But, with all of this said, I believe there is a market for the rebel 300. If you are a lightweight short rider that doesn’t care about speed as much as getting somewhere, it might be more suitable as it’s easier to hold upright when pushing it out of the garage or moving it around. You might also consider crash bars in case your Rebel 300/500 tips over.

The Rebel 300 might not be for everyone but still, it is for someone.

Other starter bikes you might also consider

These are my two lists of starter bikes that you should also consider as a beginner rider. The first is a list of cruiser motorcycles fit for beginners and the second is a list of sport and naked bikes that are fit for beginners. This means that they are easier to ride than most other motorcycles.

Cruiser style beginner bikes

Sport and naked style beginner bikes

Final words

The Honda Rebel 500 is a great starter bike for any beginner rider and in my opinion also a good bike to commute in the city and suburbs. If you were wondering why the Rebel 500 or any other bike for that matter sounds so different from the Harley, you should read this: Why do Harley-Davidson motorcycles sound so distinct?

Featured image by bruno.av.r on Instagram.

I always try to keep my articles interesting and informative. And I’m always thankful when they are shared on social media platforms or Pinterest.

Two Motion

I don’t see myself as an expert in every topic of motorcycling but my articles usually relate to new experiences that are relevant at the time of writing.

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