By John Burns
For a helluva lot of American motorcyclists, tradition is important, and a lot of people want something that looks traditional on the outside, even if it’s verging on revolutionary inside. I think that’s kind of what’s going on with Honda’s new Rebel 1100. The profile says cruiser, but a slightly closer look reveals Honda’s done trying to copy Harley with fake cooling fins and plastic chrome gewgaws (though the Fury et al remain in the lineup). The new Rebel wears its liquid-cooled 1084cc Unicam parallel Twin from the Africa Twin right out in the open.
The Rebel’s cruiser ergos had my hip flexors concerned at first, but even my old body adapted pretty quickly to the highish pegs beneath the 27.5-inch seat. I could hang my 30-in legs atop the pegs when droning along to stretch them out. For 5’8” me the handlebar was a bit forward; later I was able to rotate it down and rearward a smidge, where it was just about perfect. For me, the thick seat’s a fine shape and comfortable enough.
For sporty backroad use, the suspension’s dialed. With 4.3 inches of trail, a 59.8-in. wheelbase, that fat 18-in. front tire and its low cg, the Rebel’s more about stability than quick handling. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as fun as any other motorcycle to throw at corners. Honda claims it’s got 35 degrees of lean in both directions, but it feels like more. The footpegs don’t begin to drag until it feels like you’re going plenty fast for the Dunlop D428 cruiser tires. For a sportbike, 509 pounds is a bit porcine; for a cruiser it’s pretty light.