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Honda Rebel CMX 250

Honda Rebel 250cc Beginner Motorcycle Review

imageI owned a 1985 Honda Rebel for a brief period, putting 7,000 km on it before selling it. It was replaced soon after with a 2008 KYMCO Venox. After reading many reviews saying great things about the Honda Rebel, I’d like to offer my opinion and experiences in my own Honda Rebel 250cc beginner motorcycle review.

The Honda Rebel 250 is a great beginner motorcycle. If you’re looking for a beginner cruiser, a 250cc bullet-proof tried and tested engine that’s been around since the 1980s (and not a Kawasaki Ninja 250), this is a great alternative.

The Rebel was first built in 1985, though the engine dates even earlier to the Honda CM-250, a lightweight standard style UJM of the 1980s. You’ll be able to find a few aftermarket parts for the Rebel in catalogues or on eBay from China. The product quality on eBay will be cheap, but you can get engine guards and sissy bars (passenger backrests) $100-150.

The Rebel excels at being small, light, low, economical, and beginner friendly in the city.

Honda Rebel 250cc Beginner Motorcycle Review

Unfortunately the little Rebel is a bit too small. At just over 5’10” it would give me bad leg cramps after an hour riding. The motorcycle’s power as well as braking capabilities are reduced significantly when carrying a passenger and the soft suspension bottoms out. In hindsight, carrying a passenger out on a tripswas almost absurd. The Honda’s braking is plagued with the typical cruiser rear drum brake, which won’t give you as much bite as a disk would. To some this isn’t an issue, especially on a motorcycle the size  and weight of the Rebel’s, but for ease of maintenance and performance I like disk brakes over drums.

Honda Rebel 250cc Beginner Motorcycle ReviewImmediate competition (other underpowered Japanese 250cc beginner cruiser motorcycles) include the Yamaha V-Star 250 (a V-Twin 250cc cruiser) and Suzuki’s 250cc Marauder (a single cylinder engine). All of these bikes will make roughly 18 hp and very little torque. To quote cousin Vince “My lawnmower puts out more horsepower”. At highway speeds the Honda Rebel is an absolute paintcan-shaker, vibrating and numbing riders at anything over 100 km/hr. We also had problems with overheating in traffic coming into the city during Caribana weekend traffic jams. As all of these bikes are air-cooled and produce the same power we’re thinking these will be common issues.

Other competition includes the KYMCO Venox (which gets our seal of approval after 25,000+ km problem-free, including out of province rides); and a new competitor, the Suzuki TU250. The Venox boasts a much higher horsepower, top speed, power to weight ratio, larger size and comfort all above that of the Honda Rebel. The KYMCO performs at roughly 28 horsepower vs. the Honda’s 18. As for Suzuki, the TU250 is a single-cylinder, but is fuel-injection.

Back to the Honda Rebel. Personally, we feel there’s a lot better bang for buck out there. The Rebel is a great beginner motorcycle bike, but it may be too much of a starter bike, one you’d outgrow in a season or less. Many riders hoping for a long ride outside the city will find they outgrew this motorcycle when they hit puberty. This is not a bike to purchase new.

Want more?
Check out our 250cc sportbike comparison.
Read our take on the Honda CBR-125R.
Read the review and comparison of the KYMCO Quannon 150 vs the Honda CBR-125R beginner motorcycles.

Other 250cc motorcycle reviews:
KYMCO Venox 250
Suzuki TU250
Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Yamaha V-Star 250

About YouMotorcycle

YouMotorcycle is a lifestyle motorcycle blog to be appreciated by those who see motorcycling as a lifestyle and not simply a hobby, sport, or method of transportation. Most of the posts on the site are written by past and present motorcycle industry staff. We remain fiercely independent, innovative, and unconventional. Our goal is to encourage more people to enjoy the world's greatest outdoor sport by helping new riders get started and inspiring current riders to get out more. We motorcycle, do You?


  1. i think that was a very unfair big-bike-biased review

    • Hi Steve,
      It’s interesting that you would call it a big-bike biased review. I’m actually bias towards my 250cc KYMCO Venox. I’ve put over 30,000 km on that thing and love it. I’ve owned over a dozen motorcycles, my 250cc is the only one I never sell. Her name is Speranza, she’s the love of my life, and my girlfriends have always understood that they come second. They’re ok with that, as long as Spera stays outside. I also owned three 50cc scooters. I’m quite the fan of little bikes, the Rebel is a very good beginner motorcycle that will bore the life out of intermediate and experienced riders who want to travel greater distances.

    • Finally…someone willing to call it like it is: the Rebel is a hopelessly-outdated machine that basically still exists for the use of MSF classes! It’s hot, noisy, underdamped, an absolute slug above about 35MPH, and vibrates like crazy. (The 250 Nighthawk was, if anything, worse, with its awful mechanical front drum brake.)

      • I agree. rebel is too small. A what do you recommend for us entry level riders?

        • Hi Rae, if you’re looking for an entry level cruiser you may be able to find a used KYMCO Venox 250, Kawasaki Vulcan 500 or Honda Shadow VXL 600. If you’re looking for new vehicles you can consider the Honda CTX700N, or the Harley-Davidson Street 500 as good alternatives.

  2. I love how it looks and I am only 5 foot tall so most bikes are way too big. Although the V Star is nice as well and about the same height (I haven’e seen the suzuki). With all the big bikes out there I am very happy they made a small one for us shorties that can’t touch the ground on most bikes. I’m a girl and only want a bike for around town driving, no highways and not a lot of traffic, and the big bikes are too intimidating to me just starting out as a new rider. I think it’s just perfect :)

  3. Great read. I have both a ’15 Rebel and a ’14 CBR600RR. It’s unfortunate that the Rebel is mostly recalled for its beginner traits because I truly feel that it’s much more than that. I have great fun and enjoyment when riding it, and it has a very simple and honest personality to it. It’s very raw and undiluted, and you can really feel the sensation of speed – lower to the ground, vibration through the skinny handlebars, and being upright against the wind. I didn’t want something too bulky and with a big motor to distract me. It’s a back to basics cruiser… And it has superb build quality (made in Japan). It’s a gem of a bike, and I’m going to hang on to it for the long run because of how special it feels with each and every ride.

    • reading about how much fun people are having on their Honda Groms makes me wonder if you’re right about the fun factor of the Honda Rebel. Maybe this Rebel is like a more practical version of the Grom.

  4. Thinking about this bike as a non-beginner bike. It’s not easy to find a comfortable bike that gets great gas mileage, is light, reliable, and has room for storage.

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