In spite of the Japanese manufacturers’ general retreat from the cruiser market, Honda is going against the current with its third iteration of the reborn Rebel branding. The 2021 Honda Rebel 1100 is here, and it has a secret weapon—DCT, if you want it. Let’s check it out.
Honda took the latest Africa Twin powerplant and repurposed it for the Honda Rebel 1100 with different tuning. It’s the same 1084cc Unicam design, with the cam acting directly on the intake valves and via rockers for the exhaust valves. The crank fires at 270 degrees to emulate the V-twin pulse—a hallmark of cruisers. Apropos of its ADV heritage, it’s a semi-short stroke motor.
The Africa Twin motor brings along a choice of six-speed transmissions for the Rebel 1100—manual and DCT. The fully manual six-speed version will soothe the concerns of traditionalists, as will the chain drive. However, the DCT will welcome in riders who have not mastered the art of clutching, or for riders who prefer convenience over ritual. As with other Honda DCT transmissions, the Rebel 1100 allows the rider to use left-handlebar mounted shift switches to select the desired ratio, or the DCT will pick the right gear fully automatically.
Honda gives the Rebel 1100 DCT plenty of electronic rider aids. There are three riding modes—Sport, Standard, and Rain. In addition to modifying the power delivery, automatic-shift points, the modes change the level of traction control, engine braking, and wheelie control.
The Rebel 1100 should be a compact motorcycle, as the dimensions aren’t that different from the Rebel 500 and 300. The Rebel 1100’s seat height of 27.5 degrees is just 0.3 inches higher than the 500. The 28 degrees of rake and 4.3 inches trail are unchanged. The 1100’s wheelbase is just 1.1 inches longer than the 500’s. The rear wheel is a 16-inch unit on both, with the 1100 getting a wider, lower-profile tire—180/65 vs. 150/80. Honda bumps up to an 18-inch front on the 1100, compared to the 500’s 16-inch front. The pegs are mid-mounted on both. The fork tubes on the 1100 are two millimeters larger in diameter and the twin Showa shocks have piggyback reservoirs. Suspension travel at both ends is nearly identical to that on the 500.
For Rebel 500 or 300 riders looking to step up, the transition should be easy. There’s obviously more power, and the weight does increase—the standard Rebel 1100 is 73 pounds heavier than the Rebel 500 ABS. The DCT adds 22 pounds to the package, pushing it over the 500-pound threshold to 509 pounds. In comparison, the Harley-Davidson Iron 1200 hits the scales at 564 pounds.
Braking is upgraded for the Rebel 1100. That’s a radially mounted four-piston monobloc caliper working on a 330mm disc in the front.
Honda kept the price below $10k for both Rebel 1100s. The standard model has an MSRP of $9222, and the DCT version has a price tag on the showroom floor of $9999—exactly the same as the H-D Iron 1200. That’s aggressive pricing.
Look for the 2021 Honda Rebel 1100 to appear at dealers in January. With it will come a wide variety of Honda accessories to personalize the look and usage.
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!