Honda Rebel 250: King Of The Beginner Bikes

If you’re shopping for your first bike and you’re considering the Honda Rebel 250 (also known as the CMX250), you’re in good company. 

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has given thousands of riders their first taste of the two wheeled life aboard the Honda Rebel 250 in their rider training programs, and thousands more have gone on to purchase them as the perfect starter bike.

Low seat height, easy to use power, simple controls, and fantastic maneuverability are just a few of the selling points of this classic motorcycle. That’s just the tip of the Rebel iceberg though, so here’s a rundown on the classic little cruiser that spent over three decades on the Honda assembly line.

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Honda Rebel 250 Review

Honda Rebel 250
Honda Rebel 250

The Rebel has got a lot going for it. 

If you’re a fan of cruiser styling, for instance, it really delivers in that regard. 

Wire-spoke wheels, rear swept handlebars, a nice gap in the frame, and fenders that look like they were pulled straight off a Harley Davidson Sportster all make for a good looking package. 

In terms of the riding experience itself, there’s really nothing negative to say about the Rebel either. 

Any small displacement motorcycle is going to have its performance limitations, but this is definitely one of the better ones. 

It’s not super fast, but the 234cc two cylinder makes plenty of useful torque across the rev range, and that’s really what you want for a daily rider. 

In fact, the Rebel makes just about maximum torque right off the jump from 3,000 rpm all the way up to 8,000 rpm before it starts to taper off. 

That means you’ll pretty much always have good, controllable power to the rear wheel in the upper gears, which makes frequent shifting much less necessary and rideability that much better. 

In terms of pros, I’ll also mention that although Honda kept the rear drum brake on the Rebel throughout its lifetime, they stuck a disk brake up front, which is where the majority of your stopping power lives anyways. 

Last but not least I’ll give props to the stock seat which (unlike the new Rebel 300 and 500) has plush padding and a nice wide platform. 

A few “cons” worth noting before pulling the trigger on a Honda Rebel: Size, suspension, and touring limitations. 

In terms of size, a lot of what makes the Rebel a great bike for beginners (27” seat height, rear swept bars) can also make it an uncomfortable bike for riders around or above six feet tall. 

The same could be said for heavier riders. Although the Rebel is technically built to support up to 350 pounds of rider weight and gear, it would prefer not to. Weight has a more pronounced impact on smaller output motorcycles. While the 250 is absolutely capable of getting 250-lbs+ riders up to highway speeds, it does it much more willingly for a 150-lb pilot.  

Lastly, the suspension is soft and very simple. The Rebel’s low weight and low center or gravity make it very nimble and easy to maneuver, but the non-adjustable front forks and preload-only adjustable rear shocks are built for “cruising comfort” rather than sharp cornering.  

Honda Rebel 250 Specs

Years: Introduced in 1985, available new until 2016

Engine: Four stroke, air-cooled SOHC parallel twin

Capacity: 234cc

Power: 16 hp

Torque: 12 lb-ft

Top speed: 75 mph. 78 mph downhill with a tailwind

Fuel economy: 60-75 mpg

If these specs look less than thrilling, that’s the point. 

If you’re shopping for a Honda Rebel 250, or a starter bike in general though, I wouldn’t get too caught up in the “performance” numbers. 

What’s important here are the engine layout and the fuel economy. 

The Rebel’s engine is important because unlike most 250cc class motorcycles, this one is a two cylinder bike rather than a single. 

Adding cylinders generally means adding both longevity and comfort at highway speeds, which are both important characteristics of a starter bike. 

Now I’m not saying that these motorcycles don’t do their fair share of vibrating over 60mph because they do. What I am saying, however, is that they’ll be a lot more “relaxed” at speed than a single cylinder of the same size. 

I didn’t list the “speed numbers” above because they’re about as irrelevant as it gets for a bike like this, but in case you’re curious, the little Rebel will do 0-60 in just 11.86 seconds, and lights up the drag strip quarter mile in just 17.86 seconds at 68.55 miles per hour. That’s a full 26.64 seconds faster than the current record on foot so… There you go.

Again, I wouldn’t pay any attention to those numbers though. What’s really important here is that this is a super user-friendly motorcycle that is more than capable of humming along at 65mph all day on the highway. You could absolutely take a Honda Rebel 250 on a cross-country trip. 

And speaking of cross-country trips, don’t skip over that 75mpg fuel economy. 

Small motorcycles generally have small gas tanks (the Rebel’s tank holds 10 liters/2.6 gallons), so excellent fuel economy is important for the long haul. 

Small displacement bikes like this almost always get 50mpg+, but breaking the 70mpg mark deserves a second glance. 

Pricing And Buying A Used Honda Rebel 250

Considering the extended production run and low $3,995 initial MSRP of the Rebel, finding an inexpensive used one in great condition should be about as easy as it gets. 

There’s really no reason anyone should pay over $3,000 for even the newest, lowest mileage examples, and I would only expect to see that sticker attached to a trade-in bike on a dealership floor. 

Due to the low engine capacity and infrequent highway use of these motorcycles, most will have well under 5,000 miles, and many have well under 1,000

In a quick search I was able to find some very clean motorcycles for sale at $2,000 or less, like this 2014 model with only 740 total miles on the clock. 

With that being said, there’s also no reason to be overly concerned about the mileage on a Rebel so long as it’s been properly maintained. 

Honda produced this engine almost completely unchanged for decades because it works well and is absolutely bulletproof. I wouldn’t have any qualms about picking one up with 15,000 miles or more so long as the maintenance records told the right story. 

These are a popular platform for customization, but I wouldn’t recommend buying one that’s been chopped or considerably modified from stock trim as it’s the “stock-ness” of little Hondas like these that make them reliable.

Honda Rebel 250: King Of The Beginner Bikes

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