WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag - Honda Rebel as a Starter Bike

By James - 2/14/2005

I recieved an email about my opinion of the Honda Rebel as a “starter bike". . .

I took motorcycle lessons in Sept & I passed the course, but I haven’t taken the written at DMV to get M-license. I am thinking about getting a Honda(Rebel). Since I’m 5′1″, do you think that bike would be alright for a starter bike? Please give me your opinion.

- B. Brown

Great job taking and passing the motorcycle course! It is a great investment. Now you can look forward to ambiguous questions followed by four correct answers on the DMV test. You must pick the “most” correct answers to pass the test and get your license. It can be fustrating but keep at it. A Class M license is a great thing to have.

The Honda Rebel is a great bike. My wife Rachel rides an ‘85 and have had no complaints about it; it still runs strong. When getting your first bike you have to consider a couple things.

First is comfort. It takes about six months to get really comfortable with your first motorcycle so I like to advise people to get a 125 or 250cc bike. They are generally the lightest and most forgiving in case you forget to put your kickstand down and have to pick it back up. You sit lower on the cruisers like the Yamaha Virago 250, Suzuki GZ250 and Honda Rebel. The Ninja 250 has a higher seat hight and at 5′1″ you may not be able to flat foot it. Kawasaki and AlphaSports both have 125cc bikes that may feel better for you. My wife got her license this summer and we decided on a used Honda Rebel. She is about 5′8″ and in California 250ccs are the minimum displacement engines allowed on the freeway. She commutes from Oakland to San Francisco and the only way over the water is on the freeway otherwise we would have gotten a 125.

Second is power. Generally women and people over 30 know enough to ride within their limits, but younger motorcyclists have a tendancy to use all the power of a motorcycle whenever they can. Once you learn when to use your power you can move up to a bigger bike, but until then, 125s and 250 teach you great motorcycle skills, ones you will absolutely need once you upgrade. You think you are exempt from small bikes because you just know you will outgrow them? Well this is the exact reason you are not. Take a look at what the Marmot says on buying your first bike…

Third is cost. There is a good chance you will drop your first bike. You will still be learning to ride 20 years from now and the first 6 months are the hardest. The 125 and 250 classes of motorcycles are good because repair costs are low and the initial investment to purchase one can be under $1000 for a used bike in good condition. Multiply that by 4-10 times for a new or used 600cc bike. You want to get good on a “beater” then move up after you get all of the mistakes out of your system. As my wife learned this weekend when a driver backed into her bike and took off, a used 250cc bike is a good thing to have. If they had hit my V-Star and skewed the forks, bent the fender, damaged the tire and scratched the paint, I would be looking at over $3000 as opposed to $300 for the Rebel.

For more information from Rebel Owners, try the Rebel-Riders Group at Yahoo.

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