Honda unexpectedly released info on 2021 REBEL 1100 (CMX1100) and some features are really surprising in a good way. Some say that 2021 Rebel is Honda’s excuse for not releasing a highly awaited “baby Africa Twin” this year.

CMX1100 REBEL Engine

REBEL engine comes directly from the new 2020 Africa Twin. It has been redesigned slightly for higher low-end torque more suitable for a cruiser-type bike. This was achieved mainly through the installation of a heavier flywheel and changing camshaft configuration.  The new peak torque is 98 Nm/4750 rpm compared to a 2020 Africa Twin’s 105 Nm/6250 rpm.

A unique feature in the camshaft settings is that cylinders have different camshaft profiles with one cylinder being optimized for below 4000 rpm power and the second for above 4000 rpm. Honda claims that this configuration gives Rebel a unique feel and character.

2021 Honda Rebel 1100 engine

Same as with Africa Twin, big REBEL has an option for DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission). Also, Rebel shares many electronics with Africa Twin including ride by wire throttle, riding modes, cruise control, throttle response settings, and engine braking configuration.

Despite being a parallel twin this engine fits cruiser more than many other V-twin type engines. Thanks to a 270-degree firing order, this engine has even better low-end torque compared to some V-Twin engines while eliminating many V-Twin disadvantages.

Parallel engines are more compact allowing for better weight distribution and as a result better chassis leading to better bike handling. Also, parallel engines are lighter and easier to do maintenance on due to a single overhead cam. Moreover, they are cheaper to produce leading to more affordable bike price while having the same reliability. Here is more info on Rebel 1100 specs.

Rebel 1100 Chassis

2021 Honda Rebel 1100 Suspension

Rebel comes equipped with a 43mm classic fork with 122 mm (4.8 inches) of travel at the front and just 94 mm (3.7 inches) of travel at the rear. The suspension is simply good enough for a cruiser-type bike, especially at this price point ($9400 for manual and $9999 for DCT) taking into account all the electronics and modern tech bike is equipped with.

The biggest disadvantage that many will complain about is a chain final drive. True Cruiser fans expect a shaft drive or belt final drive on a cruiser. Most cruiser riders value lower maintenance and a cleaner motorcycle without chain oil covering the rear wheel and all its surroundings. Since Rebel has a modern powerful engine with 85 horsepower output, the belt drive probably can not handle much more than 60 horsepower so Honda cant go with it.

2021 Honda Rebel 1100 chain drive

Shaft drive on the other hand would probably increase Rebel’s price way over $10k since Honda would have to install more expensive rear shocks to handle higher unsprung mass.  Not mentioning that shaft drive has lower efficiency compared to chain increasing fuel consumption and making it harder to pass the new EURO-5 CO2 emission test.

Final Thoughts

The modern cruiser segment has changed a lot over the past decade. Buyer’s thinking shifted from conventional cruiser vision to modern. Today Cruiser no longer must have a V-twin engine with no electronics. Modern buyers see DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission), liquid cooling, and modern electronics including ABS, traction control, ride by wire, and many others as a benefit that they prefer to have on a motorcycle.

Honda Rebel 1100 is a good cruiser and the best cruiser on the market for the price today. It has its minuses mainly in the final drive department, however, the Rebel 1100 price simply eliminates competition.

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