2020 hasn’t been short of surprises so far, but it’s fair to say that this is one of the more pleasant ones. Honda’s pulled a cheeky rabbit out of the hat for 2021: the all-new Honda CMX1100 Rebel. It’s a low-slung bobber-ish retro custom machine that echoes the firm’s CMX500 Rebel, but uses the 1100 parallel twin engine from the Africa Twin.
Honda’s CM and CMX moniker goes back into the mists of modern motorcycling times – it was the mild custom variant of loads of the firm’s small and middleweight CB twins in the 1970s and 80s, from 125cc up to 450cc. The recipe was simple: shapely custom tank, more extravagant handlebars and a mild cruiser makeover, with largely the same performance as the standard models.
Now, though, there’s a new CMX – the 1100 Rebel, and it stands out as something much more serious. It’s the first use for the Africa Twin engine away from the adventure bike sector, and it’s a bit of a surprise that the firm chose this application before others.
Your scribe would have put down good money on seeing an Africa Twin-powered naked roadster, lightweight sportster or supermotard-styled machine before a custom cruiser like this (which shows how much I know…)
The basics are the 1,084cc eight-valve Unicam twin-cylinder motor from the big adventure bike, retuned for the proverbial stronger bottom end and midrange, then bolted into in a steel tube frame with low-slung seating, piggyback twin shock rear suspension and cartridge front forks. Forks and shock both have preload adjustment only, and there’s a single radial-mount four-piston front brake caliper with a superbike-sized 330mm disc.
The electronics follow the standard recipe for Honda’s current road bikes: four selectable power modes (standard, rain, sport and customisable USER setting), plus three-level traction control, wheelie control and ABS.
The five-spoke wheels are cast aluminium with suitabley cruiser-y tyre sizes: 130/70 18 front and a 180/65 16 rear, while the minimalist clock pod has a neat negative-LCD display. Lighting is LED all-round, and the seat height is a super-low 700mm – nice.
Honda’s also got a full set of aftermarket accessories on offer to go alongside the CMX1100, including a headlight fairing, soft saddlebags, comfort touring seat, pillion back rest and solo rear rack.
Max power is 86bhp@7,000rpm while peak torque is 72ft lb@4,750rpm, and the kerb weight is 223kg (on the manual version) – fairly decent numbers, though nothing earth-shattering. You’ll notice I’ve said ‘manual version’ there, because Honda’s decided to offer either a standard six-speed gearbox or its DCT Dual Clutch Transmission on the CMX1100.
The Rebel’s DCT comes with four shifting modes, including one customisable USER mode, while adding 10kg to the kerb mass and £900 to the retail price.
And Honda’s pulled another surprise out of the bag with that retail price. The standard machine costs just £8,999, and the DCT model is £9,899 – a fair bit lower than you might expect for an all-new Honda when it hits the dealers in March 2021.