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1996 Honda CMX-250 Rebel

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  • 1996 Honda CMX-250 Rebel

    Before looking into an entry level bike for my wife, I had read the June 2001 issue Cruiser Magazine and they compared entry level bikes in that issue (the 250 Rebel, Yamaha Virago 250, Suzuki GZ250, and the Kawasaki Eliminator 125). Their staff picked the V'go and the GZ overall but the Rebel came in as 2nd for all the test riders, so I went with consistency (not to mention history). So I started hunting for a V'go or Rebel for my wife, and ended up buying a VLX instead. She wasn't really comfortable on the VLX, she had wanted a Rebel from the get-go and like a true man I made a decision for her, figuring she would grow into it quickly. Oops...So I acquired a used 96 Rebel at a dealership for a fair price, and a few days later I hauled home a running "parts bike" 86 model as well.
    I had it up to around 60 on the test ride and felt like it could handle more, although the footpegs began to vibe at this point. I've read they can go up to 70 before becoming "intolerable" and peak out around 80mph. Acceleration was pretty close to gutless, but I soon found that if you kept the revs high it had some get up and go to it. Regardless, the motor felt fine at every speed I was throwing at it.

    The brakes are a lot better than what I had read about...the magazine says you really need to grab a hand full of lever but these feel solid. I had no trouble getting them to lock, so the gentle squeezing I'm so used to on the VLX is applicable to the lightweight too, which is good for entry level riders. You don't want to be in the habit of grabbing the lever like the magazine article said was required, so my wife will have little trouble moving up to the VLX later. The suspension is just as soft as I had read about. I'm going to look into Progressive springs or at least heavier fork oil and see if that does the trick. I felt just a tad cramped on the bike, the bars felt low and the footpegs felt high. This seems to be a common problem for anyone over 5'6" on the Rebel from what I understand. But the wife loves the seating position, and that's what counts on this purchase. A simple tilt upwards on the bar relieved my knees from being pinned during slow speed maneuvers.

    All in all the little quarter-liter bike does a fine job as an entry level trainer, and I see no downfalls for an everyday commuter role. My only concern would be how it handles on the super slab, but these fly-weights aren't designed for that anyways. Maybe back in the 1980's (remember, the Reb came out in 1985) when there was an international 55mph speed limit, but those days are long gone.

    Perks: Beginner friendly weight and handling, predictable powerband and good brakes.

    Quirks: tight quarters for taller riders, footpegs vibe after 55mph or so, running out of steam at 75mph freeway speeds.

    First Changes: splice a fuel filter into the gas line, fabricate some rubber inserts for the footpeg mounts to reduce vibes, taller bars (6" mini-apes, and maybe forward controls too) for taller riders
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