New Motorcycle Review: 2022 Honda Rebel 1100 DCT

Sporty middleweight classic Honda makes cruising fun

By Kirsten Midura, Photos by John Saponara and courtesy of Honda Motorcycles

Reliable Rebel

For years, I’ve heard only good things about the Honda Rebel, and my first experience on the 1100 did not disappoint. The Rebel lineup has become known for its reliability and approachability for riders at most riding levels. On a recent trip to California, I picked up a sleek, wine-colored 2022 Honda Rebel 1100 to try out for a 270-mile, 2 day test.

Honda Rebel 300, 500, 1100
For 2022, Honda offers a progressive lineup of its Rebel to meet riders at all levels. From left to right: the basic beginner bike, Rebel 300 ($4,699), the midsized Rebel 500 ($6,399), and the sporty Rebel 1100 ($9,399).
Honda Rebel MSF women
Small displacement Honda Rebels, like these older 250s, are used by many learn-to-ride programs because of their affordability, durability, low seat height, and simplistic design—attributes that still apply to the current model lineup.

Optional Shifting with DCT

The Rebel 1100 is powered by a 1084cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine with a six-speed transmission. For an additional $600, riders can opt for the 1100 DCT, an automatic Dual Clutch Transmission, which is the model I tested. According to Honda, the DCT feature is meant to provide a “deeper enjoyment of riding.” It's been an enjoyable option on some of Honda's other bikes, like the Gold Wing and Africa Twin.

Having never ridden a motorcycle with DCT before, I found that it did take some getting used to. At first, I found myself reaching for the clutch to shift, when suddenly the bike would shift for me. But I grew so accustomed to the DCT that I stalled the next bike I rode because I forgot to pull in the clutch!

Honda Rebel 1100 Kirsten Midura
On the Rebel 1100 DCT, there is no clutch and no traditional shifter. To get going, the rider simply flips a switch on the right handlebar from N (Neutral) to D (Drive). Then, a simple twist of the throttle will quickly bring you up to speed. The bike will automatically flow smoothly through the shift pattern.

Riding the Rebel

My journey began through the busy streets of Torrance to the Pacific Coast Highway. Riding between stop lights, I tested the Rebel 1100’s Standard, Sport, and Rain ride modes while in traffic. Each proved to have smooth transitions, but I quickly found that the Sport mode suits my own riding style. I like its aggressive shifting and stronger power delivery.

Honda Rebel 1100 Kirsten Midura woman rider
The Rebel 1100 also includes a “User” mode, allowing the rider to customize the levels of power, traction control, engine braking, and shifting aggressiveness.
Honda Rebel 1100 DCT right grip
Riders have the option of switching into Manual mode via the A/M button on the right switch cluster.
Honda Rebel 1100 DCT left grip
In Manual mode, the rider uses buttons on the left switch cluster to change gears—an option that is available in automatic mode, as well. Even in Manual mode, however, the bike will eventually shift automatically if pushed to the limits, albeit at lower and higher RPMs, respectively.
Honda Rebel 1100 dash LED display
The Rebel 1100’s round 4.7-inch diameter instrument display is front and center. The LCD display includes a speedometer, tachometer, trip meter, shift indicator, fuel level, ride modes, and more.

As I reached Highway 101, I had acclimated to the bike’s automatic shifting and relaxed riding position. Using the luxurious cruise control on an open stretch of highway, I appreciated the Honda’s “deeper enjoyment of riding.”

The solo saddle-style seat was fairly comfortable on my multi-hour ride south. But the mid-positioned foot pegs didn't allow my long legs to stretch out. I would invest in aftermarket highway pegs if I owned a Rebel. For shorter riders, Honda offers an optional accessory seat ($99.95) that places riders one inch closer to the handlebar.

Honda Rebel 1100 DCT seat height woman rider
Riders of shorter stature will appreciate the Rebel’s low, 27.5 inch seat height. It is super easy for my 5-foot-10-inches to get both feet securely on the ground.

Rebel Performance

Honda Rebel 1100 engine
The Rebel 1100’s 1,084cc engine is an adaptation of the Africa Twin adventure platform, re-tuned for the cruiser. As such, this parallel-twin has a good amount of power coming off the start line, but not so much that it is intimidating.

The Rebel’s Selectable Torque Control (STC) feature, when turned on, detects differences between front and rear wheel speeds, and controls fuel-injection accordingly. This also incorporates "Wheelie Control," which limits front-end rise during acceleration—something you wouldn’t expect to find on a cruiser! These features allow the rider to be more aggressive on the throttle without fear of losing control.

The cruise down to San Diego was an enjoyable excursion, but the ride back was the real highlight. On the return trip, I took an inland road through the hilly National Parks and Forests. Here, I was able to put this performance cruiser to the test.

Honda Rebel 1100 DCT
The Rebel 1100 has a 43mm Showa telescopic fork with 4.8 inches of travel. The rear boasts dual Showa shocks with a comfortable 3.7 inches of travel. Both front and rear have a broad range of adjustable preload, so that it can be set up for a wide range of rider weights and preferences.
Honda Rebel 1100
The Rebel’s brakes include a single radial mount four-piston caliper w/ full-floating 330mm disc in the front, and a single-caliper 256mm disc in the rear, both with ABS.
Honda Rebel 1100
The Rebel 1100 has spoked cast wheels with a 130/70-18 radial front tire and a 180/65-16 rear tire.

Faced with performance-demanding twisties, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the bike handles in curves. The Rebel’s low center of gravity and compact engine layout make it nimble and easy to handle. Its 59.8-inch wheelbase and 35-degree bank angle made the ride sporty and fun. This, along with the bike’s mid-controls, allowed for what Honda calls “spirited riding,” a term I am definitely going to start using.

Customing Your Rebel

Honda offers an array of accessories for the Rebel. These include custom seats, a fender, windscreen, a headlight cowl, heated grips, saddlebags, and rear carriers. For those looking to ride two-up, passenger seats, backrests, and passenger pegs are also available. There is also good aftermarket support for the Rebel, as WRN reader Cynthia Dunbar shows us with her highway pegs, top case, and more.

Honda Rebel 1100 woman rider
Cruising in style back to the hubbub of Los Angeles, I found myself wishing I could spend more time exploring on this sporty cruiser.

Specs at a Glance: 2022 Honda Rebel 1100 / DCT
Engine Size: 1,084cc
Seat Height: 27.5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 3.6 gallons
Wet Weight: 487 pounds; 509 pounds (DCT)
2022 Colors: Bordeaux Red Metallic, Metallic Black, Pearl Stallion Brown
MSRP: $9,399; $9,999 (DCT)

WRN Recommendation: Generations of women, like many of us here at WRN, started their motorcycling journeys on a Honda Rebel. The Honda Rebel 1100 is a perfect “next step” motorcycle for riders looking for more power than a small cc entry-level bike but who want a low seat height cruiser that is easy to control but has a sporty cruiser feel. The optional DCT automatic transmission makes it accessible and user-friendly for riders who commute in stop and go traffic or who just want the option to “go on autopilot” at times.

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