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CMX 250 Rebel Review

By Ren Withnell

Review Date August 2014

honda cmx 250 rebel on a white background

This was the first motorcycle I purchased after a rather uncomfortable accident. I could not bend my left knee very much, I was still a little weak and I was also a little nervous about getting back on two wheels after 7 months. I'd been looking around the bike shops and the CMX 250 caught my eye.

There were many good reasons to purchase this diminutive cruiser. The cruiser riding position did not require me to bend my dodgy knee too much. It was comparatively light and low to the ground. It wasn't too powerful to scare me. The price and the bike were right. To cap it all off I'd had intimate and positive experiences with the motor in a previous incarnation, the Honda Benly 200.

The engine in the CMX comes from the CD 250 U, which came from the CD 200 Benly of which I've owned 2. The CMX has a parallel twin unit of 233ccs making the "250" tag something of an exaggeration. The unit is basic, simple, in a low state of tune and remarkably reliable. The 2 pistons rise and fall together (360 degree crank) which allows a single carburettor to be fitted. This is my favourite feature, the single carb. There is a tiny manifold from the small carb that feeds both pistons which means there's no carb balancing and better fuel economy. Oh I know it's not as fast or as trick but speed and posing are not everything.

Along with the sweet motor the rest of the machine is typical Honda. The build quality is up to standard, the one I purchased had 7k on the clock and looked as good as new. Wire wheels, odd tyre sizes and a broad squidgy seat are mated to soft suspension to complete the cruiser effect. The footpegs are placed forwards but not too ridiculously and the bars are high but again within sensible parameters. Honda didn't push the envelope here, they just moved the rider enough to make them feel like they're on a Harley. The engine does rather lack that Harley tone though, it's more like a little sewing machine.

So there I was, new lid, new bike gear and a stomach filled with both fear and excitement. I set off and thankfully the bike is as easy to ride as a push iron. Snick snick click up and down the gears, the throttle is forgiving and my ass being low to the ground is reassuring. After 2 miles it all fell back into place and I remembered why I love to ride. 

For the next 9 months the CMX remained my faithful friend. It transported myself and the gf to a couple of rallies complete with tent, luggage, sleeping bags and ground rolls. It took me to work and back. I took me on ride-outs and off for day trips. It took my son back home. It never missed a beat and ran perfectly. It became like a watch, it just worked and worked so well I stopped noticing it. 

It could make me laugh and impress me though, it wasn't boring. The low down looks meant the footpegs could be ground out with sparks aplenty on any roundabout. That big old seat was long distance heaven. As long as though onlookers didn't hear the motor I'd get some "respect dude" kind of looks. And the best part? 90 mpg. 200 miles on the tank was easy peasy and parts were as cheap as chips.

I read someplace that the 250 Rebel is no good for distance work. Nonsense, it's a question of adjusting your expectations. If you want to ride the motorways at a steady 70 mph with the motor put-putting away beneath you then the CMX ain't your bike. If however you're happy to ride at 55 - 60 mph and take in the surroundings the Rebel will give you this with pleasure. And while the Harleys and 750cc plus bikes are fuelling up you'll just keep on riding. You'll save enough to buy a round later that night while you're mates are taking the piss (but quietly admiring your tenacity).

I loved my CMX 250. I purchased it for £1,400 and got £1,400 against it when I traded it in 9 months later and with 14,000 miles on the clock. I still see them around and my heart yearns for another, I want one and to ride one again. I just ain't got the space in the shed. 

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Reader's Comments

said :-

16/02/2017 13:32:01 UTC
Brian said :-
About to get a cmx500 in a few weeks, the test ride was superb. Same engine as my cb500f.

06/06/2017 06:23:43 UTC
pocketpete said :-
Ah, Both Bikes look good. I had the cb250 2003 model which was basically a Benly/superdream cross. It ran for ever and was totally reliable. I even had custom handlebars.

I cant remember what happended to it, I suspect I sold it and got my RD250LC all I remember was it was not cool but great fun and so so fuel efficient.

I must say Honda are really milking the CB500 egine for all possible variants, we have a clean sweep of Sports, Adventure, Road and now custom. All we need now is a Trike. I would rather have a 650 version keeping the engine as small and narrow and as close to the 500cc version. Bit of an upgrade on the suspension and I think they would clean up the 650 market.

The CMX 250 looks so 80s its just ace.
06/06/2017 21:44:40 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Honda are "maximising" on their investment in both the 500 and 250 engines, and who can blame them. To be frank this has been going on for donkeys years, I'm sure Mr Soady can furnish us with some historical examples.

650? Meh, I think you could be right Pete regarding it being a good 650 but for myself the 500 has been more than enough around Scotland this week. But then I'm the exception rather than the rule.

I'm sure some readers will disagree but I think the new CMX 250 and 500 look fan blooming tastic!
07/06/2017 19:23:03 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Historical examples?

The entire MZ two stroke range.
The entire Jawa/CZ two stroke range.
Triumph twins from the 60's and 70's
BMW boxer twins in the 70's and 80's

etc. etc. etc.

I takes a lot of money to develop and test a new engine, so it's understandable that manufacturers want to maximise the return on their investment!
08/06/2017 11:34:20 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Thank you CrazyFrog. It's not just engines either. The CB500X I own is all but the same as the CB500F and CBR500. The differences are dressing and with the 500X just a tweak in the suspension.

This means the whole range is a compromise. The "X" will never be as "off road" as it could be, the "R" never as sporty as it could be. Of course this means those dedicated to each sector will see them as compromised whereas others will see them as versatile. The joy of individual opinion.
10/06/2017 07:38:48 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Hi ren

Hope Scotland's going well. I mentioned 650 as I feel a small twin 650 as light and nimble as the 500x would be great. My 500 has proved itself reliable fun and I hate to say it is one of the best bikes I have had. Despite not having much power.

I did look at the nc750 but it was not much faster and didn't ride as well. Plus I hated the tank.

So a bigger bore cb500 with better suspension would really hit the spot. As long as they get it to handle like the 500x.

Bit like the old superdream. 250 to 400 with slightly better brakes and suspension. Would be cool.
11/06/2017 18:18:57 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
We're back from Scotland now Pete, sadly.

I do understand what you're getting at, there's a good argument that Honda should compete directly with the Versys 650 and Vstrom 650, both of which are great bikes. In doing so though I would hope they don't drop the 500 which offers better fuel economy. I know it's down on power, considerably so numerically, but at 47bhp the 500 will always exceed the speed limits. For myself I'm just not feeling the need for any more.

I wonder if Honda are deliberately not targeting the 650s? The 500 is A2 legal, relatively cheap and more than adequate. The NC750X is barely more powerful, heavier but that low revving under-stressed motor is a relaxing and character filled delight. Then there's a massive gap to the VFR800X, Africa Twin and VFR1200X.

If you yearn for more power, better brakes and more everything then look at the VFR800. But it won't be cheap!
12/06/2017 10:28:11 UTC

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