The Honda Rebel 500 is a popular cruiser motorcycle with a smooth, reliable ride, comfortable position, and stylish design.
However, like any other machine, it is imperfect and may encounter some problems over time.
This article will explain the most common Honda Rebel 500 problems, their causes, and how to fix them.
Table of Contents
1. Exhaust Discoloration
One common issue faced by Honda Rebel 500 owners is exhaust pipe discoloration. This problem can arise from various factors, including road debris, heat, or rust.
Discoloration ranges from blue to brown, impacting both aesthetics and performance.
“My Honda Rebel 500’s pipes are discolored from road grime, so I now have a fender extender. I will examine them carefully in the fall and pull and paint if I see any hint of rust.” -hondarebel3forum.net
“I have an issue with my Honda Rebel 500 from 2017.
My exhaust pipe changed its color. In the beginning, it was perfectly black and matched nicely with the engine. Now it is just brown…” -hondarebel3forum.net
To address exhaust discoloration on a Honda Rebel 500:
- Regularly clean exhaust pipes with a mild soap and water solution, then dry with a soft cloth to remove dirt and grime.
- Utilize high-quality exhaust paint like VHT or a specialized polish to restore the original appearance.
- Avoid running a lean mixture, leading to overheating and bluing. Adjust the air-fuel ratio or use a fuel injector cleaner for improved engine combustion.
- Install a fender extender or heat shield to safeguard pipes from road debris and excessive heat, preventing rust and costly replacements.
2. Coolant System Issues
Honda Rebel 500 owners might encounter coolant system malfunctions. This can trigger intermittent coolant temperature sensor warnings, indicating potential engine overheating.
The coolant system plays a vital role in regulating engine temperature by circulating a mixture of antifreeze and water through various components.
Faulty, damaged, or leaking parts can disrupt this system, risking engine damage.
Here’s an example of Rebel owners discussing this issue on -hondarebel3forum.net:
“2017 Honda Rebel 500. Last year, during a road trip, my coolant temp sensor light came on briefly but then went off after a couple of minutes, and I never saw it again the rest of the year… Until this year, when it came on repeatedly and turned off after only a couple of minutes (this time, I was doing 85 on the interstate up a pretty steep grade). Coolant level is fine.” -2017 Honda Rebel 500
“it is possible to have a cooling problem like this [on a Rebel 500], insufficient coolant, bad thermostat, bad radiator cap (yep), some other things; the problem is, it’s hard to fix what isn’t broken, so it’s gotta stay broke for you to fix it unless it is showing secondary symptoms I didn’t see what year and model the bike is…”
“Generally, if the reserve tank has coolant in it, the radiator will be full, but if there is an air leak in the siphon hose, the radiator coolant will go low if you should happen to have a coolant leak in that hose or any of the radiator hoses, water pump, etc.”
- Regularly check coolant levels in the reserve tank and radiator to ensure they fall within the recommended range.
- If levels are low, top up with the appropriate coolant type.
3. Rear Brake Fluid Reservoir Nut Falls Off
Another recurring issue among Honda Rebel 500 owners is the rear brake fluid reservoir cover’s securing nut can easily dislodge or fall off during removal, potentially leading to brake fluid leakage and safety concerns.
Here’s an excerpt from a conversation about this very issue on -hondarebel3forum.net:
“I have a new 2021 CMX500A and was inspecting the rear brake fluid reservoir. I removed the cover and mounting bolt, did my inspection, and when I tried to reinstall the cover, the nut inside the battery case pushed into the case. I’ve been pulling my hair out to figure out how to get it in the right location without pulling the battery…”
“I have a 2019 and did the same thing, glued it in with silicone, as I recall.”
“I ran into this and spent so long getting it back into position; as soon as I got it back together, I sat there staring and cursing myself for not putting a bead of silicon on it.”
- Utilize a strong magnet or tweezers to retrieve the nut from the battery case. Access may require battery or carrier removal.
- Attach the nut to the battery carrier using silicone or epoxy for stability, ensuring a clean, dry surface before reassembly.
- Consider replacing the nut with a fender or lock nut from a hardware store for added security.
- Regularly inspect brake fluid levels, topping up as necessary with the specified fluid per the owner’s manual.
- Avoid overfilling to prevent overflow or boiling when braking.
4. Lights Turn On, But Engine Won’t Start
Sometimes, Honda Rebel 500 owners experience their engine refusing to start even though the lights and displays come on. Several things can trigger this problem, like a weak or dead battery, a faulty ignition switch, a problematic main relay, or loose connections.
The symptoms vary depending on the cause, from a silent fuel pump to a starter cranking but not igniting the engine or even a complete loss of power when trying to start.
“Honda Rebel 500. Due to work constraints, I haven’t ridden my bike for about two months. Recently, I tried to start my bike, but it failed. Upon turning on, I heard no fuel pump, but the starter did crank when I pressed the starter switch. The LCD did light up…” -hondarebel3forum.net
“I have a 2022 500 abs. I bought it back in November and have had it hooked up to a trickle charge since I’ve been riding it off and on with the weather.
On Monday, I rode the bike just fine with no issues. I didn’t plug it into the charger at night because I knew I would ride it the next day, and it didn’t get that cold overnight. On Tuesday, I rode it, and all the lights came on when I put the key in, but as soon as I hit the ignition switch, all the power went out on the bike.” -hondarebel3forum.net
“When you installed the battery tender pigtail connections to the battery, did you use longer bolts because the originals wouldn’t reach the nut threads? If so, this is the number one reason for your symptoms [on Rebel 500s]. The longer bolt bottoms out on the battery case, giving a false sense of tightness, leaving the cable loose, and creating a bad connection. -hondarebel3forum.net
- Check the battery’s condition and voltage. Charge a low battery with a trickle charger or jump starter. If it’s old or damaged, replace it. A weak battery is indicated if the dome light dims when you try to start.
- Inspect the ignition and kill switch for proper positioning, loose connections, or corrosion. Replace them if faulty.
- Examine the main relay and fuses using a multimeter or test light to check for damage or blown parts.
- Verify that battery connections and cables are tight, clean, and not corroded or broken.
- Ensure you use the original bolts and nuts for accessories and clean the terminals and clamps with a wire brush or baking soda solution.
5. Difficult to Flush Coolant
Honda Rebel 500 owners report challenges when trying to flush the coolant from the reserve tank, which is located in a cramped space beneath the battery carrier. The siphon hose that connects the tank to the radiator cap neck can be hard to remove and reattach, thanks to a problematic clamp.
Regular coolant flushing is essential to eliminate debris or old coolant that could affect your Rebel 500’s cooling.
“I’ve located the reserve, but I’m struggling to access it or remove the hose clamped to it. Unlike the Rebel 300, the 500 has extra tedious things in the way, making it nearly impossible to pull the hose off and drain. I at least could push the clamp off of it (but getting it back on would be impossible in such a tight, inaccessible space for me), but I couldn’t pull it off for the life of me. Does anyone else here know of any guides or have a step-by-step manual to access the reserve tank better? I don’t mind the extra work; I just don’t know what bolts to take apart, as most are in such tight and near impossible spaces too…” -hondarebel3forum.net
- Utilize a suction gun or manual fluid extractor to siphon the coolant from the reserve tank. You can insert the suction hose directly into the tank’s fill cap or detach it from the radiator cap neck and connect it to the suction gun.
- Apply silicone to the siphon hose and clamp, then gently manipulate the clamp to ease hose removal and reattachment.
- Swap out the clamp with a quality hose clamp featuring a wider flange or a screw mechanism, preventing it from slipping or over-tightening.
- After draining the coolant, fill the reserve tank with fresh water and siphon it until it is clear. Refill the tank with the specified coolant and check the level between the minimum and maximum marks.
6. Rear Brakes are Too Soft
Honda Rebel 500 ABS owners may encounter soft rear brakes, where the brake pedal needs excessive force or multiple pumps for effective braking.
This problem can be caused by several factors, including air in the brake lines, worn or contaminated brake pads, or issues with the master cylinder or caliper.
I have a new 2021 CMX500A with very soft rear brakes (no resistance unless pumped and then good braking temporarily) … My bigger question is how to prevent this from happening again in the future.”
- Bleed the brake lines to eliminate air bubbles that might have entered the system, reduced hydraulic pressure, and caused soft brakes.
- Replace worn or contaminated brake pads, as they diminish friction and braking effectiveness.
- Inspect the master cylinder and caliper for leaks, cracks, or corrosion.
7. Hard to Find Neutral
For some Honda Rebel 500 owners with less experience, shifting from 1st gear to neutral can be challenging. Finding neutral is a skill, as it’s located at a subtle half-click between 1st and 2nd gears.
However, clutch adjustment, oil viscosity, or gear wear can complicate the process.
“It’s always hard for me to shift from 1st gear to neutral. I always go to 2nd gear, then neutral. Never had this problem with all the previous bikes I owned.” -hondarebel3forum.net
To address this:
- Adjust the clutch cable or lever for proper free play and tension.
- Regularly change oil and filters, using the recommended type and viscosity.
- Practice smoother gear shifting by coordinating the clutch, throttle, and shift lever.
- Regular riding helps gears mesh better, preventing grinding or sticking,
What Are the Pros and Cons of the Honda Rebel 300?
- Smooth and reliable parallel twin engine.
- Easy to Handle
- Low seat height
- Slipper/Clutch Assist is excellent for new riders
- Stylish and comfortable
- Impressive fuel economy
- Reasonable price
- Fun to ride
- Approachable for beginners
- Exhaust Discoloration
- Coolant System Issues
- Hard to Find Neutral
- Rear Brakes are Too Soft
- Difficult to Flush Coolant
- Rear Brake Fluid Reservoir Nut Falls Off
- Lights Turn On, But Engine Won’t Start
What Are Some Alternative Models?
|Honda Rebel 500||$6,199||67|
|Kawasaki Vulcan S||$7,099||60|
|Suzuki Boulevard C50||$8,299||45|
|Yamaha Bolt R-Spec||$7,499||51|
What’s the Resale Value of a Honda Rebel 500?
|Year||Mileage||Used Listing Price|
What Do the Reviews Say?
“Weighing 191kg wet and sporting a 690mm seat height, it’s an ideal first step for new riders and urban explorers, looking for a stylish way to get from A to B amidst dense city bustles. That said, for all its charm, the spec is basic, and taller riders may struggle with its tiny dimensions. Poor brakes also dampen enthusiastic countryside blasts.”