Should You Take the Honda Rebel Off Road?

The Honda Rebel can take on some very light trail work, but if you really need to get dirty, you should opt for a dual-sport or adventure motorcycle.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The Honda Rebel is an economical and fun street cruiser that can take you to your campsite or down a gravel road, but it can’t handle serious off-roading.
Selecting the right motorcycle for both on- and off-road fun isn’t just a matter of checking ground clearance. That’s why
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, has put together the definitive guide for the Honda Rebel’s off-road capabilities.
Read on to learn how the Rebel’s ground clearance, weight, suspension travel, and wheel size set it up for getting off the asphalt, and what options to consider if you really need to get dirty.
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Can the Honda Rebel go off-road?

Kinda, but it’s no dual-sport. If you need to park in the yard or hit some rough roads to get to a campsite, the Rebel has you covered, but it’s really built to stand out on the street.
The Rebel is much less a trail bike than a street cruiser and is available in 300, 500, and 1100 models. Starting price on base 300s is $4,699.
Getting off-road with a motorcycle is a lot different from hitting the trails in a truck or an SUV. Ground clearance is an important consideration for both types of vehicle, but where you’ll be looking at specs like torque, drivetrain, and approach and departure angles with a truck or SUV, the most important factors to consider when taking a two-wheeler off the tarmac are ground clearance, weight, suspension travel, and wheel size—in that order.
“But what about power?” you ask. When it comes to off-roading, power has a lot more to do with the size of the rider than the scope of the trail. The right combo of weight and ccs in the motorcycle with rider height/weight will create the equation needed to get the bike where it needs to go.
Let’s take a closer look at these specs to see how the Rebel is likely to perform off the asphalt.

Ground clearance

Generally speaking, if a touring or cruising bike has more than 6 inches of ground clearance, it can probably handle light to intermediate off-roading, but truly hitting the trails requires a lot more height—not to mention a lot more rider skill.
The Honda Rebel’s three models offer ground clearance between 5.4 and 5.9 inches. That’s cutting it pretty close if you need to get over anything larger than a speed bump.
Your strongest trail bikes—or, better yet, dual sports or adventurers—will offer at least 9 inches of clearance, and some can offer much more than that. But the more clearance you have, the higher your center of gravity, so the less comfortable your street ride. 


Weight is a bit tricky when it comes to getting off-road on a motorcycle. More weight often means more horsepower, which can help you power through thick mud or over rough terrain, but at some point, you’re going to lose the battle with gravity and anyone who’s ever laid down a street bike knows picking it up is about as much fun as a poke in the eye. 
The Honda Rebel weights range from364 to 414 lbs, so it’s pretty light for a street cruiser. This combined with around 45 horses is plenty to get you where you need to go both on and off road. If weight were the only consideration, the Rebel would be a great off-roader, but it’s not, so let’s keep looking.

Suspension travel

Put simply, suspension travel, or wheel travel, measures how much your bike’s suspension can compress or travel up and down when hitting bumps or going over rough terrain. “Bottoming out” happens when you go over bumps that are too much for the suspension to handle. Not only does this hurt like the dickens for the rider but it’s also terrible for the bike.
Trying to head off road without adequate suspension travel is, at best, exhausting and painful for you, and, at worst, damaging to your bike’s suspension and other major components.
Honda Rebels offer about 4.8 inches on the fork (front end) and 3.8 inches in the rear. That’s really not much when you consider adventure tourers like the Honda Africa Twin offer a minimum of 9.1 inches on the fork and 8.7 in the rear.

Wheel size

Wheel size is very important when it comes to taking a motorcycle off the road. You’ve probably noticed that most trail bikes have huge wheels, often measuring between 19 and 21 inches compared to a street bike’s 16 or 17 inches
The bigger the wheels, the easier it will be not only to handle slick and uneven terrain but also to get over things like shrubs, fallen logs, and rocks. The Honda Rebel’s three trims all have 16-inch wheels, so we think you can do the math when it comes to whether these will do well in the dirt.

Off-road rating: In a Pinch

Let’s see how the Honda Rebel rates on
highly scientific DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
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The Honda Rebel earns an I rating. Generally speaking, this bike is best on the road, but if you need to pull off for some shade in the desert, or you want to take a dirt/gravel road up to a particularly beautiful overlook, go for it. If you have more than the most basic of off-road conditions to take on, you should opt for another motorcycle.
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The best off-road alternatives to the Honda Rebel

There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to on-off-road motorcycle or dual sports. The Honda Rebel really isn’t one of them, so here are some great alternatives for you to consider if off-roading has to be part of your riding regimen:
Best budget alternative
2022 Royal Enfield Meteor 350
Priced similarly to the Honda Rebel 300, this dual-sport does well on just about any terrain.
Best stylish alternative
BMW G 310 GS
In addition to 7.1 inches of suspension travel on both the front and rear, the G 310 GS offers adjustable clutch and brake levers to adapt to your hands’ individual reach.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
Honda Africa Twin
This beast can handle pretty much anything on or off road. You’re more likely to run out of riding-skills before this bike hits the ends of its capabilities.
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