The Honda Rebel 250 - Ideal First Bike for the Vertically Challenged
Nothing I'm going to say here is remotely original. If you google "best beginner motorcycle" 99 times out of 100 you're going to see the same result; the Honda Rebel 250. This bike hasn't changed at all in decades, and retains its value more than any other used motorcycle on the market. I purchased my Rebel with 600 miles on the clock for $2,500 and then sold it for $2,000 year later with 10,000 miles. The seat height is just over 26 inches and the bike itself only weighs 300 pounds. I will definitely not sit here and tell you that this is the only bike a petite lady rider can ride (I'm about 5'2" myself), however it's unlike any other bike I've had the pleasure of riding as far as getting used to the movement and balance of a motorcycle.
The reason I love this bike so much is because it's so forgiving. If you stall in the middle of a turn at low speed, you can easily put a foot down and prevent the bike from completely crashing into the pavement. This is the only bike I've owned that I never had to lay down. The dreaded tight U-turn is a breeze, and while your brain is still having to think about each movement on an individual basis nothing is going to fail catastrophically. This bike is like that really good English teacher you had in high school who let you turn in assignments late because they knew how hard you were trying.
The major downside to the Rebel 250 is the top speed. It has pretty okay torque for starting out, but going on the freeway can be pretty miserable. You will be able to make it to about 70 mph with a good tail wind and heading downhill. This can be rather dangerous as it's nearly always better to speed out of a tight situation rather than slam on the brakes. Due to this fact, I recommend upsizing as soon as you start to feel comfortable with riding. Luckily the Rebel retains its value so well, you will not be out a lot of cash after switching bikes in year or less.
Fortunately for all you new riders out there, Honda finally heard our complaints and has offered a refresh to the famous Rebel.
By now you may have heard about the new Honda Rebel 300 and 500. I saw it first-hand at the 2016 Progressive Motorcycle Show and spoke with the lead designer of this bike, who said that he had been desperately trying to convince Honda for years that riders loved the Rebel, but wanted more power. They are now discontinuing the 250 and solely focusing on the 300 and the 500.
The new Rebel has the same classic cruiser look, while offering a similar low seat (27 inches) and light weight (400 pounds). I especially love the look of the blacked-out components. I will post an update when I've had the chance to test ride it. For now I will say that the Rebel 500 has the potential of not only being the ideal beginner bike, but will go beyond those beginner miles and become your standard ride.