Honda Rebel 500: 7 Common Problems & Fixes!


The Rebel 500 from Honda is such a sturdy-looking bike. With its blacked-out look, low seat height, and lightweight nature, this bike even features an assist clutch to make riding more enjoyable. This motorcycle is a perfect fit for riders who are just leveling up from a learner motorcycle or even those who haven’t ridden for a long time.

There are lots of associated pros of riding the Rebel 500. However, the motorcycle also has its cons, namely some mechanical problems that can arise. But you won’t be in the dark for long, because this article explains the most common problems and ways to fix them.

Common problems and fixes

Problem 1: Coolant Leak

A coolant AKA antifreeze or radiator fluid is a liquid that is used by liquid-cooled engines to manage and optimize the heat produced by an engine. This coolant is a mixture of several chemicals and water to provide the optimum balance of freeze protection.

Note: Some motorcycles are air-cooled while others are liquid-cooled. This liquid requires maintenance as it becomes acidic over time and can corrode the insides of the engine. However, the standard coolants should be changed every two years while the extended-life ones need replacement every half-decade. Now, multiple riders of the Honda Rebel 500 have confirmed that their coolants started leaking before this stipulated time or during the warranty period.

Solution:

A coolant leak can be repaired in several ways depending on the level of damage. While some mechanics might proffer a coolant refill, others might suggest a new water pipe, flange, and O-rings. This is because the Honda Rebel 500’s flange isn’t all the way flat (a manufacturing defect) and hence, it eventually lets the coolant seep out. Here’s a video that highlights what this fix entails.

Problem 2: Cramped legroom

On the average motorcycle, your feet rest beneath your hips, and your knees are bent. The forward controls move the foot controls to the front of the bike which allows the rider to shift and brake with his/her legs outstretched. Generally, the comfort in the rider’s bottom half may depend on how much leg room there is. More legroom equals more freedom during rides. However, in the Honda Rebel 500, riders on the tall side (above 5’8) seem to be having little or no legroom in the forward foot controls. The lack of legroom affects the posture of the rider. It also induces discomfort and diminishes the experience.

Solution:

This problem does not apply to all riders and since it only affects the rider’s experience and not the motorcycle’s performance, there might be little or nothing the manufacturers can do. However, to buy yourself more legroom, you can decide to get external forward controls and attach them to your Rebel 500. Your dealer might not have them on standby and you may need to order them from a seller. However, once you install these forward controls, you’ll have ample legroom to be comfortable during rides.

Problem 3: Fuel in carburetors

The carburetor’s function in a motorcycle is centered on mixing the appropriate amount of air and fuel needed by the engine to run properly. However, they are not designed to store even the smallest amounts of fuel. Issues surrounding fuel in carburetors can occur in any motorcycle that doesn’t go through routine maintenance.

However, even with routine maintenance, the Honda Rebel 250 and 500 mostly have this problem. For the 500, it’s synonymous with prolonged improper storage of the motorcycle. Once an improperly stored motorcycle is left for an extended period, gumming of the fuel in the carburetors, jets, and floats is expected. Corrosion also plays a role in this gumming.

Solution:

To prevent carburetor issues in your Honda Rebel 500, simply drain and clean it before storage. This can save you a lot of money in damages or repairs. Also, once the fuel in the carburetor is drained, you can always fill it up with gasoline when you’re ready to ride again. If you’re handy around the motorcycle, you can easily do this on your own via the help of an instructional video.

Problem 4: Fault in Fuel Filter

The fuel filter is located in the fuel tank at the end of the fuel pump and its function is to trap debris and carbon deposits in the air or fuel from passing through to the engine. The Honda Rebel 500 is synonymous with tears or rips in its fuel filter and once this occurs, both the trapped debris and subsequent deposits can easily be infiltrated into the engine. This affects the engine’s performance and the overall rider’s experience. Luckily, this somewhat generic problem can easily be prevented and fixed.

Solution:

Because it’s general knowledge that the fuel filter of a Honda Rebel 500 is liable to tears and rips, mechanics and dealers usually recommend appending an extra fuel filter to the original one and then tightening the screen. However, if the damage has already been done, then a replacement is due. Fuel filters are affordable to purchase and install and they can be done by either the mechanic or the rider. Here is a step-by-step instructional video that offers guidance on how to go about this task.

Problem 5: Wear and tear of clutch components

The quick wear of the Honda Rebel 500’s clutch components is a reflection of its design error. While this motorcycle is for beginners and intermediate riders, the grip of the clutch is supposed to be sturdier than what it is, as both beginners and intermediate riders are known to abuse the clutch when riding.

So why market a bike for a particular demographic when it has faults that could occur from that specific demographics’ use? We’ll keep wondering about that one. Regardless of this manufacturing defect, the Rebel 500 is still a pretty great motorcycle, although you can expect clutch changes/repairs now and then.

Solution:

On the bright side, clutch handles are relatively affordable and easy to replace. Riders with experience working on bikes will have no problem changing these components themselves with their clutch replacement kits. Those without experience can always outsource the task to their mechanics, it’ll still be affordable. However, for riders who prefer to do it themselves, here is a detailed instructional video that’ll guide you on how to change your clutch components at home.

Problem 6: Fuel line disintegration

Now, here’s a problem that’s been synonymous to a lot of Rebels out there. The Honda Rebel 500 is mostly associated with carburetor issues and this fuel line disintegration is one of them. The fuel lines of the Rebel 500 are prone to wear, tear, and disintegration and when this occurs, the carburetor becomes plugged up or unable to function. However, based on reports, this problem is mostly attributed to the older model Rebels. It can be tedious to fix this issue and it is quite easier to apply preventive measures rather than corrective.

Solution:

You can prevent your Rebel’s fuel line from disintegrating if you regularly send it in for inspection and maintenance. Also, for the corrective measure, a new fuel line is needed. Hence, you may need to send your Honda Rebel 500 to the dealer if the problem occurred during its warranty period. If it’s outside the warranty period then, your mechanic is the best bet. Because of how tedious replacing a fuel line can be, it’s advised that only professional mechanics handle it.

Problem 7: Startup fails

Most motorcycles experience failure in starting up for different reasons and the Honda Rebel 500 isn’t an exception. For several users of the Rebel 500, the motorcycles refused to start after being hooked up to a battery tender. The tenders were used to charge the Rebel 500’s battery during the winter and after it was fully charged it refused to come on. Now, this problem could stem from improper placement of the battery, loose screws, etc. the list goes on.

Solution:

Once the battery is fully charged, disconnect the tender and place the battery back into the motorcycle as it originally was. If it still will not come on, check if the battery has a charge on it because the motorcycle will not come on when there’s a faulty battery. If everything seems good and the bike still won’t start, it may be due to an underlying issue. Take it to the shop for professional diagnostics and repairs.

Conclusion

The Honda Rebel 500 is such a beloved motorcycle. From its edgy design to its horsepower coupled with good ergonomics, this motorcycle can cover a large mileage by a beginning or intermediate rider. There are a lot of pros which are associated with this motorcycle, however, this doesn’t come without certain problems. The Honda Rebel 500 is bound to develop hiccups here and there. Luckily, most of its problems are easily fixable as explained in this article.

Luka Barron

Motorcycle mechanic, writer and Heineken lover. A bit like Hank Moody on a Suzuki.

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