Two new patent applications from Honda suggest the firm is readying updates for its bargain bobber, the Rebel 500, and add to a growing body of evidence that it has ideas of expanding the range.
With a bargain $6,199 price tag the Rebel 500 has been a hit since its launch in late 2016 but at three-years-old, it's inevitable that updates must be in the pipeline, and the new patents hint that the direction Honda is taking will expand the Rebel's appeal by allowing more derivatives of the bike to be built.
The first of the new documents illustrates a new chassis design that adds an innovative quick-change tailsection that opens the door to different seat and luggage options. The current model's rear frame section is a simple hoop that runs up behind the rider's seat, which means you can only add a pillion perch in the form of a skimpy pad atop the rear fender. On the new design, that hoop is removable and slides into openings on the welded-on section of the subframe, with just four bolts keeping it in place. That means it's simple for Honda to offer multiple different tail designs without altering the main sections of the bike. The patent focuses on a passenger-friendly rear end, with a slightly stepped, two-person seat instead of the separate rider and passenger pads of the current model.
A second patent, published at the same time, relates to a redesigned airbox on the Rebel 500, with a fresh air intake on the triangular panel on the left-hand side below the rider’s seat. The idea is to retain the same efficiency as the current design, or improve it, while simultaneously reducing the size of the airbox. That, in turn, allows the seat to be lower and the bike to be kept narrow in that area, making it easier than ever for short-legged riders to get their feet down.
Although not specifically mentioned in either patent, the drawings in both documents also show a revised exhaust system that appears to feature a larger collector box under the engine; exactly the sort of change we might expect on a next-generation Rebel as Honda battles to keep abreast of tightening emissions rules worldwide.