When an OEM designs a new bike platform, it usually likes to wring every ounce of possible model identity out of that platform that it can. Take, for example, Honda’s CB500 trio. They move as a pack, they all share the same beating heart, and yet the CB500X, CB500F, and CBR500R have distinctly separate personalities. It’s a moto family that’s kind of like a human family that way: Genetically related, but each playing by its own rules.
Engines are certainly important, but they’re far from the only thing that distinguishes a given motorcycle model. With all that in mind, the idea that Honda could be planning to expand its Rebel 250 and Rebel 500 into modern scrambler territory isn’t all that surprising. Would a new 2020s-era CL 250 and CL 500 make sense? Japanese publication Autoby seems to think so—and we would love to see it.
To be completely clear, there’s been absolutely zero official word on any upcoming CL 250 or CL 500, but there have been (and continue to be) rumors. Apparently, Autoby saw enough to believe in here that it had designer Shinji Miyakubo come up with CG renders of what both bikes could look like.
The CL 250 imagined by Miyakubo draws ready visual reference from the CL72 scrambler, which originally ran from 1962 to 1965. Crucially, although it used the word “scrambler,” that bike wasn’t truly a scrambler in a functional sense. Its bias was more on-road oriented—and to be fair, the concept of a bike with scrambler styling that doesn’t really spend much time off the pavement hasn’t exactly fallen out of favor in the 2020s.
As for the reimagined CL 250 rendered here, all the expected visual elements are there: Black fork gaiters ;quasi tuck-n-roll-style long, relatively straight and flat saddle; high-mounted exhaust pipe; and larger alloy wheels help cement its on-road nature. Moving on to the newly-rendered CL 500, the visual cues are almost the same—except for the addition of a dual high-mount exhaust pipe in place of the single unit found on the CL 250 render. Obviously, it’s a matter of opinion, but that dual-pipe looks particularly excellent to me.
If all goes as Autoby expects, the CL 250 could get an official debut toward the end of 2022, with the CL 500 to follow sometime in 2023. Here in the U.S., we don’t get the Rebel 250; we get the Rebel 300. While there are plenty of cool small-displacement bikes that Honda and other OEMs make that we don’t get here, could this increase the likelihood of future CLs making it to our side of the globe? If there’s one thing the past few years have taught us, it’s that anything is possible.