Knuckle Challenge - Honda Rebel 2019

27/05/2019
by Jean-Sebastien Mackay

The Challenge: 1000km - 1 Day - 500cc or Less

The first Knuckle Challenge of the year 2019 was marked by difficulty, a slow start and some change of the planned route. Nevertheless, I managed to appropriately test drive the Rebel and even have fun despite the poor weather.
After more than 17 hours on the road and a little over 800 km, we decided for security reasons, to stop the Challenge. Here is an overview of the Challenge and my feedback on the Honda Rebel 500 2019. By the way, I take this opportunity to thank Honda Motorcycle Canada for their collaboration in the Challenge, it is not an ordinary a test drive and they embarked with our concept a 100%.
 
From the start this Challenge was different, because we had challenged Tous Motards and Pascal Fournier, Quebec YouTubers, to participate. Logistically speaking, we don’t live nearby each other’s, and it was already a challenge itself to find a common date, which explained the chosen date. Ideally, we would all have preferred a sunny & hot day, but the reality was quite different. At the last minute, Pascal Fournier withdraws from the Challenge. It’s OK, the challenge still holds, and the summer is still young!
 

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I had taken possession of the Rebel a few days before D-Day and it was ready to go. The bike seems, at first glance, quite capable of the Challenge. Only the footrests seem a little close, which makes me question about comfort after several hours. I'll find out soon enough, I guess. Just to look at the passenger seat and I understand that it will only serve for short distances, the picture will say it all.
 
Morning of departure: The weather forecasted less than 1mm of rain and temperatures of about 13 degrees for the whole province, the reality will be quite the opposite. I leave with our support vehicle at 0600 to join our acolytes of Tous Motards. Arrived at our meeting point, it is barely 7 degrees and 1mm of rain has already fallen repeatedly...

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It's a start, the bike with only 20km on the clock, the tires still have a  protective coating, so I have to be extra gentle and careful given the cold, windy and rainy conditions.
 
Rapidly, I am pleasantly surprised of this little Rebel, its geometry makes it a motorcycle easy to handle and puts me in confidence right anyway. Equipped with ABS, it reassures me even more to take the road in these really wet slippery conditions.
After multiple unplanned stops for equipment adjustments or changes, to warm up a bit or do some videos, time flies but adding mileage is slow, very slow.
 
It is now 12:00 and we are scarcely surpassed Sherbrooke with only 200km on the meter. It's time for a focus. It is already unlikely at this rate to complete the 1000km, but you never know what the future holds for us.
 
We do not lose hope and we hit the road again. For now, the bike is fine and I do not feel any discomfort from the machine. A beautiful sound accompanies the engine, Honda has done its homework sound wise. And the 6-speed transmission, no matter how fast, the Rebel does not seem to complain and the engine purrs better than I would have thought. Without a Tachymeter, we can only estimate the engine RPM.
 
The bike was made Bobber style and its minimalist is felt very quickly. The meter is a blatant example. Digital with very little information to offer. Time, mileage and gas, all with very subtle lighting. Despite everything, we can see the information displayed, day and night no problem.
 
The Honda seems to do about 200km before falling on the reserve, but it is still early to confirm. What I can already say is that the 4-line gas gauge is more than inadequate. A single reserve warning light would have been as convenient... You’ll be the judge. A great opportunity for a transparent tube modification.
 
A few hours later, we arrive in the Quebec City area. The rain seems to want to stop at our greatest satisfaction. We check on the radar and the trend seems to point us to clouds without rain. Phew, not too soon. Maybe I will be able to ride on dry roads and appreciate even more the handling of the Rebel.

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Indeed, we will be entitled to a respite from Mother Nature and my wish will be granted! It is in the region of Portneuf and Mauricie that I will be able to fully enjoy the ride. I’m smiling again and devour the roads while it is still day...
 
Whether in town, in the countryside or on the highway, the Honda Rebel has its place among the great. Despite a smaller than average size, it is certainly capable of much. With a leg positioning more bent than I would have liked, it lets himself be directed and takes corners as we like and enjoy.
 
It had been a long time since I took on the 367 and I will have to return to the next Knuckle Challenge! Now, after several hundred kilometers, I am still satisfied and confident towards the Rebel. Consumption seems to stabilize in the 4 liters per 100km. With a tank of 11 liters, it gives you a range of about 200km + before being on the reserve of 2 liters.
 
One thing I noticed that could be improved is the rear suspension. The front suspension reacts very well to our damaged road, but the rear is too rigid in my opinion. There are a lot of places in Quebec or, especially in the evening when it is harder to see the holes, you can see how hard it is. Is it really the bike’s fault or just the reality of our roads...? I’ll leave it to your judgment again!
 
Time passes quickly despite the miles rolled. We must make a choice and all agrees on a preventive return. The weather really did not work in our favor. So, as mentioned earlier, after more than 17h and more than 800km, it’s over for the first Challenge of 2019.

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Partial disappointment, but the safety of all was far more important. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Honda Rebel 500 would have passed the Challenge handsomely under normal conditions.
 
In the end, I strongly recommend to try this motorcycle. A great discovery for me and a very accessible one for all.
 
For the Challenge and the 800km + rolled, the fuel cost* was $ 49 and a few pennies.
 I invite you to watch the Challenge video on our
YouTube channel:(Here) and do not forget to subscribe! You can also follow us on
Facebook and Instagram. We are always open to your comments so do not hesitate.
I would like to thank Honda Motorcycle Canada for the 2019 Rebel 500 and their collaboration.
 
I wish you a nice 2019 riding season! We'll be back soon with another Knuckle Challenge!

Jean-Sebastien

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* Supreme gaz between 1.44 and 1.59 $

Knuckle Challenge - KTM Duke 390

05/04/2019
by Jean-Sebastien Mackay

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The Challenge: 1000km - 1 Day - 500cc or Less

When we decided to do the Knuckle Challenge, the Duke 390 came out in the top choices to try. With almost 400cc and an excellent reputation, we wanted to see if it would be nice to ride on a very long distance.


It was with a colder morning than hoping that the day started. The bike was almost new (less than 200km on the odometer) and full was done in advance. First thing I noticed is the driving position, reminiscent of a motocross with the legs a little backwards. The arms are positioned in a natural way without forcing the posture. The seat seems particularly firm, but only time will confirm or not its comfort.

Very light and handy, we quickly want to test the beast and skip the sidewalk or even try to jump everywhere I could!

In the city, it is clear that we must change gears very often, which could be seen as both negative and positive ... I realize that 6 speeds will not be too much and I even ask myself the question about whether 6 will be enough for the highway ... I will soon find out!

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Speaking of highway, wind deflectors make an excellent job to protect the legs. As for the acceleration, no problem on the horizon either. The gears get in easily and at no time I feel like I run out of power to get to a normal cruising speed. The top speed, according to the manufacturer is 160km / h, and it is very easy to drive between 120 and 130km / h without the engine feeling like it wanted to self-destruct ...

It is certain that riding on the highway, the engine RPM is higher than one would like and a 7th gear would be more pleasant, but we get used to it. When I cross the largest highway section, from the Quebec Bridge to La Pocatière, I feel at home and I do not feel like I'm on a machine smaller than another.

Already, after several hours on the Duke 390 and I can say that the seat is much more comfortable than I could have hoped. The fuel consumption is more than good (3.5L / 100km). The dashboard is clearly visible, day and night. There is a gearshift light that can be adjusted to different RPM, which is really appreciated as a gadget.

During my 1000km, I took a few detours when I crossed gravel and dirt roads. Despite the original tires designed for the road, I found that the KTM reacted very well off-road and that the only desire I had was to change the tires to be able to try it thoroughly. I said to myself; it is certain that KTM could make it a mini adventure ... (Announcement that KTM did soon after ...) I imagine that I am not the only one to have seen the potential of the Duke .

The challenge Knuckle took me more time than I thought, but not because of the bike but many unplanned stops to take the bike off-roading a little and to make small videos because I have from the first few hours, had some difficulty with my microphone in my helmet recording my feedback while riding.It will be said that the Duke may not be the perfect bike to go around the world, but for the value for the money and with the fun to drive, I was conquered!

It does not matter! The KTM Duke 390 was more than up to the challenge and I felt less tired on my return than in other shorter trips on much larger cylinders. After the Challenge, I can honestly say that the position of the legs pleasantly surprised me, I did not have any tired knees or legs, which I would have thought at the beginning of the Challenge.

Even with a passenger, it is very easy to drive and even back! Those who will talk only about the strength of the engine will of course be right that it is not a bomb! But, with that price tag, you can buy yourself a Duke and a RC 390 for the price of a sport bike or a bigger bike !

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Do not underestimate the potential of small cc motorcycles and especially not that of KTM. A beautiful base for a custom build without breaking the bank! Although often considered as a city bike, I can assure you that there is no problem taking off for the weekend or going long distances with this little gem.It's up to you to try it now!

Watch the Knuckle Challenge Video on our YouTube channel: Here

Jean-Sebastien


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