The pillion as your seat of awakening

Honda CMX500 Rebel

You see things differently from a motorbike. As Robert Pirsig argues in his classic Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, from a car the scenery is just more boring TV. “On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” The book is “an ode to motorcycling”, says Motorcycle News, in its obituary of Pirsig, who died last week at the age of 88.

Why not keep the spirit of Pirsig alive and place yourself in that scene this summer? If you’re new to the game, you’ll need to undertake compulsory basic training and theory tests before progressing (after perhaps a week or so of training) to the A2 test. Once you’ve passed your A2, you can ride any machine of any engine size, including on motorways and with passengers, provided it produces no more than 35kW or 47bhp.

In short, put your mind to it, and in a week or two you could be cruising into the sunset on this Honda CMX500 Rebel. “For A2 licence holders wanting something a bit different, it certainly stands out from the norm,” says Jon Urry in Motorcycle News, and is a “surprisingly fun bike to ride, with a unique look and easy-going nature”. At low speeds, it does “everything an A2-licence holder could want”, being light and easy to manoeuvre” and with a “lovely light clutch action”.

Bikes don’t get any easier to ride than this, says Phil West on It’s not flash, not that fast (“although it is decently perky”) and it’s “not cutting edge in any way”. And it has “Honda” on the tank where you might rather wish there were another badge beginning with H. But as a bike for novices, it looks good and is hard to beat.

Price: £5,399. Engine: 471cc. Power: 45bhp at 8,500rpm. Torque: 32 lb ft at 6,500rpm.


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