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2018 Harley-Davidson Sportster vs. 2018 Honda Rebel 500

Motorcycle Cruiser Logo By Andrew Cherney of Motorcycle Cruiser | Slide 1 of 7: Nine grand isn’t a lot for a Harley but it’s still a lot of cash. The Rebel comes in at just over $6K.

Yeah, we know—it doesn’t seem like a fair comparison, given the wide gap in displacement and size between these two bikes. But as the two largest motorcycle companies' most consistently popular models, the Rebel and the Sportster have, over the years, often been pitted against each other—probably because both are usually mentioned as beginner bikes (though “beginner bike” is a pretty subjective term). There was also the fact that Honda had completely retooled its Rebel for 2017, beefing up displacement, while Harley's 883 seems to have slimmed down, narrowing the spec gap between the two. So we figured it was time to revisit these two icons of the entry-level wars.

Honda may rule the roost when it comes to global sales, but in the US, Harley is still the big kahuna, nabbing 29.3 percent of all new-motorcycle sales as of 2015. One of the reasons for that record is the perennially popular Sportster, which Harley's been making since 1957. These days, the base Sportster, the Iron 883, is part of the Harley-Davidson Dark Custom line, which means it’s stripped down to the bare necessities. The bike was given some major suspension updates in 2016 but is basically unchanged for 2018, so it remains a solid cruiser with good handling and plenty of power, compact ergos, and a relatively low price tag. Plus, because it’s a Harley, it commands a level of respect that you just don’t get with other “entry-level” cruisers.

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