I felt it had to be a cruiser bike for the November review and there has recently been press about a non-US cruiser alternative from Honda. The bike uses the Africa Twin 1100cc powered twin-engine, and has been configured to sound like a V-twin. The Honda Rebel is low (27.6”), black and mean looking. Back in the day, bikes, and especially black bikes, were noisy and always said ‘Rebel’.

I ‘rocked up’ at Honda Newcastle and Graeme showed me around the modern version of this cruiser. It has DCT (dual-clutch transmission), i.e. no manual gears. The gears change automatically in drive mode, or you can select the gears yourself. You do so by putting the correct mode on the handlebar switch and click the plus and minus buttons like the paddles on a Tiptronic car.

I have ridden three Honda versions of this transmission before. Excellent for pillion passengers’ opinions because helmets don’t ‘dink’ on poor gear changes by riders. Excellent for long-distance tourers, but would it cut the mustard tooling around the mean streets of the toon?

First impressions, the bike is squat, powerful and well-engineered, but not an inch of chrome on the whole thing. Classic twin rear shock cruiser looks. Wash it and leave it – no polishing. Rebels don’t need polishing.

A twist of the key in the ignition under your left thigh, select mode, press the drive button with a harrumphy, woofly start from the massive exhaust and off we go.

I had a ‘Wallace’ moment when I automatically pulled my left hand in and looked for the left-hand gear lever when I should have been up into second and for a moment couldn’t work out what was going wrong! Oh dear, I’d forgotten in a couple of seconds that I was on a DCT bike. Force of habit. I was up the road blasting away from traffic lights straight away but when I turned onto the absolutely jam-packed nose-totail A1 I could hear myself decide that this is not a game of soldiers that I wanted to play. I swung the bike around a couple of mini-roundabouts and headed for the A697

to Wooler. After I got around those two mini-roundabouts, I couldn’t work out what was different, and then I realised that the footpegs hadn’t grounded out, which they normally do on low cruisers, and I had “given it some” around both of those mini-roundabouts on the throttle and it just wiggled in and out of them. Excellent.

I found a clear piece of road going towards Ponteland on the back roads and, with nothing behind, I wanted to see how good these brakes were and it brought me to a halt pretty damn sharpish. I later found out that had I been in the sport mode it would have clicked the gears down automatically with even more engine braking. Top marks.

Making my way to Kirkwhelpington, I switched to the button change system and I had no problems whatsoever up and down the seamless box. The bike loved well-surfaced A and good B roads and liked traffic. I turned off and went on some poorly surfaced country roads with some tight twists on them. With the harder bobber suspension, it wasn’t happy. I must put my hand up and say that I think if I changed earlier back into drive rather than selected gears, I would have coped better, and if I had had longer on the bike.

I got into the swing of it and got back on the bigger, sweeper-type roads, and the bike got back into its stride. I didn’t have the confidence to switch the cruise control on, but as it’s a Honda, I assumed that it would work very well. In the sports mode, the acceleration is quicker than you would think for a heavy machine, but it is pulling 1100 ccs after all. There is a smaller CMX 500 Rebel for the junior rebels out there.

With the very low seat, riding at slow speeds means that you have to adopt that slight paddle approach with your feet, but there were no problems and it liked to go and would pull very well in all of the gears. I missed the big clunk into first gear with American cruisers (which seems to be a given), although you could hear the first gear, you just had to listen out for it. This is a chain drive and produces 86 BHP and my model had the comfort seat. I think a nice fly screen would work on it but it’s a new model and there are no aftermarket (sound louder) pipes available yet.

Where to stop? I had heard about a café in Gosforth called Café Beam in the old Gosforth High Street Fire Station premises. It is a charity café run by 25 youngsters with learning difficulties and disabilities and helped by volunteers. Parked up and parched on what was a hot and very blowy day, I had a lovely lunch there, attended by Sophie who took my order with the assistance of Lauren, the co-ordinator, who told me all about Café Beam. It’s been at that venue since 2018, and gives youngsters the opportunity to interact with the café’s customers and the chance to work in the community.

I plumped for a stack of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and a pot of tea. I should have gone for the half stack – it was a huge portion and very well done. The food and service were of the top order. Thank you Sophie, Lauren and the gang. I will be back!

Returning the bike to Newcastle Motorcycles, Graeme gave me a de-brief on how to get the best out of the DCT and I realised I had made some mistakes on the all-too-brief jaunt in selecting the right mode and going about it, but I don’t think it would take much getting used to. I have ridden an Africa Twin with it and the VFR 1200 and it suits the bike. If you want a non-DCT (oldfashioned manual) and you want to rebel against DCT, that bike retails at £1,000 less at £9,000! Both bikes are excellent value for money. They have the usual Honda efficiency and attention to detail. I particularly liked some of the touches – the square-angled tyre valves on each tyre so that you can get air in easily; the big LED round headlamp with four LED bulbs with the two amber ‘running lights’ indicators on either side. This was such an easy cruiser bike to ride. It’s just over half the price of the more traditional transatlantic alternatives but with a different approach and none the worse for that. Go on – give me that rebel yell and ask for more, more, more! Thanks to Newcastle Motorcycles for the loan of the bike and Café Beam for filling me up with a smile!

Mary was born and has lived all her life in the North East of England. Her first interest was science and she originally studied Biomedical Science at Northumbria and worked in the scientific research field and the NHS, before studying part time, again at Northumbria University, to obtain her degree in Law. Since then she has enjoyed a varied career covering many different areas of law, before specialising in Children Law, which she has done almost exclusively for the past 5 years.

Mary loves reading and history and at a weekend can often be found at one of the many historical sites the North East has to offer and has even been known to play video games when she can find the time.

Chris was originally a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives from 1997 and qualified as a Solicitor in 2001.

He has over 25 years experience in private client work comprising Wills, Trusts, Probate, Powers of Attorney and other Court of Protection Work such as Deputyship applications. Chris has been a Partner in several firms in the North East, being Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate.

He brings a wealth of experience to his role and works closely with clients, providing them with a service tailored to their needs

Susan was born and bred in the North East, spending all of her working life in Blyth. She qualified in 1981 and, after some years at Alderson Law, began to specialise in family law, covering both private and legal aid. Susan was a member of the Law Society Family Panel and an accredited Resolution specialist, specialising particularly in private children law and domestic violence.

Susan took part-retirement in December 2018 but still works as a Solicitor here at Alderson Law. Outside of work she enjoys cooking, walking, reading, and spending time with her family. She has also been a Brownie leader for over 40 years.

Originally from East Yorkshire, Jasmine moved to the North East in 2012 to study at Northumbria University undertaking the M Law Exempting (BPTC) course (the only undergraduate course in England and Wales which incorporates the Bar Professional Training Course), graduating in 2016 with a First Class Honours and a Very Competent in the Bar Professional Training Course. Prior to joining Alderson Law Jasmine specialised in RTA Fraud in a Personal Injury firm, before moving to another firm to work as a Family Law Paralegal.

In 2018 she joined our team as a Family Law Paralegal and before qualifying as a Solicitor within the Family Law Department based at our Morpeth office. Jasmine represents clients in a wide range of matters including; divorce and matrimonial finance, disputes regarding the arrangements for children as well as parents who are subject to Local Authority involvement both before and during Court proceedings.

In her spare time Jasmine likes visiting the beach, going to the gym, watching live music and looking after her pet rabbit.

Julie is a highly experienced property solicitor. She studied Law at Northumbria University and, after qualifying in 2000, went on to work at national and international firms prior to joining the team at Alderson Law in 2017. She works alongside her clients, advising on residential and commercial property development, property investment, portfolio management, property finance, landlord and tenant, easements and restrictive covenants.

Fiona is a specialist private client lawyer providing advice and assistance with wills, trusts, tax planning, probate & estate administration, lasting powers of attorney, court of protection and elderly client work. Having previously worked with a number of Newcastle-based firms listed in The Legal 500, Fiona brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. She is a full member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), the association for specialists in family inheritance and succession planning.

Fiona grew up in Northern Ireland and studied law at Durham University, and has remained in the North East ever since. She enjoys spending time with her family at their cottage in Northumberland.

Mark Hipkin, partner at Alderson Law LLP, has been advising businesses and claimants since he qualified as a solicitor in 1982.

Mark’s passion is for representing claimants on two wheels in complex, serious and catastrophic motorcycle, scooter and cycle injuries, but he also has extensive experience of acting for claimants in many other personal injury areas including occupiers and public liability work and accidents at work. He specialises in challenging and complex cases. Mark always puts the client first, looking from the first day of instruction to obtain the best and fairest outcome for a claimant, no matter how long a case may take. He is a fan of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and early neutral valuation as alternatives to litigation. Sometimes, however, litigation is the best option, together with the necessary drive to see every matter through to a fair conclusion.

Mark also, having started his own business, advises business clients, often with motorcycle-, scooter- or cycle-related businesses and also deals with complex commercial disputes, professional negligence cases, and general civil litigation.

Mark likes to spend what free time he has with his family and practising Tai Chi and Tang Soo Do (Korean Karate – in which he is a second Dan).

Having worked in family law for over 25 years, Julie is a highly accomplished specialist in her field. She has a vast body of experience in dealing with family law, from divorce and related financial issues to complex child-related cases. Julie was the first person in North Tyneside to achieve the status of an accredited advanced family law specialist, and is a member of the Law Society Advanced Family Panel, which demonstrates her experience in complex contested family cases and other subject-specific matters.

Though multi-talented and highly experienced, Julie’s particular speciality is in complex ancillary relief (financial settlement) claims and complex residence and contact disputes.

In her spare time Julie enjoys relaxing and spending time with her family and three grandchildren. She attends clients at our Whitley Bay and Blyth offices.

Tracey is one of our Partners and qualified as a solicitor in 1997. Throughout her career she has had a varied caseload undertaking matters in most areas of civil and private client law. Tracey can assist clients in a wide range of matters including: Wills, Probate, Powers of Attorney, Debt Recovery, Residential and Commercial Conveyancing as well as Licensing and Landlord and Tenant matters.

Tracey is one of our most senior practitioners with over 20 years of local experience, having graduated from both Newcastle University and Northumbria University. When not in the office she enjoys walking, cycling, and cooking with her family.