honda xr 350 1985

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by tommyvdv, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Belgium
    Hi
    I'm looking to buy a honda xr 350 1985 and am wondering about the history of this model.
    Anyone have any experience with the model? How does this compare to, say, a recent 250/350?
    The one i've found (not bought yet) has drum brakes and has been revised.

    To put things into perspective:
    i've been looking for a good starter thumper to do some light offroad. My requirements are: cheap, durable, dependable, low-maintenance. Specifically looking for anything between 250 and 400. My guess is that 400cc's and up are too powerfull/heavy for a noob.

    Thanks for any and every advice you guys might have!
    T

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. mcma111

    mcma111 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    15,556
    Location:
    San Francisco,Ca.
    The Honda XR350 was my first dirt bike. Learned to ride dirt on that bike after being a street rider for eleven years. As with the whole XR series that little bike is an anvil and worked just great. I sold it to get the XR600 that I still have. Wish I still had it in the stable. If the bike in your post is the one your looking at someone snagged the disc brake front end. And the 1985 model should have Honda's electronic enduro meter, not just a little odometer.

    Look here:

    http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/Honda/honda_xr350r 85.htm
    #2
  3. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Belgium
    The specs tell me the bike weighs a ton :) Arent 350's supposed to be light? :)
    Disc brake on the front idd on your link. Looked more like a brake drum in my images. Figured this was normal.
    #3
  4. mcma111

    mcma111 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    15,556
    Location:
    San Francisco,Ca.
    It's my guess that weight wasn't quite the concern back then as it is now. The XR series was built to last.
    #4
  5. Ghost_Mutant

    Ghost_Mutant looking for bionics

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    727
    Location:
    border of granite & flats
    I think the bike in this photo is an 83 XR350 with a wet sump RFVC engine that has dual carbs. The 'XR' logo on the seat is the 83 logo. The fuel tank looks like the 83/4 style to me. I didn't think the 85 had a skid plate, but the 83 did. Also, if I recall correctly the 83 had the drum brake front.

    But where did that tail light come from? Looks like an XL tail light assembly to me.

    The 85 XR350 with the dry sump engine, 6 speed, aluminum swingarm was/is a bike I really wanted to get. But Honda only sold that version for one year and I imagine parts are getting very hard to get these days. Its another one of those perplexing things about Honda's marketing decisions:huh

    I have XR500s, 83 and 4. They were two year wonders before Honda upgraded to the 600s in 85. But at least my 500s do have a significant amount of parts overlap with the 600s and I was able to get everything I needed to get my bikes the way I wanted.

    I would look for output shaft wear with those tires and check compression if you can. My 84 was a 'cheap' bike, but I ended up doing much more repair work on it than I originally intended to get things right:rofl

    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Belgium
    information overload :) (for a noob like me)
    So basically your telling me to buy the thing if i can handle my own repairs? :) (which i can't)

    The point of getting something like this is to learn to do some work on it (and wrecking it again, go back;repeat). If i'm reading between your lines correctly, this should be an excellent guinea pig?
    #6
  7. mcma111

    mcma111 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    15,556
    Location:
    San Francisco,Ca.
    The XR350 WAS a fine bike back in the day. This one that you have found may not be IT. Keep looking unless your sold on it.
    #7
  8. chem

    chem Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    how much are you looking to spend?

    the xr350 is a great machine.... and it maybe the best you will find giving a price range.
    #8
  9. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Belgium
    I'll try to answer all in one go:
    I started looking for a transalp (xl600v) and found that they go around 1000 - 3000 euro's.
    Realised that a transalp is too heavy so i started to look in the enduro/cross direction.
    A full cross bike is not an option, has to be street legal.
    Xr400r seemed like a nice bike, but is slightly out of budget. 2000 euro's for a decent-looking one. It's all i have to go on since i don't have any experience in fixing them. Everything below that pricerange is what one could call: a rustbucket.

    So i saw this one; xr350; build < 1986 (no specific year)

    [​IMG]

    The current owner states that he fixed it up to it's current state

    [​IMG]

    And that one in the 500-1000 euro price range.

    I might go and see for myself. Anything i can ask or photograph / report back?

    ( looking back at this post and thinking it's way too much information :) )
    #9
  10. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Belgium
    looking at other xr350's
    Maybe the european version of this bike is a little different?

    Check front brakes:

    [​IMG]

    and tail light assembly:

    [​IMG]

    very similar to the xr i was talking about
    #10
  11. creaky

    creaky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Indiana
    I have owned 2 '85 XR350Rs. The one in your photos, I believe, is an '83 or '84 as others have opined. The '83 & '84 wet sump engines were OK, but suffered from overheating and top end failure. The '85s are a big improvement (except for the suspension, it sux) in the engine department, redesigned wet sump engine (just like an XR600 of that year, smaller bore). I installed WP suspension, both ends, on my 1st '85, BIG improvment in handling. The 350 is heavy, almost as heavy as the XR600 of the same era. It was a fun bike in it's day, that day is gone. A more modern bike such as an XR400 has a better engine, way better suspension, is somewhat lighter than a 350, needs practically nothing to go out and have fun on.
    #11
  12. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Belgium
    clear as crystal :)
    thanks
    #12
  13. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    17,177
    Location:
    Western Sierras
    Lots of people seem to think poorly of the old Honda designs, such as the suspension. Compared to a modern bike, I'm sure it seems dated, but when you talk to someone riding a 1975 XL250, they will think it's the greatest thing ever. It is all relative, and they are really fun and forgiving bikes.

    From my experience, as limited as it is (I've owned an XL600, XL250, XL185, and a couple of ATC 185 three wheelers) the overheating problems come from non-stock modifications that cause a lean running condition. The bike in the picture has stock exhaust, so you aren't moving enough air to create that condition, assuming it still has stock carb jetting. If it doesn't overheat running at highway speeds for 20 minutes, you are likely in good shape.

    Top end failure is only common when a "hot" camshaft is installed that adds too much stress.

    In my opinion, the wet sump model is more trouble free.

    The biggest down side for the old Honda's is parts. Sometimes they are discontinued, and when they are available they are expensive.

    I would agree with Goast Mutant about checking the ouput shaft (and front sprocket) for wear. That is one of the really expensive repairs. Also pay attention to shifting smoothness, and play in the wheel, swing arm, and head tube bearings.

    Good luck!
    #13
  14. creaky

    creaky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    187
    Location:
    Indiana
    Forgot to mention another glitch with the 350 (and also the 600 of that era), 3rd gear is weak and can cause significant damage if it lets go. Be sure to ride the bike if you are thinking buy, look for hard shifting into and out of 3rd and transmission noise while in 3rd.
    #14
  15. Ghost_Mutant

    Ghost_Mutant looking for bionics

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    727
    Location:
    border of granite & flats
    Buying old bikes takes some skill/experience, unless your goal is to get a bike to fix up:D

    I didn't do it right when I bought my 84 XR500 a few years ago. I thought I was saving myself some money, but there is a reason that some bikes sell instantly and others sit around for awhile. I got my bike home and started looking at it (more) closely, and I wondered how I missed some of its flaws while inspecting it at the previous owners garage:rofl

    If I had bought an 84 XR350 instead of the 500, I think finding parts would have been much harder. The situation may be different where you are. Did Honda sell lots of these in your area? From the photos you have posted it does look like the bike is a stock, European 83 XR350.

    You definitely need to ask the owner what has been done other than the paint job (which I wouldn't pay extra for). Hopefully it has a new piston/rings/top end work done not too long ago. If its the original engine top end components, I don't see how it will go for any length of time before it starts smoking on you. My engine was all original and ran fine when I bought it, only a little smoke on startup. However, when inspecting things while replacing gaskets, piston/cylinder/rings were worn well past the wear limits. After spending some more money, its now on the first over bore.

    Take a list with you so you cover everything with the owner without forgetting. I would pull up a fork boot if you can and check the forks for vertical scratches. I have one set of old forks with these scratches due to worn out fork bushings. In my 83/4 fork housings, these bushings are pressed in and not easily replaced.

    If the bike has been serviced and nothing is bent or out of alignment, then it could be exactly what you are looking for. If your doing mild trail riding, the stock 83 suspension will work fine.

    Buying something this old will be a bit of a gamble. Make sure your expectations are aligned with reality:wink:
    #15
  16. pieceofart

    pieceofart n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Kangaroo country, snowys.
    I bought it on e-bay, and just got it here, It was expressed in the advert that it just needed the idler gear for the kick start. upon further investigation, it needs the counterbalance shaft complete and I imagine that you have to fully split the cas to replace this shaft. no big deal just big money in parts, and even if I can find the correct shaft is questionable. I really love the color scheme, and supermotard look on that black and blue bike, If i have to pull the engine, I think that is what i am gonna do, it looks fantastic, I need to access a new rear spring, and re-build the front forks alltogether, time has taken its toll on this one i bought. Any advise on replacing that shaft would be great.:nortonthank you.
    #16
  17. tommyvdv

    tommyvdv Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    430
    Location:
    Belgium
    ghost mutant might be able to answer some questions. He sounds like he knows what he's talking about.

    Send me a pic of the bike or a link to the rebuilding thread when you start/finish :)

    I did not buy this xr in the end. But it does look fantastic in black and blue.
    #17
  18. cynicwanderer

    cynicwanderer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    555
    Location:
    sacramento
    Anyone have any experience with currently available suspension improvements/options for the XR350. I know XRSOnly sells progressive fork and shocks springs. Is there any suspension shop who will still work on the forks/shocks ? Are there cartridge emulators available ? At the minimum, I'm looking for some higher spring rate springs for the forks and rear, since my weight is probably a bit over what the stock setup was tuned for. How hard is it to graft on more modern forks/shocks from other bikes ? what works well ? Other than the sag/spring rate, I actually don't have any specific complaints on the stock suspension.
    #18
  19. cynicwanderer

    cynicwanderer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    555
    Location:
    sacramento
    I guess I never followed up to this post. since then, I have ridden several Enduros with the bike. a few with the stock suspension, and then upgraded to a xr400r front end. I used xr500r triple to bring the fork size up to 43mm, which will fit a variety of front forks. I briefly had some xrl front forks on it, which work well too. probably, the best would be to install a '91 front fork from a xr600r, which is cartridge and 43mm and would use the same wheel as the xr350r. it's a little long, so you would have to leave about 1" or more out on top. haven't done anything to the rear shock, other than preload and adjusting compression/rebound dampening. I might have it rebuilt/recharged to freshen it up.


    #19