My new vintage Honda XLs!

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Sidecar Jockey, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. Sidecar Jockey

    Sidecar Jockey Been here awhile

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    I have been wanting to get into vintage enduro riding for a long time, so I finally pulled the trigger. I picked up a 1975 Honda XL250 with 9,000 miles and a 1976 xl350 with 3,500 miles:

    Here is the 250, still on the trailer after arriving home:
    [​IMG]
    It has a pod filter and the airbox is removed (although i got the stock airbox and sidecover too). All it needed was a clutch adjustment and basic maintinance and it rides great!

    Here is the 350:
    [​IMG]
    I really hate the stock exhausts on the centerport 350s. The first thing I'm going to do is remove that monstrosity and put a smaller muffler on.

    I got two, so that my Dad can ride with me too. We are pretty close to the Frederick Watershed and Michaux, so there should be some good riding!
    #1
  2. Sidecar Jockey

    Sidecar Jockey Been here awhile

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    Is it just me (or my bike) but the seat on my 1976 350 seems to slide me forward so that my crotch ends up on the gas tank. This is really un-comfortable...

    My 1975 250 does not do this, but obviously the seats are totally different.

    Anyone else have this problem with the 76-78 XL seats and know of a cheap and easy solution?
    #2
  3. kubiak

    kubiak Long timer

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    super nice hondas!
    #3
  4. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Yeah, soften the rear pre-load so the bike sags properly toward the back...:rofl

    To the OP; those are a couple of clean bikes. As reliable as they are, they should provide decades of riding fun! :freaky
    #4
  5. WeazyBuddha

    WeazyBuddha Carbon-Based Humanoid

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    Sweet looking bike.

    I should not have sold my 80s XL 250. :cry

    Someone got a good deal, on the other hand not having the magic button was a pain. Kickstarting gets old.
    #5
  6. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Funny you should say that, because I wish my Aprilia had at least a backup kickstarter (OK, the button is nice on that one). I dread the day when my starter relay goes out when I'm by myself 40 miles from cell phone coverage on a gravel road. :lol3

    The XL600 was the only XL I ever got tired kicking, and now that it's sorted it never takes more than a few. The XL185 was a one kick machine always, and the XL250 only took a few easy kicks. The XL's were such wonderful simple machines...

    I had a couple of rope-pull start 185 cc 3-wheelers that were the same way. Even though one of them had rings so worn that oil ran out the tailpipe, it still started first pull every time.

    I had a Supertrapp spark arrestor exhaust on my XL185 that sounded great on the little thumper. I bet you could find a used one pretty cheap.
    #6
  7. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Ive got at least 2 sets of spare XL250/350 wheels around here,look to be in good shape,maybe some other bits and pieces.
    #7
  8. Stretch67

    Stretch67 Mad Scientist

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    <---------- Long-time XL fan. :clap
    #8
  9. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I'd be interested in an 18" rear wheel with drum brake, so I can put a paddle tire on my '83 XL600. I'll pm you.
    #9
  10. RED CAT

    RED CAT Bumpy Backroader

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    They are both 350s. Don't remember any 250s looking like that top pic.
    #10
  11. MacNoob

    MacNoob piney fresh

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    That 350 looks way too nice to hack up. Had a '78 XL250 myself.
    #11
  12. Night Falcon

    Night Falcon Tiger Tamer

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    Great bike the 350. I had a K3 back in the day which I had alot of fun on but had to rebuild the top end after the the cam chain tensioner broke off from the casing. I opened it up to find the PO had the same problem and had tried to bronze the casing back together. I bought it from a honda dealer who was keen to take my money but would not contribute to the repair costs even though they sold me the bike.....that was 30 plus years ago and I'm almost over it :D

    #12
  13. rs42sport

    rs42sport Been here awhile

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    What Would it cost for one of those??? Anything to look out for with the age of them???
    #13
  14. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    4 to 500 dollars should fetch one that runs with luck,there's 1 small trick to watch out for,the kickstart idler gear spins the oil pump and the gear is known to break,if it breaks then no oil to top end and that's no good.
    Ive taken apart a few that this happened on.
    Also the frame/swingarm will break up if ridden really hard,these bikes weigh alot and are built for casual dirt use at most. A 410 kit in the 350 will really wake it up,Ive seen some set up for flattrack that run really well.
    #14
  15. 150ron

    150ron Long timer

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    Is that seat as comfortable as it looks?
    #15
  16. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    The old Honda XL seats are like sitting on a Lazyboy chair. I don't know why manufacturers felt the need to make motorcycle seats so narrow and hard. People spend lots of money trying to make modern seats that nice.
    #16
  17. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I had a 1974 xl250 back in about 1977, great bike, rode the crap out of it, did a cam and powroll 300cc kit, and the bike did an indicated 90 mph.
    All day comfortable, but I was only 17 or 18 and could likely ride something without any seat all day.

    I used to take it out on the street at night with a borrowed tag with some friends to do dirt riding and back roads blasting before I got my licence. We had tons of fun, loved the bike, but it got stolen down the shore a few years later.
    Maybe I was lucky it did get taken, I might have killed myself on that bike.
    My next bike was a 1973 Triumph Daytona. I spent more time working on it then riding it, but did crash it well once in the rain.
    The guy next door had a 350, and it felt like a heavy massive pig. I did not like it at all.
    #17
  18. Sidecar Jockey

    Sidecar Jockey Been here awhile

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    In my area $500 gets you a nice 250 or 350 with NO TITLE.

    $800-1500 gets you a NICE one with a title and all the lights and street legal bits.
    #18
  19. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    That's about where they are in California as well. Prices can be a bit higher for pristine models like the OP's, especially if they are fully street legal 250's or 350's. Most of those were stripped of all their street gear years ago. XL600's are good bargains right now, at $1500. Other brand bikes from the same era are also cheaper, since vintage Honda's seem to be considered the most collectable.
    #19
  20. Sidecar Jockey

    Sidecar Jockey Been here awhile

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    Yeah, I have heard of these bike's legendary reliability.... but:

    This weekend, me (on my 350), my Dad (on my 250), and forum member BradyD (on his 1979 xt500) went for a ride up in Gambril park. We came across a park service road, whose gate happened to be open, so we rode down. The road soon turned into a downhill single track, then a rock garden. Pretty soon we were at the bottom of the mountain, with a STEEP rock garen (bowling ball to watermellon sized 'loose' rocks) preventing us from turning around and going back up. About this time, my GPS lost satellite reception...

    About 1.5 hrs of riding single track mountain bike trails later (with big drops, logs, rocks, and stream corssings... all with about 2 inches between the end of your handlebars and trees) we were within earshot of traffic. The whole time we were looking for a road. We were close to a real road...!

    And then... my 350 dies. Dad is about 100 yards ahead of me, and his 250 dies too! We determined that BOTH Hondas had no spark!! Since the bikes are new to me... I had no spare parts on me.

    The road was about 1/4 mile UP HILL through the woods, so BradyD rode his Xt500 up and parked by the road. He was nice enough to help Dad and I push our Hondas out. Dad then rode BradyD's Xt500 home, and got the truck and trailer and picked us up.

    Both my 250 and 350 had the condensors fail! On the same ride within 100 yards of each other, what a coincidence (and bad luck)!!

    The coil, plug wire, and condensor are sold as a unit for the old XLs (which i think is STUIPID). I went to NAPA Auto Parts and bought two generic 6 volt condensors, cut off the old ones, and soldered the new ones on. Problem solved. I did enough troubleshooting to determine that the coil-condensor-plug-wire assembly was bad on both bikes, so i decided to try to replace the condensors before buying any expensive parts... and luckily that worked!

    Now i feel like i know most everything about my bikes. I bought the manual and raed the whole thing. I also went through the whole wiring harness on BOTH bikes, trying to get my spark back. The good news is that both bikes still have un-altered original wiring harnesses, so it wasnt too hard to go through and troubleshoot!

    Here is a photo of both Hondas by the road, after bring pushed up hill through the woods, waiting for the trailer to arrive:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the 350 after being stripped while I'm hunting for the source of my lost spark:
    [​IMG]

    While I was into them, I adjusted the cam chain, valves, brakes, replaced the points, condensor, spark plugs, and did an oil change on both bikes. They are back on the road now... and will hopefully show me some of that legendary HONDA reliability!
    #20