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My 1979 XR185 Project

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As if i needed another project.. this bike literally fell into my lap without me looking..

 I was searching for parts for a buddy's bike I am fixing and the last thing i was looking for was another project for myself...

But as it happens.. I was cruising Craigslist and this bike pops up... The ad was kinda cryptic.. just saying.. "used Honda Dirt Bike"... $100"

 No pics.. no description and no contact number... just the generic CL email link.. 

So I said "what the hay?" and sent a email asking for info.

Anyway I had a deal to buy a alloy bike ramp from another feller down in east Tulsa.. this being as lazy Sunday i wasn't in hurry.. I meandered on down there and after a bit of haggling did the deal and loaded the ramp.. at which time my phone buzzed.. and it was the feller with the mystery bike.. He said he was home if I wanted to come around I could.. He was only about 15 minutes away so I agreed and away I go..

 I get to the address.. it's in a not so good part of town..and out the front door comes a guy who definitely was every bit of 80 years old..

He tells me the bike is out back but i need to wait.. as he gotta put up his German Shepard who was growling and snarling.. though I couldn't see it I could tell it was not a petting type...

After the dog is put up The old man opens the gate and in the yard i go.. and there was a really old wore out, rode hard and put up wet Honda..the kind you know saw a lotta action and hasn't been running in years..

This guy starts telling me about the bike.. He bought it brand new.. used it to do enduros on it when he was younger.. his kids all learned to compete on it and the grandson too..

But they are all grown and gone.. the bike has been sitting for a long time.. he was gonna restore it but he told me.. "I ain't never gonna get it done..." and the last part.. "Just want somebody to do good with it.. hate to see it junked.. "....

 Man I hated that.. I mean he's damn near crying and got me feeling bad... I'm looking at the thing.. I know it's gonna take a ton to get back right.. but my mouth over ran my sense and next thing I'm sticking 5 twenties in his hand...

So in my little trailer it goes.. and now i got another project..Oh Boy.. I can see the wifey's rolling eyes already!







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I love it !!!!  I also enjoy restoring bikes when the occasion arises. The younger teen generation does not understand this,  is way too flashy and wants new things. To me it is not about the checkbook and buying the latest and greatest; it's about the skill, time, patience and commitment of bringing back yesteryears forgotten machines. I almost NEVER buy new vehicles. I have restored my XR, my CX500 Turbo, my CX650 Turbo, my '79 CBX, etc.

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Yeah.. no doubt... 

 I got a shop full of projects and though I sure don't need another this bike will be a fun one to do..

 The fact that these '79 XR185 models are getting a little thin..I mean they only made them for 1 year.. and a lot have been gutted..parted and been otherwise discombobulated... the numbers are only going down..not up. So though they don't bring much in $$ and they are not really sought after.. I think it deserves a proper restore...

Biggest problem is parts.. the XR200 and XL185 parts just really are not the same.. going through the numbers.. not much really matches up across the models.. some.. but not a lot.. especially lower end wise.. 

But much of what I say is from my current quick review.. I am not a expert on these bikes by any stretch....I would love to hear more experienced folks recollections and thoughts. 

I have read a number of the threads here on the bike.. see a lot.. maybe most on improvements.. hop ups.. mods.. I'm not really looking to go that road on this bike.. I think a stock restoration is more proper forthis bike.. and would make a nice addition to my growing collection..

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The XR185 was the start of sub 250 XR line, in 80 it became the XR200 thru 1984. So a lot of parts interchange among those models.

Besides the missing seat and side panel the bike is missing the head light and speedo.  The 185 used a 428 chain, later XRs used 520 chain; so some flexibility on chain/sprockets, the challenge may be finding a 520 rear sprocket. 

The XR185 had a smaller bore and lower first gear ratio than the 200s, I hated the 1st to 2nd gap.  Later 6 speed 1st gears fit. Cylinders, head, cams, and almost all engine parts interchange thru 2002. There were some system changes thru the years like ignition that required swapping the entire system. Later XR200s did not have a lighting section in the alternator although the XR200Rs did.

I believe the 81-83 XR200R speedo and headlight will fit. Here is a pic of my 82 XR200R.

82 XR200R (2).JPG


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Thanks Chuck...

 I do have the seat and the head light.. and a few other pieces in a box.. The seat cover is shot but the foam is usable...the pan is excellent thankfully..so I need a new cover. The light unit is complete with a good bracket and housing but the number plate is cracked and broken.. so I'll be searching for that as well.. The fellow did give me the muffler side panel.. but it is totally busted and melted..

I do need to source a speedo..

The biggest issue I have found is the left side crankcase is broken where a obvious broken chain busted off the cover bosses and cracks are in the case...

I have found on on feebay and made an offer.. hoping it happens.

Mostly the bike is complete.. but everything needs a good going through.. I appreciate your thoughts on the gearing.. and see you say the gears are interchangeable.. I see on the micro the the 185 and 200 cases are different part #'s so my thinking was that the gear sets were not swap capable they were..

I and not sure of the condition of the top end yet.. the motor turns over freely.. and no abnormal noise is evident..it does seem to have compression but with the release system I am not certain how healthy the engine is... not that that matters.. will be going through it completely anyways... I do wonder about getting a correct piston though.. is it needs one.. looks like the XR version is a different animal


Edited by soonerbillz

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So this project had to start somewhere... 

 I guess first order of business is to start by a cursory evaluation of the needed replacement parts..

I'm not ready to do a teardown at the moment..I've got several bikes in the shop ahead of this for various repairs/maintenance. So I am just going to start ordering and sourcing the regular replacement consumables, the obvious parts needing repairs and other stuff I know I will be needing for this restoration....

 All that said the list is a lengthy one and will only grow.

As I mentioned earlier.. my first hurdle is to find an purchase a good replacement crankcase to swap for the original that had damage to the counter shaft cover bosses.



 After a bit of searching I did find one on feebay and made a deal...   




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So that"s a start to what I believe is going to be a long road back for this bike...Looking to see this one really get steam rolling. 

 I have my 82 CR250 sitting back in the storage room.. waiting too.. This kinda makes me itch to get that project back on track too!


Edited by soonerbillz

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