Need some input on Honda XR

Can anyone give me their experience with the Honda XR350? At a ride event last weekend, I came across a guy who has a 1985 Honda XR350 (single carb model) that is in virtually mint condition. He was asking 1000.00 I was planning on saving for a used XR600, but this bike is pretty darn nice, and is less than half the price I was going to save for the XR600 with. Its already registered/plated for the street, and the title doesn't say "for off road use only".

I have a KTM 300 EXC that I will keep for single track bashing, but I wanted to pick up a nice 4-stroke bike to take the wife on fireroad/two track exploring, as well as some dual sport work in northern Michigan. I took her for a ride once on the KTM, but the smoke was killing her, and it just didn't want to be ridden at a constant speed. The longest road work I plan on riding one way would be 35-40 miles (this would be by myelf - one rider), and from what I have read this is where the XR600 is supposed to be great, for the occasional road work.

I want a Honda XR because I want to keep it simple and don't want to work on the thing, and like what I have read about reliability, as well as part availability (cost of ownership seems to be low). I don';t want liquid cooling - again, I want simplicity and ease of ownership - I just don't have the time to work on them. My KTM already keeps me busy enough.


1). I know some of the technology is dated on this bike (has damper rod forks, no rear disc), but for what I am going to use it for , will this matter? I don't think it will. I will not be pushing this bike hard off road - that is why I am keeping my KTM for that stuff. However, the bike has a 6-speed trans, and I'm thinking this will be nice at speed to keep the rpms down.

2). Will this thing be strong enough for two-up riding? Again, I will not be running it on any interstates, but on some of the seasonal / fire roads, there are spots where the sand piles up slightly (3 inches or so), and I'm thinking the XR600 would just tractor right through it with two people. But what about the 350? Would it get loaded down, or can this motor handle it ?

3). As I mentioned, I was initially thinking of looking for a 1991-1995 XR600, as it has the rear disc and cartridge forks. Can anyone tell me why the cartridge forks are better than damper rod? I understand there are "cartidge emulators, made by gold….something, that are sujpposed to make damper rod forks work better?

The reason I'm asking / figuring out the pros'cons is, due to the economy, I may not be able to get the XR600 I want this year (I figured I'd need at least 2400.00, and with the wife, child, and priorities, this may be tough this year, as I'm not getting any overtime), this XR350 is 1000.00, I could keep it for year or so, sell it when the economy picks up and maybe even make a few $$$ on it (another web site I went to said this is a sought after dual sport bike), and get the XR600 I really want (No, I don't want the 650R, as its water cooled - I am a techie, but again, I want simplicity)

4). Lastly, does anyone know the horsepower figure and estimated top speed with the bike, assuming one rider?

5). Or , should I pass on the thing, keep saving my money, and just buy the 600, maybe when the bike market drops in late fall / winter?

Sorry this is so long winded, but I wanted to cover all bases. Thanks and appreciate any and all input. Happy trails!!!

Well the old XR350 (was) a good bike and if it runs good it sounds like a good deal.

The 350 is slow and too old unless you just want a street leagle cruzer dirt bike. I would get the XR600. I've had one for years and I loved the bike.

That price for an XR350 in mint is pretty sweet. The bike is a sweet heart too. Nothing fancy or robust, but plain sweet. I'd try the 350 first, and if it isn't quite right, sell it and buy a sixer...

Happy trails...

XR 350/XR650

Back when the 350 was introduced (1983?), it was the rage although the clutch was a little weak in it. There were pretty nice bikes, and would probably still make a pretty decent trail bike. I don't think it would have the grunt to ride two up though...the 600 would be way better suited to that. Any of the XR's are pretty durable, and as long as you keep the oil changed in them, they'll simply run forever.

You can't go wrong with the 350 for the riding you want to do. Ride it a year, save some more, sell the 350 and get the 600. The bike really isn't going to depreciate any more in the next year or so, you'll get your money back. Besides it's like you said, you have a KTM to rip it up on when you feel like it. Just my 2 cents worth.

Good luck

ptguy-you'll find the 350 will have almost as much power as an XR400! They were a toey engine in that way but don't expect the thing to handle anywhere near as well. The XR6 will handle two-up riding much better-with the extra grunt for effortless cruising and the newer brakes, suspension & styling woould be worth the extra money I think over the 350 though. Don't be fooled about the XR6 in tight riding either, it will cut quite a sharp line for a big-bore.

I agree with Mr. Rule. You will probably not encounter the overheating problems on the 350 cause you will just be cruising. I have a 600 and a lot of friends have them. Just for a second bike most of them, and the others like myself they are out primary bikes due to the same problem you are in. I come off of a wr 400 and it took some getting used to the 600. It is really and awesome bike. A lot of my friends have rode down to the tip of South America and back on them, with no problems. Through literaly hell, with no problems. The 350 is good, but that 600 is better. A lot better. You will dual sport it looking for new trails and you will appreciate it then. You will appreciate it when you weld the extra pegs on and you have power tor two up riding. You will like the seat better. Do you hate the hassle of selling things, especially when there are a lot of people in your situation that can't buy what they want? Your wife will like the seat better. I take my wife on some pretty fun Colorado rocky single track and it is a crack up it is so much fun. You get to laughing so much you about fall over. By the way you kinda need a tractor of a bike to make it up some of those hills.

I have never regreted waiting, and as always a better deal will come around. And there is always that one deal that I should have went for but I didn't because of one reason or another. It is a win win situation with the 350 or waiting for the 6. When you get old all you are is a big bag of memories. Which ones do you want?

Ive seen xr350 get so hot in the woods that they will melt the dipstick! And the RVCC motors have a tendancy to break rocker arms at speed. OUCH!

Hey PT...Don't overlook the XR650L!!! Sounds like you need a sweet big-bore dual-sport, & this bike's been around for 8 years...there's some great deals on E-Bay...sometimes it's more bike than their buyers bargained for, so you can find them pretty has so much power & torque that the motor seldom labors hard, & this is important for an air-cooler, especially if you're riding "two-up"...I ride with the wife on back quite a bit, & it's very comfortable for with the bike being a true dual-sport, there's no mods. necessary to hit the road...all this with the reliability of an XR, you can't go wrong if you can find the right price...I don't know squat about the XR350...Good luck with your search!!

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