Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

80's Honda XL 350 vs 90's Yamaha XT 350 vs 90's Suzuki DR 350S.

Recommended Posts

Ok, bare with me. Another comparison thread of mine. Still looking for a bike that would serve as a basic commuter bike but also capable of trail riding. Any general concerns regarding these older dual-sports? Is one particularly heavier or lighter, more powerful or less powerful? Do any characteristics of these dual-sports stand out that I should pay particular attention to when chosing one of these? The one thing I do realize is that the 84-86 XL 350 is quite a bit older than the Yam and Suz, but the older Honda's are priced accordingly.

thanx in advance for any feedback,

:thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

this is just my opinion .if those were my only choices i would probably shy away from the honda if only for the reason that when they were new i don't remember seeing a whole lot of them i think mainly because you could buy a 600 and be legal on the highway maybe and also parts might be an issue these days especially with a not so common model.as far as the 90's yamaha or suzuki either one i imagine would be as good as the other but in this case i would most likely lean toward the dr .from what i have seen the dr seems to be the preferred brand of the dualsport adventure rental places that tells me it's a real good bike or they can get them real cheap.it's really a matter of personal preference.i personally have never ridden any of those three models but have owned several hondas and yamahas but based on what i have seen as of late the suzook is probably your best bet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the early 90's Yamaha XT 350 they used a vacuum secondary 2 barrel carb and dual intake-run, forest, run! Very easy to recognize as it looks like 2 carbs side by side, and they where difficult to make work properly, and didn't like to stay working.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The carb and valve adjustments on the XT350 are both dealer only unless you are very good. And both are expensive maintenance items. The carb requires a special tool to set the float height and the valves are shim and bucket. I liked mine well enough that I had it 17 years. But I agree with the 1987 Cycle World test that said the Honda was the better bike.

I rode a lot of DR 350's and they are the best offroad bike of the ones you list. That said, they are no more powerful and not really any lighter than an XT or XL. They just have better legs under them. But my XT stuck with the two I rode with in any drag race and on top end. Same for the XL I rode with. I didn't care for the DR seat for street riding.

As for the Honda, to me it has the best seat for street riding. The suspension is in between the really pathetic XT suspension and somewhat less pathetic DR suspension. A big plus to me for Hondas is that parts are available everywhere and for every model. Plus I am boycotting Yamaha until they figure out that a 225 is a really lame excuse for a DS.

But for my money, the weight is not enough less on any of those 350's (all pushing 300 pounds) to justify NOT buying a 600. That is precisely why I have a 600 now. If I am going to ride a porky Japanese DS, it might as well have the most juice available. Plus my ancient XL600R is way more comfortable on the highway than the DR350's, XL350's and the XT350's I rode. And I love the extra grunt on trails. But then I am also an XL size guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you will ever ride on the freeways get something larger. Any of the 350's are marginal at freeway speeds. They just don't have enough horsepower.

If you can afford it, a XR650L is just about the best. Enough juice for the freeway, and a lot better off road than a Honda XL350 (or XL600).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

fwiw, in about 2001 my friend purchased a brand new drz 400. my '78 XL350 would run neck and neck with it right up until 80mph- he had an additional 5 mph on me. He also had e-start, nice suspension, and shinny paint... never had a chance to play with the newer 350s but the old ones (74-78) were built like tanks and are a LOT of fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i have ridden the 330lb. monster called the 1978 xl350 and i doubt it could hang with a modern dr-z unless it had a C&J frame, powroll hop up kit and a 75 lb. veteran rider and the DR-z had a 400 lb. newbie on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

this was just a drag race... not out in the woods! what i'm saying is motorwise the 350 is a very capable engine, and i'm sure the rfvc version has even more oomph with better suspension than my old gurl. it should be plenty capable for highways. my '75 XL350 gets a lot of highway time and it does fine. could use slightly taller gearing- 65 mph is about 6k rpm. if you dont mind the vibes and the crap suspension. which i dont. you know how to tell a happy biker? bugs in his teeth!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The XL is slightly lighter and more powerful { 3rd gear wheelies ! } than the other 2, but I'd suggest a 1994 or later DR 350SE because of the electric starter. The shock packs down, and the fork has too much rebound, but those problems can be fixed rather easily. The bike will cruise at 70mph all day, and if you can find a Baja Products 2-up seat {White Bros carried them} you could take along a passenger ! Plus, the bike is pretty snappy and good handling for trails !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What about if I dual sported an XR 400?

My 85 XR350R is plated in Missouri...75 mph pretty much topped out. Other than the cold start issues, once warm 1st or 2nd everytime...will run neck n neck with a 2001 DRZ 400 in the woods and down the straightaways...DRZ will out run above 60 mph on the street...but I don't need to run that fast around town...65 mpg and cheap insurance...:worthy:

Less than $1200 in the bike....:lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The XR 400 was Honda answer to the DR350. The XR4 is a great bike, but for all around use, I'd have to suggest a DR. The DR and XR weigh about the same, and the DR is more reliable.

Honestly, I'd just totally avoid the XT, they're an innovative design, but that doesn't mean it's a good design...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Reply with:

Sign in to follow this  

×