April 2008 5
So I finally got my XR600 out for a good shakedown run. It still needs a few things but is reasonably ready for some good riding. I put 80 miles on it last night of mixed riding; highway and back roads. It is quite comfortable on the street. On the highway it cruises comfortably around 65. It’ll certainly do 70-75 without much trouble, but it’s much smoother in the slow lane.
I just spent 4-5 hours on it tearing up the trails in the mountains of New Hampshire. The mountains are NASTY right now…. snow, ice, mud, slop, rocks and garbage. . . . . I dumped in countless times, got stuck twice as many. I got marooned out in a giant water crossing. The water was up to my knees and the bike was sunk way down in the mud. Took all my energy to fight that bike free and get it out of there. I summited a couple peaks for some awesome views… hit a couple dead ends. . . . ended up on a couple trails that were just impassible by the XR. The front end skates everywhere because the tire is far too road biased… and the front suspension is much much much too soft. It’s reasonable for putting, but as soon as you push it, it pushes right back. Threw me off a couple times. . . . .I will say though, the motor is excellent. It’s ability to just point go is incredible. The bike is nearly uncontrollable due to tires and suspension over deep rock washes and thick mud…. but the motor just goes and goes and goes. It’s extremely tractable at low RPM in every gear. And the torque is there to just launch the front wheel up and over everything. I was hopping 18″ logs with ease because of the grunt of this bike. On my KTM I’d be feathering the clutch to hurdle those same obstacles. . . . . . The KTM however would dominate this bike up and down everything without question. There were a few extremely steep (near vertical) sections with loose gravel and mud that I really wanted to attempt, but the XR just isn’t the bike for that. The KTM would have been feasible in those areas.
Anyway. Fun day. I was drenched in water and mud from head to foot. I initially was sad I didn’t bring a camera, but I’m quite sure I would have both drowned it and smashed it.
Bottom line – even though its old, its still a quite capable bike. The gnarly stuff is tough, but the motor doesn’t skip a beat. (Remember, I have the 600R motor in my bike!).
In just over 4 hours today I tore down the bike, replaced the motor, cleaned the carbs, flushed the oil, lubed the cables, cleaned the throttle, adjusted the brakes and inflated the tires. The replacement motor starts easy and runs well. I can’t wait for the morning so I can go ripping around.
I spotted this for a reasonable price and couldn’t resist. The motor in it is junk I’m told and has no compression. Though the bike came with an XR600R motor to swap in!!! The XR600 motor has a smaller diameter bore and longer stroke than the XL600 motor that comes stock on these dual purpose bikes. As a result the XR600R motor produces less peak horsepower, but WAY more torque for gnarly off-road conditions.
Just like the TT350 this bike is a single cylinder with dual carbs. They produced this bike in dual carbs for several years and then switched it to a single carb as technology improved. However, the early dual carb motors produce more power than all other Honda 600 singles. In fact, top racers in later years would swap the old style heads and carbs onto their more modern bikes.
I just can’t seem to get enough of Dual Sport bikes lately. I’ve owned around 50 street bikes in the last few years, and very few off-road bikes. I’ve got the off-road itch and I can’t shake it. That’s why the last couple pages of this blog have been nearly all off-road bikes rather than my usual vintage streetbike projects. I used to dirtbike all the time when I was younger, and also when I had my first KTM 300exc a few years ago. It’s just more fun that street riding, but can be difficult when you live in the city, like I do.
I’ve been working on lots of bikes over the past few weeks. I got this TT350 nearly ready to be a good dualsport ride. However, I spotted a deal on an XL600R and couldn’t resist. As a result I just sold this bike.
I really liked this bike, it was tall, comfortable, and quite peppy due to the six speed transmission. However, I’ve always had a soft sport for Honda XR’s and just had to have it.