Honda XL600R First Ride Report

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!).


By ef

Hey, I'm Evan and this is one of my motorcycle sites. You can find more about me on my homepage, or visit me on Google Plus: +Evan Fell

1 comment

  1. Evan,
    I just stumbled across your website looking for info on an 83 XL600R i’m thinking about swapping for my VW GTI. I must say this write up was fun! I have vivid memories of everything you described here and more in the Sierra-Nevada foothills and everywhere for a two hundred mile radius of Chico,Ca. Wake up, RIDE. sleep, eat RIDE. and do it again.
    Although the shovelhead bagger has been a ton of fun, I think it is time for me to get back to my roots.
    The absolute go anywhere and back wonderful Honda thumper…gotta have it. Take care and don’t let the tundra take you out.


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