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Honda XL350

Quick profile – 1974-78 Honda XL350

by Guy 'Guido' Allen

Honda XL350

          
Middlewight trail bike was a predecessor to the soft-roader

One of our favourite 1970s trail bikes is the Honda XL350 (above), though the 250 (top) was the volume-seller. At 137kg for just 30-odd horsepower, a 350 is a bit of a truck by today's standards. And its off-road performance wasn't cutting edge even back then.

However if you wanted something that could handle easy trails and still be a halfway reasonable road mount, it was a pretty good option.

We had a low-miler 350 in near mint condition years ago and it's on the (long) list of machines we regret selling.

The single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke, four-valve engine made peak power at 7000rpm and was fed air via a washable oiled-foam filter. In reality the tuning was such that it was more of a plodder than a screaming banshee. It ran a five-speed transmission.

Ancillaries such as instruments could be dismounted pretty quickly and easily, if you wanted to go bush-bashing without damaging the expensive 'jewellery'. Whether many people bothered is another matter, as there were better choices available for serious dirt work.

This was a derivative of the earlier XL-250 and XL-350 series (see bottom two pics), but with some significant changes and overall a much more substantial appearance. The near-identical looking 250 of the period (which is what's shown in the jump shot), shared the 350 architecture, which included what was effectively a new powerplant. You'll notice most of the SL-derived cues have gone by this stage.

Honda nevertheless emphasised its dual-purpose credentials, which is where the specs and performance said it was most comfortable. Call it a seventies predecessor to a soft-roader.

Honda XL350

Honda XL350

honda xl250-350

honda xl350

 

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