Jump to content

Recommended Posts

In the 1990s, we began riding Honda XR dirt motorcycles.  In the early '90s a modest $75 worth of parts invested in a Honda XR75 became youngest son Jacob's first motorcycle at age 12.  Oregon friend Kirk donated two core bikes to the cause from his stockpile of old Hondas.  When we returned to the high desert country at northern Nevada in 1994, my logical companion for Jacob's XR75 was a used 1983 Honda XR200R purchased from the Reno dealership.  Jacob soon outgrew the XR75, and I outgrew the XR200R thumper. 
 
Jacob inherited the XR200R when I found the right four-stroke bike, a very well prepped 1984 Honda XR350R built by Rick Sorensen, a professional Airframe and Powerplant aircraft mechanic and owner of an independent motorcycle shop at Yerington, our hometown.  Rick built the machine for his daughter Tasha to potentially race hare-and-hound, and she prized the machine.  Tasha went to college, and while a student, she offered the bike for sale.  Knowing how much energy and upgrade equipment Rick had put into this purpose built machine, I gladly paid Tasha her asking price.
 
The bike received my respect as well, and it continued to deliver everything from bona fide desert enduro riding at speed to tight, single track trailing on the steep, off-camber switchbacks leading to mining claims at Black Mountain.  The XR350R was a great teacher, its Pro-Link rear suspension, advanced forks for the era, rugged tubular steel frame and bulletproof four-valve, single cylinder engine were predictable and ample.  In the day, a six-speed gearbox and advertised weight under 250 pounds had made the XR350R popular alongside its potent yet beefier XR500R counterpart.
 
Rated 22.4 horsepower by most accounts, the 1984 engine featured some upgrades yet still maintained the progressive dual carburetors for the twin intake port, four-valve head.  From a tuning standpoint, the dual carburetors were condemned by many, as this was the period when single cylinder engines commonly had only one carburetor.  Although the rumor mill is rife with attacks on these twin-Keihin carburetors, I have never experienced trouble with this design.  In fact, the tune that Rick Sorensen set was so precise that the only cause for rebuilding these carburetors came a decade after acquiring the machine.  My rebuild had nothing to do with a deficiency in the carburetors but rather the result of leaving ethanol-laced gasoline in the bowls too long and ruining the pilot jet on the primary carburetor.  I "blueprint" built and staged these carburetors, and the performance went right back to Rick's original aims.
 
I've had several opportunities to part with this machine, offers from those who know its virtues and steadfast ability to pull off a great day's riding, anywhere and anytime, from High Rock Canyon to Johnson Valley when I covered the King of the Hammers race in 2012.  Appreciation for its consistent performance and exceptional reliability has kept me from letting go of this machine, which is now relegated to occasional recreational riding since the acquisition and build of the "Big Red Pig" Honda XR650R.  Our youngest grandson, Camden, now 2-1/2 years old, calls the XR350R "Little Red Pig" and the XR650R the "Big Red Pig".  My '84 XR500R restoration project, while under a dry tarp at present, is nonetheless the "Middle Red Pig"—or simply "Middle". 
 

Honda XR350R Specs.pdf

 
It's pointless to compare the air-cooled Honda XR350R to the XR650R, the latest CRF450X or KTM 350.  The vintage XR350R four-valve thumper has nowhere near the power hit of an XR500R, XR600R or the liquid cooled XR650R.  However, for many riders, the XR350R can be the weekend desert enduro bike with a low initial purchase price and far less maintenance cost if in good condition with a credible history. These bikes perform trouble free for years, and they wear out slowly and predictably.  Parts are still available for most areas of the cycle.  Used pieces or improvising are sometimes necessary.
 
I ride my XR350R to stay in good physical condition and to maintain agility and survival reflexes for both dirt and asphalt motorcycling.  Easier to throw around on dirt than heavier machines, the bike provides excellent terrain feedback and continuously works all five of my muscle groups! 
 
My most recent workout on the XR350R was a test of the Enerpulse Pulstar PlasmaCore spark plug this morning. I filmed my ride with the GoPro Hero3 mounted in a Chesty harness.  The edited video default is HD 1080P, and if you have the bandwidth or can stream Vimeo on the big screen through your Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV player*, enjoy the scenery!  (Otherwise, there's the subtler SD play option.)
 
*Note: If you have one of these streaming players, simply do a search under "4WD Mechanix".  You'll have access to the 190 videos now available at the Vimeo 4WD Mechanix Video Network Channel!  If you have a smart television or large computer monitor, simply go to the Vimeo Channel at: http://www.vimeo.com/channels/4WDmechanix.
 

 
The riding venue begins just ten minutes from the 4WD Mechanix Magazine office...Take a 15-minute ride with me as the XR350R ascends from a high desert elevation of 4,000 feet into the nearby mountains and wild horse country over 6000 feet.  This is what desert enduro motorcycling is all about!  See why this three decade old "friend" has remained my recreational dirt bike and exercise outlet for nearly twenty years now...

 

Moses

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...