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1993 Honda XR250L

By Paul Peczon unclepaul@dot.com.ph

The XR250L is your basic entry level dual sport rig. Thousands of them brighten campuses, suburban garages, and beach parking lots . Most of them never see much action in the dirt, but that´s OK. This is because this bike is a fine steed for the modern urban warrior. It´s tall, very thin and nimble, which makes for carefree lanesplitting. Sure, the engine isn´t the biggest thing in the world, but it´s geared pretty low, and will beat most cars at a stoplight.

It´s a light and lithe, and what with the tall tires, it handles like it has little claws. The XR250L looks innoucuous despite its colorful graphics, and although the exhaust note is a little agricultural, it is relatively quiet. You´d have to do wheelies to get pedestrians to notice this bike, but that´s fine. I don´t care what pedestrians think and if I could bolt the Romulan Cloaking Device onto my bike I would.

I´d like to meet the man who can get this bike to reach it´s cornering clearance. I couldn´t get up the nerve to bring the bike down to the angle necessary to reach the edge of tires, but it really isn´t necessary, because even a tiny push on the wide bars will get the bike to turn a lot. This bike was easy to ride in the canyons, and a lot of fun. The big limitation for canyon riding was the little engine.

Stock Honda Shot altered by Scott Melamed

But take this bike into the woods, and it takes on a wilder personality, leaping over rocks and whoops with the best of them. Dual sport bikes are heavier and not as powerful as their undomesticated two stroke brethren, but they can keep up in a non-race situation. There are numerous modifications you can make to the bike to make it a more worthy adversary. The two most important changes one should make to this bike are the tires, especially the front one. Honda knows that most of these bikes will spend a lot of time on the street, and they are shod appropriately. The experienced riders recommended dropping the pressure in the tires to 15 pounds, but I let a little more out of the front tire after awhile, and it helped.

The one other thing I found myself desperately wishing for on our little ride through the Sequoias was a sprocket change. On steep dry passes, I found myself feathering the clutch to keep the revs up while maintaining traction. The bike is very cold blooded, especially when new, but some one taught me that the trick is to start it with the throttle just slightly cracked. And yes, I´m a spoiled streetbiker and there were a couple of times I had to start it up with very inadequate footing when I would have given almost anything for an electric start. Anything, of course, except the necessary weight penalty. Tis´ far nobler not to crash and not have to kick in the first place.

But I only made two very minor equipment changes to the bike for my dual sport initiation. I took off the strap that divides the seat and clamped on a roll chart holder. Otherwise the little darling got me across the course in style while bone stock. It may be an entry level bike, but is the bike of choice for many dual sport riders. The bike was fun, although underpowered in the canyons, but it isn´t such a great bike for long distance highway runs. Predictibly, it was sensitive to wind, but it could pull a solid seventy.

By Paul Peczon unclepaul@dot.com.ph

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