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Old 09-21-2011, 03:17 AM   #1
tommyvdv OP
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honda xr 350 1985

Hi
I'm looking to buy a honda xr 350 1985 and am wondering about the history of this model.
Anyone have any experience with the model? How does this compare to, say, a recent 250/350?
The one i've found (not bought yet) has drum brakes and has been revised.

To put things into perspective:
i've been looking for a good starter thumper to do some light offroad. My requirements are: cheap, durable, dependable, low-maintenance. Specifically looking for anything between 250 and 400. My guess is that 400cc's and up are too powerfull/heavy for a noob.

Thanks for any and every advice you guys might have!
T



tommyvdv screwed with this post 09-21-2011 at 03:18 AM Reason: forgot pictures
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:44 AM   #2
mcma111
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Xr350

The Honda XR350 was my first dirt bike. Learned to ride dirt on that bike after being a street rider for eleven years. As with the whole XR series that little bike is an anvil and worked just great. I sold it to get the XR600 that I still have. Wish I still had it in the stable. If the bike in your post is the one your looking at someone snagged the disc brake front end. And the 1985 model should have Honda's electronic enduro meter, not just a little odometer.

Look here:

http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/mod...r350r%2085.htm
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcma111 View Post
The Honda XR350 was my first dirt bike. Learned to ride dirt on that bike after being a street rider for eleven years. As with the whole XR series that little bike is an anvil and worked just great. I sold it to get the XR600 that I still have. Wish I still had it in the stable. If the bike in your post is the one your looking at someone snagged the disc brake front end. And the 1985 model should have Honda's electronic enduro meter, not just a little odometer.

Look here:

http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/mod...r350r%2085.htm
The specs tell me the bike weighs a ton :) Arent 350's supposed to be light? :)
Disc brake on the front idd on your link. Looked more like a brake drum in my images. Figured this was normal.
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:40 AM   #4
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It's my guess that weight wasn't quite the concern back then as it is now. The XR series was built to last.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommyvdv View Post


I think the bike in this photo is an 83 XR350 with a wet sump RFVC engine that has dual carbs. The 'XR' logo on the seat is the 83 logo. The fuel tank looks like the 83/4 style to me. I didn't think the 85 had a skid plate, but the 83 did. Also, if I recall correctly the 83 had the drum brake front.

But where did that tail light come from? Looks like an XL tail light assembly to me.

The 85 XR350 with the dry sump engine, 6 speed, aluminum swingarm was/is a bike I really wanted to get. But Honda only sold that version for one year and I imagine parts are getting very hard to get these days. Its another one of those perplexing things about Honda's marketing decisions

I have XR500s, 83 and 4. They were two year wonders before Honda upgraded to the 600s in 85. But at least my 500s do have a significant amount of parts overlap with the 600s and I was able to get everything I needed to get my bikes the way I wanted.

I would look for output shaft wear with those tires and check compression if you can. My 84 was a 'cheap' bike, but I ended up doing much more repair work on it than I originally intended to get things right

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Old 09-21-2011, 11:34 AM   #6
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information overload :) (for a noob like me)
So basically your telling me to buy the thing if i can handle my own repairs? :) (which i can't)

The point of getting something like this is to learn to do some work on it (and wrecking it again, go back;repeat). If i'm reading between your lines correctly, this should be an excellent guinea pig?
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:41 AM   #7
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The XR350 WAS a fine bike back in the day. This one that you have found may not be IT. Keep looking unless your sold on it.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:45 AM   #8
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how much are you looking to spend?

the xr350 is a great machine.... and it maybe the best you will find giving a price range.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:15 PM   #9
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I'll try to answer all in one go:
I started looking for a transalp (xl600v) and found that they go around 1000 - 3000 euro's.
Realised that a transalp is too heavy so i started to look in the enduro/cross direction.
A full cross bike is not an option, has to be street legal.
Xr400r seemed like a nice bike, but is slightly out of budget. 2000 euro's for a decent-looking one. It's all i have to go on since i don't have any experience in fixing them. Everything below that pricerange is what one could call: a rustbucket.

So i saw this one; xr350; build < 1986 (no specific year)



The current owner states that he fixed it up to it's current state



And that one in the 500-1000 euro price range.

I might go and see for myself. Anything i can ask or photograph / report back?

( looking back at this post and thinking it's way too much information :) )
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:37 PM   #10
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looking at other xr350's
Maybe the european version of this bike is a little different?

Check front brakes:



and tail light assembly:



very similar to the xr i was talking about
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:34 PM   #11
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I have owned 2 '85 XR350Rs. The one in your photos, I believe, is an '83 or '84 as others have opined. The '83 & '84 wet sump engines were OK, but suffered from overheating and top end failure. The '85s are a big improvement (except for the suspension, it sux) in the engine department, redesigned wet sump engine (just like an XR600 of that year, smaller bore). I installed WP suspension, both ends, on my 1st '85, BIG improvment in handling. The 350 is heavy, almost as heavy as the XR600 of the same era. It was a fun bike in it's day, that day is gone. A more modern bike such as an XR400 has a better engine, way better suspension, is somewhat lighter than a 350, needs practically nothing to go out and have fun on.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creaky View Post
I have owned 2 '85 XR350Rs. The one in your photos, I believe, is an '83 or '84 as others have opined. The '83 & '84 wet sump engines were OK, but suffered from overheating and top end failure. The '85s are a big improvement (except for the suspension, it sux) in the engine department, redesigned wet sump engine (just like an XR600 of that year, smaller bore). I installed WP suspension, both ends, on my 1st '85, BIG improvment in handling. The 350 is heavy, almost as heavy as the XR600 of the same era. It was a fun bike in it's day, that day is gone. A more modern bike such as an XR400 has a better engine, way better suspension, is somewhat lighter than a 350, needs practically nothing to go out and have fun on.
clear as crystal :)
thanks
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:07 PM   #13
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Lots of people seem to think poorly of the old Honda designs, such as the suspension. Compared to a modern bike, I'm sure it seems dated, but when you talk to someone riding a 1975 XL250, they will think it's the greatest thing ever. It is all relative, and they are really fun and forgiving bikes.

From my experience, as limited as it is (I've owned an XL600, XL250, XL185, and a couple of ATC 185 three wheelers) the overheating problems come from non-stock modifications that cause a lean running condition. The bike in the picture has stock exhaust, so you aren't moving enough air to create that condition, assuming it still has stock carb jetting. If it doesn't overheat running at highway speeds for 20 minutes, you are likely in good shape.

Top end failure is only common when a "hot" camshaft is installed that adds too much stress.

In my opinion, the wet sump model is more trouble free.

The biggest down side for the old Honda's is parts. Sometimes they are discontinued, and when they are available they are expensive.

I would agree with Goast Mutant about checking the ouput shaft (and front sprocket) for wear. That is one of the really expensive repairs. Also pay attention to shifting smoothness, and play in the wheel, swing arm, and head tube bearings.

Good luck!
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:26 PM   #14
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Forgot to mention another glitch with the 350 (and also the 600 of that era), 3rd gear is weak and can cause significant damage if it lets go. Be sure to ride the bike if you are thinking buy, look for hard shifting into and out of 3rd and transmission noise while in 3rd.
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:42 PM   #15
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Buying old bikes takes some skill/experience, unless your goal is to get a bike to fix up

I didn't do it right when I bought my 84 XR500 a few years ago. I thought I was saving myself some money, but there is a reason that some bikes sell instantly and others sit around for awhile. I got my bike home and started looking at it (more) closely, and I wondered how I missed some of its flaws while inspecting it at the previous owners garage

If I had bought an 84 XR350 instead of the 500, I think finding parts would have been much harder. The situation may be different where you are. Did Honda sell lots of these in your area? From the photos you have posted it does look like the bike is a stock, European 83 XR350.

You definitely need to ask the owner what has been done other than the paint job (which I wouldn't pay extra for). Hopefully it has a new piston/rings/top end work done not too long ago. If its the original engine top end components, I don't see how it will go for any length of time before it starts smoking on you. My engine was all original and ran fine when I bought it, only a little smoke on startup. However, when inspecting things while replacing gaskets, piston/cylinder/rings were worn well past the wear limits. After spending some more money, its now on the first over bore.

Take a list with you so you cover everything with the owner without forgetting. I would pull up a fork boot if you can and check the forks for vertical scratches. I have one set of old forks with these scratches due to worn out fork bushings. In my 83/4 fork housings, these bushings are pressed in and not easily replaced.

If the bike has been serviced and nothing is bent or out of alignment, then it could be exactly what you are looking for. If your doing mild trail riding, the stock 83 suspension will work fine.

Buying something this old will be a bit of a gamble. Make sure your expectations are aligned with reality
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