| || || |
1973 XL250 Motosport
The XL-250 Motosport was an important milestone in the continued development of motorcycles worldwide. Honda Motor Co. posted their celebration to the XL-250 on their Heritage website, and it reads as it follows:
“The early 1970s witnessed a flurry of development in off-road and dual-purpose bikes that is still without peer for its diversity and excellence in execution. This was an era of freewheeling experimentation; the desert-racing scene was huge at this time, and on any given weekend hundreds of hard-bitten racers would line up toe-to-toe on everything from 90cc two-strokes to 650cc British twin-cylinder desert sleds.
Two-stroke motorcycles from Europe were often a dominant force in racing at this time, and although Honda had achieved some success with the SL-350, a dual-purpose variant of the venerable road-going CB350 twin, dealers and consumers alike were begging for a purpose-built Honda dirt bike.
Honda delivered with the 1972 XL250 Motosport, a single-cylinder thumper with a trick four-valve head, upswept exhaust system and a serious off-road chassis, high fenders and all.
The first XL wasn't perfect, but it was definitely inspired, as Cycle magazine enthused about "Honda's first-declared all-out dirt bike," in its April 1972 ride test of the XL250 Motosport. Specifically, the technical analysis virtually waxed poetic about the elegant four-valve head, and raved that "the intake port is divided upstream of the valve-heads-a casting masterpiece!"
Other comments included, "It almost goes without saying that the bike is beautiful: clean, unexaggerated, functional, subtle, and perhaps even a bit Spartan." As a foreshadowing of Honda four-strokes to come, the magazine also remarked, "Once in motion, the bike pulls like a tractor... opening the throttle produces an instant surge of acceleration." Compared to the Spanish Bultaco Matador, one of the premier all-out off-road bikes of the early 1970s, Cycle editors declared, "The Honda is much faster. On straight sections, the XL would inexorably pull away and keep on pulling away."
In closing, the road test summed up the 1972 XL250 in the following fashion: "Once again Honda has produced a dirt bike that is perfect for the off-road enthusiast who wants a civilized bike that requires no huge maintenance hassle, doesn't use a great amount of fuel, and isn't required to get him across really bad country in any particular hurry."
Ironically, those words would resound with a hollow thud all too soon. A few months later, a race report in the October 1972 issue by Cycle's desert aficionado Dale Boller detailed how the XL250 took the overall win at the much-vaunted Virginia City Grand Prix. This event was described as a "money-paying half-scramble, half-motocross affair" that tallied 10 laps over an incredibly rugged 16-mile course. Case in point: out of the 170 entrants in the Sunday main event, only 73 finished!
Regarding the event-winning XL250, "Ron Jones was riding one of the four-valve Hondas, the machine all of the expert magazine road-testers said would never be a threat in major competition. But despite a field of darn good riders on 400 Ajays, Huskys and Maicos, 360 CZs and big Beezers and Triumphs, Jones smoked them all on his 250 Honda."
Boller went on to explain how Jones had taken his new 250 Motosport right out of the crate, removed the street-going bits and pieces, added some full knobbies, a skid plate and a few other odds and ends before taking his place on the starting line with only 25 miles on the odometer! For his efforts, Ron Jones took home a 10-pound brick of solid Comstock silver. For Honda's four-stroke single-cylinder dirt bikes, there was much, much more to come.”
Honda's flyers sent to dealerships upon the XL-250 Motosport release read:
“There are three musts for dirt – power, light weight and dependability. The new XL-250 delivers them all. The power’s dirt perfect.
The 250cc overhead cam single cylinder four-stroke engine packs big horses. And those horses come complete with a nice flat torque curve. The XL provides instant response in all five gears to flatten out ruts and blast through sand.
The XL weighs less then you’d think. The lights and battery are easily removable so you can cut the weight even further. How did Honda get the weight down so low? Lightweight magnesium was used in the engine wherever possible along with aluminum wheels and lightweight fenders.
Dependability has become a Honda trademark and the XL-250 continues the tradition. It features four valves, for measured efficiency. Two cable push-pull throttle system for quick, sure acceleration. And, of course, the strong Honda warranty!
In safety, Honda has always been a leader and the 250 has the features to prove it. Ignition cut-off switch; lockable helmet holder; USDA-approved spark arrestor/muffler. And for good looks in the dirt, you can’t beat the radical tucked-in pipe, the streamlined silver tank and the contoured seat.
It handles as good as it looks, too. Why not try it? Once you do, you won’t be able to live without it. The new Honda XL-250. Honda, world’s fastest moving motorcycle.