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Honda XL 250R
With its long-travel suspension and
smooth power plant, the new Pro-Link XL250R makes any road its home.
The running gear didn't get left out of the '82 refinement process. A new, lighter frame utilizes a single-shock Pro-Link rear suspension system (in place of the previous dual-shock setup) and an air-adjustable fork with 35mm legs. The box-section swing arm's snail-type chain adjusters allow quick wheel changes—always an advantage when it comes time to repair a flat. A 21-inch front wheel also replaced Honda's former—and unconventional—23-inch hoop.
During last year's redesign Honda opted to exchange the original XL's leading-trailing front brake for a double-leading-shoe design to provide better braking power.
For 1983, however, Honda has reverted to leading/ trailing actuation. The reason for the about-face is simple. With leading/ trailing brake design, opposite ends of the two brake pads (one "leading" and one "trailing") are actuated to contact the drum with maximum force. When the wheel spins forward the single leading edge has more braking power because the drum, in essence, jams into the pad; the trailing edge contributes less because the drum skims over it. When the wheel spins backward, however, the trailing edge becomes the leading, so a leading-trailing system has equal braking power whether the wheel (or bike) is moving forward or backward. A double-leading setup, consequently, provides better braking power than a leading/trailing design during forward motion—but not backward. The implications are obvious. Run your double-leading-shoe bike almost to the top of a hill, grab the brake to keep from rolling back down, and . . . surprise—not much action. Hence the switch. The trend for race bikes is to go for maximum power; the trend for dual-purpose bikes is toward versatility.
Also new this year is the introduction of a California-only model, differing from the 49-state version only in the addition of a small recovery canister for gas tank and carburettor fumes. Venting these fumes into a special filter meets California's evaporative emission standards. Though we tested the California model, we figure the canister setup will not affect performance, so our comments should apply to 49-state models too.
All these refinements,
especially the new chassis and the counter balancer, have helped keep the XL
to 295 pounds with a full tank—only five pounds more than the XR250R we
tested in November 1981. Although the XL's diet helps, its dry weight is
still some 40 pounds greater than that of the average 250-class motocrosser
and about 20 pounds more than the average two-stroke woods bike. The extra
weight, of course, compromises the Honda's performance in the rough but, as
with all dual-purpose bikes, that's the price paid for highway capability.
On the highway, the engine
strains only beyond 60 mph, and sixth gear usually suffices—except on
up hills. Even slight grades challenge the engine, forcing a downshift to
fifth and sometimes fourth if the up-going gets rough—that's just about
average for a 250cc single. Those gear changes will come slick and easy,
though, thanks to a short, smooth shifting action. Although engine vibration
levels are low for a dirt bike, they are higher than average for a street
machine. Rides of up to an hour or so are no problem, but long-distance
adventures may leave you road weary.
The suspension works well and
doesn't bottom when dropping off deep ledges, but after hard riding for 20
minutes or so the rear shock begins fading. All in all, the XL handles any
ground capably as long as the rider respects the dual-purpose limitations
imposed principally by its trials tires; even when pushed beyond those
limits, though, the XL's forgiving handling gives plenty of warning before
the bike gets too squirrelly.
The gas tank's large-diameter
filler neck makes refueling clean and easy.
Source Cycle Guide 1983