Honda XR 600R
Honda XR 600R
Air cooled, four-stroke, single cylinder SOHC, 4 valve.
Bore x Stroke
97 x 80 mm
2x Keihin carb
- / kick
46 hp 33.5 kW @ 6000 rpm
51.9 Nm @ 5500 rpm
5 Speed / chain
43mm Air assisted telescopic forks
Pro-link single shock 3-way hydraulic preload
14-way compression and 4-wya rebound damping.
Single 256mm disc 2 piston caliper
1985 - 1987 Honda XR 600
realizing that more cc's meant more
power, injected a 100cc 85 XR 500
dose to the XR 500 engine making
the XR 500 an XR 600 in 1985.
This made a fairly strong running
machine run a bit stronger. Other changes
included an aluminum, rather than steel
swingarm, a dry sump engine oiling
system, and frame changes.
for graphics, the XR 600 did not
change appreciably until 1988.
How many motorcycles can you name that won Baja 1000 races
spanning a 12-year period? Not to mention nine off-road championships and dozens
of other major off-road events. Only one motorcycle makes the cut: Honda's
mighty XR®600R. Honda's off-road four-strokes have been immensely successful in
terms of both sales and race wins for decades, and the most successful of them
all is the legendary XR600R.
First introduced in 1985, the XR600R could claim the XR500R as its predecessor.
That bike, first introduced in 1979, also proved to be a favorite of dirt riders
everywhere and amassed racing victories all over the world and in a staggering
variety of conditions.
The XR600R introduced a number of key features, not the least of which centered
on its engine, a power plant that produced lots of grunty torque as well as
class-leading top-end power, all spread over an easy-to-ride, seemingly
limitless range. It retained the 500's SOHC four-valve RFVC (Radial Four Valve
Combustion Chamber) head for maximum valve area. The XR was fed by twin 28mm
Keihin carbs (the same as the 500's except for revised jetting). Spent gasses
exited through a new, longer, twin headpipe system and redesigned muffler/spark
Transforming the dry-sump motor from a 500 to a 600 required
surprisingly few changes. Honda's engineers bored the crankcases to accommodate
a 3mm-larger bore, while a new crank yielded 5mm more stroke for dimensions of
97.0 x 80mm and an actual displacement of 591cc. While the 600 obviously didn't
need as much compression to gain extra torque (permitting it to run on
lower-octane fuel found in out-of-the-way places throughout Baja), the new
bike's larger, redesigned valves opened in tapered inlet ports to add mid-range
Like Honda's Baja 1000 race-winning XR500s, the 600 featured recalibrated,
longer-travel suspension; a new frame with a stout square-section downtube and
aluminum swingarm; and an easy-access, no-tools-required airbox cover. The
160-watt generating system was also a direct result of Baja influence. An
innovative electronic enduro meter widened the XR600R's appeal, as it provided
accurate tracking of distance, speed and time. Trail riders as well as enduro
racers found it useful and, if nothing else, very cool.
The remarkable XR600R made headlines throughout its long model life. It won its
first Baja 1000 in 1986 by 45 minutes, thanks to riders Chuck Miller and Bruce
Ogilvie (both current and longtime Honda employees). In all, the 600 would win
the Baja 1000 four times, the Baja 500 three times, the Nevada Rally once,
Barstow-to-Vegas once and more desert races than you can count. It was also
amazingly versatile: Scott Summers built his reputation by winning nine AMA
National championships contested in the woods (four in Hare Scrambles and five
in Grand National Cross Country) on XR600s. Summers also won three gold medals
in the International Six Days Enduro-the Olympics of motorcycling-racing against
the best enduro racers from every nation on their ground.
Through the years, the XR600R was campaigned in motocross and dirt- track races
as well, yet throughout its design evolution it never moved far from its
original concept. A single 40mm carb replaced the twin mixers, stainless steel
headpipes increased durability, an automatic decompression system made starting
the bike easy, 43mm CR-style cartridge fork and revalved shock improved
suspension response, while an optional Power-Up Kit increased power by 25
percent through a larger piston and a few other changes. The XR600R also
received a rear disc brake to complement the front disc it used from the start.
Most significant, the XR600R provided a springboard for the incredible XR650R
introduced in 2000. Like the XR500R before it, the XR600R laid the foundation
for an evolutionary leap forward, and inspired innovations in the XR650R, such
as an aluminum chassis and liquid-cooled engine. In only its first year, the
XR650R posted overall wins in the Baja 1000, Baja 500 and the grueling Nevada
The XR650R is an amazing machine, but no matter how many records the new XR650R
breaks, the XR600R's incredible 15-year off-road reign will never be forgotten.
Review Dirt Bike Rider 1985
After several months of abusing the Honda XR600,
our minds began to open up to the truly fine virtues of the four-stroke rhino.
At first the machine feels too heavy, and on tighter, rock-infested trails,
darts around like a Super Ball on a billiards table. But, something about the
monster soothed our hardened attitudes. It's a rip-roaring gas to ride and one
of the most bulletproof warriors in our stable of machines. We decided to
fine-tune the beast in an effort to neutralize the odd-handling warts that
bothered us during the initial testing.
We contacted Al Baker and spent several days with
him at his ranch in the high desert of California. Al sweats out more knowledge
about XRs than most people ever think about learning. He's raced them, lived
with them, and in the end, knows every aspect of the machine.. .inside and out.
Al pointed out that the XR600 can actually be improved dramatically without
spending a single nickel!
ON THE LEVEL
Al hammered into us this one important fact:
Because the XR600 carries much of its weight up high (a tall and heavy engine,
plus the fuel tank), setting up the suspension is actually more critical than it
is on a 210-
pound motocrosser! The right balance between the forks and the rear end dictates
the handling prowess of the 300-pound animal.
In stock trim the forks have an oil level of
127mm from the top of the tubes (with the springs out and the forks collapsed).
He bumps the level up to 115mm from the top of the tubes, using five-weight fork
oil. This mod will still let the forks stroke out their full travel but firms up
the mid-range damping and lets the forks absorb killer G-out impacts. Heavier
riders or experts can benefit by welding up one of the compression holes on the
Now, just as significant is the rear shock sag.
The steering angle/turning qualities of the XR are very sensitive to the
rear-end sag of the machine. Set up correctly, the XR has high-speed etiquette
and will carve through a turn like a dolphin. Wrong settings will make the
machine push and plow through the corners like the Love Boat.
Sizes and weights of riders vary, so the rear sag
is set according to the individual rider's weight. In a fully unladen condition,
measure the distance from the axle nut to the seat bolt. Then, with the rider on
board, preferably with someone balancing the machine from the front so the rider
can put his .full weight on the bike with his feet on the pegs, measure again
from the axle nut to the seat bolt. A total of 112mm of sag is perfect!
Remember, you're setting the steering head angle by setting the sag. Not enough
sag will push the forks out, and the machine won't turn. Too much spring preload
forces the front end down, and the XR will knife violently in the corners and
shake its head like a wounded water buffalo.
The 112mm of sag is ideal!
There's a chance that heavier riders (over 200 pounds) will not be able to
preload the spring enough to get the needed 112mm of sag. Use a beefier spring,
then set your sag at 112mm as mentioned. The stock Honda XR350 spring works
Al also recommends several companies who offer
products for the expert XR owner: Progressive Suspension, Al Baker R&D, and
Works Performance. Progressive sells a heavier set of front springs that are
ideal for the hard-charging rider, and Al Baker R&D can revalve the stock shock,
altering the compression shim stack and reducing the inherent fade problems of
the shock. Works Performance can modify the stock shock with their Transplant
kit. Works resprings and revalves the shock. We'll go into these mods in more
detail at a later date, but for now, we thought we'd pass on the info.
HERE ARE SEVERAL OTHER NOTES
• Do not run heavier oil in the forks
(five-weight is ideal). Thicker oil pressurizes the air volume in the forks and
makes them too stiff in the mid-stroke.
• Lubricate the dust seal on the forks. Simply lift the fork boots, pop off the
dust/ scraper seal and drip some oil under it. This makes the damping action
• If you blow a fork seal, DO NOT buy the XR600 seal kit! It retails for around
20 bucks. A standard CR480 Honda fork seal works perfectly and sells for about
POKIN' AND STROKIN' We're going to run down a list that Al Baker gave us on
setup and minor modifications—other than suspension.
• Brand-new XRs should be broken in with non-detergent oil. After 200 miles,
switch to a high-performance motor oil and change the oil filter. The first
200-mile oil filter change is critical, because all kinds of little metal chips
are floating around and can plug up the filter. After this, change the oil and
the filter every 1000 miles.
• Cut the fire retardant screen out of the air filter. It's as thick as a Brillo
Pad and chokes the XR's breathing. Breathing is critical to a four-stroke! The
main benefit here will be improved throttle response and about a five-percent
horsepower gain! You won't feel the difference on top, but coming out of the
corners or in thick, heavy loam, you will feel the improvement.
Al uses PJ1 filter oil. Some filter oils have
combustible properties, and without that screen the air filter can catch on
fire. Al has used PJ1 for years and has never had a problem.
• Turn the compression release around so you can use it with your thumb. In
tight, ugly trails you can pull in the clutch and stab the lever quickly if the
machine stalls. This makes bump-starting a cruise.
• The stock rear brake shoes are garbage. They work well but wear out quickly.
When you're ready for a new set, get '85 OEM replacements. They're more durable
and made from a tougher compound.
• Desert racers may prefer a 46-tooth rear sprocket rather than the standard 48.
You still have plenty of low gearing for the tight dez, and the engine actually
runs cooler at high speeds.
• The front IRC tire actually works better reversed. This simple mod can save
some bucks and lend a new polish to steering manners.
• Torque the footpeg bolts to 45 footpounds. They'll loosen under stress and
need constant attention.
• Replace the stock handlebars with Answer Products models. The stock bars are
rolled and welded steel, with the crossbar brazed in place. The Answer chromoly
units are twice as strong.
Source DIRT BIKE 1985