Honda XR 600R



Make Model

Honda XR 600R




Four stroke, single cylinder, SOHC, 4 valve RFVC


591 cc / 36.0 cu-in

Bore x Stroke

97 x 80 mm

Compression Ratio


Cooling System

Air cooled


38 mm piston-valve Keihin carburetor.


Solid-state CDI



Max Power

46 hp / 33.5 kW @ 6000 rpm

Max Torque

51.9 Nm / 38.2 ft-lb @ 5500 rpm


5 Speed 

Final Drive

#520 O-ring-sealed chain: 14T/48T

Front Suspension

43 mm air-adjustable leading-axle Showa cartridge fork with eight-position
compression damping adjustability

Front Wheel Travel

295 mm / 11.6 in

Rear Suspension

Pro-Link single Showa shock with spring preload, 20-position compression and 20-position rebound damping adjustability

Rear Wheel Travel

280 mm / 11.0 in

Front Brakes

Single 256 mm disc 2 piston caliper

Rear Brakes


Front Tyre


Rear Tyre



1455.4 mm / 57.3 in

Seat Height

955.0 mm / 37.6 in

Ground Clearance

345.5 mm / 13.6 in

Dry Weight

134 kg / 295.5 lbs

Wet Weight

146 kg / 321.9 lbs

Fuel Capacity

10.5 Litres / 2.6 US gal

1985 - 1987 Honda XR 600

Honda, 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.

Except 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 arrestor.

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 punch.

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 2000.

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!


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 damper rods.

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 perfectly!

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.


• 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 smoother.
• 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 $4.

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