Honda XL 600R Paris Dakar



Make Model

Honda XL 600R




Four stroke,  single cylinder, SOHC, 4 valve per cylinder, RFVC radial valve


589 cc / 35.6 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 100 x 75 mm
Cooking System Air cooled
Compression Ratio 9.0:1


2 x 28mm piston valve


Solid state CD
Starting Primary kick with automatic compression release

Max Power

33 kW / 45 hp @ 6500 rpm

Max Torque

48.8 Nm / 36 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm


5 Speed 
Final Drive Chain

Front Suspension

39mm Showa air-adjustable leading-axle forks with dual Syntallic bushings
Front Wheel Travel 220 mm / 9.0 in

Rear Suspension

Pro-link with adjustable rebound damping
Rear Wheel Travel 203 mm / 8.0 in

Front Brakes

Single 240mm disc 2 piston calliper

Rear Brakes

140mm Drum

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre

Wheelbase 1420mm / 55.9 in
Seat Height 860mm / 33.8 in
Ground Clearance 274 mm / 10.8 in
Dry Weight 134 kg / 295.5 lbs

Wet Weight

145 kg / 321 lbs

Fuel Capacity

12 Litres / 3.2 US gal

Consumption Average

46.2 mpg

Standing ¼ Mile  

14.0 sec  /  90 mph

Top Speed

160 km/h / 100 mph

 Dirt Bike Rider Review 1986

Acacophony of sound assaulted my ears as I opened the door to the 7-Eleven. The staccato sound of video machines blared from the left, where a group of pre-pubescent high school students pounded with unrestrained vengeance on the electronic money magnets. I approached a dark-skinned clerk who was standing behind the counter, casually blowing the wrappers off Slurpee straws and watching them settle like so many paper airplanes.


"Is this where I sign up for the race?" I queried.
"Paris to Dakar, Barstow to Vegas, or Bayonne to Atlantic City?" he countered.
"You mean they actually have a rally in New Jersey?"
"No, but three people have already signed up for it anyway. Could I interest you in a few lottery tickets?"
"Forget it, no one ever wins anything in that lottery. I just want to sign up for the race. Paris to Dakar."
"Is that your bike out there in the parking lot—the one the garbage truck just ran over?" said the clerk.
"No," I replied. "I'm riding that XL600, the one parked over by the dairy case. Sorry about the tread marks on the floor."

Judging from the puzzled look on your face, I can tell that you know very little about racing and even less about the motorcycle you ride."
'Well, then, Mr. Ali Baba, what makes you think you know more?"
"Great karma," the sheik quipped, "and a seven-week accredited night course in Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. For instance, I can sum up all that is new on your 1986 model in two words."
"Go ahead," I snapped, "let's hear it."
"Paint and graphics," said the sheik.
"That's three words, Mr. Know-It-All."
"Ah.. .diplomatic, like most Americans.  to you, Abmuley.. .by the way, if you know so much about bikes, what are you doing working in this 7-Eleven?" □
If you would please see fit to stop joking, I will give you advice that may save you from becoming vulture chow."
"Go on, I'm listening."


"The first thing you must know is that this Honda is not designed for severe off-road ventures such as Paris to Dakar. It will, however, serve you well in less demanding circumstances, such as a trip to the mountain fire roads, or, in your instance, to the dairy case."
"Great," I replied, "tell me something I don't know."
"The logarithm of a number TV to the base A is the exponent X of the power to which the base must be—"
"About the motorcycle!"
"The Honda XL600 is designed 70 percent to 30 percent in favor of street use."
"Well, that may be what the engineers intended, but I've managed to claw my way through more than a few tight situations on the trails. That bike will take you where you want to go."

"That is no doubt due to the XL's superior horsepower output."
"Now you're talking," I said. "That big red thumper will rip rocks out of the ground and chew up the asphalt, to boot! We're talking high performance here."
"Engine performance, yes. Chassis performance, however, is not so good for traversing the sand dunes. Too much bulk, not enough travel, marginal dirt tires. It is, however, the best of the large four-stroke, how you say.. .dual-purpose-type machines for off-road use. Some of the competitors have electric starting systems and watercooling. This adds to their machines' already considerable bulk, making them hard to navigate through the dunes. And camel jumping is out of the question."
"Who said anything about jumping animals?"
"I was talking about cigarettes—100-millimeter Camels, of course." The XL's suspension is much too soft for something like this, for instance."


The sheik reached down on the newsstand and picked up a copy of Dirt Bike with a photo of Jim Holley and Steve Schmitz hanging ten while doing synchronized halfgainers over the Goodyear Blimp.

"Aw... nobody really rides like that. Everyone knows those photos are all faked anyway.. .trick photography or something," I said.
"Or unadulterated fearlessness coupled with exceptional natural ability, of which you exhibit very little."
"How do you know that? You've never seen me ride."
"I watched you do that rather awkWard maneuver around the corners on your way into the parking lot. A poor excuse for a 'Mamola.'"
"I hit a crushed beer can and slipped a bit, so what's the big deal?"
"I knew there had to be a reason," said Abdul. "The Honda is a very capable cornering machine. It works especially well in the smooth dirt roadways of my native country and the fast canyon twisties of SoCal."

"I can tell by the lingo that you've been to the Rock Store a few times."
"I own it, but that is not important to you. What you need to learn is that with patience and practice your Honda will serve you especially well on the street. It is very capable. It also gets good gas mileage. Are you sure I can't interest you in some lottery tickets? You know what they say, You've got to play to win.'"
"No way, I think I'll pass on that one. I gotta get going anyway. It's been nice talkin' to you, Abmuley.. .by the way, if you know so much about bikes, what are you doing working in this 7-Eleven?" □