The Honda XR200, I know what you guys must be thinking… messenger bike… seriously speaking, this is one of those things you can compare to trusty old pair of pliers that just keeps on working.
The first version of this motorcycle came out it the mid ‘80s, I’m sure most of us learned how to ride a motorcycle on one of these. At least for the local market not much has changed asides from the electric starter, front disc brake and updated color scheme.
The engine is the same old carbureted 2-valve single cylinder 200cc (196.9cc to be exact) air-cooled 4 stroke motor with a 5-speed transmission which puts out a maximum of 12.1 hp @ 8,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 12 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm.
The chassis consists of a semi-double cradle tubular steel frame with aluminum wheels. To cushion the bumps, suspension consists of a tubular front fork and a mono shock pro-link swing arm at the rear. Stopping power consists of a single ventilated disk up front and mechanical drum brake at the rear and takes only 9 liters of unleaded gasoline to fill the tank.
It may not be as pretty and sharp looking as say a modern enduro from the other manufacturers. There’s a good reason why this bike is the way it is, why change something that works? A couple friends and I have first hand experience with this bike, we were in Puerto Princesa in Palawan a couple of years back and wanted to explore the northern part of the island and decided to rent motorcycles. There were a bunch of different brands being rented out but we decided on the XR. Our trip was a 3hour 164km run one way, which consisted of paved and dirt roads including an old logging road through the mountains.
On the highway, the XR200 isn’t the most comfortable bike to ride. At highway speeds, there is a noticeable vibration (most likely from the knobby tires) especially on high revs, so riding wide-open for long periods of time can leave your hands tingly for a good while after riding. Another concern is the narrow seat, which is actually pretty painful to sit on for more than an hour, you will have to ride standing up once in a while to get the feeling back in the seat of your pants. The ones we rode were ’08 models, and Honda replaced it with a wider more comfortable saddle. The mileage you get makes up for the not so comfortable ride and lack of top-end speed. The XR can do 31 kilometers to the liter!
Once you get off the highway and onto the road less traveled. This is where the XR200 starts to shine and show its true colors. The bike is really easy to ride and tracks well on dirt. The power of the 200cc. engine is actually just right, which is perfect for those who are first timers on dirt. This is hugely attributed to the light weight of the bike, which weighs in at 116 kg. Dry. last but certainly not the least, the bikes showed a lot of abuse but still got us there and back without a hiccup. This goes to show their reliability and why they didn’t change much since the 80’s.
And that’s why as soon as I got back to Manila, I got myself an XR200 of my own! To make things more civilized for my purposes, I made a few changes to the bike and turned it into an XR200 motard. I’ve had the bike for a little over four years and have no intentions of letting it go anytime soon.
Engine: Air-cooled, single cylinder, sohc, 2 valves, 4 stroke
Displacement: 196.9 cc
Max Power: 12.1 hp @ 8,000 rpm
Max Torque: 12 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
Seat Height: 858 mm
Fuel Capacity: 9 Liters
Tire, Front: 2.75 – 21
Tire, Rear: 4.10 – 18
Brakes, Front/ Rear: Disc/Drum
Dry Weight: 116 kg.
Top Speed: 105 Km/h
Price when brand new (2010): PhP 209,000