Honda XR400R - Dirt Rider Magazine

Dirt Rider's first multiple-bike 24-Hour test was based around the 266-pound Honda XR400R. It was a great bike then; the only 400cc four-stroke of the time with good bottom- and mid-rpm power. Yamaha and KTM have been through three full generations of machinery since then, yet the XR is largely unchanged. That fact makes it a little long in the tooth in this crowd; nevertheless, the XR remains a slim, nimble bike with outstanding steering, proven reliability and affordability, no pesky radiators to squish and all the equipment needed to be legal anywhere, anytime. It meets the federal standards for an off-road bike as well as California standards for off-road registration (the state's green sticker). The XR is the choice of 90 percent of adventure tour/off-road rental companies for a reason: It is dead reliable and Honda backs that claim with a six-month warranty.Honda removed the airbox snorkel for our test, but otherwise the $5299 bike stayed stone stock with EPA-lean jetting and the engine ran perfectly at all rpm. You can't avoid the fact that the XR is down on peak power. A stocker makes around 30-31 horsepower, and that is probably at least 10 less than the other 400/450 four-strokes. For any logical trail use aside from sand hillclimbs, though, the XR churns out plenty of power, and what it makes is very good. The engine pulls strongly down low, has a solid midrange and revs well for a mildly tuned air-cooled bike. There is no E-start, but it cranks over easily and reliably. The five-speed trans is good for a little more than 70 mph, but first will save your butt in the tightest trail predicaments.The suspension is plush with decent travel, but again, judged as a trailbike, not a race bike. If you could find a slimy, awful, technical race where survival was more important than speed, the XR would still be a weapon. The seat is the best in this test by a wide margin. Firm enough but still a great place to sit for long distances. All of the control efforts are reasonable, and the XR requires minimal care to provide many years of service.The handling is very nimble with tight steering, yet the bike is comfortable in fifth gear as well. Stay away from deep whoops if you can, though, and watch the toes in rocks.Test riders rated this bike highly as a trail companion. The fact that the XR remains a barrel of fun to ride, is undeniably 50-state legal, has a great warranty and is reasonably priced keeps it a viable choice even in this group.When I am way too many miles from nowhere, sign me up for an XR400R. I don't care how quickly or stylishly I get to civilization, but I insist on getting there. No bike does that better than the XR400R. If you've been known to tip over but think the XR isn't cool enough for you, price a radiator. Karel KramerSoft suspension and a soft seat make this a fun bike to trail ride on. It doesn't have the E-button but kicks over very easily. I would need to make quite a few modifications if I wanted to race the XR, but it's perfect for going riding with my friends. Elmer SymonsI don't know why there were negative comments about the XR. As soon as I hopped on it I felt right at home. I don't think this bike gave anything away to the DR-Z400. I would put it in my garage. Kip TempleI wasn't interested in riding the XR at first, but after five minutes, I realized why the XR has a large following. I was shocked at how fast I could corner because it hugs the ground so well. Then I bottomed out and slammed my foot into a rock. The XR stacks up well against the new machinery. Jason WebbThis Honda is made to stand up to abuse, and it really does. No radiators to ruin or overheat on the trail. It offers decent power and suspension action day in and day out. Nimble handling, great brakes and comfy ergos make it a pleasure to ride anywhere at any time, but it's not a race bike. Ed TrippThe XR400R was one of the most fun bikes to ride in these conditions. The motor won't win on the dyno, but it has decent torque and pretty good mid and felt fast in some of the sections. The suspension worked fairly well, it's easy to start and has Honda's fit and finish. Tom CarsonI have owned stone-reliable XR400Rs in the past, and this one is as comfortable as a tennis shoe. The seat felt great after a night of riding bricks, the suspension was pleasantly soft and compliant and the power was the most user-friendly. It took less energy to ride than the other bikes. I might have to buy another one. Ray Gibbs

ADVERTISEMENT