1978 Honda XL75
The Honda wings gave me freedom!
It started leaking oil around the front transmission sprocket seal shortly before I sold it.
Everything else was cosmetic and my fault.
The XL-75 is as tough as an anvil. I got the bike new when I turned 13 and it was my first bike. The top speed on the speedometer was 50 and I usually was going flat out on the back roads where I grew up. Full throttle was this bike's life. The speed limits on those country roads were 45 and 50, so I had to go that fast. And I liked having it pegged, going through each gear. The actual real world top speed was probably 46 or so due to speedo error. It was that Honda orange-red, and had the Honda wings decals on the gas tank and the model designation on the plastic pop-in side covers. The seat was black. Cops never looked twice at me, even though "I" was riding at max.
I ran that bike up and down wood trails, mud trails, stone trails, logging roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, across creeks and mud flats and whatever else was in front of me. It was light enough to drag over an obstacle or turn around if the trail got difficult. IT NEVER BROKE unless I broke something myself like bashing a turn signal against a log. I trusted that poor bike to get me home no matter what. I rode her hard. For 10,000 miles, of which 5,000 has to have been at full steam. I'd go through a car wash to spray mud off the bike AND me, spraying directly onto the hot cylinder, engine case and exhaust and hop on the wet seat and ride home.
I replaced the chain and the rear sprocket once when they showed wear. This was in the days before sticky polymer chain lubes, I used motor oil in a squirt can to lube the chain.
I changed the oil and did maintenance when the manual told me to. I did all the maintenance myself, the manual explained how to do all that pretty well. I don't ever recall it running dry before the next oil change. I'd clean the foam air filter with gas and lube it by massaging oil into the foam by hand. There was no oil filter, just a drain hole.
It handled great, going through curves & tracking on the straights. Totally predictable. On knobby trailbike tires. If I twisted up the front forks on a trail and the handlebars weren't exactly pointed where I was headed, I'd put the front wheel between my knees and twist the handlebars until it was tracking straight again. Both front and rear brakes were drums, I never even replaced the brake shoes, but I'd take off the drum to let the brake dust out.
The tank took a gallon and a half of gas, with a 1/4 gallon reserve. It got good mileage, at least 100 miles before hitting reserve, so that's 80 mopg.
Now that gas costs 4x as much, I'd put street tires on it and gear the sprockets for gas mileage. I bet it would get 100 MPG if ridden gently.
Lots of good times and memories.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th May, 2008
15th Oct 2009, 20:21
Great review! The XL75 was my first bike too, and your comments brought a smile to my face. There's a reason so many people respect and buy Hondas - they are beautifully engineered machines with soul of their own - once you get to know them. I moved on to an XL125, XL185 and XL250. Now I ride a VTX1800!