Pick of the Ads: Good, Bad & Ugly - Honda adventure bikes

Author: Scott Redmond Posted: 22 Apr 2016

Each week we bring you three selected bikes from the online world of the classified ads and auction sites in the form of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Casting his expert eye over the internet for your benefit is Scott Redmond who has written for almost every classic motorcycle magazine in the UK and for over 25 years he's bought, sold and broken up motorcycles for parts. From doing deals in person under the streetlights of London to surfing the web and buying bikes on his phone he's purchased bargains, howlers and few he'd rather forget.

Here is this week's selection:

THE GOOD: Honda XRV750 Africa Twin

The Good: Honda XRV750 Africa Twin

eBay link: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/331836516525?ul_noapp=true

How times change, introduced in 1990 to a market dominated mostly by race replica tackle, the Africa Twin struggled to carve itself a niche in the UK market. With a few nips and tucks to its original design, it cluttered up the showroom in Honda dealerships throughout the land, taking its final bow in 2003, although some stock hung around well beyond.

The adventure bike market is now bang on trend. On what feels like a weekly basis, another bigger and better model appears down at the watering hole wanting to muscle its way in on the action.

Honda have relaunched the Africa Twin back into its range, and from what I understand it’s going down very well.

The tsunami effect of all these new machines means adventure bikes from the past are also back in demand.

The Africa Twin is a perfect example. When Honda killed it off in 2003 it retailed at around the six grand mark, thirteen years later you’re going to need at least half of that to stick an XRV750 in your garage.

This example is pretty typical of the breed. There’s something this model has that means they rarely get in the wrong hands, and therefore on the whole survive quite well. This bike is currently owned by an enthusiastic Africa Twin fan, he’s showered the bike with TLC and even a replacement engine all of 10 miles ago.

We can all get swept away in our romantic notions, but personally I’d prefer it if the bike had had a bit more punishment on it since the major heart surgery, after all none of these original machines are getting any younger.

Anorak Facts


  • The Africa Twin uses twin plug cylinder heads.
  • If you want more puff from your XRV you could always add a 840cc big bore kit.
  • Fuel pumps are a common weak spot on what’s otherwise a rather solid machine.




THE BAD: Honda XL400V Transalp

The Bad: Honda XL400V Transalp

eBay link: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/281996978381?ul_noapp=true

Adventure bikes are usually huge chunks of manly metal, but there are smaller options for those who want a practical motorcycle without the goliath proportions. Meet David, he’s a pint sized adventure bike, which is both a good and bad thing.

This bike was designed for the Japanese market, which is why it’s got a 400cc engine. I can’t think of a single reason why it’s washed up on our shores?

Visually it’s identical to the XL600V Transalp that we got here in the UK. Although a capable bike it was never taken too seriously by bikers at the time. The water cooled  v twin four stroke engine does present newbie riders with the opportunity to swing their leg over the well padded saddle, being that, due to it’s lack of horses it’s A2 license friendly.

For those who get off on the mpg instead of the mph it’ll return you 60 to the gallon if all that’s said by owners on the internet is true?

A quick spy at the listing reveals this twin pot 400 is mechanically tip top. All major consumables have been tended to and there’s even a Scottoiler fitted.

That’s still not enough to tempt me to get involved with a Transalp 400 when there’s still plenty of 600 offerings out there.

Anorak facts


  • Check rims for corrosion, they rot from the inside out, which is tricky to detect.
  • Parts for Japanese imports can be tricky to obtain, do your homework if you’ve never bought an import model before.




THE UGLY: Honda XL1000V Varadero

The Ugly: Honda XL1000V Varadero

eBay link: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/111958993539?ul_noapp=true

It’s no surprise that the Varadero wasn’t a box office smash. A large percentage of any bike purchase boils down to what it looks like, and not even Mrs Honda could love this gorky offspring's looks?

Looks though are skin deep, so with that in mind I’m going to wade behind the acres of plastics and dig a bit deeper.

The Varadero arrived in 2001. It was entering a market place ruled by Bavarian beasts. The boxer based bikes made the Honda look like it was punching above its weight.

Once on board things don’t get much rosier for the v twin adventurer.

Suspension was also on the soggy side of firm. Many owners, especially those who hadn’t missed too many dinners all opting to stuff aftermarket springs down the throats of the forks. Rear shock absorbers are often replaced with superior items.

Beating away beneath the bulbous bodywork is a detuned VTR1000 Firestorm engine. There’s not too many gripes here, other than early bikes only had five gears, something Honda addressed on the reworked model of 2003.

With demand outstripping supply for adventure bikes, those who can’t justify buying a shiny new bike will look around at previously enjoyed machines. This example looks a safe bet. There’s 26,000 miles on its bores and it still looks very presentable.

The asking price of £2,295 is one thing about this Varadero that’s very attractive.

Anorak facts


  • The reworked 2003 model saw fuel injection replace the carbs.
  • The engine is pretty solid, but cam chain tensioners are known to fail on high mileage bikes, with dire results.



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