1981 Honda XL 185

Guide Price - £3,000 - £4,000


・A lovely original one owner bike
・Exceptionally low mileage
・A great usable classic
・Mot & road tax exempt


The Honda XL 185 was a ‘dual sport‘ or ‘trail’ motorcycle introduced by Honda and made between 1979 and 1983. It was an updated and improved version of its well-known and well-respected predecessor, the XL 175. 

The single cylinder, overhead cam four-stroke engine produced 16 HP and handy torque for off-road trail riding. 

Top speed was a shade over 70 mph. Drum brakes up front and at the rear provides the stopping power.

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The current, and only owner bought this bike new, from Eddy Grimstead Scooters in Ilford, Essex.

It was in fact a wedding present, from his still current wife, and enjoyed many gentle off-road riding together with his wife on a Honda SL 125. The bike was usually trailered to favourite trail start points and as such has had very little on-road use.

When setting up the bike for the first time the original mirrors were never fitted and the indicators were removed, and the engine-stop switch was disabled… the switchgear and wiring are all still there should the new owner wish to reinstate these features.

The original Honda exhaust rusted away from the inside, as they all tended to do, and was replaced with the excellent Sammy Miller system which still does the job admirably.

In the 1990’s the bike was treated to a full frame and rear swinging arm respray in the factory correct Honda Red. The original Honda chrome wheels were also beginning to rust, another common problem, and were replaced with the rather fetching Akront alloys with rear security bolts, which were shod with new Bridgestone Trail-Wing tyres.

In 1999, changing gear became noticeably less smooth than it should have been…the diagnosed problem required the gearbox to have a replacement second gear which in turn meant the engine had to be stripped down and rebuilt in order to get to the gearbox. Both gearbox and engine have performed perfectly ever since.

In recent years it has also been treated to a new battery, exact replica rear shock absorbers and a new perfect replica twist grip. Mirrors have also been fitted and, fitting a new design coil assembly from the renowned David Silver Ltd has solved some cold start problems.

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This 1981 example of the Honda XL 185 has formed part of a large private collection of motorcycles and cars from all eras that the owner has enjoyed owning and using over the years. As such it was regularly serviced and looked after by the resident private mechanical engineer who was responsible for maintaining and looking after all the vehicles in the collection.

Kept in perfect dry storage with the rest of the collection it has regularly received all necessary maintenance as required. Cables and chains have been regularly adjusted and oiled, oils and filters changed and over the years it has had a set of brake pads. A new battery was also fitted recently.  If the bike was to be stored and not used over the winter period, all petrol would be drained from the tank and then re-filled with fresh petrol when re-commissioned. This kept the carbs and fuel pipes clean and free from petrol that had degraded over a winter.

As you can imagine with such little mileage and gentle usage over the years it hasn’t needed any major attention. The gearbox issue which arose, was quickly diagnosed and fixed by a specialist and, the replacement wheels and exhaust are all testament to the owner’s attention to detail and the high level of care that this XL185 has enjoyed all its life.

It starts first kick every time and everything works and functions as it should.

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The V5 is present and the motorcycle is supplied with one original key.

It is registered as an Historic vehicle and thus requires no MOT or Road Tax.

There are many, but not all, receipts and paperwork relating to the various works done over the years and there are many MOT certificates which all support the super-low mileage.

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The original white paint, side panels and factory decals still look great and provide a wonderful contrast with the painted red chassis and frame which overall make a really nice-looking motorcycle.

This is not a restored or concourse condition bike, and if you look closely at the pictures you will see the usual aging signs found on most Japanese bikes from this era, you will find some pitting and surface rusting on metal brackets, various nuts and bolts, and there is some slight rusting to be found at the base of the fuel tank.  

The right-hand side panel has a small oil stain and the chromed components are all beginning to show signs of rusting.

These small imperfections should almost be considered as patina these days when found on a 40-year-old bike and they all help add to the character, overall originality, and charm of this particular XL 185.

The Appeal

Un-restored and mainly original, low mileage examples of motorcycles from the early 90’s are getting harder to find. The continuing, growing demand for good classic motorcycles that can be enjoyed and ridden on that occasional or regular basis will ensure that bikes like this one will only continue to grow in value over the coming years.

This XL 185 is a great all-round bike with a great history and provenance, providing lively performance either on or off the road making it a very useable and fun bike to own and ride, hopefully for another 40 years.

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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

Please see our FAQ's here and our Terms & Conditions here

Please see our FAQs here and our Terms & Conditions here

Auction FAQs
Auction Details
  • Year 1981
  • Make Honda
  • Model XL185
  • Colour White
  • Mileage 1,235 Miles
  • Engine size 180
  • Seller Type Private
  • County Kent
  • Country United Kingdom
  • Auction ends
Bidding history
6 Bids from 3 bidders
  • ja•••• £2,700 07/05/21
  • an•••• £2,600 07/05/21
  • ja•••• £2,500 07/05/21
  • ja•••• £2,000 07/05/21
  • an•••• £1,500 07/05/21
  • Gr•••• £1,000 06/05/21

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