In 1984 Honda and its HRC racing division decided to develop a motorcycle to compete in long-distance overland races such as the Paris-Dakar.
1989-2003 Honda XRV750
In 1986 the Honda NXR750, specifically designed for races of extreme hardship and endurance, won the Dakar. The NXR was ahead of the competition in every way. It was the first liquid-cooled motorcycle to win and dominated the race for four years.
Using the knowledge gained with the NXR750, Honda launched the Africa Twin XRV650 in 1988. In honour of its rally wins it was painted in HRC colours mimicking the NXR, but had little in common with it. Honda developed that design into the XRV750, which was in production from 1989 until 2003 and recently revealed a new Africa Twin to be released in 2016.
The Africa Twin is a large adventure bike, powered by a softly-tuned V-twin. It has twin headlights, a windscreen, and a long dual seat which stretches back from the tank to an aluminium grabrail and plastic-coated luggage rack. An aluminium bashplate protects the bottom of the engine. In 1992, a Tripmaster computer was added before a major redesign including new frame, plastics, tank, engine modifications and a lower seat.
In 1996 the XRV gained an improved seat and clutch, larger silencer, modified upper fairing and luggage rack. However, the rear shock absorber lost some of its adjustability. The later XRV’s instruments feature a large trip computer LCD display mounted above the conventional speedometer and tachometer, styled like Dakar racers’ navigational displays, and incorporates a range of extra electronic timers and trip meters.
Nowadays good second-hand examples are keenly sought after and some accessories are still available, such as crashbars.
The bikes are very reliable and last well with regular maintenance. The most common issues I see on second-hand XRVs are caused by extended storage.
The fork legs are prone to rusting while the brake master cylinder and slave cylinder rubbers swell and the bores corrode, causing the brakes to feel stiff and drag on the discs. The only other issues with bikes of this age is that the air filters tend to fall apart and the carbies need some attention to make sure the needle and seats are all in good order. The engines themselves are generally bulletproof.
$2800 – $7200 (Glass’ Guide, July 2015)
The front has two 276mm discs with two-piston calipers. The rear has a single 256mm disc with single-piston caliper.
The frame is a rectangular-section steel unit with a single downtube and double cradle. Alloy is used for the Pro-Link swingarm and bashplate.
Over its production life the XRV750 weighed between 205 and 209kg dry.
The motor is a 742cc, six-valve, four sparkplug, liquid-cooled V-twin with a single overhead camshaft.
The front runs a 43mm diameter air-assisted telescopic fork with 220mm of wheel travel.
1990-91 Yamaha XTZ750
1990-94 BMW R1000GS
1990-91 Suzuki DR750S
1990-2003 Kawasaki KLR650
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