Home » The 2023 Honda XR150L Gives You The Purest Form Of Motorcycling For Just $3,000

The 2023 Honda XR150L Gives You The Purest Form Of Motorcycling For Just $3,000

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Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling, liberating travel experience that’s perhaps only rivaled by flying a plane. Take your steed out far enough and it’s just you, the open road, and a machine between your legs. As so many motorcycles feel a bit closer to cars today with neat technology, Honda wants to sell you a motorcycle that feels like your first bike, or might even become your first bike. The 2023 Honda XR150L dual sport offers some of the purest forms of motorcycling for a rock-bottom price of just $2,971.

Let me first get this out of the way: Honda says this machine is beginner-friendly, and looking at its details, I would agree. The 2023 Honda XR150L would be an excellent first motorcycle. You can learn how to perfect your skills on the road and off of the road with a lightweight motorcycle that can’t get you into too much trouble. However, I would recommend a used motorcycle for a new rider. Chances are you’re going to drop the thing and it’s better to drop something that’s already seen some action rather than something fresh off of the showroom floor.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Then again, the 2023 Honda XR150L is so inexpensive that perhaps you won’t be crying even if you did drop it. To illustrate how inexpensive this motorcycle is, it is the cheapest dual sport that you can get without going with an unknown brand drop-shipped bike from China.

23 Honda Xr150l Action Lifestyle 6

The 2023 XR150L is an all-new motorcycle for America this year, but it’s a design that’s been around for a while. Since 2014, the XR150L has already proven itself to be a durable machine in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. In the latter two regions, Honda markets the XR150L as a farm motorcycle. The 2023 model that will be available in America in April looks just like the 2014 one, and I haven’t found major differences between them.

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The 2023 Honda XR150L

23 Honda Xr150l Action Lifestyle 13

What I see is the perfect small displacement motorcycle to get you around town and through some trails. Honda says that for older riders, this motorcycle is supposed to remind them of their first motorcycle. You know the one, the motorcycle that perhaps got you into this hobby in the first place. And, I think this will hit the spot.

Bolted to the frame is a 149cc air-cooled single. This little lad is making 12.5 horses and it’s moving a motorcycle that weighs just 282 pounds. That’s not a lot of power, but in other markets, this machine is capable of hitting 70 mph depending on the rider and conditions. Realistically, this isn’t going to be a highway bike, but it’ll be perfect for bombing down backroads between the trails.

23 Honda Xr150l Action Lifestyle 15

After you swing a leg over the 32.8-inch seat, you’ll enjoy a motorcycle that calls back to the past. A single 240mm disc provides stopping power up front and a 110mm drum provides backup in the rear. Yep, this motorcycle is about as simple as you can get in 2023 with a carburetor, a drum brake, and a complete lack of aids like traction control or ABS.

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To further drill this home, check out the analog speedometer and odometer, which look ripped right out of the 1980s.

23 Honda Xr150l Action Lifestyle 2

What you will get is a capable machine. Its 31mm telescopic fork has 7.1 inches of travel, the Pro-Link monoshock has 5.9 inches of travel, and you get 9.6 inches of ground clearance. That’s pretty much it. As I said, you aren’t getting a bunch of tech or safety features. Instead, you’re getting a simple dual sport with the quality of a Honda.

Honda says that the new motorcycle touts the same reputation for reliability as its larger XR650L sibling. This XR150L isn’t going to win a Baja 1000, but Honda says that the DNA of the bigger XR is in there. However, there’s a lot more history here than Honda is telling us.

A Little Motorcycle With Heritage

Xr500
Honda via eBay

As Dirt Bike Magazine writes, the birth of the XR was Soichiro Honda’s idea. The magazine notes that it’s hard to pinpoint when was the birth of the XR, but most sources place it in the early 1970s. Back then, two-stroke dirt bikes were still popular, but Soichiro Honda preferred four-stroke engines. Dirt Bike Magazine continues that Honda even pushed for a four-stroke motocross machine to go against the raucous two-stroke competition. The magazine marks the birth of the series in 1971 when Honda tried and failed to enter its XL250 into motocross.

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The XL250 was high-tech with its four-valve overhead cam engine, but it was slower than the two-smokers of the day. Honda continued dirt bike development with teams getting split up to engineer two-strokes and four-strokes. The XL series consisted of street-legal dual sport motorcycles. The XR branding did exist, but only for the XR75 mini dirt bike.

That changed in 1979 when Honda released the XR500. It was Honda’s first dirt-only larger displacement four-stroke and it kickstarted what would be a famed line of durable and fast Hondas. In 1981, the dirt-only enduro racers got the “R” suffix while road-legal dual sport motorcycles got the “L” suffix. Dirt Bike Magazine elaborates on why these motorcycles became known around the world:

The company supported a four-stroke-based effort in Baja, going back to the Al Baker and Bill Bell era of the ’70s. The first real Honda in-house off-road team was in 1983, and that lead to a long string of desert success. Then completely out of left field, the XR600R attained legend status as a great woods in the hands of Scott Summers. No one saw that coming.

The XR600R was in Honda’s line from 1985 to 2000 as a dirt-only model, and was almost unchanged for the last 12 years of that run. And beyond that, the XR650L continues to this day as a dual-sport machine.
Oddly enough, the XR600R only won the Baja 1000 five times. The bike’s racing history really started in 1982 when Al Baker and Jack Johnson won the SCORE Baja 1000 on the second-year, single-shock XR500R. The XR500R won again in ‘84 and then the XR600R took over in ‘85. The 600 continued to win in ‘86 and ‘87. After a Kawasaki-created dry spell in Baja, the Honda XR600R again won the 1000 in ‘97 and ‘98, after which a redesigned XR650R took over.
On the east side of the country, the championships flowed freely thanks to the freakish abilities of Scott Summers. He won five GNCC titles, four National Hare Scrambles Championships, 69 individual national races and earned three ISDE gold medals on the XR.

23 Honda Xr150l Action Lifestyle 14

This nostalgia trip of a machine makes perfect sense to me. A lot of riders don’t want all of the tech you can get in some bikes, but something cheap that will be a lot of fun. The XR150L is that, and I bet you could keep this on the road with an adjustable wrench, some of Cleveland’s Finest, and duct tape.

 

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Last year, Honda gave us the Navi, a $1,807 mini motorcycle sporting a 109.2cc scooter engine and a similar lack of technology. That little motorcycle has gained a surprising number of adoring fans. This is not much more expensive with a lot more capability; I can see it being a hit, too.

23 Honda Xr150l Action Lifestyle 4

If you’re in the market for a new toy this riding season, Honda says that the 2023 Honda XR150L will go on sale this April for $2,971. The price will balloon a little thanks to a $400 destination charge and a $200 freight charge. Also watch out for dealerships adding a markup.

(All photos from the manufacturer unless otherwise noted.)

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David Logasi
David Logasi
1 year ago

This is a great motorcycle.
This review pretty much shows how robust and versatile the Honda XR 150L is.

https://youtu.be/S_uFtjWtl7w

Uninformed Fucknugget
Uninformed Fucknugget
1 year ago

I’m hoping they sell zillions of these so I can pick up a cheap used one in a couple years.

I have an early 2000s xr100 that my kids have literally beat the hell out of and it just won’t die. It has needed nothing but basic maintenance and wear items and has been way more trouble free than it’s pw80 stablemates.

Monadology
Monadology
1 year ago

I love a small-displacement bike so I’ll try to avoid grousing too much — I do struggle to see, though, how a carbed 150 with a rear drum justifies paying a dealership premium. In my neck of the woods $3000++ will get you a pretty plush used dirtbike, and it’s not like this one gets you any new tech. I guess if you’re really resistant to working on your own bike or you have extremely particular needs it’s a good pick, but I’m pessimistic on the outlook for this one.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
1 year ago

This could be an interesting bike to take on any of the BDRs or gravel trails but I call BS on the prices. Ive heard of horror stories for Navi dealer mark ups so im hoping it doesnt happen with this bike.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago

The Hydro brake up front and the lack of a kickstarter kill this for me. Put a cable brake up front and bring back the kickstarter, then I’d buy at least one, more likely 3 of them.

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago

This moderation shit gets tiring, maybe I write like a bot.

CSRoad says:
March 2, 2023 at 2:50 pm
Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
This is probably the ideal bike to learn the fundamentals of motorcycle riding, both on and off road. I figure by the time year is done you will be tired of it and wish for more power, however the cool thing is as long as it is in good shape the demand for beginner bikes is pretty high and it should be an easy trade or private sale. Now I know there are people out there who might find this a forever keeper and perfect for their use, but with maybe 11 or 12 claimed horsepower(???) at the crank, I can’t see it for myself. Sure it could commute and you could trail ride it, but getting between those might not be so easy depending on your location.

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
1 year ago
Reply to  CSRoad

Based on the comment I just dropped, I think it has to do with the number of times you hit enter/return. Probably as much of a spam filter as “hey maybe this guy is really upset about something, we should double-check what he’s ranting about.”

Jason Mason
Jason Mason
1 year ago
Reply to  CSRoad

This follow up comment posted 12 min after your original comment, FYI

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago

This is probably the ideal bike to learn the fundamentals of motorcycle riding, both on and off road. I figure by the time year is done you will be tired of it and wish for more power, however the cool thing is as long as it is in good shape the demand for beginner bikes is pretty high and it should be an easy trade or private sale.

Now I know there are people out there who might find this a forever keeper and perfect for their use, but with maybe 11 or 12 claimed horsepower(???) at the crank, I can’t see it for myself. Sure it could commute and you could trail ride it, but getting between those might not be so easy depending on your location.

Stephen Dillard
Stephen Dillard
1 year ago

If the Trail 125 is any indicator, you’ll be just as likely to find a pegasus at the local stables than one of these at your Honda dealer. That said, same as the Trail 125, I’m really glad they exist to expand this market segement.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
1 year ago

That’s a neat little bike! I’m tempted at that price.

Buzz
Buzz
1 year ago

Huh. I was thinking of selling my klr-650 for a Grom, but this seems like a better deal.

Serial Thriller
Serial Thriller
1 year ago
Reply to  Buzz

If you sell your KLR, how will you get around after the apocalypse?

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago

This bike looks great and I want one. I currently own a 2021 Monkey and it is an exceptionally easy and entertaining bike to ride. It is a lot of fun to be able to use 100% of the capability of a motorcycle without a high risk of dying or being arrested. You feel like you are on a racetrack just taking a ride around the block. A dual sport equivalent of that sounds like a lot of fun on trails.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago

“You can learn how to perfect your skills on the road and off of the road with a lightweight motorcycle”

This is a really excellent point. I learned to ride off-road on a dual-sport 250 before getting my license. Pitching the bike around, getting to know the handling and brakes, and hooning around in places with minimal traction IMO made me a better rider on the street. I enthusiastically recommend it.

If you get some experience breaking the rear wheel loose in dirt/mud/snow, you’ll be better equipped to recover if you lose traction due to gravel or oil on the road.

Chris Nolan
Chris Nolan
1 year ago

I have had a few different bikes, but my first and favorite is my xt250. Pretty similar to this, though it’s fuel injected and obviously 100 more cc (and a Yamaha) But it’s just the best. Light and fun, the quickest and easiest around town and fun on the trails. My only bike that’s more convenient and more fun than my car, where the other bikes are just fun, not convenient.

This Honda is super cool, Dual sports ftw!

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Nolan

“Dual sports ftw!”

Right on! My first bike was a Yamaha XT250, though an older one (early 1980s, carbureted).

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
1 year ago

Im still trying to find a used CRF-250L, but this is pretty temping for the price. I think I’ll still wait because I want something a little more off-road ready than this. It is temping though.

Jason Mason
Jason Mason
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

There are a bunch of used CRF 250Ls for sale on Cycletrader, FYI

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 year ago

I don’t know if it’s a nationwide problem, but in my neck of the woods, Honda needs to rein in their dealers. Dealers here charge $1000+ in fees (freight & assembly) on every bike they sell, from a Metropolitan to a Gold Wing. So this $3500 bike would be about $5300 out the door here.

Second. The motorcycle industry in the USA is (or at least appears to be) desperate to entice new riders. Problem is, most younger folks don’t understand manual shifting – car or bike – and many don’t seem to care to learn. Automatic transmissions for gas-powered motorcycles don’t really exist, scooter-style CVT aside.

Solving these problems is easy. It’s electric. Motorcycles in this class aren’t long-range cruisers anyhow, so “refueling” isn’t really an issue for a commuter bike. If Honda could sell an electric motorcycle with performance like this and a 75-mile range for not much more money, the lines would be out the door.

MikeF
MikeF
1 year ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

You beat me to it. Bike dealers are almost universally awful. My observation is that there are a lot of large facilities built when sales were higher. Now they have a ton of mouths to feed and the only way to do it is to grind out every customer for every possible dollar. This creates a negative feedback loop. Two minutes reading the reviews of my local multi-line dealership and you know not to bother stopping by.

B3n
B3n
1 year ago

I really wish it had PGM-FI and not a carburetor.
And why would they remove the kick starter, when the ROW variants have one? That’s a mystery to me, probably cost savings.
I’m ordering one anyway, it’s been on my wish list for about 20 years.
It was available in the country I grew up, but I was only 15-16 then and I couldn’t afford one.
I never expected this bike to show up on the US market, but I’m really happy it did.
I hope they fly off the shelves and Honda brings in more simple, affordable models, like in Mexico.

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
1 year ago
Reply to  B3n

Honda decided that kick starters were stupid. My guess is that they know their starter system is very reliable and they don’t want to spend the money to signal that you may need a backup (even if you eventually will because of battery troubles).

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

An engine that small would be easy to bump-start, though I can see why they wouldn’t want to mention that in the brochure.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Ever try to bump start on anything but pavement? Even with aggressive tread you’ll most likely skid.

Source: I got a 6

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago
Reply to  MrLM002

*68 Husqvarna CR-125 6 Speed 2 stroke and tried to do it when the bike went dead, it ended up being a shoddily installed button style kill switch.

Also those old Honda Z-50s could be roll started but even they would skid a bit on pavement.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Part of the tried-and-true bump-start process is to get the bike rolling, stand on the pegs, and then drop *all* your weight onto the rear part of the saddle when you dump the clutch. Et voilà – no skid.

I did this many times as a youngster, riding off-road on both 2-stroke and 4-stroke machines 250cc and below. A large thumper like an XT600 was trickier but not impossible (usually required more speed).

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I’ll try that next time, thanks.

Hopefully there won’t be a next time though.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I am fat enough I can just sit on the thing and not worry about skids or skid marks.

Ian Case
Ian Case
1 year ago

If you’re fat enough, you ALWAYS need to worry about skid marks….

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
1 year ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

They gave the CT125 a kicker, even though it’s the same engine as the grom/monkey/cub.

Jason Hinton
Jason Hinton
1 year ago

On this bike $600 of that is straight from Honda

$3000 MSRP + $400 Destination+ $200 Freight

The USA as a whole needs to stop allowing retailers to advertise partial prices. The price in the sticker should be the whole price. (The Feds did this with airfare and only airfare a few years back)

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

My to main issues with this thing is the Sundiro Connection, it seems even Honda is making Cheap Chinese clones of their own product…..then their is the fact that it is carbureted. I am amazed this even is allowed to be sold on the left coast to be honest.

B3n
B3n
1 year ago
Reply to  JDE

Yeah, no PGM-FI kinda sucks in 2023.
Especially that some of the clones are fuel injected now. (Lifan Xpect 200)
I wouldn’t worry much about the Sundiro origins.
They have been making Hondas for decades now, if Honda signs off on quality control, that’s probably good enough.
My C125 is made in Thailand, and other than the really thin paint, it’s great quality.
If this was an Africa Twin made by Sundiro or Wuyang Honda then I would be a bit more worried, but the XR150L is a really simple low-tech bike.

Jason Hinton
Jason Hinton
1 year ago
Reply to  B3n

Even this Honda is fuel injected in some markets.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
1 year ago

We bought our daughter a 1982 XL100s to learn on. Not only is it fun for a 14 year old beginner, it’s great fun for the 42 year old dad too! My daily is the heavy and underpowered BMW R1200C, but this little enduro with a top speed of about 40 pretty much never fails to bring a smile to my face! I’m glad to see that honda is still out there making fun bikes on the cheap!

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Unclewolverine

One – good on ya. 🙂

Two – not sure how you found your XL, but the market for small vintage bikes has become ridiculous in the past few years. For example, Honda Z50 monkey bikes in good shape are selling for $3000-$4000. 😐

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

You are right, we bought it beat to hell for 500, had to rebuild the motor, re wire it, new seat cover, everything. Could probably get 1800-2k pretty easy now. She got lots of valuable education in helping me. Now she wants a bumpside ford, probably go the same route. Vehicles are better when you did the work!

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