Curbside Recycling: 1973 Honda XL175 – A Perfect Project If You Need To Self-Isolate

Like many of us these days, I’ve been trying to minimize my interactions with others, keeping my distance when it’s unavoidable, and using this non-productive time to catch up on things that I’ve been needing to do anyway.  However, boredom sets in quickly and last weekend I just needed to get outside, so what better therapy for me than to take a walk through one of my favorite junkyards that’s usually mostly deserted although when I left home I didn’t realize that it would be as cold and icy as it was.  No matter, as I tucked around the back of the office where they keep the semi-usable resale items such as lawnmowers, metal siding, lockers, and the occasional motorcycle I came across this wonderful little diamond in the rough to warm the cockles of my heart.

I’ll ruin it for you right now and tell you that no, I did not buy it.  But the upside is that it’s available for you!  Even though I’m somewhat of a sucker for orange things for some reason, my motorcycling days are behind me and it would just sit in my garage.  But on a late summer day in 1973, this little Honda XL175 was delivered to a motorcycle dealer somewhere, assembled from a crate of parts and sub-assemblies in the back shop area and then wheeled onto the forecourt where someone bought it and then rode it around for a while before presumably parking it in the barn some years later.

46 and a half years later, someone else likely decided to clear out the barn and delivered this and another one like it but a few years newer to the junkyard.  Yes, you heard that correctly, this bike is available with its own parts bike!  And you thought THIS ONE was the parts bike.  No, no, no.  The parts bike is the one in the background, it’s a 1976 model, not that much changed over the years.

Sporting a single cylinder and a 5-speed transmission, the engine was a four stroke OHC design displacing 173cc and producing 15hp at 8500rpm.  Installed in this bike the intended use was street and/or light trails, i.e. a dual-sport.  With a top speed of around 50mph from what I understand, those “streets” would preclude freeways and even many highways.  However if one had a ranch or some acreage or a cabin or whatever, this might be a fun little ride for running around on.

Brakes are of the drum variety on both ends, the spokes are pretty, and the knobby tires probably make this great on a dirt road and a bit squirrely on tarmac.  The shocks and springs couldn’t be easier to work on or replace, and the exhaust system on this looks like it’s aftermarket in order to perhaps eke out an extra horsepower or two.  Or at least sound like it.

It’s a Honda, so how hard could it be to get it running?  If it’s anything like my lawnmower’s engine, also a Honda, it’ll likely start on the second kick after sitting all winter with last year’s gas in it.  Of course this has probably sat for several decades so maybe it’d be better to remove the tank and get it cleaned out before doing anything else.

The headlight looks in fine shape, the front knobby holds air (but it’d be a great idea to replace that and the rear one before riding anywhere), and even the front fender is in good shape.

The taillight looks in good shape too, the bulb is probably the factory one and likely still works, but I have no idea what happened to the turn signals.  Well, it’s Wyoming, hand signals are probably fine, I doubt you’d get hassled.

Of course you’ll need to source a seat from somewhere as it can’t be too comfy otherwise and the parts bike doesn’t have one either.  Or you could just ride it around motocross style and stand on the pegs the whole time.  Looks cooler too.

At least you have Genuine Grab On Grips.  Just don’t let go.

Here’s a better picture of the parts bike.  The pipe is a high-mount style which might be better but the path seems a bit tortured.  It’s also got the front turn signals so maybe there’s at least three useful parts and a bunch of spares.  No tank though, I snagged that for myself as it was already off the bike for some reason and for $10 was a wonderfully patinated item also in Orange.  It’ll look good on the wall of my shed.  Or above the bar.

I did ask if the counterman if he’d sell me the (this) other tank and he demurred, said he was hoping to sell both bikes as a package like I’m discussing here and a tank would surely be needed.  I told him I wasn’t interested in more projects but just for giggles, how much would he want?  He thought for a second and then said he’d let them both go for $50 as a package.  I’ll bet you could even talk him down to $35 or so.

Working on this would certainly beat doing a puzzle or constantly checking your stock portfolio (don’t worry, it’s down even more) if you need to self-isolate for two (or more) weeks.  Come and get them both now while you can still drive around in this area and be ready for your two weeks without any other chores or things to do since your family will want you stay the hell away from them and sleep in the garage anyway.  And to top it off you’ll be helping a small, local, independent business with your $50 (or hopefully $35).

Oh, and don’t forget to pick up the repair manual from Amazon.  You might need it.  Or perhaps not, it IS a Honda after all.