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1972 Honda XL250

Posted on August 30, 2010 by Scott in Brat, Tracker. 15 comments


Larry Pearson is no newcomer to the pages of Pipeburn. First we featured his beautiful CB550, then his Wes Cooley GS1000S (which is about to appear in Cycle World) and now this striking Honda XL250. “A co-worker of mine had this dilapidated ’72 Honda XL250 that he used as a woods bike for 20 years” said Larry. “He stripped it down, put a set of knobby tires on it and just rode it occasionally. It had been bored out to a 305cc and a mild cam installed by a previous owner.” For whatever reason it sat outside for about 5 years unused, until it was offered to Larry for free – just to see if he could do something with it. “I didn’t really have any need for a dirt bike, but when he told me about the engine and how well it ran, I went over for a look. Even after sitting outside for all those years, and with bad gas in the tank, it fired right up after about 5 kicks!.” Larry decided to haul it home. It was in terrible shape, with rust everywhere, dented tank, broken fenders, bent exhaust and anything else you can think of. Wondering what to do, Larry came up with the idea to make a retro motard.

First thing Larry did was get the XL250 in mechanical order. “All the engine really needed was a new head gasket and a complete tune and service” recalls Larry. “I also went through the carb. All the seals and bearings were replaced in the frame, and a mid 70’s Honda CB500 front end sourced on eBay. With minor modification to the steering head, it bolted right on, lowering the front of the bike 3 inches… perfect. I also wanted a disk brake. The exhaust was hand made from an ’83 Honda CB1100F header pipe as a starting point with an old rusty aftermarket muffler that I cut up, sandblasted, installed a baffle in, and then bent to fit. When it came time for the body pieces, everything stock XL was tossed except the gas tank. I bought a shell of a fiberglass tail section for a Matchless from Airtech, then proceeded to make it fit the XL frame. Blisters were formed to fit over the Honda CR250 rear shocks, the seat pan was extended three inches to meet the tank, and a hole was formed and shaped to accept a cut-down Huyabusa tail light assembly. The front fender is the stock Honda CB500 fender, sectioned 6 inches and welded back together again then sandblasted and painted. The wheels are stock Honda. The rear is the XL’s 18″ and the front is the CB’s 19″, sandblasted and painted satin black.”


Larry’s business is Meticulous Motorcycle Painting, so when it was time to paint he wanted to show some of his skills. “I love scallop paint, and I thought that would look cool on this bike, so that’s what I did. It’s champagne with red scallops, pin striped in black. The engine was carefully sanded and prepped then painted. The seat was shaped starting with the stock XL foam. It’s a love it or hate it sorta thing, but I wanted it to flow with the lines of the tank and tail section.”

The bike was built on and off by Larry over the course of 2 years – and he is obviously proud of his creation. “I love the way it turned out, and it’s a total blast to ride! Can’t weigh much more than 250 lbs, handles great, tons of torque, and stops on a dime with the disk brake. I’ve seen people at shows walk right by $60,000 choppers to get to the XL… that feels good.”


  • john

    The ass end of that thing does not look right. Doggy style anyone?

  • twostroked

    I love the bike but it does have a big booty.

  • Edu Di Lascio

    The seat is way too big at the rear.

  • 522design

    Wrong seat on a cool bike!

  • Larry Pearson

    Boy, tough crowd.. 🙂 The seat is really soft foam, so you sink right down into it..not ass in the air "doggie-style". Harsh, man. I think the proportions are actually correct..but it's all in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Thanks for checking it out, though. I appreciate it.

  • Dale

    Really neat to see what you can do with an XL. Great work!

  • JBB2

    Larry, you did a great job on this. I'd seen pictures of it elsewhere a while back with no info about how you had done it so I appreciate this post. I have an XL250 that I was going to convert to 18" on the front (those things came with a 23" front wheel for a few years) by lacing on a different rim but the swap to a CB550 front end is a fine way to do that and get a disk brake. Your paint is beautiful and classy, too. Pretty inspiring.

  • oldskoolXL

    I agree, that bulbous seat makes an otherwise pretty bike look just like a boll weevil. A Knight Rotax seat would look about perfect, even a basic cobra seat on a flat fender would look less better proportioned. Everybody's a critic, sure, but sometimes you have to stand back and look at your build with 'new' eyes to get the proportions 'just right'.

  • michael shelnut

    thanks for the pics it inspired me to hunt an xl down . luckily found a complete 1972 in town (not Running yet] for a 100 bucks .gonna have some fun now again beautiful bike truly inspiring.

  • bikenutjustpassingthrough

    Great paint job on this bike!

    This blog kicks ass. I'm going through it page by page like a kid in a candy store.

    Is that a pushrod tunnel or is this a chain-driven ohc engine? I think I know the answer but still it looks just a little like a BSA engine, doesn't it?

  • I have a 72 XL250 Im in the process of restoring.  What a fantastic job done on this, very unique.  Nice job Larry.

  • shawn b

    larry i’m working on a 78. this is very inspiring, you build a beautiful bike. your bike shows how a old clunker like mine can be restored to something wonderful. i think the seat is a perfect fit.

  • XLint

    What year of cr250 shocks did you use

  • Dgere81

    Buying a 72′ xl 250 total barn find! under 3,000 miles! Thank you for your build it gives me a place to start especially the front end! Some purists would say messing with a classic bike that’s already show room would be wrong.