We Filipinos have a long-standing love affair with off-road capable motorcycles. Commonly known as “dual sport” bikes, these machines, regardless of displacement, are designed for both on road and off road use. With the current condition of our road networks, it’s no wonder these type of bikes are a crowd favorite. Most manufacturers in the local market have at least one dual sport offering in their product line-up to be able to compete for a slice of the much-coveted pie. Market leader Honda, has a few, but the most popular is the XR 150L.
The XR 150L is powered by a 149.2-cubic centimeter, air-cooled single cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. It produces 12.5 Newton-meters of torque at 6,000 revolutions per minute and offers good acceleration whether in urban traffic or even on steep mountain road. The XR’s engine also features an internal engine balancer that keeps handle bar vibration to a minimum. You won’t end up with numb hands even after spending hours on the saddle…and what a comfortable saddle it is. Contoured to better hold your tush, it also lowered seat height to a reasonable 825 millimeters, as opposed to the competition’s 840 millimeters. To a 5’11” rider like me, it may not seem significant but majority of Filipinos have an average height of 5’6.” Regardless of ridaing skill level, we all need to be able to put our foot down at stoplights.
Instead of the usual 21-inch (front) / 18-inch (rear) tire combination on off-road bikes, Honda fitted the XR 150L with 19-inch (front) / 17-inch (rear) tires to further lower the seat and also to make the bike more maneuverable. The 243-millimeters ground clearance allows you to roll over obstacles and when the monsoon rains come, you’ll probably have fun riding the XR through flooded streets. Be mindful, though, as the semi-knobby stock tires tend to lose a bit of traction on wet tarmac. The brakes, however, have strong bite. The 240-millimeter double-piston front disc and the conventional rear drum offer reliable stopping power during emergency situations. While the front fork doesn’t bottom out, it does allow the bike’s front end to dip forward when you grab the brake lever too hard. The rear monoshock, on the other hand, felt a bit firm but not to the point of discomfort. The upside is that the tail end won’t sag under the weight of your passenger or luggage, even. After all, the XR comes with a sturdy rear rack where you can tie down a reasonable amount of cargo.
At a price tag of P83,900, Honda kept things basic as the XR 150L only has a simple instrument panel consisting of an analog speedometer and a trio of light indicators; blinkers, high beam and neutral gear. It doesn’t even have a fuel gauge so you have to literally peek inside the tank to check fuel level. Good thing it has a 12-liter capacity. Also, you can rely on a separate trip meter to help you keep track of distance in between fill-ups. Other standard equipment come in the form of a lockable helmet hook and a lockable tool compartment where you can also keep vehicle registration documents.
With a relatively modest engine and very little features to speak off, why is this bike selling like hot cakes? Well, it has an affordable price, a Pinoy-friendly seat height and a winged-logo that inspires confidence when traversing any type of terrain. As far as dual sport bikes are concerned, I suppose those are what matter the most.