Home Automotive 2023 Honda XR150L First Ride

2023 Honda XR150L First Ride


When it’s time to get out of town, the 2023 Honda XR150L holds its own on a canyon road. (Honda/)

Honda has expanded its entry-level range for beginners and new riders in recent years. Honda Groms and Honda Navis are good options for new riders who want to try a street legal motorcycle. And for dirt enthusiasts, the Honda Trail125 is a fun option but it doesn’t have the same capabilities as a purpose-built off-road machine. Honda Powersports, realizing the demand for a small displacement dual sport to be included in their lineup, has introduced the XR150L for the first.

The 2023 Honda XR150L ($2,971).

The 2023 Honda XR150L costs $2,971. (Honda/)

Originally, the Honda XR150L had been introduced to Asian and Latin American market in 2003. Honda XR150L was redesigned in 2013 for the same markets. In 2023, the XR150L will be available on the North American market.

The 2023 Honda XR150L (2,971) is equipped with a 149cc single air-cooled engine. It also features a five-speed transmission manual and a piston valve carburetor 22mm in diameter. The 31mm fork provides 7.1 inches travel, and the Pro-Link with adjustable preload shock offers 5.9 inch travel.

The 149cc air-cooled single features an OHC with two valves per cylinder and a bore and stroke of 57.3mm x 57.8mm.

The 149cc Air-cooled Single features an OHC, with two valves on each cylinder. Bore and stroke are 57.3mm x57.8mm. (Honda/)

A 19-inch front and a 17 inch rear wheel complement the XR150L’s ample suspension travel. This gives the XR150L legitimate off-road dimension while maintaining a low 32.8-inch seat height. A combination of a practical chassis and a powerful engine makes the 2023 Honda XR150L suited for light commuting and modest off-road excursions.

Headed to the other side of town for a quick coffee.

Heading to the other end of town for some quick coffee. (Honda/)

Honda reported that despite its accessibility, roughly half of the XR150L’s owners were experienced riders adding the bike to their motorcycle fleet. Although 30 percent of its customers are casual riders and the last 20 percent is the beginner segment, Honda hopes to grow the beginner market. Honda hopes to expand the motorcycling options for all and increase the number of beginners.

The Honda XR150L comes standard with a utility rack. Did someone say grocery getter?

The Honda XR150L includes a utility carrier as standard. Did you hear someone mention grocery getter? (Honda/)

The compactness of the Honda XR150L’s rider triangle becomes apparent as soon as you mount it for the first. The XR150L has a small frame and is easy to handle in a variety terrain.

Honda claims the XR150L has a 2.8-gallon gas tank with a fuel range of 346 miles.

Honda claims that the XR150L’s 2.8-gallon fuel tank can provide a range of up to 346 miles. (Honda/)

Upon leaving our hotel in Santa Ynez on California’s central coast, the engine had no problem cruising north of 50 mph without any vibration. You may wonder at times if you are really riding the motorcycle because of its super-smooth, quiet engine. Of course, getting up to highway speeds doesn’t happen instantly but it also isn’t painfully slow. The speedometer on our bike read just north of 65mph at one point, which is enough to travel on most roads and highways. Your state might prohibit freeways.

Power delivery and throttle input are predictable. A mechanical throttle cable provides a precise, intuitive feel which is translated into engine revs. The motor is responsive to small throttle inputs at low speeds and delivers power linearly. With such a smooth and predictable power delivery, the rear tire is always in line and maintaining traction—one less thing for newer riders to worry about when attacking the trail.

The Honda XR150L offers 9.6 inches of ground clearance.

The Honda XR150L has a 9.6-inch ground clearance. (Honda/)

The XR bops nicely in second gear, both off-road and in city traffic. There is no squeaky or unrefined response to the throttle. In this manner, rolling off the throttle works similarly. Air-cooled singles do not cause excessive engine braking, which can be disruptive to the bike and rider. This is especially useful for new and beginner riders, as it eliminates the need to slip clutches at low speeds in order to maintain smooth power response.

The Honda XR150L comes to its full potential when you get off the interstate and travel down winding backroads that pass ranches. The bike’s light weight and quick steering make it easy to handle. This, combined with the street-biased CST dual sport tire, gives you plenty of confidence in corners and responds well to input from the handlebar.

On the open highway the Honda XR150L can comfortably cruise north of 60 mph.

The Honda XR150L cruises at speeds of up to 60 mph. (Honda/)

The XR150L’s ability to select the right gear is essential on winding backroads, where speed changes are constant. Five-speed transmissions have a short throw for changing gears, allowing for precise and quick shifting regardless of whether or not the clutch is engaged. A tight gearbox is appreciated by all riders, regardless of their bike or level of skill. This feature was especially useful in dirt, where first gear is often used. During our entire trip on the 2023 Honda XR150L, the machine never missed a shift or shifted into false neutral.

Our time on the Honda XR150L was spent mostly on the pavement. We found the suspension components to be comfortable and plush in the early part of the stroke. They also maintained a high level of holdup while crossing potholes, broken asphalt and cattle guards. When riding on dirt, the 31mm fork and ProLink shock perform well if you ride at a moderate rate. The entry-level suspension spec on the XR150L will let you know if you are pushing it too hard.

Fitted with a dual sport tire, the Honda XR150L is not intimidated by a dirty backroad.

With a dual sports tire, the Honda XR150L does not fear a dirty backroad. (Honda/)

The supple suspension absorbs small bumps off-road and keeps the bike firmly planted, maintaining traction with both wheels. The suspension stiffens as the bike is subjected to heavier loads, such as those encountered on steep slopes and water bars. This provides a good amount of bottoming resistance. The suspension settings front to back are well balanced, resulting in a predictable performance on different terrain.

When the pavement ends, the fun doesn’t stop. The 2023 Honda XR150L provides a comfortable ride across a variety of terrain.

When the pavement ends, the fun doesn’t stop. The 2023 Honda XR150L offers a comfortable ride on a wide range of terrain. (Honda/)

The XR150L is a very predictable bike in the dirt. It responds well when you use the front end of the bike to steer. Of course with such a street-biased front tire, one can’t expect too much lean angle from the Honda in stock trim, but when changing lines from one side of the trail to the other or if needing to swerve around an obstacle, the bike is very agreeable. The handlebars are a bit low for my 5’8″ height, but the seat is very comfortable and soft.

An agile chassis and plush suspension generate plenty of midcorner confidence.

A chassis with a plush suspension and an agile chassis will give you confidence in the midcorner. (Honda/)

The XR’s front brake system utilizes a 240mm drilled disc with a dual-piston caliper; while in the rear, the Honda XR150L features a 110mm drum brake. Both are lacking an ABS system. But on a bike like this, that’s built for a low price and without high performance intentions, it’s not needed. Although the drum brake may scream “budget,” both brakes provided ample and easy to modulate power. The initial bite was not strong but the bindings quickly lost speed as the rider advanced deeper into lever stroke.

The front brake features a 240mm slotted disc and dual-piston caliper.

The front brake is equipped with a dual piston caliper and 240mm slotted disk. (Honda/)

The Honda XR150L 2023 is a unique entry-level dual sport in a small displacement segment. The 149cc single-cylinder air-cooled dual sport appeals to both experienced and new riders. The 2023 Honda XR150L is a small displacement, affordable dual sport that’s easy to ride, regardless of your size, skill, or experience. Ride Red reliability will keep you confident at the pump. Its extreme usability and remarkably competitive MSRP of $2,971 creates a pathway to get more people riding motorcycles—something Honda knows a thing or two about.

Keeping things simple and cost effective, the Honda XR150L features an analog speedometer, odometer, and tripmeter.

The Honda XR150L is equipped with an analog speedometer and tripmeter. (Honda/)

2023 Honda XR150L Specs

MSRP: $2,971
Engine: OHC, air-cooled, four-stroke single-cylinder; 2 valves/cyl.
Displacement: 149cc
Bore x Stroke 57.3 x 56.8mm
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Transmission/Final Drive: 5-speed/chain
Claimed Horsepower: N/A
Claimed Torque: N/A
Fuel System Carburetor 22mm bore
Clutch: Wet multiplate
Engine Management/Ignition : DC-CDI
Frame: Steel
Front Suspension Forks: 31mm; 7.1 in. Travel
Rear Suspension Single shock with spring preload adjustment; 5.9″ Travel 5.9 in.
Front Brake 2-piston caliper for 240mm disc
Rear Brake 110mm drum
Wheels, Front/Rear: 19 in./17 in.
Tires, Front/Rear: 90/90-19 / 110/90-17
Rake/Trail 27.0°/4.0 in.
Wheelbase: 53.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 9.6 in.
Seat Height 32.8 in.
Fuel Capacity 2.8 gal.
Claimed Wet Weight: 282 lb.
Contact: powersports.honda.com


Helmet: Arai XD-4

Jacket: Alpinestars Stratos Techshell Drystar Jacket

Gloves: Alpinestars Chrome GlovesPants: Alpinestars Radon Relaxed Fit Denim Pants

Boots: Alpinestars Primer Riding Shoes

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