XR600 Chronology - by Jeff Deeney
Here's a brief chronology of the big XR's. It seems that they only make
significant changes every 3-4 years:
1979 (or '78?) - XR500 introduced. Dual shocks on rear. 7-9" travel
each end. Honda's first pure dirt 4-stroke. Somewhat heavy, but
good handling with stiffer springs. Drum brakes at both ends.
Funky 23" front wheel for the first couple of years.
1983 - Single shock rear suspension. Front disk brake. Approx 11"
travel both ends. Dual carb setup. I owned a 1983 for about 6 years
and really liked it. A little heavy, but stiffer fork springs made
it a nice handling bike.
1985 - Displacement increased to 600cc. Little else changed.
Bigger displacement added quite a bit more torque. '85/86 models
had some problems with 3rd gear breakage.
1988 - Nickasil cylinder, single carb, and stainless steel exhaust.
Weight decreased about 10 pounds over the '87. Rear wheel changed
from 17" to 18". The decompresion mechanism was changed from a
kick starter actuated system to a cam speed actuated system to
prevent the nasty kickback of earlier XR's.
1991 - Cartridge front forks (still too soft) and disk rear brake.
1992 - Unchanged except for larger diameter front axle
1993-97, little or no changes.