I Have No Idea What I'm Doing - 1973 Honda XL175 Refurb

Dr. Marneaus

Station Wagoneer
I figure some of you all might like following along with this.

I need another old thing with an engine like I need a hole in my head.

I seriously have no idea what I'm doing. I have never ridden a motorcycle or dirt bike. I do, however, know that I like taking old junk, making it into not junk, and then either keeping and using or selling said not junk. Currently I have about 1.75 Honda XL175's. One is a 1973, the other is a 1974.

There's some story behind how I got these. A fellow on a Local forum had the complete one for sale. He never answered my question of whether or not the engine was seized. I ended up driving an hour to his place, discovering it was seized, and then having him refuse to budge on the price. I left empty handed. A few weeks later my buddy pulled into my driveway with a present for me. While picking up an FSJ, he noticed an old incomplete orange dirt bike in the guys yard. Turns out the guy just wanted it gone, and gave it, along with a title, to my pal. He brought it over and dropped it off. A week or two after that, I reached out to the original seller to see if he still had the complete bike. He had just sold it the week before. Well, crap. I reached out to the guy that bought it to offer him the mess of parts/title that I have, and he told me he could be talked out of the complete bike, because the seller did not mention to him it was seized, and dropped it off and left before he could check it. I gave him $150, and took it home. So, at this point, I have somewhere around 1 2/3rds Honda XL175's and my total investment is $150.

Here's the "good" one. Its pretty much all there except turn signals and mirrors. a little bit of funky wiring. Odometer reads 1900 miles. Only major issue I've seen is the typical rusted out muffler to header joint, and the engine is seized, obviously. The kick starter shaft is NOT broken.

Here is is with the junky one that has a title. Missing the seat, the controls, mirrors, exhaust,chain, side panels, a bunch of other stuff, tank is dented, blah blah blah. I haven't tested the engine because the kick starter shaft IS broken on this one,, but supposedly it had low compression when parked, and had already been honed and had oversized rings. Has over 9000 miles on the odometer.

My plan here is to try and get the good one up and running in mostly complete form, for as little cost as possible. Let me reiterate. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IM DOING HERE! I live adjacent to BLM land here in NV, so I can leave from my garage and be on public lands in about 15 seconds. Originally that piqued my interest in some for of OHV, be it 4 wheeled or two. Something like this will be great for that purpose, and likely would also be super easy to tote along with me on/behind the Wagoneer on camping trips. In all honesty since i know nothing about this sort of thing. I think I'd like to get it to stock.

So, what better way to figure it all out than to just dive in? I was bored on Sunday. I rolled it under my little covered work area, and got to turnin' some wrenches. This all seems pretty easy . I say that because I went outside and an hour later I had the engine sitting on my bench and I'm pretty positive I didn't break anything.

I must say, aside from all the grease and leaked fuel and whatnot, this thing is clean. The tank has typical rust inside, but no corrosion anywhere on the chrome or frame or anything. The bolts all came right off using hand tools, no rust or anything.

So, here's where we are at currently.

I'll keep this updated as we go along and will post more as I make progress. Any help or suggestions are appreciated, as I really don't know what I'm doing lol.

Step one is going to be dig further into the engine and crank case and see what all is going on in there. It's currently sitting propped up with a chamber full of PB blaster soaking. the issue is that it eventually leaks down. I may grab some diesel and fill the case, and the chamber, so that it cant leak down, and let it sit for a while. Before too long, however, I'll likely crack the head off and see what all i need to do to get it unstuck.

Stay tuned.


Tail-End Charlie
You can check the one with the broken kicker by putting in in gear and pushing it around.

Nice project. :)


Active member
Hey! My favorite bike! My dad bought me one when I was 12 or 13 to ride trails with him. After a few more years I rode it as my first 'Street Bike' before graduating to a Triumph.

Not very fast but it gets excellent fuel mileage. Very light weight as well. Someday soon I hope to do a bit of a refresh of my bike and add LED turn signals, make a stainless high exhaust, etc.

Not sure if you would still be able to find one, but they did make "big bore" kits that you could use if your cylinder was toasted.



Super cool

Good luck with the project. "small" old Hondas are super fun to restore and an absolute hoot to ride.

I did up a pair of CT90's a while back. Tore them all the way down to nothing and brought them back properly.

One kept the original 90CC engine, the one we kept was treated to a 125CC swap.

Super fun, and lightweight :ylsmoke:


Dr. Marneaus

Station Wagoneer
Those look fun!!!

I'm going to grab some MMO and toss a bunch in the crank case and in the cylinder tonight. It'll prolly sit a while because I'm going to be out of town over the weekend.

I located a "good" engine for about $150, but not sure if I will need that yet, so hopefully I can just get this one going.

Dr. Marneaus

Station Wagoneer
Well, i ended up getting the engine partially freed....then I promptly snapped off the crank bolt. Then i tried to drill it out, it was going well, but then i snapped a drill bit. The original engine is now dead as a door nail. It'll be stripped for parts after I cut the timing chain off. womp womp.

So, I snagged that engine in vegas for $125 when I was down there most recently. Looks like its got a decent number of miles but appears maintained, and it kicks easily. I'm weary of the kick shaft because I cannot get the kick lever off, but hey, its on there and it kicks so its good enough for now.

I got the engine back into the bike, and tested compression. It kicks to 145 and I'm told thats fine. No idea what it should go to, but supposedly that'll do.

Now, i have the original carb all broken down soaking in MMO because it was nasty. The 2nd engine came with a carb, but it appears to be an after market mikuni with a cable choke. I'm going to attempt to clean up the original one first. Once I have the carb cleaned and assembled, I will wire everything up, get a battery (these wont run without a charged batt) and see if I can get it started. From that point, I'll finish out by cleaning the gas tank (vinegar and a galvanized chain), and start about the full reassembly and touch up some of the wiring.

so....progress. It has a presumably workable engine now at least, and is going back together rather than coming apart.