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Honda XL1000V VARADERO Adventure Motorbike Review

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Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 3

In theory: the Honda XL1000V Varadero is a great idea; take the funky Firestorm motor and put it inside an adventure touring chassis. But the result didn’t live up to that and the Honda XL1000V Varadero hasn’t matched the success of the BMW R1150GS. Whileit has bags of comfort, luggage capacity and grunt, its thirsty engine, top heavy handling and plain Jane looks haven’t helped it win friends.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Firestorm motor of the Honda XL1000V Varadero is very tough, makes lots of lowdown poke and feels relaxed at motorway speeds. Apart from its heavy thirst for unleaded it’s hard to fault and generally lasts 50K miles before showing signs of serious wear. The facelifted 2003-onwards Varaderos feature fuel injection and a sixth overdrive gear, which makes the motor that bit more suitable for the job of long distance biking.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Honda XL1000V Varadero's chassis isn’t bad, but the soft front forks let the Varadero down, diving under hard braking. Some owners, especially bigger blokes, fit stiffer springs and heavier fork oil. The soft-ish, very comfortable suspension does keep two people, plus luggage, thrumming happily along all day however.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

The Honda XL1000V Varadero comes with the Combined Braking System which links both front and rear discs, splitting the braking force between them. Some like it, some don’t. The XL1000 also features a decently tall fairing screen, generous exhaust heat shields for the passenger’s legs, plus handguards.

Honda XL1000 Varadero (2001-2010)

Detail Value
New price £8,500
Dealer used prices
£2,950 (2002) - £8,090 (2013)
Private used prices
£2,650 (2002) - £7,280 (2013)
  View full used price info
Engine size 996 cc
Power 93 bhp
Top speed 125 mph
Insurance group 13 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 3 rating is 4
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4
Ride & Handling rating is 3 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 4 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 3 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Build quality of the Honda XL1000V Varadero is generally very good. The only weak areas appear to be the exhaust system, which rusts quite easily and a dodgy sidestand cut-out switch – which was fixed via a factory recall. Owners tend to look after them, so with a service history and soft resale values, the Varadero makes a good used buy.

Value

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4

The Honda XL1000V Varadero is slightly cheaper than the BMW R1150GS/R1200GS, but loses its resale value a little bit quicker. On the upside, it seems more popular than something like an Aprilia Caponord…but then so are Keith Harris and Orville. Like most adventure touring bikes, the Varadero needs hard luggage, heated grips and other accessories to do the full 3000 mile touring gig. Find a Honda XL1000 Varadero for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 13 of 17

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Model History

1999: Honda XL1000 Varadero launched.
2003: Updated version launched; new bodywork panels, headlights, screen, extra 6th gear in engine, bigger fuel tank and fuel injection replaces carbs.
2004: ABS option offered.
2005: ABS becomes standard equipment.
2006: £1000 cut off RRP.
2011: Honda offer XL1000V [£8,500] and XL1000VA [£9,125]

Other Versions

2004 onwards: Varadero XL1000 ABS. Same bike but with ABS anti-lock brakes. Became standard model in UK from 2005 on.

Specifications

Top speed 125 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.9 secs
Max power 93 bhp
Max torque 72 ft-lb
Weight 241 kg
Seat height 843 mm
Fuel capacity 25 litres
Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Tank range 180 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 13 of 17
Engine size 996 cc
Engine specification 8v V-twin, 6 gears
Frame Steel tubular type
Front suspension adjustment Preload
Rear suspension adjustment Preload, rebound
Front brakes Twin 296mm discs
Rear brake 256mm disc
Front tyre size 110/80 x 19
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 17

See all Honda XL1000V VARADERO motorcycles for sale

Honda
XL1000V VARADERO

24000 miles

£3,300

Honda
XL1000V VARADERO

6000 miles

£6,595

Honda
XL1000V VARADERO

27519 miles

£3,999

Honda
XL1000V VARADERO

10182 miles

£4,995

Honda
XL1000V VARADERO

5093 miles

£5,990

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(36 reviews)

  • Great long distance traveller

    PanagiotisKavala

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Well, I'm very partial in my review but I love this bike. Had it since 1999, 0 km. Been around Greece and Europe and never put a foot wrong. Changed the shoggy suspention with ohlins front and rear and can move to the rythm of much-much faster bikes in the Dolomiti Passes we visit every other year. Impecable brakes, outstanding built quality, great miles-eating ability. In these past fourteen years the only things that needed attention were the fuel pump and the alternator, the two weak points of the bike, they were changed not because they failled but for my peace of mind. Oh yes, and one of the two taillight lamps.

    16 December 2013

  • Great real-world bike

    Classicblade

    Average rating rating is 4

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    I have been motorcycling for over 30 years and have experienced the whole range of bikes over that period. I bought a Varadero new in 2009 and without doubt it is the most USEFULL bike I have ever owned. I have been all over Europe on it (mainly with my good lady). Its not a sports bike, its not on off road bike, its not commuter. What it is is 80% of all of them - and in the REAL WORLD that adds up to a really great bike. It will cruise all day 2-up with luggage in comfort at 100mph, it will struggle up snow covered roads in the Pyrenees, it will scramble up tracks over looking the Cote-D'Azur. It has never missed a beat and had nothing other than normal servicing. Don't be fooled by some old 10yr old review by someone who rode one for a day or 2, these are great bikes.

    19 May 2013

  • Underated

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Never ever saw myself on a bike such as this but after excepting invite to go touring round Spain with the GS boys needed something more suited than my Superduke. Mine's 2003 first of FI ones, fitted with full luggage, Hagon suspension and high screen. What amazed me is the ride and handling of such a big bike. Its very heavy which you feel setting off (and in danger of toppling you) but once fast enough to lift your feet, it just disappears. Acceleration although not quick is smooth. The ride and handling is excellent for such a large bike, but you can tell the uprated suspension does a lot for this. Comfort is ok, the seat if anything probably too soft and will be better to a lighter chap. Build quality on mine good but did see a few shockers when looking around. Its not the typical wash and go Honda but shown a little care does keep its shine. Screen although larger than standard whistled around my head but after reading about tap washers on a review on here did some alterations to move the screen forward. Revelation, makes touring distance so much easier. Will try if similar problems on future bikes. Luggage is Kappa not Honda stuff. Robust and waterproof, however panniers do stick out a long way preventing some filtering and wind drag makes bike sluggish above 85. Now for touring leave them at home and use tankbag, top box and strap roll bag to back seat. Fuel wise everyone keeps telling me how poor they are. Complete rubbish, generally get 45mpg and with such a large tank can get nearly 250 miles. I'm converted, it's a really underrated bike, if it was much lighter and more powerful it would be fantastic. I'm looking at the next generation of adventure bikes but for the world of me can't see them worth 4 times my Varadero.

    23 November 2012

  • Use your head !

    Hyabusa1340

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    to only achieve 35 mpg would indicate that you either need a sports bike or anger management counselling. If, like me, 900 miles in 36 hours floats your boat - get Vara. Wonderful V-twin, great view of the action. I admit that a new custom seat from Melvin in Coventry really transformed the comfort. What a Bike!

    02 August 2012

  • Mileage

    DaveyM

    Average rating rating is 4

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    I bought a used 07 plate 2 months ago and 2 up, with luggage loaded, at 75mph I'm seeing 45mpg. If I do a non motorway route I can get 50mpg so there's no truth in your road test re bikes from about 2003 onwards

    13 July 2012

  • update this listing!

    davsato

    Average rating rating is 4

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    this listing is way out of date, the 2001-2003 differences make it an almost different bike. the 2007 update was only cosmetic. the Fi varadero is NOT thirsty, MCN keep rolling out that old cliche, it is right up there with the GS, V-strom, guzzi etc. ive done an 850mi tour of the lakes and dales and averaged 54mpg and i wasnt hanging around. talking to other owners its also a lot more reliable than a GS too, buy a GS and expect at least 2 warranty issues. one guy i know is on his fourth final drive in 4 years, ive had to replace a tail bulb and an exhaust seal in 5 years, and i take mine offroading on salisbury plain. its also a lot more comfortable, too comfy to be honest, the seat could do with a bit less padding to make it narrower for standing up offroad. the only thing that i would say to prospective buyers to think about is the weight, if you can cope then its a great bike.

    30 May 2012

  • Me like this

    shrek090

    Average rating rating is 4.5

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    Seriously need to update this review i've had other bikes from a 350lc rd to a xjr 1300 also had a triumph tiger 955i this bike puts a grin on my face i dont think its boring its fast enough to keep up with my mates on the muscle bikes and speed triples good in the twisties as long as you dont push to hard comfy mile muncher after along ride i dont feel tired out reasonable milage to a tank better then the xjr 1300 the wife loves the pillion seat high up commanding view over all the best bike i've owned for touring on and having an adventure mines an 08 picked it up for £4200 with less than 8500 miles on the clock with honda luggage heated grips and touring screen just going to add crash bars a real bargin compared toa GS 1150 or 1200

    19 May 2012

  • Wot a surprise !

    Ted Edwards

    UK

    Average rating rating is 4

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    Engine

    Having owned 4 Blackbirds I decided it was time for a change so I brought a Vara.Well going from a smooth 4 cylinder onto a twin was a big difference and a surprise.I then went over to the TT on it and by the time I got back home I decided it at to go and I traded it in for my 5th BB.It felt brilliant once again to have all that power and a silky smooth engine. Life felt great.Anyway 18months later I rode up to the HU meeting in Ripley at a very conservative speed making sure that I did not get nicked had a great week end. Listened to the tales of adventures carried out on all sorts of bikes many of them being small ones and then again rode home very steadly.Anyway after that every time I went out on the bike I rode it at a very steady speed and quite honestly felt a bit of an idiot in doing so,so I thought that it was time again for a change of bike.So guess what I brought yes another Vara.Why ! Because it was a lot of bike for the price.It has the reliability and quality of a Honda and in comparison to the market lead a GS1200 its great value.I love the riding position and comfort and even though some say its a bit wallowly on the bends I am no knee down merchant so its not a problem.Just recently I met up with 2 friends who ride 1400 Kwackers and the Vara parked next to them did look a bit of a wimp but do you know what when we rode off and they quickly disappeared into the horizon after initially wishing I was up there with them I suddenly realised that I was enjoying the ride at my speed so that must say something surely.Oh yes and I did not have that awful feeling of getting caught doing a ridiculous speed.If your thinking of getting an Adventure Bike with limited funds then give a Vara a try because you really will be surprised at how good it is.

    22 January 2012

  • REALITY CALLING!

    Hyabusa1340

    Average rating rating is 4

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    I have ridden bikes over a 35 year period. Last machine owned was an 08 Hayabusa.The Varadero returns average 48 mpg if ridden normally.Comfort and reliability are not in question. I sometimes wonder why the MCN don't update their qouted figures.........

    04 November 2011

  • Bryanpowell33

    Bryanpowell33

    Average rating rating is 3.5

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    I owned a Varadero on a T plate for two and a half years. A very good bike but its top heavy. Once you put the three cases on it it becomes dangerously top heavy. On a recent tour to Devon I lost it twice at very very low speeds because it's centre of gravity wad far too high.

    18 September 2011

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pointrosie

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pointrosiesays

brilliant

having had this 58 plate bike 2 months now and run in

this what i can say 200 miles on a tank thrashing it 230 250 normal riding

seat is great what a peach of an engine loads of torque and top speed of 140 mph as per speedo and im no small guy brakes are maybe a bit spongey

i cant really fault the bike tyres are brill and i dont find it top heavy it corners as well as any bike ive ever had

only problem i can see so far is a bit of wind at about 80mph go to a 100 and its back to normal a bitch to put on center stand as shes quite heavy

07 May 2009 15:51

VitorR

VitorRsays

I think there should be an updated 2008 review of this bike

I think there should be an updated 2008 review of this bike. 2001 is a looong time ago ;)

24 February 2009 01:33

PIPEMAN

User's Badge

PIPEMANsays

what a loada rubbish!!!!

the "vara"is a great bike,,,handles well and tours brilliantly,,solo or two up,with or without luggage!!!it's not much more thirsty than a firestorm(more aerodynamic),and its quick enough for most people,,,its looks are quirky,but who cares??it does what it does in an efficient manner,,and i love mine!!

05 June 2007 22:56

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