HONDA XL1000V VARADERO (2001-2010) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"Hasn't matched the success of the BMW R1150GS"

Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding

"Hasn't matched the success of the BMW R1150GS"

  • At a glance
  • 996cc  -  93 bhp
  • 35 mpg  -  180 miles range
  • Medium seat height (843mm)

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

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.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

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.

Engine 4 out of 5

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.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 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 & Running Costs 3 out of 5

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 group: 13 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 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.

Owners' Reviews

36 owners have reviewed their HONDA XL1000V VARADERO (2001-2010) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.2 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.1 out of 5
Engine 4.3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.6 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.4 out of 5
Equipment 4.0 out of 5
5 out of 5

Great long distance traveller

16 December 2013 by PanagiotisKavala

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Great real-world bike

19 May 2013 by Classicblade

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5

Underated

23 November 2012 by Anonymous

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Use your head !

02 August 2012 by Hyabusa1340

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... Read more from Melvin in Coventry really transformed the comfort. What a Bike!

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Mileage

13 July 2012 by DaveyM

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 Read more

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

update this listing!

30 May 2012 by davsato

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

Me like this

19 May 2012 by shrek090

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... Read more 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

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Wot a surprise !

22 January 2012 by hondated

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... Read more 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.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 2 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

REALITY CALLING!

04 November 2011 by Hyabusa1340

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... Read more figures.........

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
3 out of 5

Bryanpowell33

18 September 2011 by Bryanpowell33

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... Read more of gravity wad far too high.

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
Read all 36 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2001
Year discontinued 2010
Original price £8,500
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 13 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 93 bhp
Max torque 72 ft-lb
Top speed 125 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.9 secs
Average fuel consumption 35 mpg
Tank range 180 miles
Specification
Engine size 996cc
Engine type 8v V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Steel tubular type
Fuel capacity 25 litres
Seat height 843mm
Bike weight 241kg
Front suspension Preload
Rear suspension Preload, rebound
Front brake Twin 296mm discs
Rear brake 256mm disc
Front tyre size 110/80 x 19
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 17

History & Versions

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.

Photo Gallery

  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Front view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Side view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Top view
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding
  • Honda XL1000 Varadero motorcycle review - Riding