<img width="200" height="152" class="floatleft" src="www.motorcycle.in.th/images/articles/The-Honda-XR230-Motard-Perfect-Bike_1.jpg" alt="" />With the Honda XR230 Motard, Honda has finally recognized the potential of the growing supermoto market segment. For Thailand Kawasaki was first to toe the waters with its Kawasaki D-Tracker 250 back in 2007, and Honda will soon join the road-rubbered dirtbike movement.
When the latest Honda XR230 Motard was introduced in Japan, last fall, its price tag was similar to the Kawasaki D-Tracker 250. That would make the smaller-displacement, air-cooled, 223cc Honda XR230 Motard a tough sell alongside the better-performing, liquid-cooled, 249cc Kawasaki D-Tracker 250.
Honestly, in power production, the Honda XR230 Motard falls far short of the Kawasaki competitor.
But the Honda XR230 Motard isn't about competing in a horsepower race; it's about offering a valuable combination of predictable, easy-to-manage power, nimble handling and light, easy control operation.
<img width="230" height="157" class="floatright" src="www.motorcycle.in.th/images/articles/The-Honda-XR230-Motard-Perfect-Bike_2.jpg" alt="" />All of this makes the Honda XR230 Motard ideally suited for beginning riders. It's incredible easy to ride, almost effortless so; and, unlike some other dual-sport-based machine, it allows short-legged folk to achieve firm footing at stops astride its narrow dirtbike-style saddle. Seat height is just 81cm unladen and sinks nearly 4cm when compressed under the weight of a 70kg rider.
The clutch engages smoothly and predictably with only a light pull at the lever, although shifting through the 6-speed gearbox needs some getting used too. The single-disc front and rear disc brakes provides good feel and consistent stopping power.
Thanks to the Honda's suspension, which provides about 25cm of front wheel travel and a bit less at the rear. Honda XR230 Motard riders need fear no pothole; after all, this is essentially a dual-purpose motorcycle fitted with grippy sport tires so it has dirt-road roosting in its genes. That also helps make the Honda XR230 Motard an excellent mode of inner-city transportation.
But with a top-speed of just 120km/h and a tendency to weave and wiggle, the Honda XR230 Motard has limited freeway appeal. It did, though, get an impressive 46km/l average fuel consumption when mixing city and rural road use, delivering a estimated 400km range from its fuel-tank.
So, if you're looking for a basic, beginner-friendly motorcycle or a fun little fuel-saving-two-wheeler in cool supermoto style, the Honda XR230 Motard fits that description completely. Production of the Honda XR230 Motard in Thailand is said to start in the beginning of 2010.