Bulletproof: A crisp 1972 Honda XL 250 by Mule Motorcycles

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles
The reliability of Honda motorcycles is legendary. When this 1972 Honda XL 250 arrived at Mule Motorcycles, Richard Pollock had a long list of performance upgrades and cosmetic changes to work through. But when it came to the engine, some timing adjustments and a carb rebuild were all it took for the 51-year-old thumper to run true.

“The donor bike was in top shape,” Richard tells us. “One lesson I learned long ago, was the better the donor, the better the end product.”

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles
Remarkably, Richard remembers working on Honda XL 250s when they were brand new, because his first job was in a Honda motorcycle workshop. “It’s a good trail bike, but not a motocrosser,” he says. “In stock trim; 250 cc, a 6V electrical system, drum brakes front and rear, and manufactured before turn signals were a standard requirement on all motorcycles.”

“In modified form, with heavily upgraded motor output and in lightweight frames, these bikes and motors are still very popular in vintage flat track racing. This one, however, was sourced as a completely stock unit, with the customer requesting a somewhat more modern look.”

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles
Mule Motorcycles is best known for its unparalleled flat track builds—but Richard is a far more versatile motorcycle builder than most people realize. He currently has ten builds in the queue, spanning myriad marques and build styles. And yes, he’s well-versed in vintage Honda scramblers.

At a glance, this Honda XL 250 looks like a mild restomod. But it’s sporting a bunch of subtle changes, that add up to give it a slicker vibe than it originally had.

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles
Richard started by stripping the bike down, then cleaning up and sand-blasting the frame and swingarm. He then stretched the swingarm by an inch and a half, trimmed and looped the subframe, and added new steering stops up front. Everything was then coated black and reassembled with fresh suspension components.

A set of Mule yokes grips the forks from a Yamaha FZR600 up front, while new YSS shocks prop up the rear. The 18” drum brake-equipped rear wheel is still in play, but the project called for a disc brake upgrade on the front wheel. Richard made it happen by piecing together parts from an incredibly varied list of sources.

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles
The 21” front wheel comes off a Yamaha YZ450F motocross bike, while the axle and brake caliper were borrowed from a Triumph Bonneville. Richard fabricated a custom bracket for the latter, then installed a 300 mm Yamaha rotor onto a custom-made carrier with Brembo floating bobbins. The retro trials-style rubber comes from Shinko.

The bodywork looks period-correct, but it’s only really the fuel tank that’s still stock. The seat specialists Corbin made the saddle to spec, combining the classic enduro bike chunkiness with a thoroughly modern gripper fabric. The fenders are reproduction Honda CR250 items, which suit this build perfectly.

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles
The front fender sits on a custom bracket that doubles up as a headlight mount, while the rear fender wears a classic rectangular taillight. True to the era there are no turn signals—but there are reflectors.

A set of replica Cz 360 handlebars adorn the cockpit, fitted with Renthal grips, a Nissin brake master cylinder, a new throttle, and a few essential switches. The ignition now sits on the left of the bike, while the choke sits just in front of the bars. The cables are all-new, supplied by Xlint Performance, a company that specializes in OEM parts for XL-series bikes.

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles
Even though the engine didn’t need any work on the inside, it now looks brand new on the outside. The covers were done in a tungsten-colored Cerakote finish, and Randy Troy rebuilt the carb. All told this XL 250 should be good for another century.

Rounding out the spec are a handful of smaller CNC-machined parts and a very cheeky exhaust system. It uses a stainless steel header pipe, a short MX-style muffler, and a custom-made exit pipe, all to create a setup that Richard admits “doesn’t muffle much!”

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles
A crisp, and somewhat traditional, livery pushes the XL 250 over the finish line, courtesy of David Tovar at SBK Paint. And as shiny as it is, we can’t help but long to see it dirty.

Mule Motorcycles | Instagram | Images by Bart Cepek

Honda XL 250 restomod by Mule Motorcycles

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