I like writing these posts. They capture a moment or two in my moto-life and allow me to be creative in text and images. I read something the other day about how AI is now embedded in the publication of all sorts of stuff from creating instructions on how to grow cucumbers to writing a project thesis. I thought it would be interesting to see if AI could write me an introduction to this post about my little 1979 Honda XR80, so I signed up to ChatGPT and asked the question; Write a blog introduction to a small Honda off-road motorcycle. This is what is came up with……..

“Welcome to the rugged realm of off-road exploration, where dust kicks up behind the knobbly tyres of a nimble powerhouse, the small yet mighty Honda off-road motorcycle. In this corner of the motorcycling universe, we celebrate the spirit of adventure, conquer challenging terrains, and revel in the freedom that comes from navigating the unbeaten path astride these remarkable little two-wheelers. Meet our iconic, pint-sized hero, the small Honda off-road motorcycle, a true titan in a compact frame. Despite its modest stature, this bike packs a punch, designed to tackle trails, dirt tracks, and untamed landscapes with unmatched agility and versatility.

Whether you’re a seasoned dirt rider or a newcomer to the world of off-road biking, these machines offer an entry point to a world where every twist of the throttle opens up a world of excitement. In this blog, we delve into the fascinating universe of a small Honda off-road motorcycle, exploring its features, capabilities, and the adrenaline-fuelled experiences that it provides. From trailblazing through dense forests to conquering rocky incline etc etc etc etc etc”…………it went on for another two paragraphs!!! Phew!

It’s all a bit of a mouthful and clearly random strings of text, but hey, there’s some stuff in there that ‘could’ aid or trigger some writing creativity, and might even help the marketeers out there. Maybe! Anyway, as a ‘non-AI-scene-setter’ for this post, here are just a few key world events that took place in 1979, the year that my little Honda XR80 was born……

1. The Three Mile island Nuclear Accident happens in the USA.

2. China institutes the one child per family rule.

3. The general Knowledge Quiz Game ‘Trivial Pursuit’ is Launched.

4. Pink Floyd releases “The Wall” album.

5. The USSR Invades Afghanistan.

6. Margaret Thatcher is elected Prime Minister in the UK and the average inflation for the year is 17.5% with the Bank of England interest rates averaging 12.5%.

7. Sony released the Walkman.

8. The Snowboard is invented in the USA.

9. Lord Mountbatten and three others are assassinated by the IRA.

10. 63 Americans are taken hostage in the American Embassy in Tehran.

11. Michael Jackson releases his breakthrough album “Off the Wall”.

12. ESPN launches on cable television.

13. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returns to Tehran, Iran, after nearly 15 years of exile and seizes power.

14. The Dictator Idi Amin is deposed in Uganda.

15. The Voyager 1 spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter and made observations about the rings, radiation, and magnetic fields of the solar system’s largest planet.

16. The Sahara Desert experiences snow for 30 minutes.

17. The first black-led government of Rhodesia in 90 years takes power and the country’s name is changed to Zimbabwe.

18. The world’s first anthrax epidemic begins in Ekaterinburg, Russia, following a biological weapons plant accident.

19. The first British nudist beach is established in Brighton.

20. The 26th Canton of Switzerland, The Jura, is created.

21. The Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” becomes their only UK #1 single and at its peak, it sold over 150,000 copies a day.

22. The BBC landmark nature series “Life on Earth” presented by David Attenborough, is shown on BBC One for the first time.

23. “The Dukes of Hazzard” premieres on US TV network CBS.

24. The US performs a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site and the USSR performs a nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh, Semipalitinsk.

25. The European Monetary System is established and Euro currency unit is created.

26. The Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat sign the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in Washington, D.C.

27. The last British soldier leaves the Maltese Islands. Malta declares its Freedom Day.

28. The People’s Republic of China joins the International Olympic Committee.

29. The Australian film “Mad Max” starring Mel Gibson is released.

30. The U.K. film “Quadrophenia” premieres in London.

31. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii – 12°F (-11°C), was on top of Mauna Kea.

32. Los Angeles, USA, passes its first homosexual rights bill.

33. ……plus a lorry load of other important global stuff, amazing music, and importantly, my latest bike, a Honda XR80, was born in Japan in this year👍

34. So what?……….

Pick any year in the last 100 years and Google it, and it is truly amazing what has taken place in the world. The short, scene-setter 1979 list above is just a snapshot of the global chaos that was taking place at the time. However, this post really is about a motorcycle. A little motorcycle. An iconic motorcycle according to AI. The successor to the famous Honda XR75, the equally charactorful, 1979 Honda XR80.

To understand a bit of where the ‘79 Honda XR80 came from requires a motorcycling (not Google) step back to 1973. This is the year Honda launched their first mini-class off-road racer, the original XR75, which had a 73cc, four stroke engine. Whilst this off-road bike was aimed at the young racer, it has turned out to be the ‘little-big-bike’ that everyone in the family rode and had massive fun on. The XR75 evolved throughout the rest of the decade and in 1979, became the XR80, which was basically only a cosmetic change to the XR75, because in 1985, the model was redesigned, whilst maintaining the XR75 family heritage. The evolution didn’t stop in 1985 though, the model continued until 2013. Things changed in the 1980s when Honda made a two stroke off-roader called the CR80, and that had so much more performance and agility, the little four stroke ended up on a page at the back of each year’s Honda catalogue, but whilst the Honda marketeers didn’t focus on the XR75, customers definitely continued to.

One thing is for sure though, the little Honda XR has become an icon, and 2023 saw it enjoying a 50th anniversary. A new XR75 would have cost about £350/$450 brand new in 1973, and one sold at auction in 2022 for just over £10,600/$13,000! These little-big-bikes are very trendy with collectors, restorers as well as riders. I challenge you to find any family that has several off-road bikes that hasn’t still got a little Honda XR off-roader in amongst their bikes. A very clean, and very likely restored example can cost a minimum average of £4000/$4800 today. A bike like the one I bought can be found for about 30% of a restored price, but these are getting fewer, and they will need some investment to get to either a level of either overhaul/ride condition to nut’n’bolt restoration, which then can be parked in the sitting room, and yes, there are a few of XR75s in people’s sitting rooms!

I bet that there’s at least one person in the world that has an example of each XR75/80 in their collection that was ever made🤔. Courtesy of The Motocross Vault, you can use the link at the bottom of this post to see each year model of this bike.

There is also a small industry for these bikes to increase their performance with a whole host of go-faster-parts. I’m not an expert on these bikes, but I do love them for the little icons that they are. My 1979 XR80 is essentially mechanically the same as the XR75s from the years 1977-78, apart from the cosmetics. Parts for these bikes are still quite readily available and whilst some original New-Old-Stock parts like exhausts are rare and expensive, most of the parts are quite easy to get and ‘affordable’.

The condition of my XR80 when I got it was ‘well used, tatty and rough’, although the engine ran really smoothly. I got this bike because it is an icon and a hell of a lot of fun to ride as well. There’s a saying that you should ‘never buy a vehicle at night and in the dark’, which I obviously ignored when I went to see it at 9pm on a dark night. I had seen the good photos and description of it taken by the seller, but as in any sale, these never really represent the full condition story. The photos didn’t really show that every spoke in the front wheel was loose. That the exhaust had so much ‘bird-shit-welding’ on it that it that it looked more like a piece of scrap art. There was a whole list of other stuff that I could add here that needed sorting out, but that would be boring, so let’s just say that the engine sounded great and the bike was largely complete and original-ish. It looked like it had seen several, previous restoration attempts in its history, so I thought I’d make an effort and give it another. Craig, the seller of the bike is a well respected restorer and rider of MX bikes, and that gave me confidence as a buyer. That’s why I bought the bike in the dark. When I looked at it the following day in the daylight, it wasn’t any worse, unlike the VW Beetle I once bought in the dark, but that’s another story/life-learning😬.

Before (top pic obviously😜) and after😍.

You’ll see the work I’ve done in the ‘before and after photos’ above and below to get it to a mechanically sound and into a cosmetically pleasing state. Importantly, I’ve not touched the fuel tank apart from polishing it. I like the fact that it tells the story of the bike with the scratches, the small dent and the scuffed logos. Inside, the tank is like new as well, which is amazing for a 44 year old bike. As Craig told me when I was viewing the bike, the engine ‘sounds like a little Swiss sewing machine’ and it now goes really well following a full service and new carburettor. As the saying goes ‘my little Honda doesn’t have to look absolutely perfect to be amazing’.

It runs as good as it looks in the bottom pics as well!

What has been interesting, is whilst I’ve had parts, paints and renovation stuff arriving on a daily basis during this 3 week project, they’ve all come via eBay apart from one part. It’s clear that eBay is fast becoming a one-stop-shop even for bikes like the XR80, and that both the shops and online sellers are using this platform. There is also a worldwide community of people that love these little bikes, and happy to give advice and help. I include the seller of my bike, Craig, in this community, as whilst he restores and sells vintage MX bikes, he also provided me a set of decals for the bike. He also has a great selection of re-made vintage MX parts for sale on his website (Link below).

You just can’t have enough ‘before and after’ pics.🙄

I can’t sign this post off with an epic adventure story that I’ve experienced with this bike yet, but I can guarantee that it is THE most fun to race around the garden, fields and our local quarry, so its life continues for maybe another 44 years. Who knows!

I wanted to end this post on a musical theme, so I naturally Googled ‘best music in 1979’, and what an epic year for music!!! So much so, that I couldn’t decide which was my favourite track, band, album etc, so I’ll leave it to you to have a look at the list yourself in the first link below.

AND FINALLY, DON’T FORGET to check out my other content on this site and subscribe for more stuff in the future.

Here is a great list from 1979 of iconic songs: https://digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/bg_hits/bg_hits_79-x.html

Here’s the full range of the Honda XR75/80: https://themotocrossvault.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/1973-honda-xr75-converted.pdf

Here is the link to Craig’s MX parts website: https://www.facebook.com/Red64Racing/