Predating the legendary Honda Elsinore’s US debut by only a matter of weeks, the XR75 represented a foray into a new sector for Big Red as the little XR was the brand’s first serious go at a high-performance dirt-goer. Honda did already offer the Z50 and CT70, though neither were really engineered for rugged off-road riding. Two years before the XR’s US release, the brand unveiled the CL70, and while closer to a competent dirt bike, was still more of a toy than a serious off-road race machine with neither an engine nor frame capable of withstanding the immense stresses of off-road competition.
Unlike the semi-off-road-capable Hondas that came before it, the XR75 was a bonafide MXer, with its engine featuring larger valves, bigger carbs, higher compression, a higher redline, and vertical mounting. Paired with the 72cc mill was a close-ratio four-speed tranny with straight-cut gears.
Housing the power plant was an all-new single-downtube chassis with a stamped steel spine that used the engine as a stressed-member. Fitted to the front of the frame was a set of non-adjustable telescopic forks, while a set of shocks absorbed bumps in back. Despite its short wheelbase and lack of adjustability, the XR was praised for its surprisingly on-point handling. And for owners looking to get even more out of the little runner, the aftermarket segment was the answer, as only a few months had passed since the XR’s debut when upgraded exhausts, big-bore kits, suspenders, and even aftermarket monoshock frame kits started popping up. But even in its stock form, the XR reigned supreme in its segment upon its release, outclassing the competition for a few years before the competitors’ two-strokes returned the favor.
This particular XR75 is a first-year example from 1973. Approximately two years back this 75cc Honda underwent an extensive restoration. The seller claims the little Honda “is better than showroom bikes”, and according to the ad they planned on selling this specimen at the 2019 Mecum Vegas auction but now “can’t make it this year”. Based on the photos, this example appears to be in spectacular cosmetic condition, and while there’s little mention of the bike’s mechanical state, the seller says the engine has yet to be fired up since the rebuild.
While this micro-displacement dirt bike’s price may at first appear ridiculously “ambitious”, a similar first year example sold earlier this year at the Mecum Vegas auction for just shy of $10K. According to the auction house, NOS OEM parts for the little MXer are becoming increasingly seldom finds, making full nut and bolt restoration XR75s (which utilize NOS OEM components) surprisingly valuable. Add to that the fact that the XR was a wildly popular model for kids and racing, meaning many examples have been ridden into the dirt, making any clean survivors, even of the non-original variety, valuable finds.
On the other hand however, there’s also an outfit out of California that takes preorders on eBay for XR75 rebuilds that undergo ground-up restorations exclusively using NOS OEM parts too. Not to mention another restored example — albeit from ‘74 — that Abhi featured back in March of this year sold for almost half this example’s asking price, so even with the near-$10K Mecum XR, this ‘73 75’s price may be a little steep.
You can find this beautifully restored 1973 Honda XR75 for sale here on Craigslist at BestWest Fastener’s (a hardware store) in Sun Valley, California with a price of $7,900.