Drool-worthy XR built for vintage motocross…
The Honda XR350R debuted to a good bit of fanfare in 1983. Together with its big brother, the XR500R, the big red enduro would help change the way people viewed off-road four-strokes:
“The arrival of the 1983 XR350R and XR500R marks a new beginning for Honda’s middleweight and big-bore thumpers. Although the big red bikes have long led their respective four-stroke classes, they’ve traditionally worn a playbike moniker — because they simply couldn’t run beside the two-stroke enduro machines. This year’s XRs cast off the old ranking.” —Cycle magazine, 1983
The 350R featured Honda’s new RFVC head design, making around 22 horsepower at the rear wheel, good for a top speed of 83 mph, and Honda’s Pro-link rear suspension with a gas-charged, remote reservoir shock. What’s more, the middleweight woods machine weighed 257.5 pounds with one gallon of gas — only 12 pounds more than a hot-ticket Yamaha IT250J! (Full disclosure: we just added an ’85 XR350R to the BikeBound stable.) In the ’80s, year by year, Honda’s four-strokes were gaining on the smokers…
Enter Mike and Parker Lichfield, the father/son team behind Utah’s Buscadero Motorcycles, who are building drool-worthy Honda XR’s for vintage motocross. The inspiration goes back to 1979, when father Mike was torn between his love of his new XR185 and wanting to race MX at the local track:
“As a young towheaded kid in high school, he stripped that 185 down bolt by bolt, removing lights and any excess weight from the bike. He Supertrapp’d it, threw on some number plates, painted it white and BAM! Not only was his first race bike born but he birthed the idea and inspiration behind Buscadero Motorcycles today.”
The term Buscadero is a reference to Parker’s leather craft business, Stock and Barrel Co., building vegetable tanned leather bags, wallet, belts and “buscadero” western gun belts and holsters:
“The term ‘buscadero’ originally meant “one who searches” and was applied to lawmen, and then later to the outlaws for whom they searched. Hollywood took it one step further and applied the term to a gunbelt and holster rig.”
For this XR350R build, dubbed “Hoodoo,” the father/son duo decided to build a four-stroke VMX bike to ride, race, and help promote the new brand. The bike bears echoes of Mike’s original XR185 motocrosser, with white plastics and an XR’s Only SuperTrapp exhaust. Of course, Parker knocked out the seat, and the top end has been rebuilt and hopped-up slightly. The result turns a great many heads at the track, both for its looks and ability to surprise some of the two-strokes!
Below, we get more details on the build from Parker himself.
Honda XR350R VMX: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Honda XR’s were a staple in the vintage off-road motorcycle world and still are today. They’re a cult favorite, and rightly so. Between the two of us, we’ve probably owned over a dozen XR’s. From XR75’s to 600’s, we’ve ridden the full spectrum. And I’m guessing you have too. Every time I swing a leg over a Honda XR, I fall in love all over again.
They’re comfortable, require low maintenance, reliable and FUN as hell to ride. The 4-stroke motors completely stand out in the 70’s and 80’s amid the 2 stroke motocross bikes of the day. They’re extraordinary bikes.
Alright, story time! Flashback to 1979, my dad, Mike (co-founder and head builder of Buscadero motorcycles) was torn between his love of his new Honda XR185 and his itch to start racing mx at the local track, wondered if he could build it to be competitive in a race. As a young towheaded kid in high school, he stripped that 185 down bolt by bolt, removing lights and any excess weight from the bike. He Supertrapp’d it, threw on some number plates, painted it white and BAM! Not only was his first race bike born but he birthed the idea and inspiration behind Buscadero Motorcycles today.
He was the ONLY 4 stroke mx bike at the track in 1979. He had to race a class up (because displacement wasn’t fully understood in the local racing world yet) and usually got womped on the starts but actually won a lot of races on that bike. My dad turned A LOT of heads, and more importantly had more fun than anyone else.
Fun fact: We built a tribute bike to that original 185cc. More to come on that. I’ll write a seperate post about it soon with more details of that story and the bike build when it’s finished.
Fast forward to today, we’re taking our love of Honda XR’s and fusing it with our passion for the sport of motocross and building a series of custom motorcycles that are unlike any others. My dad’s ability to create and build things from scratch has always bewildered me. His attention to detail and wild creativity is manifested in each build.
Here’s where I (Parker) come into the picture…My contribution to all this stems from the business I’ve built over the last decade in leather craft, called Stock and Barrel Co. You can usually find me in my workshop building vegetable tanned leather bags, wallet, belts and “buscadero” western gun belts and holsters. (If you were wondering where our name comes from there’s a little hint). It’s allowed me to explore all the new ways that makers, builders and creatives in general can use social media to pull back the curtain to the amazing talent that’s usually going on behind closed garage doors. We want to let you in to the build process as well as give you the opportunity to get your hands on completely unique, custom built motorcycles.
Oh yeah, my background in leather craft comes in handy for upholstering seats, so between that, my dad’s experience building beautiful two wheel machines, our love of racing and professional fun-having, creates a good recipe for Buscadero to thrive.
We’ll give you everything you love about Honda XR’s with a 70’s vintage motocross twist. We have a lot of exciting plans for the future of Buscadero including a vintage motocross racing series here in Utah, A lot more custom XR builds in the works, lots of heart-racing “thumpery” video content for you to consume and plenty more vintage motocross inspired apparel and gear. Thanks for being here with us.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1983 Honda XR350R.
• Why was this bike built?
Originally built to sell but decided to keep this one to ride, race and help promote the Buscadero brand (and because I just loved it so much). We have a lot more builds coming up that will be available to purchase.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Top end rebuild (rings, hot cam, oil seals, etc…)
Stripped down to frame, cleaned, painted, polished.
Custom tank and plastics (front fender from 1979 KTM, 1986 YZ250 rear fender from DC plastics).
Modified stock seat re-upholstered by Stock and Barrel Co.
XR’s Only SuperTrapp exhaust.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The 350 paired with the Supertrapp exhaust puts out a lot of bark, but is a lot lighter and more flickable out on the track when compared to the 500’s or 600’s of the same era. The geometry of the bike is really comfortable (like most XR’s are) and with a little tuning in the suspension, this enduro bike feels very natural on a mx track.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
You don’t see a lot of late 70’s style mx bikes powered by a four stroke motor. Other than the Yamaha HL500 replicas (which are expensive and pretty rare). Our XR builds are quite different than other ones we’ve seen, so we’re proud to have built something that is totally unique and really turns a lot of heads at the track.