Niall's Spin: Honda XL1000V Varadero (2001-02)

A touring bike disguised as an off-roader if ever there was one, the Varadero's dirt pretensions are just that

Click to read: Honda XL1000V Varadero owners reviewsHonda XL1000V Varadero specs and to see the Honda XL1000V Varadero image gallery.

Take one of these onto anything other than the smoothest, most hard-packed of trails and you'll soon be wishing you hadn't. But that's not the point. The Varadero sells on its chunky (some say ugly) looks, lofty seat height and plush, comfy suspension in exactly the same way that any number of never-seen-mud Chelsea Tractors do.

Powered by the same 1000cc V-twin lump that makes its home in the VTR1000, the Varadero's delivery is deceptively smooth and gutsy, even for something so large and heavy. If you're after a lumpy, characterful V-twin experience you won't find it here; what you do get is useful low-down stomp and the ability to cruise, all day, at 100mph with luggage and missus on board in quite some comfort. Wind protection varies from rider to rider, but generally the ride is plush and cosseting.

As a mile muncher the Varadero is a fine tool, although fuel economy in the low 30s will follow if the motor is worked too hard.

Honda's Combined Braking System finds a home here, and while linked brakes aren't favoured by some, the set-up seems to work exceptionally well on this type of machine with softer, long travel suspension. Despite its looks the big Honda handles well enough too, is nimble round town - where the tall seat height gives fine views of troubles ahead - and is even up for a bit of peg-down action. However, higher mileage examples may need a suspension refresh, so budget anything from £200-£800 for new fork springs and fresh oil to a brand spankers rear shock.

If you dig the challenging looks - later bikes were slightly less aesthetically handicapped than this model - then a second-hand Varadero makes a lot of sense thanks to low prices and Honda's fine build quality. Previous owners are more likely to be of the caring type too, and shabby, poorly maintained examples are the exception, not the norm.

Key ID: later fuel injected (and heavier) models had an adjustable screen
Walk away: If the last owner's a big lad with a fat pillion - suspension will be knackered
Pay more: for genuine Honda luggage with inner bags included