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Honley Venturer - Would I?

Blog Date - 14 August 2014

Honley? Who the hell is/are Honley? According to this very interesting blog post from Wemoto (http://www.wemoto.com/news/article/474) the Honley brand is in fact named after a small village in Yorkshire where one of the Honley team hails from. Between them they run Earnshaws, a motocycle and bicycle dealership in the land where men are men and sheep are concerned. 

The fact is that the Honley Venturer is a Chinese motorcycle that the Honley team have had built for them. Oh no...oh dear...not the "Chinese Rubbish" debate again. There's 2 things I'll take into account about this though.

Firstly this weekend while checking the gf's Chinese allegedly "crap Chinese no-name useless bit of metal" 125 I took the tank and side panels off. What I found underneath looked exactly the same as I've found under the covers of countless "quality" Jap bikes. Nothing fancy, no novel ideas just a billy bog standard frame, indicator relay, airbox, reggy reccy and so on and so on. If you'd said it was a Jap bike I'd have no reason to doubt you. The build and finish is pretty average too, I mean that in a good way.

Secondly according to Wemoto's blog post the Honley team kept kicking the bike back to China until they got the bits and build quality they were after. Now, I've no idea how true this is and the proof is in the pudding. Still, I'm hoping these guys who are established motorcycle dealers and live in the wet, windy and joyfully grim North of England might know a thing or two about what's needed to make a motorcycle survive in the UK.

So maybe Chinese isn't a bad thing. Of course being Chinese the price is a positive, £3699 on the website. Honda's CRF 250 L is listed at £4199 and Kawasaki's KLX 250 costs £4799. While both these Jap models are established bikes from established brands it's easy to see the Honley's savings. To compare the Honley to the Honda and Kwak is unfair too. The Jap machines are road legal off roaders, stripped down, basic and simple. The Honley is an adventure styled bike that comes with luggage, a 16 litre tank and if the images are to be believed there's crash bars. Along with the screen and fairings this all costs money. There's a lot more on the Honley than the other 2. 

I do like the "big trailie" thing. I like motorcycles that are spacious and comfortable, can carry some serious luggage and possibly take in a farm track or two if needs be. Unfortunately most big trailies come with big gas guzzling engines, a seat height that causes vertigo and the weight of a sea-faring vessel. This notion of a 250 big trailie does rather appeal to me then. 795mm seat height (fair to middling), I can't find the weight but I guess 175kg and Honley claim fuel economy was the aim with this bike. All music to my ears.

If the images on the website are to be believed the bike comes with a 3 piece luggage kit. But wait! Look closely and the side panniers look more like lunch boxes rather than suitcases. This is disappointing, the boxes are styling details not useful additions. However, think positive, the racks are in place to fit serious kit should a 4 week camping trip be on the cards. It's not what I need, but it's a start.

So there it is, my thoughts on the Honley Venturer. There's one final additional positive, there's a dealer nearby! It seems Speedwells of Radcliffe have been Honley dealers since Jan 2014. I like Speedwells, they're one of the few remaining independent dealers around here and I had positive dealings with them 10 years ago when I purchased my NTV 600 Revere. I shall go down and take a look at the Venturer in the flesh...

Reader's Comments

George Wilson said :-
I recently purchased a Honley HD2 from Jason at Earnshaws - what a great little bike for commuting on, this has to be one of the best value for money bikes around. Like everyone else I was very sceptical at first with the 'chinese' quality aspect but I am really impressed with the Honley. Get over the fact that it is made in China as are hundreds of other items we use on a daily basis and never question the reliability of. This bike is basically a Yamaha YBR 125 for a fraction of the price - I love it. Earnshaws have a great product at the right price and deserve to do well.
1/1/2000 12:00:00 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
There's nowt wrong with the Chinese bikes, read "Sharon's Blog" and you'll see what we think of hers. Keep in touch re the Honley, be curious to see how well it ages as you live with it.
1/1/2000 12:00:00 AM UTC
Paul said :-
Just got a honley hd2 earnshaws great bike love it and a good shop
5/9/2016 10:47:50 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Paul. I'd love to hear how you get on with the bike long term. Obviously being Chinese a lot of folks will be thinking it will rust and be unreliable. I hope you can tell everyone that it's ageing well and never skips a beat.
6/9/2016 7:33:17 AM UTC
MAJOR TOM said :-
I am old enough, by god i am, to remember when the jap bikes first came over.
Yep they are a pile of rubbish i recal. Those things will not last five minutes we said. Rust you aint seen anything like it. The word WHOOPS Comes
to mind and i think the word Whoops will be used again here. What a nice
looking machine and lets be honest who really needs 100 m.p.h. performance
these days. Put the sports bike away and get ya leg over this would be my
advice. As some one else said it would be really good to hear how ya get
on with the little beast over a period of time.. Over and Out ..
MAJOR TOM ...............

11/9/2016 10:27:58 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
In a world filled with ever decreasing speed limits and ever more ways to get caught speeding you're quite right MAJOR TOM who needs 100mph performance? Watching Sharon ride her Kwak 250 I see there's little need for anything more.
12/9/2016 9:35:39 AM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Yes who needs 100mph.
Had my cb500x upto 85 once. It seemed fine and stable but since then struggled to maintain 65 due to traffic hell. So now unless I'm in Scotland its slow and steady for me.

The Honley adventure bike looks good.
12/9/2016 5:13:35 PM UTC
Alan said :-
Did my CBT at Roadriders behind Earnshaws. Had a look at the bikes while I was there and I will be buying a Honley in the new year to practice on when I am back in UK again. Then I intend to keep it when I pass my test and take it back home with me. They looked pretty decently constructed and I already own a Chinese CFMoto Quad back home which I have had endless fun with and no mechanical or rust problems with. Rusting isn't much of a problem where I live as it is pretty dry and the roads are seldom ever gritted in winter Just swithering whether to get the HD-2 or 3. The final decision will probably be dependent on which one my feet can touch the floor with and my lower back prefers. The Venturer looks good but I think it is too big for me height wise so unfortunately I don't think I will be getting one of those.

Love the blog, keep it up, I hope to add my own travel contributions some day.
31/10/2016 12:57:19 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Alan. We've been happy with Sharon's "cheap chinese" Keeway. Of course it's not been perfect but it's been as good as any other 125 I've come across. It's now almost 4 years old and has 23,000 miles on the clock and it's fine.

I'd love to hear your stories Alan. They don't have to be great big travels either, I mean let's face it I've hardly touched Europe. I'd also like to hear how you get on with the bike you choose.
1/11/2016 9:03:04 AM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Chinese or Japanese bikes what's the difference.

I purchased a kia car many years ago. I was always a Ford person at the time. Why.
Same parts as a Toyota. Ten grand instead of 14 for the Ford 7 year warranty instead of 2.

It starts stops and drives. Can't fault it. It's a matter of perception. Maybe snob value.

Half the Japanese bikes are made in India or Taiwan. Half the parts made in China Ethiopia or mexico.

How can honley a small bike shop make a new self designed bike. Just show you how cheap the labour is in China.
18/11/2016 7:33:49 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
The Venturer wasn't...er exactly designed by Honley. It looks the same as several other Chinese brand 250s. Just Google up RX3 Cyclone to see what I mean.

I suspect Honley get the factory to up the quality of some parts, maybe make some alterations etc but I'd struggle to believe they created it from the ground up.

As you say though just about every brand sources parts from around the world. The difference is the quality of those parts. There's no reason at all a Chinese brand can't be as good if not better than the market leading marques.
18/11/2016 11:42:03 PM UTC
Alan said :-
I haven' started my bike travels yet but when I do most of them will be starting from this area. :-)

Sierra Nevada Mountains,  Andalucia
30/11/2016 5:56:23 PM UTC
Alan said :-
And for some strange reason it is upside down.
30/11/2016 5:57:35 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I've turned it the right way up Alan. Whereabouts is that?
30/11/2016 9:39:08 PM UTC
Alan said :-
It's the south side of the Seirra Nevada Mountains in Spain. Taken looking up towards Mulhacen from just outside the village of Cadiar where I live. The houses that can be seen are the village of Berchules. Not a very good picture as I only had my phone on me at the time.
1/12/2016 9:11:30 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Oh Alan you do realise envy is a terrible thing? I'm sat here in a cold damp town in northern England looking at terraced houses and scruffy street and you've got all that on your doorstep.

Thanks for that. Pfffft!
1/12/2016 10:45:25 AM UTC
Adam said :-
Im tempted to go for one but not sure out of warranty?
24/5/2017 10:18:33 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Adam - it all depends on the price and the condition. If it's tip top condition and cheaper than chips then there's no reason not to buy one.
25/5/2017 9:39:40 AM UTC
Bob said :-
I took a test ride on a Venturer RX3 a few months ago and I started to write a review but never finished it.
For my two-peneth worth I can offer my opinion that the Venturer is not a particulaly good bike. Recently I've test ridden the venturer, a 2016 CRF250L, 2017 CRF250 Rally and even a 1990's TTR250 (I've been a bit "250 curious" of late).
The Venturer I rode felt utterly breathless, it had rock hard suspension, wooden and remote feeling brakes and near invisible idiot lights.
It struggled to put 65MPH on the clock and felt wheezy and underpowered.
Now I know they are cheaper than the CRF250 by some margin, but the difference in cost is well worth it. The CRF250 is a quantum leap ahead in every area.
That's before we've discussed reliability and warranty (eek!).
If you are really determined then please don't commit until you've ridden one.
25/5/2017 10:33:33 AM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Earnshaws still have a few new ones pre-regged I think, they usually give a 3 month warranty with second hand ones as well. Not a lot but better than nowt.
25/5/2017 10:33:34 AM UTC
Bob said :-
..and it weighs more than my old 650 single!
25/5/2017 10:34:36 AM UTC
Borsuk (AKA Alan in earlier posts) said :-
I have had my Honley HD-3 for 20 months or so now, nearly 6000 km on the clock which is not bad as I only get to use her for 3 months of the year in all weathers.
Had a few teething problems when I first got it. Electrical failure due to a molten ignition plug, difficulty starting it at first but tweaking the mixture sorted that. Gave up on the OE tyres after a year and put on some Michelin City Pro's which changed the handling of the bike completely. Poor headlights, beefed them up a bit but they still need a bit more oomph. Spark Plug cap gave up after 1 year but that may have been damaged when she was blown over. The side stand kill switch stuck on after the side stand being out for 4 months. Was too enthusiastic in sorting it out I think as the switch fired the contact probe out a few days later. Not managed to fix a suitable one yet.
Mechanically it has been fine. Running in and first service done by Earnshaws. There is a small amount of rusting in various nooks and crannies, mostly on the exhaust which is just painted steel so not exactly unexpected. Frame and what body panels there are there fine, I had the bike treated by All Year rider just after I got it in Jan 2017 and it was never washed until he repeated the process 16 months later. Sat out in all weathers for up to 6 months at a time without problems. Couple of priming pumps on the kick starter and she starts first time on the electric. Layup preparations include turning off the fuel tap and giving the chain a good oiling. Actually that is the sum total of layup preps.
Intend to get the exhaust off, give it a good wire brushing and paint with heatproof Hammerite paint. Tried using normal Hammerite but it only lasted a couple of months.
Most rust patches are from damage when I have crashed her, dropped her or she has been blown over during gales.
Speedo is optimistic by about 6 mph but the odo seem accurate enough, 9 km out in a 350 km journey. A few bits have had to be replaced due to inflicted damage but apart from the initial electrical problem everything else has been fine.
Maximum speed is around 65, cruises nice at 55, 7000 rpm out of an alleged max 10,500 , a little bit of vibration but not much. Again some of that may be from damage as she has been on the deck a few times.
Averages around 115mpg since new. Presently getting around 125 mpg after playing with the throttle when replacing the grips (damaged in a crash). Giving a range of 400 km plus so basically I start looking for petrol stations around the 180 - 200 mile mark. The engine has loosened up a bit since I got it, she quite happy to sit at 7000 - 8000 rpm with no complaints.

8/9/2018 2:42:54 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Borsuk. Couple of things

Let me know how you get on with the heatproof Hammerite. My experiences with heat proof paints on exhausts have always been a failure. In an ideal world all exhausts should be stainless steel throughout but this is costly. When a "yoof" is buying a bike with very limited funds a stainless piped bike next to a mild steel piped bike may make all the difference price wise.

Now you've passed your bike test are you planning to keep the 125? I know I thoroughly enjoy having the choice between the 500 and the 125 and I still love riding my 125.
9/9/2018 7:21:18 AM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Greetings Ren.

Too true I am keeping her. She is a great wee bike in my view and she is also my guinea pig for doing things. You feel a lot less worried getting stuck into a cheap bike than you do looking at your multi thousand pound toy and about to do heart surgery using a leather man, old coat hanger and a roll of gaffa tape. Next leave is replace the wheel bearings time (again), this timeI might manage to do it right.
For local bimbling runs and pottering about on my own she will be ideal, I might throw the occasional long distance run in, especially if in the company of like minded people. I don't intend to get the bigger bike in the U.K. till next year. If I'm with the boy I will probably use the big bike so I don't keep him back too much.
One of the lads at work was saying he wished he had kept a small bike as using his 600 for everything soon squared off his tyre profile. Bike stuff costs a fortune in Brasil, a cheap CA approved helmet starts around £120 as against £30 in the U.K.
9/9/2018 11:23:35 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
There's a lot to be said for small bikes. Have you decided which "big" bike to get yet?

And as for Brasil - isn't it about time you retired?
10/9/2018 6:56:08 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Hi Ren, I am currently exploring the chances of becoming semi retired.
For my big bike I'm going to be greedy and get 2. One for Spain and one for the U.K.
I fancy the Himalayan for Spain. The new version seems to have addressed all the known faults of the original one, it will probably have a few new ones of its own but I haven't read anything damning about it yet. Living in the mountains surrounded by tracks it will see me in good stead for exploring as well as being acceptable on the roads. With the built in framework fore and aft I might even try fitting a gun carrier to it and use it for going shooting, 350 km round trip to my local gun club. It is designed as a proper rough road bike, not purely cosmetic like a lot of the retro scramblers around which would shake themselves silly just driving up to my friends house never mind repeated off roading or "Green laning"
For the U.K. I am looking at another Royal Enfield. The new Interceptor 650. I like the looks of it, it's not tuned to the high heavens so it should be reasonable economy and reliability wise as its not screwing the bobbin all the time. It is the same height as the current continental so it is doable without adding wooden blocks to my feet. It should be good for country road blasts and trundling up the motorway with my license intact. I've even went so far as to put down a deposit with the dealer in Shipley.
As they are both designed to sold in the home market then they have bodgeable mechanical systems and don't require to be taken to the dealer to reset the trip meter never mind actual servicing. I might get the Interceptor serviced at the dealer (major services anyway) but I think I can probably do the Himalayan myself. Especially as I get more familiar with the internals of my 125 and quad as they age and I learn the secret ways and rituals of the destroy it yourself bodger. The only drawback I can see to it is that it has a lot of chrome which will require cleaning or else Sharon will be giving me murderous looks. Maybe coat the bike in clear lacquer and powerwash it every 6 months or so as a safety measure.
I'm visiting a dealer in Malaga to see what's what next week after I get off this greyhound of the sea. See if there's any deals going, especially if I pay in folding stuff.

11/9/2018 12:13:57 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cor blimey you're spoiling yaself!

I've been following Nathan Millward and the adventures of his Himalayan. He seems perfectly happy with his purchase and at 10,000 miles he's not reporting any issues. Last I heard he was leading a tour across the US. He also reports that servicing is do-able by normal human beings and doesn't require a Doctorate in Quantum Physics with Mechanical Engineering.

I've seen the new 650s in the flesh. They're not quite my style but otherwise everything else looks hunky-dory. Personally I'd hold off buying one for a while just to see how other owners feel about them and how they age. Again, yeah that looks like a bike that can be spannered without high level training and tools.

If you do get the 650 here in Blighty you'll have to let me have a go :-)
11/9/2018 8:39:13 AM UTC
Borsuk said :-
I've been looking at Nathans videos as well, some minor things so far, nothing serious or systemic. I think RE have upped their QA/QC at the suppliers end as well as their own internal checks. Going from Nathan's videos I intend to fit a switch in the ABS circuits to disable it when off roading. Need to hide it though so the ITV inspectors don't see it.
You will be welcome to have a go on her anytime, if you let me know in advance the next time your heading to Spain let me know, maybe the planets and stars will align and the gods will smile, or at least grin sarcastically and we can meet up, you can have a shot on the Himalayan, should be well run in by then.

11/9/2018 2:35:29 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I've already test ridden and reviewed the Himalayan here on BAT. That was a nearly new bike though so a run in one would be better. And getting it off road even with my limited skills would be great.
11/9/2018 6:40:53 PM UTC

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