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An XR650L Saga (In need of technical assistance!)

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First off, hello! I've been lurking around and reading TT for a long time, finally decided to join the fun. Now to the grit.


I'm the proud new owner of a 2005 XR650L. I bought the bike two years ago, and have put over 6000 miles on it. So why do I say new? Until recently all I've done is ride it. Only recently did something click and I'm starting to give it the attention it deserves. What follows is a story that holds equal parts pride and embarrassment for me.


I bought the machine in 2011, becoming it's third owner. The first owner sold it to the second owner after a wheelie went a little too high, tipped over backwards, and broke both his collarbones leaving him unable to ride. The second owner de-smogged it, removed the snorkel, installed a Uni-filter, and re-jetted it. Apparently it was too much bike for him, because he rode it three times, changed the oil, and then it sat in his garage for six months before he sold it to me.


When I bought the machine, it had barely 1300 miles on it. It was practically like-new. Garage kept it's whole life, valves checked by the dealer at 600 miles. Oil changed twice. Other than one small scuff from the original owners misfortune, it was cherry. So what did I do? I rode it twice around the neighborhood, slapped some saddlebags on it, packed a backpack and tarp, and immediately took off on a 5000 mile, 3 month tour of the Southwestern United States. From 12000 feet in the High Rockies to the sandy shores of California, I explored every even remotely interesting looking trail off to the side of the road, camping the whole way. The bike performed perfectly most of the trip. I changed the oil after the first thousand miles just to be sure.


The first important detail here is something that happened while I was crossing Nevada on the 50. I'd been keeping up on my oil levels, it hadn't been using hardly any. When I decided to check the level after coming out of the Sierras, I was surprised to find the dip-stick totally dry! A wisp of smoke and burned smell greeted me out of the oil-fill hole. I've never clenched so hard. I stopped at the first auto parts store and added oil. It took almost a full quart. 20 miles down the road, I'm not sure how much of that had sprayed onto my pant leg. I had obviously somewhat overfilled.


Once I got home the bike sat in storage for about three months before I dragged it up to North Dakota where I was working. When it got there, I stripped off everything but the bare essentials, put a pair of Pirelli Scorpion XCMH on it, went down to a 14 tooth Sunstar countershaft sprocket, and proceeded to abuse the bike in every way possible. I put on about 500 hard off road miles. Through rocky canyon trails, unkempt agricultural fields, deep mud, and sandy rivers, I put it to the test. I buried it more times than I can count in mud, sand, and river crossings a little deeper than anticipated! 


After that, it sat in storage for another 6 months until just recently. Dirty, beat up, and in need of love I brought it to Arizona. The tank is rubbed to a matte finish by sand. The beast is crusty with filth. The chain guides are worn. The chain is about to fall apart. One of the side fairings is cracked. The right hand side cover is melted from where my saddlebag caught on fire in Utah. The tires and brake pads are worn through. Here's where you guys come in. I've ridden the hell out of it, but I'll be honest and admit that I'm an amateur when it comes to maintenance. Here's the status.


- Just about to break 8000 miles.

- Bike is now a daily commuter.

- Oil and filter freshly changed with Honda oil + filter.

- Filter just cleaned and oiled.

- Chain is in desperate need of replacement.

- Brake pads are in need of replacement.

- Valves are long overdue for an adjustment, top end is making noise.

- Tires are working on a good bald spot.

- Cosmetically, showing some use.


I have an appointment at the dealership tomorrow to have the valves adjusted (I know it's a simple job, but I'm not quite at that comfort level yet). After that, it's time to put a little love and money into it, and I want to do it right. Here's what I have on order.


- XR's Only magnetic drain plugs.

- XR's Only temperature dip stick.

- XR's Only case saver.

- Vance & Hines XCR

- WPS low profile tail light (to replace the "TV set"

- A bunch of OEM replacement parts. (Countershaft sprocket, new side covers and fairings, front chain slipper, etc)


Here's the things I need advice on. First of all, considering the history of the bike, what else do you think needs to be checked? Cam chain tensioner? Clutch basket? I want to make sure I don't overlook something that needs to be checked / replaced to avoid complications down the road. Next, are there any modifications or upgrades recommended that I've overlooked? Finally, I need some advice on what other parts to get. Considering the new exhaust and very minor intake mods, what jetting would you recommend? I'm around 4000 feet here. I also need suggestions for a few more parts. I want the best I can get, the bike deserves it.


- Brake pads (best stopping power)

- Chain (the best, toughest I can get)

- License plate bracket (preferably bolt-on using existing holes, if possible)

- Lower profile turn signals.


I know this has been a long winded post folks, so props if you actually took the time to read it. The beast has been good to me, and it's time for me to return the favor. I want to get it looking sharp and running better so I can put another 10k on it! Thanks!


P.S. Attached some photos. First 5 are of the travels. Last one is as she sits now!







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A 5000 mile tour across the southwestern US is only something I can dream of right now, I'm in NJ. How did you manage to not run out of fuel anywhere?

I would have the dealer inspect the entire engine, who knows what could have happened when it was starved of oil?!

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A 5000 mile tour across the southwestern US is only something I can dream of right now, I'm in NJ. How did you manage to not run out of fuel anywhere?

I would have the dealer inspect the entire engine, who knows what could have happened when it was starved of oil?!


I might have them do that, I'll talk to them tomorrow when I take it it. Since I'm riding it in I have to go a half hour early anyway to let it cool down!

As for not running out of fuel anywhere, I came damn close a couple of times! I topped off at almost every gas station I passed and made sure I had a full tank, to the very very top before leaving any town. I also carried a thermos of fuel in my backpack, just in case! Closest call was again, in Nevada. I had to buy some old gas from a guy in the middle of nowhere. He siphoned it out of his lawnmower tank. Didn't run great, but good enough to get me to the next station haha.

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Pull the valve cover and see if the cam/rockers are toast from lack of oil........if they are then it`s likely got piston damage to some degree too.........



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Well, had it into the dealer today. I had them do an inspection while they were adjusting the valves. They gave it a clean bill of health. Phew!


I am still looking for advice on a chain, brake pads, and rear sprocket though. Anyone?

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you don't need the toughest chain   IMHO i put a 90 $ DID x ring gold on mine  they are supposed to be a decent chain for the money


i don't think you need to spend on the XR's case saver specially if you do the chain the OEM cover is a case saver and I think it's good enough


also I ordered a new XR's oil temp dipstick and they  sent out a bad one  as in you cant turn it to center the gauge 


that was a few weeks ago and I sent it back  they were supposed to send on they tested first  but I haven't seen it yet 



i just ordered some pads from ebay  not cheap  but mid line   and I did front and rear sprockets using JT brand steel



I would be curios how you lost 1 qt of oil  that's half of what it takes to fill mine after an oil change




I would also look at all your chain sliders and guides    I suggest OEM  the xr's only  does not fit properly

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