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Stock 2006 Honda XR650L Cafe Racer/Scrambler Conversion Project and General Bike Advice

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Hello Thumper Talk Community!

This is my first post here, just created my account a few minutes ago. I apologize if I violate any type of forum rules or formatting, but I'm sure I'll learn as I go.

To begin with: I've been riding dirtbikes since I was 8. I am currently a 19 year old University student in upstate NY, and I am riding a 2006 Honda XR650L that I bought myself when I turned 16. I've attached pictures of it (taken today, as I wrote this post) to illustrate the condition it is in, what it looks like, etc. While I have been riding for an extremely long time, and consider myself a safe and competent rider, I have a very limited mechanical knowledge of motorcycles. My dad introduced me to bikes and taught me to ride, but my riding experience over the years has been on my own, and my mechanical knowledge is self-taught and basic maintenance of my bike at best - nothing fancy whatsoever. He and I don't really speak anymore, and therefore I don't have any type of guidance or reference points when it comes to bike mechanics (or mechanics of any kind, for that matter). Nevertheless, I am very interested in modifying and improving my bike and possibly beginning a project to convert it into a café racer or scrambler-esque bike. I rarely go off-road anymore and use my XR as a daily driver, but I find the traction of off-road tires to be favorable and have never had street tires. Therefore I'm debating whether or not to keep my off-road tires (or get different ones), making the bike more of a scrambler - or to use street tires making it more of a café racer. If I'm using terminology wrong and have no idea what the f**k I'm talking about, then please always feel free to correct me. I am using Daniel Peter's custom XR650L café racer, and Ready Moto's brat/cafe racer as inspiration. I think both are beautiful bikes/rebuilds, and want something very similar as my final product. However, I think Daniel Peter's bike is tricked out in a very expensive (and unnecessary to me) way (i.e. antelope seat, c'mon dude). I also want to preserve my passenger seat and pegs, if possible.

I have absolutely no idea where to start, and have no current access to welding or fabrication machines of any kind. I'm asking for a full walkthrough and as much help as you all are willing to give me.

Because I'm in school, I have a very limited budget. Basically, I'm willing to do my short term modifications and enhancements, and probably put the conversion project on hold until the spring. This is particularly dependent upon the advice I get. I don't need the bike as much in the fall, because I live on my college campus, but it's nice to have around in working condition (I know the project would require pulling it all apart and not riding for a while). So if any part I need for this is expensive but necessary, I will save up for it and make it happen. If there are cheaper, reasonable alternatives to achieve the same goal, then I will do that. I'd appreciate all advice along those lines.

I just replaced my battery two weeks ago, and am going to attempt to replace the brake pads (a simple job, I know, but with luck/mechanical ability like mine, it can be quite daunting!) The chain is new, the frame has been reinforced at certain points, but everything else is stock!

What I Want Out of This Bike (Short Term)

1. I'd like to put the battery underneath the seat.

2. I want to clean it up, particularly the rusted parts, and possibly repaint/replace them to make sure the bike looks better. (Need guidance for this, as I'm unsure how to remove rust/how to go about repainting parts - why I posted pics, so hopefully this community can identify where my "problem areas" are on this bike).

3. Learn how to properly winterize and maintain bike. Currently I check oil regularly, fill it with premium gas, lube the chain once or a week or more, and wash it (probably not enough) and spray WD-40 on various pieces. If I'm an incompetent fool, tell me.

4. Replace footpegs, throttle, handgrips.

5. If feasible with my current bike, put in a circular (brighter) headlight instead of the stock square one. Am willing to get rid of red plastic housing, or find an alternative.

What I Want Out of This Bike (Long Term)

1. A full café-racer type conversion, styled similar to what I linked above. My dream "bought brand new" bike currently is a Triumph Bonneville converted to a scrambler (provided a pic) to let y'all know what I'm interested in, aesthetically.

2. Switch out stock carb (40mm) with a 41mm Keihin FCR-MX flat slide. I've been doing lots of reading, and it looks like this will drastically improve bike performance and throttle response in many ways, not limited to AFR and starting.

3. Repaint the sucker!


Sorry for the giant wall of text, I appreciate those who have read this far. Please ask any questions, give comments, critiques, advice, anything! I look forward to hearing what the TT Community has to say. Cheers!










Triumph Bonneville.jpg

Edited by rookiebuilder
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I can't offer any help other than there might be some ideas in the XR600/650 forum.

Up top^

Forums>dirt bike>make model specific> Honda>XR600/650.

Good luck. 👍

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Hunkered down yesterday and replaced my brake pads after using near-ground down ones for far too long - honestly think the friction hurt my rotors, but not enough to warrant replacing them.

Also started to take off some rusted bolts/nuts, WD40 and steel wool scrub, then dry off and apply grease (I don't have any never-seize but I'm sure grease will do the trick.)

Watched some YouTube videos on how to properly wash, gonna give the whole bike a good scrub tomorrow (raining today) and then start on polishing it all up!


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I don't know if you've looked into turning your XR650L into a SuperMoto or not but it seems like it may be cheep & easy compared to what you're talking about.

This is my 01 XR650LSM.[emoji106]IMG_0871.JPG.4c835999d2bef28f30d5a705755c8f7f.JPG

It's a very good urban assault bike for commuting.[emoji41]


As for the carburetor, check out my 40mm FCR-MX conversion over at SuperMoto Junkie, you can also find plenty of pics/info on Sumoing your bike.


XR650L 40mm FCR-MX Conversion




When I Tarded my first bike I did some searching for tire availability, I decided on the 17x3.5 & 17x4.25 combo because of tires being more available in 120/70-17 & 150/60-17.

So my advice is check tire size availability before purchasing wheels.[emoji106]



Edit: the specs on my bike.

2001 XR650LSM, Clark tank, Warp 9 wheels (17x3.5 front 17x4.25 rear) Avon 3D Ultra tires (120/70ZR17 front 150/60ZR17 rear) 40mm FCR -MX carb, UNI Filter, Marko Header, White brothers E2 muffler, CRF450R USD forks & triples, BRP SUB Mount, Scott's Damper, MotoMaster racing caliper & Rotor, Brembo 16/18 Radial MC, 15-43 gearing.




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