Latest XR650L mods - A Good Day!!

Hello from rainy and cold London, where I'm still prepping my 2000 XR650L for an overland trip though Africa and teh Middle East (while enjoying the trails here at home)...

Fitted Eibach 0.47 weight fork springs yesterday night - or rather watched a pro fit them. Used 12W oil (stock is 7W) and maxed out the internal preload washers (10mm each side). While the tubes were out of the bike I inspected the sliders, seals and so on. All perfect after 12,000 miles (2nd set of seals I think). Looks like the Honda fork boots did a good job. I also clean the seals once in a while, by pulling the boots up. Fitted some KTM neoprene fork leg covers designed for a 640 Adventure (15GBP from a KTM dealer) and they work perfectly. I couldn't be happier. Pics soon.

The guy who set up the suspension is a pro-MX and enduro suspension technician here in the UK, and all I can say is "amazing". At first it felt too firm - big bumps (like speed humps) send quite a jolt through the bars. I think I was just sued to the sloppy stock setup. The genius is that's it's still supple. Harder than stock but also more sensitive. Setting the bike up for corners on asphalt has become a much more enjoyable affair. The handling was vague with a full (5 gal) tank before - now I can do tight weaves at 50mph with no drama, and I can feel the tyre scrubbing millimeters across the road!! Can't wait to get offroad with it this weekend....

The rear spring has been more difficult. At the moment I have the preload jacked right up and the compression damping set quite hard. I have checked the bushes and the spring central rod - all in perfect condition (good news). The spring on the bike is a 15% harder one I think... but I'm changing it soon. You know what I'm going to use to get me some quality suspension? A bit of off-road bling, that's what.

I have a contact here in London working on getting me a genuine custom Paris-Dakar spring. Although it's off a privateer XR650R Rallye, it was set up to carry fuel etc at high speed and is the same size as the spring on the "L".. I expect it to be 40% harder than stock, and progressive. That should enable me to back off the adjusters a bit - ideally they should all be about in the middle of their travel and mine are almost all maxed out. Not sure if it's all going to come about; getting ex-Rallye bits can be hit and miss. I will also have to get the spring on a test rig to make sure it's not worn out. If it's OK, my "L" will have the rear suspension of an "R".

Regarding the handling, I'm also considering a brace - they seem bloody expen$ive though. When the forks were slotted back into the yokes, I also dropped them again. When the lowering link was installed (by the previous owner) he reset the steering geometry to standard by sliding the yokes down about an inch. I have found that the handling is sweet with *no* lowering link and the fork yokes 1-1.5 inches lower than standard. I would hesitate to recommend this setting to an off-road newbie though - it's razor-sharp but a touch twitchy in deep mud & high-speed gravel (40mph +).

Another thing today - got the pipe all done. I now have the FMF PowerBomb header and the Yoshimura stainless silencer, and does it work well! I found the Yoshi produced good power with no insert, but the torque was shifted up the rev range and the noise was unbelievable - certainly wearing after 8 desert hours in the saddle. Instead of using the TEC insert kit (which cost me 55GBP - $100!, and which I can now get refunded) I welded a washer and tube into the central pipe, inside the end cap. It is functionally identical to the TEC, apart from the spark arrestor - not necessary here in the UK anyway. As soon as the pipe was baffled a bit, the torque came back down to where it belonged and the offensive crackly edge was taken off the noise of the pipe.... but I still wasn't happy, oh no.

So I fitted the headers. They're $219, but with shipping it's still cheaper to buy them here in the UK for £179 (ouch!). When they arrived I was really impressed with the quality - more on that later. The UK distributor hadn't even heard of the XR650L, so I told him I had a 2000 XR600R. The pipes slotted straight on, with no bother at all. Only thing is, they leak. The cylinder-side weld on the 2-into-1 section has a pinhole, which blows slightly. It's not like you can hear it or anything, but you would expect a new header pipe to be gas-tight, right? Will bring it up with them tomorrow.

The line the pipe takes is much tighter to the block and more direct, and the bomb really seems to help. I can now lift the front wheel on the throttle in 3rd (!!) with a 15T front sprocket. I haven't had the bike on a Dyno yet, but it feels like the region of peak torque is much larger and smoother. A real improvement. If you have a slip-on pipe with the stock headers, IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

Enough from me. Pics on soon though (probably the weekend).

Feel free to email questions or comments, fellow XRL fanatics!



Well, here I am in Egypt.

Bike mods are all top-notch.


I guess you haven't sharpened the pegs, lately :thumbsup:

And why did you take off the backup-bike?

Hpw on earth did that guy get a mpoed through the sand, anyway???


Keep on livin' the dream! Make sure you take care of that mechanical steed. You still need to make it back home (sometime!)

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