XR650R vs XR400

Okay, I traded my '02 XR400, my '02 WR426, and my wifes CRF230 for a Honda Pilot earlier this year. I'm now searching for a new dirt bike. I've looked at the '03 XR650 (dealer has a new one for $4000 + prep/freight). It feels good but I was wondering how it compares to the XR400 ride. My 400 was a bit on the heavy side so I felt it in the corners but after I got used to the weight it wasn't bad. At 20 lbs heavier I'm wondering if the XR650 would be tough to handle in the woods.

Anyone have comments on the ride characteristics between these two bikes? I'm 40 and 180 lbs, 6' so I should have no problem handling the bike. I had modified my XR400 with an Edelbrock carb and T4 exhaust that opened it up a lot. My WR426 had also been modified and I didn't have a problem with that.


Screw the other pitiful mules and hop on a 650. It can be tiring at times in the trails. Where your losing in the turns it makes up for on the straights. Hence, all of our buds having broken lights.. :awww: Key is to keep on the throttle in the turns and she'll go where you point her. Being scared of the PIG is what gets yah hurt.. :thumbsup:

Like you said you got used to the 400 in the woods and it was alright. I feel the 400 is an excellent woods bike but it's limited to the woods, don't take it to the dunes.

You get used to the 650 in the tight stuff. You learn to approach things a little differently because of what your on. But once you figure out how to make a 650 work for you, it's like being in a Cadilac.

The only time I found the XR650 to be a pain is when I was first learning to ride it in the tight stuff, I wasn't letting the bike work for me and I wasn't trusting it's capabilities. Now I can put in a long ride and still be ready for more.

It also tends to wear you out in the tight stuff if your trying to keep up with the hot doggers who are racing on their feather light aluminum foil machines. Do the pace the bike's capable of in the tight stuff and when you hit the staights open the throttle up on that super sonic transport.

It's excellent in the sand but once again you must learn how to ride it in the sand. Since it's not a feather weight it will dig the front tire down deep in the sand if you don't keep the throttle nailed. Keep the throttle nailed and you will pass everything in sight.

The XR650R is a do it all bike but it is heavey and can wear you out if you dump it. The stock carb floods very easily when the bike is on it's side. Put an edelbrock on it and never kick it more than twice, even when you dump it.

I love mine and will always have one but I recommend you ride one a bit before you buy if possible.

If I can ride my 650L in the tight stuff, I'm sure the lighter (and it can't possibly taller, can it?) R will be quite capable.


If I can ride my 650L in the tight stuff, I'm sure the lighter (and it can't possibly taller, can it?) R will be quite capable.


Dave, it is very capable. Don't leave home without it. :thumbsup:

The 650 is pretty impressive! It has the ability to to everything very well. The money most well spent in my BRP was getting the suspension dialed in. Heaver springs (6'5" 240 with gear) and Gold valves made all the difference. I can't really explain it but prior the the suspension mod, I would fall quite regularly. The same scenario- riding along at a fairly brisk pace in semi-tight woods and in a turn the handle bars would jack-knife before I had a chance to respond and over the bars I'd go. Since the mods- no problem at all. With this one mod I would highly recommend the 650.

I bought a brand new XR400 and rode it for a little over a year. I was used to 2-strokes and it just didn't do it for me at all. My buddy has an 00' XR650R that has just the Power Up kit (unplugged) and I think it has better suspension and it handles better than the XR400. If I was looking at those 2 bikes, I'd never buy the XR400.

I now have a WR426 and I like the bike a lot. Better than the XR650R because it's lighter and with a little work, just as fast. My buddy and I are both small guys and he can rail on that bike in the woods. Just steer it with the rear wheel and let the brakes and power do the work for you. If you try to manhandle the thing, it will wear you out in a hurry.

I'd say for $4K, buy the thing and have fun.

I just dunno know what its like to ride near Seattle, so I can't comment on your surroundings, but if its super tight woods, real slow going, steep rocky slow up/down twisty cated hills/trails, etc, that you'll be riding and you like to flick your bike around and jump a lot, then I'd be looking at the CRF250X.

I really like my 650r, but it can be quite heavy at times, especially when the going gets very slow or very technical or very steep/rocky/twisty/rutted or very slow in tight sandy conditions. If you plan to ride a good amount MX, then the 650r will punish you, but it can be fun for a few laps if you're just out to have a good time. If the terrain open up even a little bit, then the 650r feels much lighter than it is and it really carries its weight very well for a 300lb bike. I use my 650r for all kinds of riding and its been a highly relaible terrific do-all type bike. It's been a terrific bike in the dunes and on most desert trails that I ride. Even when I get to the mountains its been just great. I don't ride it on the street, but I understand it makes a very good dual sport bike when the emphasis is towards off road riding. When I get on trails that open up whether they're whooped out or not, the 650r can be a weapon and not much out there can stay with it. Powerline roads are a blast and it take just seconds before you're going close to 100MPH if you like to go fast. I imagine you'd really have a blast on the 650r if there's any logging roads in your riding area. Once the 650r is properly setup, its very smooth, but you have to learn to let it do its thing while properly shifting your body weight and not fight it like a ligher MX bike.

Try to get some saddle time on a 650r in the environment you're planning to ride because that may help you more than anything. It's a great bike and I won't be getting rid of it even if I get another bike in the future.

I have both and my XR650R realy flies but, the XR400 is awesome in the tight stuff. if your never going to go over 75mph and are not looking for killer power the XR400 with the right mods is a great bike. :thumbsup:

I agree, the 400 is a great single track bike. The 650 is a overheating pig on the trail. If you want a go fast desert bike, get a 500 2-stroke and save 40 pounds.

I agree, the 400 is a great single track bike. The 650 is a overheating pig on the trail. If you want a go fast desert bike, get a 500 2-stroke and save 40 pounds.

BOOO...yeah and mix your gas, replace your top-end each year, replace vibrating out parts frequently..etc.etc. I had a 500cc 2 stroke and it doesn't hold a candle to my 650R.

The 650 is a overheating pig on the trail.

Ah come on Norge, my 650r doesn't over heat on the trail no matter how tight or slow the going gets. It's all about setup and these bikes can be setup so they don't over heat or boil over even on tight trails. Even when they boil over, they can still be running significantly cooler oil temps than many air cooled bikes (i.e. XR250R, etc). When I was out last week in the SoCal desert on May 31st and the outside temp was 96F, I was riding slow single track on tight twisty rocky slow going narrow trails and the small kids in our group were falling off their bikes regularly. I was in 1st gear crawling the whole time and when someone went down, I'd dismount my bike and leave it running in gear (since I have a z-Start) either on its kickstand or on its side against the hill until I got to where the kid fell, then helped them up while making sure they were OK, then helped them get their flooded bike started, helped them get on their way and sometimes they'd stall it again immediately afterwards or crash again, etc. All this took time and my bike never over heated or boiled over. My oldest sons XR250R however started to smell like burning oil and his oil temps rose to ~270F, but my liquid cooled 650r never complained even though it was either idling stationary or crawling in 1st on these trails.

I agree, the 400 is a great single track bike. The 650 is a overheating pig on the trail. If you want a go fast desert bike, get a 500 2-stroke and save 40 pounds.

I don't know how many guys make that false statement about the XR650R overheating in the slow stuff. The only time I ever had trouble with one overheating is when it was left bone stock. Once you do the power up mods overheating is a thing of the past. Part of the power up mods is a stiffer radiator cap. :thumbsup: The complete power up kit generally runs about $150.00. You install it in a couple of hours and then just ride and forget about maintenence.

I now have a WR426 and I like the bike a lot. Better than the XR650R because it's lighter and with a little work, just as fast.

:thumbsup: Well you would think so but it's not the case, even if the WR is lighter on paper. Recent media articles even with the new 450 confirm my original thoughts after riding these bikes. The Yamaha just doesn't FEEL any lighter. And it's better then the old 400/426 series! Yikes!

Maybe the Honda carries it's weight well and the Yamaha doesn't but....?

The recent Cycle World Enduro shootout even claimed the WR450 felt HEAVIER then the 650R! Besides, the Honda has that motor..that a middleweight thumper just can't touch.

Qadsan, What's your feelings about the Z-Start on the XR650R. I've been thinking about getting that item myself but not sure which of my bikes to buy it for.

What's your feelings about the Z-Start on the XR650R.

I think its a terrific product and would definitely buy it again. I have one of the first units made for the 650r and they've since been improved, but I have no complaints. I've set mine up to lock up quickly with lots of clamping pressure and it makes riding tight stuff that much more effortless and also helps me out when I get sloppy. With the z-Start, I'm often riding in a higher gear or staying in a higher gear longer than I normally would and I don't use the clutch lever or shift nearly as often as I used to (less arm pump, etc). The only real downside to this product is you loose the ability to bump start your bike, but your e-start kit solves that problem :thumbsup:

If you got the money and it sounds appealing to you after reading a number of posts about it on various TT forums (CRF450, YZF, etc), then I'd highly recommend giving it a go along with the external clutch perch adjuster which allows you to still use your clutch lever as normal because its truly a revolutionary product IMHO. It also comes with a money back guarantee and I had every intention of sending it back if I didn't like it, but it only took me a very short time when trying it out to know that I'd be keeping it :awww:

If I buy another bike someday, the z-Start will be at or near the top of my list for things to buy. Shop around because dealers sometimes sell them at a discount. JT911 here on TT is a dealer and was offering them at a slight discount just a short while ago. I've had mine for well over a year now.

vmaxcbr900wr426, a stock California XR400 puts out 28HP and about 23hp to the rear tire :awww: It doesn't gets many poeple very excited :lol: but, without spending much you can get this little gilded piggy to put out 36~38HP @ the engine :lol: with almost twice the torque of the 250 two smokes. YZ250 43hp. Now we are talking air filter, removing air box snorkle and ruber mount for it, extra holes in the air box, UNI air filter, opening up the header, megaphone muffler, 62 pilot, 170 main, (better yet a real carbureter,36mm mikuni) without putting many $$$$ you have a very stronge bike. :thumbsup: XR650R with the extras is right at 49hp to the ground and 58hp at the engine, if you can't turn run it over :lol: Mine has never over heated :lol:

Aw come on, where we live it never gets over 70 degrees!!! :thumbsup:

I have an '00 XR650R which I've been riding for over three years now. Both open country and tight trails in Colorado. It works great for both, but it must be uncorked/jetted, and the suspension dialed in for the type of riding you do.

If you are in shape, there should be no problem handling it in the tight trails. The bike works best of course in wide open country where it can really get moving.

I also have a KX500 which of course is a 2-stroke, but it only weighs like 225lbs and makes a lot more power. It works great in the woods and also in open country. But it's high strung and requires constant attention and maintenance.

I've ridden XR400's before, and I think they they are pitifully slow and underpowered, and don't handle much better, if any, than an XR650R.

Get the 650R, uncork it/jet it, and enjoy! . Also, uncorked the 650R will NOT overheat, they only overheat in their stock, overly lean condition.

L.L. XR650sm.jpgKX500sm.jpg


I have a 2000 XR650R, and have it dual sported. When riding off road< I ride with guys on CR250's, and I have no trouble keeping up. On the long open stuff, I can pass them on the back wheeel! These guys are good riders too. Learn to stay loose on the bike, and uncork it. The BRP is an awsome bike, and barely breathes on the tight trails. I'd buy another one given the chance. This is my first four stroke, and I ABSOLUTELY love it. I'd recommend the XR for anything but motocross.

Winkel :thumbsup:

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