Question about cooling and reliability...

Well, it's been a few years since I've owned a bike, and this time around I want a legal bike that will perform very well in the dirt. I live in the Palm Springs CA area and I weigh ~250 pounds. It gets pretty hot out here for a couple of months and I don't want to have overheating issues or put undue stress on the machine.

I know that air-cooled is the tried-and-true, simple design, but is it really sufficient?

Can anyone explain why Honda offers a similar bike water cooled but not legal? How much better is the off-road bike?

I'm not looking for any guarantees, but is it Really possible to plate the off-road version?

Thanks in advance, any help will be appreciated.

The XR650R is water cooled so Honda can tune it to a higher performance level than a air cooled engine and to allow it to run cooler in high outside temperatures. The bike is reliable. If it is run at slow speeds in high heat it can boil over the radiator. There are various methods to address this problem. Some riders put a higher presure radiator cap on or put in special coolants. I put in Evans NPG+ coolant. It will not boilover because it does not have water in it and has a very high boiling point. The XR650R (off Road version) can be registered. Several companies make kits.

That's cool. With the Evans Coolent, did you have to remove the thermostat also?? I was reading somewhere that if you put this coolent in, to remove the thermostat or put in a bypass.


Being in California, I doubt that you can register a XR650R for the street (IMHO). There was a change that occured (California Air Resources Board or CARB) on 1 January of this year. Search around the internet and draw your own conclusions. There's lots of information available.

If you want a XR650R; used they are often available with plates (plated prior to Jan. 1).

Air Cooled motorcycles have work fine in the desert for years. Water cooled has advantages, as mentioned previously. I like both.

I think, Honda just made a business decisions with regard to the XR650L and decided to leave it air cooled. I'm guessing here, but I think the market (smallish) for the bike is dictating its design. Many people were converting their off road bikes to dual sport. On the brite side, the new procedures in California may increase demand for the XR650L (and other models) causing Honda to step up with a new design. Perhaps in a year or so we'll see an upgrade to the XR650L.

Having looked around for a Dual Sport bike recently. The price of these bikes seems to have spiked here.

Well, living in the Ocotillo Wells area (about an hour south of you), I can tell you that boil over is not a problem. I was riding during the hottest part of the summer (it cooled off early this year, eh? Pretty nice. :thumbsup:), and didn't have one boil-over. This was all with normal anti-freeze. I recently (2 weeks ago) switched over to watter-wetter, with no change in boiling.

As for plating, as most have said, I'm pretty sure it's impossible to do it yourself now, but you can buy one plated. However, be prepared to pay a pretty large price difference ($500+). Then again, I have ~$700 in mine after plating fees/DS kit/extras (mirrors, etc), so thats reasonable.

Here in SoCal sales of the XR650R have come to a standstill...dealers just arent moving them at all!

I agree the Jan 1 regulations may have extended the life of the 650L....hard to imagine the 650R being around more than another year or two...with the launch of the 450X around the corner and the end of Cali dual sporting for the BRP...well its not looking so good for our bike at least from an Orange County perspective.

I have been doing a lot of research on the issue of registering a XR650R as street legal and the consensus is that it practically cannot be done. There are many factors that contribute to this conclusion and the two major ones are:

1. California law says in order to make a motorcycle street legal, the first registration of the bikes life must be for on/off road. This means you cannot take a bike that was green stickered in California or any other state and convert it. The question I had was why can't you buy an XR650R and register it off the start as on/off road and the answer is no because the VIN is specific to the type of vehicle it is. Some people have slipped it past the goalie but it was luck but the laws are pretty bullet proof.

2. I called Baja Designs to help with some info and they gave me a number for a motorcycle broker out of Indiana that will street legal it there and all you have to do is re-register it here and your in. I have asked a few dealers about this and evidentally the DMV knows this trick and when you try to register the next year, your plate gets pulled. There seems to be a lot of opinion and not much fact surrounding this but it is a scary (and potentially expensive) risk.

Bottom line is it's a lot of money to risk not being able to keep it street legal. If you buy one and it doesn't work out it will be difficult to sell it. I have also been doing research on making the XR650L better for the dirt and with some pretty simple mods and some suspension work it will be fine. I already have an CRF450 for motocross so all I want to a scooter to get me to work and a little back country riding up in the foothills.


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