XR650L Shopping

Hello All,

Just joined, I'm in the market for a Dual Sport bike and have been looking at the XR-650L. I wanted to talk w/ some owners before I purchase. I probably won't be ready until this spring.

I'm looking at all the factory offerings including a Suzuki DRZ 400. I am even considering a DS kit to legalize a off road bike, like a Yamaha WR 426 since all I've ever owned is Yamaha. It's a shame they don't offer a decent DS.

I live in the People's Republic of Northern Virginia so quiet and stealthy are important.

I'd like to be able to commute to work say 80 miles round trip. I expect my percentage of use would be 70% road and 30% off road. I want something that's light enough to load on my pickup and take with me for a weekend getaway, run to the store for errands, trail ride w/ my 8 year old who's taking an interest in the 76 YZ 80 lurking in the garage, explore some gravel roads, trails and maybe hit a couple of small jumps, I'm 38, 6', 160 lbs.

Any comments appreciated.



Buy a XR650R and dual sport it. grin.gif The L is a tank. There are 2 kinds of XRL riders those who have crashed today and those who will crash today. shocked.gif The extra 75ish pounds is murder when riding off road.

Best of luck,


I had a '95XR650L 70 mile round trip to work, and about 30% off-road. Why, if your primary is on road get an off road and street legal it. With a lower gearing I rode my 650L on rough mountain trails, crossed knee deep creeks etc. but with the stupid 2.8 gal tank and 80+ miles to reserve, I was gassin up everyday. I did mount a 4 gal. plastic tank. But after 2 ignition control modules and a stripped counter-shaft, at only 13,000 miles. Changed over to a DRZ400S, with a 4 gal. tank noticably lighter, just as strong, and electic start. Just my opinion.

Here's the deal. I ride a YZ426, converted to dual sport (not great on the road),a CR450F (that is really cool on a track). But, the Bike I reach for most often is my trusty XR650L.It can do 100+ miles on the road or 100+ miles off road. It is a big pig of a bike but, it is pretty amazing for such a monster.I have taken down single track trails that you would NEVER think a bike like could handle. I have never crashed it (knock on wood), but I have dropped it loading it on the trailer! It truly is an amazing bike. I put the 4 ga. tank on and a FMF pipe. I also put Pro Taper H-bars. I'll tell you one thing also you have'nt lived untill you have rocked the trail on a big bore thumper!!! Get the XRL!!!

If you are leaning toward the XRL, go ahead and get the 650R and Dual Sport it! :)

You mentioned that you are also considering a DRZ 400, however you are commuting 40 miles each way to work. As a DRZ 400s owner, I would not recommend the Suzuki as a daily, semi-long distance commuter.

Because of its light weight (290 lbs) and more aggressive steering rake angle, the bike is a bit more fidgidy at high speeds (and the seat is thin and hard). All the above makes for a super fun trail bike and short distance commuter, but it seems to me one of the bigger (street oriented) Hondas would do the trick for you.

Good Luck

Thanks for all the input. I've narrowed the search and am looking at the DRZ 400 S, and the KTM LC4 line. Kent.

Just had a chance to check out a KTM LC4 640 in the special "6 day Enduro" paint scheme.... Sure looked nice. Dealer's asking $7125.00 out the door. Is this a good price ?

I have no experience w/ KTM's but I was most empressed w/ the quality of the components and the fit and finish. How are the bikes for reliability? Parts availability? etc. Things to look out for? I'm comparing it to a DRZ 400S.



You know what KTM means?

Kosts Too Much :)

Honestly I don't know if KTMs need more maintenance or not. I have heard many complaints about parts availability and cost from owners.

Buy the 650R and dual sport it. I wouldn't have beleived how well this bike adapts if I hadn't done it myself. Maybe $5500otd street legal. :D

Keep Talkin' Man

I have had an XR650L since 1998.

I've done done just about everything with it: commuting (about 60 miles round trip), off road racing, highway trips, I even converted it to a supermotard and scratched both footpegs on the tarmac!

It is a fantastic bike and most of all it is very very friendly and easy to ride. It is not the best bike on nor off road but all in all I think it is very good. It is unbelievably reliable, parts are easily available, it is very torquey, very tunable, very comfortable and can do absolutely everything reasonably well.

Yes it is heavy, but you only consider this if you find yourself on a very tight and twisty trail path. Or if you drop it and have to pick it up afterwards, especially with a full 5gal Acerbis tank (I've done it - not nice).

It is also old fashioned. The engine dates all the way back to 1984, I think, so performance (stock) isn't comparable to more modern bikes. Performance when modified IS! It doesn't look all that hot either. Design-wise not a lot has happened since 1991, when Honda launched the first white 600R.

Otherwise it can climb any hill, ride through mud, jump, slide, wheelie, do stoppies.

I've riden the 650R. Compared to the XRL it is better in every conceivable way, except comfort and ease of starting. The L is electric start, you see... a VERY big plus!

The DRZ-S is also a very good bike which can do pretty much everything as well. It can go off road better than the XRL (it is lighter) but on the road the XRL, I think, is better.

It really depends on what you want to do with it and of course how good/experienced of a rider you are.



I've modified my bike quite intensively. If this is of any interest to any of the guys on this list, I could post a rundown of the mods and their results.


My 2 cents worth.

If money is not a concern go KTM LC4.

If reliability and ease of maintenance is the highest priority buy the XR650R and dual sport it, particularly if your are good with electrical and mechanical maintenance. The XR650R will meet all of your requirements. I dual sported my XR650R. It is powerful, has excellent balance and goes anywhere with authority (sand, dirt, road, hills, etc). It pulls like a farm tractor and races like a motard. It is the best big bore 'dirt bike' ever made with one shortcoming...No Electric Start. Once you learn the starting procedure it does not pose a problem (the decompression lever helps make starting easier).

Go visit some dealers. I recommend taking a trip to Shenandoah Honda in Winchester, VA to get the best deal. They are number one in the nation for Honda sales.

I'm really happy with my 650, but I have removed most of the stuff that makes it a L, except for the battery saddlebag and estart. Most of the riding I do that requires a licensce plate is forest roads and around town riding. I don't think I would like it for a 80-mi r.t. commute though. Pluses are that most XR600 mods will work and Honda reliability is great. My buddy rides a XR600, and between the two, I really can't tell the weight difference. Even if I could, I don't think I would give up the ease of electric start. Good luck w/ your choice.

I have a 2002 XRL 650. Yes it is heavy, no doubt. But if your riding is 30% dirt you'll be okay. If you buy a dirt bike and dual sport it, you will be miserable on anything but short trips. The suzuki 650 has a seat like a rock. The kawasaki is plush, too plush for the dirt. The XRL is a good dual purpose bike. It makes 35 Rear wheel HP. This is below the Suzuki 400 dirt bike, and the 45hp 450R and yamaha 4 stroke. I havn't read anything on the KTM, I'd wager about 40. Now there are more after market parts for XRL then you can handle. White Bros. has a kit for 1398.00 to boost you 20hp. Now your in the ball park. You will still be heavy, but with the exception of tight, tight, trails you'll be fine. You'll have the reliability of a BMW, ok comfort and you won't be blown around on the hwy like the lighter dirt bikes. With 30% dirt you can't go wrong and your under the KTM price even after you add after market mods. Open trails, change the rear tire and you can go anywhere the others go. Just tight trails will slow you down. If you practice even they won't be that bad. In a drag race you'll beat the dirt bikes in the 1/4 mile, plus shock some street bikes.

Get the XRL


Why not buy a used xr650L. They are so darn reliable and have not changed in years. The new ones are basically obsolete and in that sense not a great investment. Use ones are dirt cheap and usually can be sold after a year or three for about what you have in them. Slap $150 of new plastic and it will look as good as a new one after its first ride anyway.

Ain't nothing on that Honda that can go bad except maybe the battery.

Don't discount the DRZ400E though for a really good commuter bike. Plenty of used ones out there at really good prices right now. Just add a brake light and electric horn and mirror.

It sounds like the electric start is what you are really after and I have to admit that is the way to go for dirt or street.

Kent, I have a '01 DRZ400s and love the bike. I got it at the end of the summer and managed to put 1550 miles on it. It rides good on the highway and rolls along at 65-70 mph with no problems. But once above 75, it gets a little twitchy due to the aggressive steering angle and the light front end. And after doing a couple of inexpensive mods, it really woke the bike up. I did a couple of 100 mile trips and was ok with it. The seat is a little uncomfortable on highway rides but not unbearable. Off road it is great. You can do single track trails with no problems. It has a nice flat powerband with good throttle response. I plan to commute to work with it next summer. It is a great dual sport bike.


"My 650L was the only bike that came through unscathed."

A BS ticket is not a hit on the XR650R. Also, the owner was not running a stock exhaust pipe or he would not have gotten a ticket. Needless to say, aftermarket pipes are a waste of money on the XR650R. No net HP improvement regardless of the claims (same HP with delivery spread across the powerband a little different). A little weight may be shaved off of the bike and the exhaust may look cool but that's all you get for $250. :D

XR650L vs XR650R: The engines are different and you see the difference in the power delivery. :)

Both bikes are extremely reliable. It's really a question of whether electric start is the top priority. :D

NEEDSPRAYER, Actually you are right, I was not trying to "hit" the XRR or any other of the bikes. These where just observations. The pipe on the XRR was stock but modified (drilled out with 2" holesaw), why he did it I'm not sure. I am running an FMF that is probably as loud, I think the cop's problem where the numbers he was running on his plates from the last cross-country he raced. His exact words where "this thang can't be no road bike". I did have a good feeling about being on a "factory made road bike" as "officer dickweed" strolled around all our bikes looking for infractions. I guess my point is this, the price I pay for having a heavy, slower bike out weighs the price of having some power hungry backwads country cop hassle me becuase I'm riding my motorsikle through his town! As for the Suzuki and the Katoom, the DR fried the clutch and the 640 snapped a valve stem. One more thing,you should have seen the look on those guys faces when I flipped down my "buddy pegs" and offered them a ride out.

KENT, consider this, I just took the most bitchin' ride of my life and my XR650L is partly responsible. The bikes I rode with where a '01 650R with a dual sport kit a '99 KTM 640 a '00 DR400S and a 1994 XR600 w/a dual sport kit. The ride was total of 520 mi. over 4 days. About 70% off road. Some pretty tough stuff off road. The bottom line is this. The KTM and the Suzy came home on a truck. The rider of the XR650R recieved a ticket for a too loud muffler, which was B.S. and the XR600 headlight went out at 60 m.p.h. at night in the desert!!! My 650L was the only bike that came through unscathed. It may be heavy it may be slow, but I MADE IT to the end!! Buy the XRL!!!

Originally posted by XyzGuy:

why he did it I'm not sure. .

To let the beast hiding inside come out! Just a few simple mods turns the stock bike into a power monster. From 42 hp to 55 hp. A friend of mine just picked up a used one. If Honda puts that motor on the L, I'll buy one in a heartbeat. I once had an XL500, so I do like Hondas. It was a fun bike for it's time.

You can check out the XRR mods at: http://www.xr650r.net


[ December 17, 2001: Message edited by: DR-ZEZ ]

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