XR650R vs XR650L vs DR400E vs DR400S

Ok, so I have been drooling for a new/used Dual Purpose bike for some time, and I have narrowed my search to these four bikes. I have liked the DR's for a long time, but I recently rode a friends XR600R and had a great time. The XR650R/L catches my eye and is a good option for me as well.

The bike will likley see more street than dirt unfortunatly, but taking a DR/E or an XR/R and making it street legal would not be a chore either. I like the idea of less weight of the dirt models over the street models.

I like both brands, but I would not make the DR650 an option.

So having said all of that and without a Honda tattoo on your heart, can you help me with suggestions.

My buddy and I went through the same thing. I went with the DRZ400S and he got the XR650L. My bike spends more time off-road and the time it spends on-road is fairly short trips. His XR spends more time on road and he uses it to commute 20 miles each way. The XR will give you more power and the higher weight translates into more stability on road. Conversely, the DRZ is lighter so it is better off road, but not quite as stable on road. Much of it boils down to the rider and which bike you are more comfortable with. On the DRZ board a rider recently posted that a DRZ beat CRF450s and YZ426's at a local track twice in one night. That clearly was a superior rider on a capable machine, rather than a capable rider on a superior machine, but it was done.

All of that blathering aside, if you'll be primarily on road go with the XR. You can't go wrong with a Honda. If you want more dirt-capability (lighter weight, water cooled, and newer technology for twisty trails, motocross) go with the DRZ. With enough money you can make most any bike do most anything, I just wanted to start with a lighter more modern bike as a platform.

If it's at all possible to convert a dirt bike to street legal, DO IT! I live in CA and it's a nightmare so I ruled that option out. The weight savings and better performance (no CV carb, steel tank, or emissions junk) are well worth it if you can.

I have had experience with all of the bikes you have mentioned and I agree totally with Jeremy.

bottom line ... you want pull? yes ok then the answer is the 650R not the 650L or a 400. later the resale on your 650R will be far better than any of the other you listed. the stock 650R runs like a road racers once the simple mods are done. mine is now a dual sport and i would like an the push button next but that can wait .... maybe after 10k miles i will get the new DR with the push button. until then i will just wheelie past them.

I'm not making fun off anyone, but come on the 650R run's like a road racer!!! what a 50 odd bhp dirtbike run's like a race R1/R6 or GSXR 1000/750/600 you would be lucky to keep a RS250 in sight, might just nail a 125 mind you!!, thank's for making me laugh!



Buy a used DRZ400E. Any street bike should have electric start and having it on the trails is a plus. A friend just bought a almost new 2000 for 3800 bucks. I paid 4200 for my almost new one last March. Hard to lose money on a deal like that other than normal wear and tear stuff. New 2001 ones are under 5 grand out the door in Phoenix.

I have had over 30 bikes since I retired 7 years ago and the drz400e is a great dual sport bike. I still have cr and xr and some pumkin in the garage but the DRZ is what I ride. It also what I take on trail riding trips to Utah and Colorado.

The XR650 is faster and heavier and somethimes finiky to start but if you want fast it is the king of dirt.

Well I ride a street legal 650R but I'll try to be unbiased. I came from a DR350 and I was a Suzuki or walk guy till the 650R came out. I loved my DR. If I'd have known how much fun they were, I'd have bought one sooner. That said, I had a RM250 parked beside my DR for getting down to serious riding/racing. Right now I have the 650R only. I am very happy with the all around performance. Now, I have not ridden the DRZ but I'll bet I'd be happy with it too. I looked at HP to weight ratio, overall weight, and I needed to be able to street license the bike in Kalifornia. The XR was the best choice for me. You are right to STAY CLEAR of the DR650. I have come across too many guys stuck in ditches, sand washes, etc. on DR650's. Engine flooded, battery dead, the rider is dead tired from picking it up and trying to start it. DR650's are about as much dual sport as KLR650's.

Hope this helps,


I would also agree that Jeremy is "spot on" on this one. Sounds like you want to spend more time on the road and that you prefer Honda's anyway. If this is the case, go with the 650L. Also, I wouldn't be to concerned about the 650L's off road prowess, I have two friends that ride them and it never ceases to amaze me the things they pull off on them! Also, if you liked the XR600, you'll like the 650L, they're very nearly the same bike. Scott Summers wrote an article about 2-3 years ago too about how to pare weight off the 650L and make it lighter. Don't quote me, but I think they were able to get 30lbs off it or something. They got pretty extreme too but alot of the things they did were very simple, relatively cheap mods! Good luck anyway you decide to go. Any one of the bikes you mentioned would be an excellent choice!

It's funny that you mention how much you liked riding the XR600 but that isn't one of your options. With all the high performance 4 strokes out now the used XR600's are only getting cheaper.

My dual-sported DRZ400E is a great bike and I love it, but I am an experienced rider and I almost never crash (watch for my broken bone post next week after saying that!). From what I read on the DRZ forum it is a fragile bike. Guys are smashing radiators, burning intake valves, cracking side covers, etc, although the electric start makes it almost worth it!

If you are going to be using this bike to build up your skills it might be expensive. XR600's, on the ther hand, are more durable. I don't know about the XR650R, having radiators and all.

Just another thing to consider

AlexK is right about the xr600 or even the xr400. Dirt cheap right now and the 600 from way back in 1991 or so is almost the same bike as the last ones made. I did not mention it as it was not one of your choices but if you feel like you may crash a few times then air cooled and cheap is the way to start. I prefer my drz400E because it is about the same weight but feels lighter and handles better and has electric start.

Jusrt remembered. The xr600 and drz400E are not set up to carry passengers like the 650L.

Most all of the bikes mentioned are fairly close to each other in their intended purpose. Whichever one you get, you'll be happy with because psychologically you'll justify to yourself that yours is the best because that's what you're stuck with. I can't imagine getting the XR650 and kicking yourself that you'd rather have the DRZ, or vice versa. The only way you'll be unhappy with one of these bikes is if you ride something else with a different intended purpose. A buddy rode an XR650L for a year, then got a CR250. He figured he'd keep the 650 for dual sport. The problem was that the CR was sooo much lighter and sooo much quicker that he never rode the 650 again.

Don't buy a 650 L thinking it will be faster than a 400S because it ain't. It ain't even close! However, the 650L is much more comfortable on the street, because it has that barkalounger seat and weighs about 35 -40 lbs more. It's still a good bike with good suspension, but it won't hang with a 400S, 400E and certainly not a 650R!

Don't buy a 650 L thinking it will be faster than a 400S because it ain't. It ain't even close! However, the 650L is much more comfortable on the street, because it has that barkalounger seat and weighs about 35 -40 lbs more. It's still a good bike with good suspension, but it won't hang with a 400S, 400E and certainly not a 650R!

Well you guys picked up on the XR600 thing.

No it is not on my list so I will now put it on. It's not because I don't want one or have ruled it out, it's just that I was trying to stay newer and electric start is a nice option.

I did have a TON of fun on it. Will I crash, for sure, but so will everyone else, some time.

As for speed, I have not ridden any of these bikes on the street. With two street bikes already, I have the speed thing covered. Weight, usable hp and torque is what I am interested in.

I see everybody standing up and saying Honda right now!

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