I am going to purchase a Dual Sport bike and plan to ride almost all road/backroad. I looked at the big three and have seen reviews from many sources that the KLR is the bike for me. That being the case, if I go for the Honda how far off will I be ? The only thing that I dislike about the Honda is the seat height. I have not ridden a KLR, but plan to ASAP. I don't really like the look though. I do like the DR with it's lower standard seat height. Suggestions ?

I have owned both the DR650 and a XR650L. Depending on your riding the XR is the trail bike. Nothing beats the ability of the 650 though when it's jetted right for an all around bike that doesn't see much trail work. And if your riding mostly tarmac and maybe see gravel roads or fast double track the KLR is a great bike. The seat on the DR is the weak link there.

I just spent 4 months doing research trying to make the same decision. Several factors for me. None of the bikes is perfect:

The KLR has a latent defect with the balancer chain tensioner that could cause major damage to the engine. It can be upgraded. Brakes also are a weak point

The DR, at least used ones, have potential problems with base gaskets leaking and Idler sprockets lunching. The are halfway between the street oriented KLR and the more dirt oriented XR.

The XR is the most dirt oriented but I like the simplicity of air cooling. Did not want to mess with radiators etc. and their potential problems. The KLR has shim adjusters, not easy to do on your own. The KLR sits tall as well, as tall as the XR in my opinion.

I ended up going XR for the reliability and simplicity. A different tank and seat would make it as good as the KLR in every way I think.

I have had a XL185, XL500, 86 KLR 600 and now have a 94 XR650L. I had always ridden Honda and decided to try a KLR. I had the temp sensor crack and leak out in the desert and was alone (Stupid I know) Overheated it getting back and it was all down hill from there. I wouldn't do it again. My Honda'a have always been bullet proof. If you give em some maintenance air cooled Honda will run forever.

This is my opinion of course.


I am going to purchase a Dual Sport bike and plan to ride almost all road/backroad. That being the case, if I go for the Honda how far off will I be ? Suggestions ?

This is a subject that has been discussed many times and is always hotly debated. The best advice is to buy a bike for where you will be riding it the most, not for what mods you are planning to do to it.

The KLR is better suited for mostly paved roads and hard packed two track.

The DR is a dirt worthy machine with a good reliability rating. As mentioned the seat is a bit harsh.

The XRL is arguably the best dual purpose bike available in the US right out of the box. This is the one to get if you are planning to ride more dirt than pavement. However, there are some important modifications needed to make it run better and make it more suitable for dirt use.

As long as you maintain it (or any bike) well, "bullet-proof" is the best way to describe the XRL. I've beat the crap out of mine off-road, showed it some TLC and I've never had any problems riding tight singletrack, prerunning some of the Baja 500, cruising the streets, or blasting down the highway. It is fairly heavy by dirt bike standards, but the XRL is a true factory dual sport machine.

Again, it all depends on you and where you want to ride. Test ride 'em all and see for yourself. My $.02

My brother owned a KLR for a year and I have owned a 650L for 3 years. I have spent a lot of time on both of them.

The XR is better on and off the road in my opinion. The KLR handles like a toad, the forks are too soft, the front brake sucks, the pegs drag when you lay it over in turns, it feels way heavier and wider. The only thing better about the KLR is that the engine is slightly more powerful but it should be because it is water cooled and has higher compression. Even so, the XRL is suspended so much better and handles better to the point that you can go much faster on it anywhere even though the KLR has more power.

I hope to never see another KLR.

OK an update. I test rode a KLR and some DR's and an older XL600R. I was impressed with the highway ride tht the KLR provided, but as others have stated the front end is soft and the brakes are... well about like my Harley. The question is, since I like the simplicity of the Honda, would I be better served by getting an XR650L and making it more road friendly than fixing up the Kaw ? I'm going to try and get a highway ride on a newer Honda this week. Anyone ride the Honda on the highway much ? Ultimately, I'll be riding mostly 2 lane roads, some 4 lane, backroads, some trails, and maybe some enduro runs somewhere in the future.

I have been riding my 650L exclusively on the road for the past year or more. Stock, it works just fine in town, on two lane roads and will cruise at 75 on the interstate no problem. I actually cruise at about 85 (according to the speedo) to stay ahead of traffic and it will wiggle just a bit at 90 and above with the big front fender and the dual sport tires. Next on my list is some street tires and a supermoto front fender...that should solve the wiggles on up to 100.

The most fun is racing around on curvy rural paved roads and even dirt roads at high speed. This is where the KLR is at an obvious disadvantage.

If you liked the KLR ride on the road, I think you'll like the 650l's ride too. I will admit that the KLR seat is a touch better but I have put 100+ mile days on both and I was ready to get off of whichever one I was riding at the time.

Definitely try it before you buy it.

After having many bike including H.D., Ninja's, GSXR, and a quite few others (including a xl600) plus many dirt bikes, my klr is one of the most fun I have had. Heavy, soft susp. (fixable cheap) weak brakes and all. I comute on it mostly. The xrl would be my choice if I didn't have a dirt bike and needed one for double duty. The klr is my pick for road runs though. With a few mods I feel I would hurt a xrl's feelings (on the road only) and a few punks on sport bike too. I guess I would say a klr is 80% road and 20% off road on a good day. I bet you could get into trouble pretty fast off road on the klr. The xrl is 50/50. Figure out what type of riding you are going to be doing most of the time. Just my two cents worth.

I've been riding my XRL about 100 miles round trip on the freeway. It does well at 70-80 mph on fast 4 lane.

OK an update. I test rode a KLR and some DR's and an older XL600R. The question is, since I like the simplicity of the Honda, would I be better served by getting an XR650L and making it more road friendly than fixing up the Kaw ?

Keep test riding. A stock XRL is o.k. for short trips but is severely limited by the stock thimble Honda calls a gas tank. 2.8 gals is gone quickly, especially if you're on the throttle, riding off-road or dual sport riding.

In my opinion, right out of the box the KLR would be a better choice. I haven't ridden one, but they are definitely more street oriented.

Now if you start modifying an XRL, then you'll be gaining ground on the KLR. Mods to consider (which I've done) are rejetting the CV carb, drilling the slide, shimming the needle, installing a larger tank, bigger footpegs, getting a "real" skid plate, alloy bars, aftermarket exhaust system, a foam air filter, different (better) tires, etc.

As you can see, the XRL needs some changes (meaning $$$) to make it more purposeful for either dirt or street. I chose dirt since I want more performance off-road.

Very happy with the Honda now and I learned a lot about the bike by doing the work myself.

Good luck and have fun with whichever you choose.

The stock gas tank is a limiting factor. From where I live it's 14 miles round trip to the gas station. It seemed like I was driving to the gas station all the time. Now I have the Clarke 4.8 gallon tank which I refill about every 200 miles. I rejetted the bike, removed snorkel and put in a K&N air cleaner. Last night I filled up the tank 3.65 gallons after 193 miles. That's almost 53 miles per gallon at 75 miles per hour the whole way. I'm really pleased with this bike.

The question is, since I like the simplicity of the Honda, would I be better served by getting an XR650L and making it more road friendly than fixing up the Kaw ?

I would say yes, that was my decision.

XRL road fixes: Bigger gas tank if you need it, pull the snorkle and rejet it, 14 tooth sprocket for more acceleration or leave it stock for mileage, and run the stock tires til they wear out, they aren't that bad (and no worse than the Kawi's). You will spend far less on a gas tank, jets, and a sprocket than you will trying to get the KLR suspension and front brake to even compare with the XRL on the road. Off road, don't even bother.

If you are going to be doing a vast majority of highway/interstate riding, don't get either one, you will want a real street bike.

Dual dog hasn't ridden a KLR and I think I missed where JMC has ridden or owned an XRL. I am always amused by those who haven't ridden a bike, but yet have an opinion on it.

Not too hard to tell a bigger fat pig from another big fat pig...

LOL :cry:

Good thread . I have little input other than I bought the KLR 650 for the seat and gas tank since it will see little if any off roading .

Double R brake pads front , fabbed spacers for spring preload front and heavier fork oil helps much .

Now I need 30 more HP :cry:

I commmute about 40 miles a day on mine, and then take it out on the back 40 every chance I get. What is so great about them is when you see that dirt road on the way home you just turn and go, if you feel like jumping some curbs, go for it.

As far as the tiny gas tank, I just keep 2 5 gallon gas cans in my garage and fill up whenever I want.

How well does the lowering link work ? Do you also lower the front end ? Is it worth it ? I'm 5'10" and 180#. These bikes sure are tall. Too tall for me as they sit.

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