Opinion: XR650R or XR400R

Long time lurker, first time poster, hoping I can get some educated opinions;

After a 10 year hiatus from off-road riding (I currently own 3 street bikes and have been riding for 21 years) I recently got the bug to add for a dirt bike again. I recently rented an XR400R for a group ride to Crown King (backroad, from Lake Pleaseant) and had an absolute blast; I'd forgotten how much fun off-road riding is. So now I'm looking for a bike. Stats: I'm 5-10, 275lbs and I'm pretty strong. I had been previously leaning towards the 650R because of my size and the fact that I'll likely dual-sport the bike for connector roads and weekend exploring sans truck.

However, I rented that XR400R and was amazed at how competant the bike was; good power uphill, plenty fast for the unimproved roads I rode and an absolute breeze to flick around on trails; so light! Yes, it would suck on-road and I'd need to improve the suspenders so I'm not killing it but it was just so easy to ride and it got me thinking maybe I don't need all that power.

The 650R is the natural choice to em but I'm concerned about the extra weight and how it affects the bike's handling; I'd hate to have a "heavy" feeling bike again. How different is the BRP on singletrack, really? I read the Cycle World review where they praised it's handling and ability to hide the weight, but how would it compare to the 400? Night & day or very similar?

I realize that once it's down it's a huge difference, I'm just concerned with how it rides on-trail. I would likely gear it down quite a bit for low speed prowess; would this have any affect on perceived feel and maneuverability?

I guess in the end I just loved the way I could ride the 400 around and over obstacles with absolte ease and control and wonder how the BRP would fare on the same terrain.

Any and all comments are welcome, thanks in advance for your opinions.


...a Daytona I presume...nice!

I have an old Katana 600, my husband has a gsxr1000. I ride the gsxr on the track...liter class bikes are very nice, atleast compared to my old 600!

get the .47 front and 10.5 rear springs for what ever bike you buy. Then no matter what it will handle well with your heavy weight.

are you ok with kickstarting bikes?

if so -- and if you found the XR400 to be fast enough -- why not start there?

If you dont like kicking them (the XR400 is notoriously hard to start) then you might want to think about the DRz400.

If you get a dual sported bike then you might have more fun.

-happy trails,


Actually, a Sprint RS in Lucifer Orange; I have yet to see myself coming down the road. I also have an SV650 (that my daughter mostly rides) and an old Kawi 750 Zephyr just for kicks. Recently sold a Concours, think my next street bike will be an '05 Speed Triple; love the new design!

Riding the big gixxer at track days?!; you have my respect! I love those old Kan-a'tuna's too; not the sexiest ride but a solid, good looking bike (at least to my eyes).

Enjoy the bikes & keep the sticky side down.....Mike


thanks for the comments. The upgraded boingers are a given either way, thanks for the specifics. Not afraid of kicking it to go and I'm pretty solidly in the XR camp for all the common reasons (reliabiltity, aftermarket, upgrade options).

I do love the e-button on the WR450 but I want to stay with Honda for now, at least until I get some more dirt skills under my belt. Plus, I have no illusions of being fast or ever racing; I just want to trail ride with friends.

Thanks again.....Mike

Oh-Oh-Oh...I know this one.

Hi Mike,

I'm 30, 6'2" and 200 lbs. and ride a 2002 dual sported XR650R. From 1991-2002 I rode a XR250. The XR250 was fun when I weighed 160 lbs. but I ended up out growing the bike. I thought about buying a XR400 until one day I rode my buddy's XR650 (on some single track trails). I thought I was going to feel all 300 lbs. (277 lbs. dry) of that bike, but surprisingly, it didn't feel bad. It "felt" a bit heavier than my XR250, but it didn't feel heavy enough to keep me from buying one. From what I've heard from others, Honda overbuilt the transmission on the XR650 by 300%, thus a good chunk of that weight is down low, near the skid plate. This is probably why the bike didn't feel as heavy as I expected.

So, I bought a XR650 and uncorked it and had Rob Barnum setup the suspension for me. The power is sooooooo smooth. The bike doesn't wear me out like a CR250, a bike that made me spend most of my energy just holding on. It's very stable at speed. Top speed is in the upper 90's with stock gearing. The suspension handles very well. I got used to that little bit of extra weight and I don't even notice it anymore, unless I'm riding big, deep, sandy whoops.

Last Sunday I did a 125-mile dual sport ride with two of my buddies up near Frazier Park. We road single track mountain trials, fire roads, washes, and highway. I rode my XR650 and they both had XR400's. The single tracks were fun. I used 2nd gear 90% of the time and used a little clutch at speeds below 5 mph. The XR650 motor is soooo torquey, I rarely needed to downshift to first. With the stock gearing, 2nd gear will probably pull 20-30 mph, so I didn't need to up shift to 3rd when we hit a fast section of single track. Just leave it in 2nd gear and ride.

When we came up to the wash, I said YESSSS!!!!, up shifted to 4th gear and just blew past my buddies like they were standing still. This bike is soooo fun in washes. When we got to the end of the wash, one of my buddies said I was really hauling and that I must of have been having some fun. I said "here, why don't you find out" and we swapped bikes. I jumped on his XR400 and he jumped on my XR650 and we rode up and down the wash. His XR400 felt "cute". It brought back memories of my XR250. With the foot peg, handle bar, seat layout, the bike felt a little cramped. The suspension was ok. The power was...well...ya...it had some. His XR400 didn't "feel" a whole lot lighter than my XR650. Riding his XR400 really made me glad I opted for the XR650.

Then we rode the highway back to the truck. One of my buddy's XR400's was geared a little lower than stock and to keep from ridding at too high of an RPM, he just cruised at about 50-55 MPH. I was just DYING to pass him as my XR650 can go all day at 70 MPH.

In summary, the XR650 didn't feel as heavy as I expected, a XR400 didn't feel a whole lot lighter, I got used to the way my XR650 handles and don't notice the weight anymore, it chugs like a tractor in 2nd gear, and it will pull 95+ MPH with no problem.

From what I've seen, the XR650 also has a high resale value. If you bought one and decided it wasn't for you, I can't imagine you'd have too much trouble selling it.

Hope this helps,


Great reply Dave, exactly the type of feed back I am looking for; real world experiences and opinions.

Excellent information, thanks again...Mike

I have both bikes. I have not ridden the 400 since I got the 650. The 650 is worth the extra weight. The 650 really does hide its weight.

Dude! hahaha. If you weigh 275lbs then the 650R is going to be "nothing" to you! I only weigh 175 and my 650R is just perfect in size, weight, and of course the power. If you ride the 650R, you will then know what 'real' power is, since those little 400's are very weak in power.

I wanted a dual sport bike last year and had the same questionwent through the same questions as you. I wound up with a 03 400R, & got it plated after installing a Baja Designs kit. It IS NOT hard to start when jetted correctly, but comes from the factory lean. The 400R is an excellent, easy to ride trail bike, and very easy to ride in tight technical conditions.

For D/S riding on paved roads, fire roads, etc the 400R does fine, but more power would be more fun. I geared mine up one tooth on the countershaft so it will cruise our better 55-70 mph.

I suspect the 650R would be more fun and no problem for a guy your size to handle. Unless you expect to do A LOT of riding in tight technical conditions I think you should get the 650R.

I have 2 XR400s and a XR650R. I play ride and race them. All are dual sported.

The XR400's are awesome and for sure i am faster on the 400 in everything up to mid-high 3rd gear stuff. Add a pumper carb, opened up airbox and opened up pipe to the 400 and it rips! get the suspension done and its got to be my overall favorite bike. period.

Much faster than the XR650R almost everywhere this side of Baja, and much more reliable. You wont go thru tires, you wont suck stuff thru the airbox, you wont get as tired as fast on the 400.

If you are a new/lazy rider the hit of the 650 can be reason enough for riding that bike. The engine can hide a lot of rider in abilities...turn the throttle and go. For sure stuff with an average speed over 40mph--then i much prefer the 650R. No question.

Overall--i would guess i do 10,000 miles a year on the 650 and about 3500 a year on the 400--but i prefer the little bike...like i said its faster in the tight stuff--and one can throw it around without worrying about going over a cliff. The 650R on the other hand is not something you throw around, ever.

If you do a lot of street, thick sand, or if you do lots of Baja or graded fire roads or similar open stuff, then most likely the 650 is the choice. If you do single track, rougher jeep trails, or easy play riding--then the 400 is IMHO the way to go. Its a great bike. I think its the best all around dirt bike ever made. It is the gold standard for reliability and durability.

Of course-- i am 6' 1" and weigh 185...so maybe the 400 just wont have the ponies for a bigger guy? But an "opened up" 400 is faster/stronger than most guys might think...

I have a 600R, my brother has a 400. The 400 is hands down easier to ride on tight trails. It's smaller, lighter, and steers quicker. It has plenty of power. In the woods it's the bike to have. I am 6'2 and 240 and can handle either bike easily, but the 400 is less tiring and more fun in the tight spots. As soon as we hit the open areas, the tables are turned in favor of the 600 which seems more stable going fast over whoops.

I like the 400, but would not trade my 600 for it. And when I get a new bike it will be the 650 becuase I just like the power and am willing to sacrifice woods handling for the brute power. His 400 is dual sported like mine, and it's not as good to ride on the roads at 60mph as you might imagine.

My weight is 240 so it's a no brainer, but even if I was a lightweight I would buy the XR650R the power is just a blast off road and on the road I cruise 75 mph with 15/48 gearing, with a irridium spark plug and correct jetting and idle set a lttle high mine starts 2 kicks cold and 1st kick hot and runs cooler than the XR650L -94(XR600R- 86-93-97)and NX650- 89 I had before, If I wanted lighter I would get a CRF. :cry:

Thanks to everyone for the comments, good opinions all around. At this point I'm just slightly leaning towards the 650 just because of the dual sport advantage, but I could go either way for the right deal. Mike Kay's comments rung true to me and I appreciate the experience talking; thanks Mike.

I'm guessing the best deal will eventually make the decision for met - 400 or 650. I don't think I can go wrong with either.

Hope to see some of you out there soon.....Mike

It really comes down to three things 1-do you really have to have monster power output?2- will you not ride a lot technical terrain? 3-can you afford the extra dollars for a 650? if you answer yes to all these go for the big pig!

You may hear a lot of opinions here, but trust me on this, the 650R will not feel too heavy!!! This is the first four stroke I have owned, after a long break from off road riding. I am 6'3" 205 pounds, and am fairly strong. I have my bike dual sported, and absolutely love it. I ride off road three or four times a year with a group of guys on CR250s, YZ250s, etc. and I can either keep up, or dust them. Yes, it did take a couple of rides to get the feel for it, but it is very natural now.

The added weight has never been a problem, exept on knarly hill climbs. Even then, it's not that bad unless you get it down, with the bars/tank facing down hill. Go for the 650. Once you learn the trick to starting it, it is a joy to own. It can lug all day, or cruise 80mph plus all day without straining it. Given the choice, I would definately buy another one.

If you buy the 400, you will want more power as soon as you are accustomed to it. The extra weight is NOT a factor!!

Winkel :cry:

hi dave can you tell me what the weight difference between a xr 400 and a xr 650 please

288 pounds ready to ride full of gas for the XR400. 302 pounds for a stock XR650R ready to ride full of gas. 298 XR600R, 304 DRZ400E

About 2 years ago I rode a friends stock XR400 down in Baja, he jumped on my stock but uncorked 00 650R and we traded for about an hour. I couldn't wait to get off that thing, plus I could see the evidence of how much fun he was having because there was roost marks in the dirt around every corner. It was guttless and felt cramped ergo wise. Then I saw him a year later, he had purchased a pipe, bars, top clamp, a different seat, got the suspension serviced, even bold graphics, and what a difference that made. I really enjoyed riding the bike around. It was powerful, handled well, and a fun bike to ride. Its hard to beat the simplicity of the 400 but the 650 is just as reliable and performance wise would be cheaper to set up to your liking. My 2 cents. By the way my friend sold his 400 for a CRF450, which he likes but no big mex trips on those bikes.

Epilogue - many thanks to all who posted opinions. I ended up purchasing a clean XR650R last night from a fellow TT member and am happy with the purchase. Because the lucky PO's house backs up against AZ State Trust land I was able to do a bit of riding and found the bike to be easy to ride and control, not too far from the 400 at all.

Have a great holiday, thank again......Mike

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