Best first mods to XR650L

Well as a big guy (6'4", and built large even when I'm in good shape), I go around 220 lbs. even when I'm in pretty good shape. I have noticed that it takes a larger, heavier vehicle to make me feel comfortable on it, and to handle my weight without seriously affecting the handling. That goes for things besides dirt bikes. My sportbike of choice is a Honda Hurricane 1000. Its outdated and slow by today's sportbike standards, but I have tried riding modern sportbikes and I just plain don't fit on them, and they seem to handle terribly when I'm on them. I ride a Yamaha RX-1 snowmobile because I don't feel comfortable with a tiny toy under me. my old sled was a 3 cylinder Cat ZRT-800. The good thing is that because of my size, I can toss around a heavier vehicle almost as well as a smaller guy can toss around a light weight 2 stroke. Put a 140 lb. guy on an XR650L and have him try to ride it hard, and the bike will toss him around like a toy. Put someone my size on the same 650, and I can toss IT around (to some extent...of course the combined weight of me and the bike does have its downside).


I have a friend who has a 1999 XRL that has 19,000 original miles (He bought it new), he is around 245 pounds and rides his bike probably harder than most people. He has a ton of mods and the bike seems to be as reliable today as it was when he bought it. I love mine and feel that it is one of the most steadily reliable bikes I have ever known, yea its heavy but the power makes up for that. Sprocket mods were first on my list, (huge difference) and carb rejetting made my bike come to life. My bike also ran a little cooler after the carb mods-(60 mph). You will love that bike, and it is easy to work on!

I'm just looking forward to actually picking it up. I feel like a little kid a couple weeks before Christmas! Thats a sad feeling for a 33 year old! I'm spending too much time researching and talking about it, and not actually riding it. Anyone have $5500 I can borrow for 3 weeks??? lol. Better make that $6500, because this bike is getting hit with a few mods as soon as I get it...bags, knobby tires, 4.6 gallon tank, uncorking it, and a few other things. Just enough to wake it up and personalize it. :-)


Well now I'm getting confused. My XR600 was bulletproof, and it would go anywhere as far and as long as I could stand to be on it (which was pretty hard and long). And they were used to kick major butt in the Baja races. The only thing I ever did to my 600 ('95) was put gas in it and oil the chain. Now I've been reading about top end rebuilds every couple years, watching for overheating, having to just about rebuild the brand new bike to grease everything that Honda missed, etc. I used to buy Honda because they were absolutely bulletproof. My XR75 went from the time I was 6 until I was 14 and the motor had never been touched, except to change the spark plug once or twice in that time.

I'm looking for a bike that I can ride for 20,000-30,000 miles without opening the engine. Am i looking ion the right spot? I had an '81 SP250 that I put over 25,000 miles on over one summer. that was 3 back tires, 2 chains, 1 front tire, 3 sets of brakes, and not once did I have to touch the motor. The guy I sold it to 15 years ago still has it, and it still runs well to this day. I already have an ST1100 for the really long (500+ mile one way) trips, but I have been working on tentative plans to possibly visit Alaska by bike, and do several trips to northeast maine to visit family on this bike.

My other option was a KLR, but its very poor off road manners, as well as gutless engine turned me off from that one. Now I'm almost back to where I started, and am trying to find a bike that will be rock solid reliable for long distance off and on road rides. Am I being overly cautious, and getting scared at nothing? Is a 650L a good bike for what I have planned? Or should I keep looking?

Maybe I should ask- is there ANY bike that will be ready for reliable riding without rebuilding it? Here are my options so far:

KLR650- Need to tear down the rear suspension when its new to grease it. Gutless engine, poor off road manners. Need to tear into the engine to fix the ballance shaft issue soon after buying it.

XR600R- Great off road, but need to install a rectifier/regulator to be able to power radar detector, GPS, etc. Needs a high output stator to handle any real lighting. Needs to be torn down and greased while new. Requires several parts to make it work well on the street (and legal). Has a long grocery list of bolts that need upgrading before they break. Several other minor things to make it reliable and a good all-around performer. Seriously uncomfortable seat. Needs the thermostat replaced to ensure there are no problems.

XR650L- Needs to be torn down for greasing while new (whats with bikes coming without enough grease???), has possible overheating issues, needs a larger tank for any real riding (expected of a 650R, but the L should be set up better), and a few other things I've read about that I can't remember.

I'm starting to think that there is no such thing as a true on/off road bike that can really be used for street use, and all the new ones seem to be just for getting from one trail to another. If this is the case, I'll just get an older, used XR600 (since I know those are bulletproof) for off road, local use, and put the rest of the money into my ST1100 to deck it out even more than it is. But I don't want to abuse that bike on the Alcan or across Canada, and it sure isn't for our northern N.H. roads with endless potholes in all directions. A real dualsport bike would be ideal for this terrain. I couold laugh at the cars that are stuck travelling at 30 mph in a 50 mph zone, just because the bumps are so large the car would fall apart if they went any faster.



Look up Rally twin,then look up how much one is custom built for you.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now