Thinking of Buying a 650L

Enjoy taking the BMW 1150GS down nearby forest roads, but know (and have experienced) the constraints of its weight. I'm looking for a DS for I want to ride to the roads versus trailer. Have owned many Hondas over the years and they have never let me down. Sooooo, I guess I'm loyal to Honda and the 650L has my attention.

Have done some research but have a few questions...

1). Can one take the 650L down the occasional trail/single track?

2). I usually don't do too much to bikes... maybe a performance enhancement here and there. What would be on the short list of "things" I'd have my dealer do to the bike, assuming I buy new.

3). What is a BRP?

4). Living at 9000ft. in the Rockies, I assume among Hondas this is my only choice? I'm not a fast off road rider and I believe XR650R's with a DS conversion are more for those that want to fly down the dirt roads?

Well, this is it for now. Appreciate much any thoughts.


1. The xr650l is made for the trail and street, it will take just about any average trail....nothing tooo technical though.

2. New exhaust system, clarke/ims 4 gallon tank, bars, tires.

3. Big Red Pig because it is a pretty heavy bike....the heaviest when it comes to dirt/dual sport bikes. it weighs in at 350 where as the 650r is around 295.

4. You will probably have to rejet or get a new carb :banghead::banghead:

i have a 99 650L. I have taken it down some medium difficulty single track without any problems. That was even on trailwing tires. I wasn't moving too fast and it was pretty dry. As far as mods, the best improvements are a 4 gallon fuel tank and "Dave's carb mods". I don't know if a dealer would do them, but they are pretty easy to do yourself. Another mod that really helps on trails is to change the sprockets to a 14-45 or 14-48, depending on if you ride more road or trail. At your altitude you will have to rejet, but your dealer may already do that. Hope I helped!

Thanks everyone, very helpful. Haven't closed the door on the 650R yet. Is there a dual sport kit one can buy for this bike?


Check with some Colorado riders on the licensing issue, it varies A LOT from state to state. If you read this forum often, you will see lots of back-and-forth about the trailworthyness of the 'L' versus the 'R'. Obviously, the R is designed for extended high performance useage and the L is a totally different kind of bike: a trail and street combo machine. Honestly, the R is a real handful. I will be trying to license mine, but due to the massive torque hit of the engine, it isn't going to be very street friendly. The L sounds like kind of a heavy pig but compared to the HUGE BMW mastodon you have been riding, the I guarantee it will feel like a feather. I have read some threads on 'adventure rider' and it seems like the BMW guys spend most of the time on their faces, sliding down some relatively moderate incline. It's really kind of embarrassing the kind of easy stuff they fall on, I would certainly not be posting pictures for the world to see; but it's really the bike's fault- 500 lb topheavy monsters just aren't any fun in the dirt.

I've raced my 650L. The courses are gnarly and brutal. The single track it does fine, but not great. The sandy whoops are a killer! Far better than a R1100GS could ever dream of being, without a professional rider and WP suspension.

Also look at the DR650.. Suspension is way weak, but the bike sits lower in is fairly comfortable.

what about a DRZ400?

Thanks everyone again. Someone I'm corresponding with said he tried the 650L but it seemed wound out at 60mph on the highway. Since I'll be doing some highways to get to some nice forest/dirt back roads this didn't appeal much. True?

And while the 650L is around 350lbs, this doesn't seem too much different from some of the thumper dual-sport competition.

With the stock gearing it is turning 4400 rpm at 65 MPH. It's

just lugging along.It really starts to smooth out getting closer

to 70 mph That is because of the tall gearing.

the only thing better than owning a XR650L, is owning two or more XR650L's ... :banghead:

Just bought and 06 650L . 80 mph highway no problem and more throttle.

There's pretty much no trail too tight or technical for the L, but you feel the weight!

If you're more performance minded, try an R. If weight is your biggest factor, get a 400 (or wait a few months and get a husky).

If you want a bike that'll huff down the road at 75 and then climb a goat trail, the L is perfect.


Bought a 05 l just a few months ago. Last bike I rode offroad was a KDX. I use the BRP to commute to and from work and also participate in dual sports. I have lowered the gearing and still can cruise down the highway at 65 +.I love my bike. I can't how much fun it is to ride both on the street and the trail. The longest one day trail ride was 220 miles. Major case of monkey butt but still rode another 150 the next day. I find myself leaving the Harley at home and taking the L around town. Nothing better than having to take the long way home through Pozo. I say buy the 650L

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