The XR650R needs another gear

This was my first impression of my R when I got it. It is so stable at high speeds on dirt roads that you can go a constant 90+mph while the engine is screaming its guts out. How nice would it be to shift up at that point, maintain the speed while dropping a couple of thousand rpms. Settle into a less nervous pace. Extend your mileage range, that sort of thing.

Are there any aftermarket solutions?


You can change your gearing from the stock 14/48 to 15/48 and get another ~7 MPH or switch to 15/45 and get an addition ~15 MPH over stock. 15/47 is an interesting combo and that's what I'll be changing to later this year.

I really the 13/48 combo for certain types of trail riding and 14/48 (stock) for most of my off roading and 15/48 has been great for dual sport use, especially for higher speed cruising.

I'm running 15/48 right now, great for all around dual sport and off roading. The last ride I was on I ran 15/46. Wow, I was cruising 60+ in 4th gear and 5th gear was cruising 80+ with low RPM's. It's the first time I wasn't looking for 6th gear, 5th became the overdrive that I was looking for. Theoretical top speed is 115, but I like the 15/48 better for more off road dual sporting.

I run 15/45 I'm getting 50 MPG city, cruises decent at 75 MPH on the freeway, the RPMs still seem way hi at 100 MPH unless my trailtech is reading low, I may go to 15/42 next, I would like to cruise at 80 on the freeway, it still has good pull in the desert, if I take it easy I get 38 to 42 off road, I was getting only 28 to 30 with stock gearing. I would like 6th gear or HI/LO range like the old Kaw Trailboss.

Is this a great motor or what??? It can take any gearing you thow at it! Too Cool!

If you switch to high speed gearing, you lose low-end grunt. What do you do to compensate for the lack of low end power? Increase the compression somehow?


I would recommend going to a 16T front sprocket before you drop the $ for a 42T rear (16/45 ~= 15/42). This setup will work with the stock 110 link chain, I run a 16/44 setup on my supermoto setup with the stock 110 link chain, the wheel will be WAY back in the swingarm though. Get the 16T sprocket here;

part# is 617-16. It fits like stock and has a good fit/finish. The only problem is the case saver, nobody makes a 16T case saver. I made my own, get creative. Changing the front is much cheaper and easier than the rear.

According to my handy dandy XR650R gearing calculator, 16/45 (2.813 ratio, 15/42 is 2.800) with a 120/110-18 rear tire will net you a theoretical top speed of 131 MPH and will net you 82 MPH in 5th gear at 5000 RPM which I've found to be ok for decently smooth cruising RPM (approximate).


The 650R has TONS of bottom end torque so it can pull some amazingly tall gearing. At some point though 1st gear gets to be way too tall for trail work. You simply have to chose your gearing for your ride, or go with an in between setup to handle both.

I'm always looking for a 6th gear. I don't know why more companies aren't using them. It makes a capable dual sporter even better.

Besides losing bottom end when you run a higher gear, the slowest you can ride in first without bogging the motor may be too fast for some trails. I went on a dual sport ride that included some pretty rocky and tight trails while running my SM gearing (15/42) and 10 mph was about as slow as I could go w/o bogging. I had to use the clutch on the tightest sections.

mine seems fine with 5 100km/h in 3rd :thumbsup:

I wish they would bump down the ratio of all 5 gears to achieve a lower 1st gear and then add a 6th gear. I ride with stock gearing on pavement to get to some tight trails where I wish I had a lower 1st gear, and then not such a huge jump to 2nd. How is 13/48 combo on the highway?

boy o boy as fast as you guys are out play riding you should consider racing .i bet you would bring home alot of trophy's .i run stock gearing for the desert and have scared the crap out of me plenty of times .i run 15/48 on the street . could use a little more there but i think it keeps me from getting a speeding ticket .anyhow stay safe at those speeds and have fun .

The reason Honda doesn't add a 6th gear (or a higher OE final drive) is because they make an XR650L for dual sport. A 650R is for hauling a$$ in the DIRT. They know what they're doing.

The reason Honda doesn't add a 6th gear (or a higher OE final drive) is because they make an XR650L for dual sport. A 650R is for hauling a$$ in the DIRT. They know what they're doing.

So you're saying that we should buy both and have the wife waiting at the trail head when we get there to swap out bikes and get the other one ready for when we get back ehh? :thumbsup:

Hopefuly she don't come up behind me and read that! :thumbsup:

The reason Honda doesn't add a 6th gear (or a higher OE final drive) is because they make an XR650L for dual sport. A 650R is for hauling a$$ in the DIRT. They know what they're doing.

Sure. And they know how to securely mount footpegs too :thumbsup:

Honda recommends 15/48 or 15/47 for Score events, such as the 500 & the 1000. Stock gearing is good for all around and cruising mid to upper mid rpm @ 70 - 75 mph. Fast enough for me in the dirt!

The xr gearbox is prown to suffer after awhile with to high ratios, more so if its chattering when labouring.

14/50 with a 6th gear would be nice!

in fact any Japanese bike with 6 gears would be nice. you can retain low gearing yet still keep the revs down on the road in top gear.

How is 13/48 combo on the highway?

probably too high strung. I have a 45 rear and change between 13 and 15 in the front. 15-45 is really nice for highway riding, but way too tall for anything semi-technical off road. The 13-45 is fine for most off road riding except for tight single track where I'd wish for a 13-52 at times or at least a recluse Z-start clutch to be able to let the clutch go.

I wished there was a 6th gear, but since that's not gonna happen, I went for the shorter gearing setup and trailer it to the riding areas. I didn't buy it to ride boring highway miles anyway. For the few pavement stretches between the dirt I do ride, the 13-45 is fine.

If you put in a sixth gear, all of the other gears would have to be narrower to fit the gear into the cluster. This would lead to catastrophic failure on a fully race prepared 650R. A narrower gear set would disintegrate. Ask Ty Davis why they ended up using 4spd YZ's in the dez even when the 5sp WR's were available in the late 90's early 2000's.

You could make new cases to fit nice thick gears, but I think that my bike is wide enough as a claw hammer reliable 5-speed. And yeah, it doesn't seem right to hold it wide open at 90+ mph, but the red beast is perfectly happy doing that for extended periods of time. Try that with a 450. ka-boom.

Be satisfied with 5-speeds everyone, and just try to realize how good you really have it.

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