Need advice on XR650R vs 650L


As you can see, I am new to this site. I am presently into street / sport bikes but was into dirt bikes as a kid. I presently have a RC51 and a old 350X 3-wheeler. Don't get to ride either much and really have no where to ride the 3-wheeler. I'm interested in ditching the 3-wheeler and want to get back to the dirt and LOVE this motard stuff.

I am looking at getting a XR650L or a XR650R and making it street legal with spare rims to swap for sport riding. Other than H2O cooled R and one obviously being street legal, what is the big difference? I really like the idea of getting a XR650R and making it street legal.

I live in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Has anyone made a "R" street legal in Pa. and what trouble was it? And, how much did it cost ya?

How much are a set of rims and what is all involved in making it a motard bike?

Any advice is appreciated. :ride:


XR650L- street legal from the factory, E-start, a bit heavier, and a bit less power. Virtually bomb proof. An excellent bike especially after you remove the smog kit, and some of the extra weight of 'accesories' on the bike. Uncorking it (airbox/exhaust/carb mods) makes it come alive.

XR650R- NOT street legal, can be legalized in some states, or maybe you can find a street legal one. Kick start only (though there are E-start kits around for $800-$1500), it does start very easy when jetted properly, but don't kill it at a stop light :ride: A bit lighter, and a decent bit more power, needs uncorking also. LOT's of top end and VERY reliable as long as you don't lay it over and rip off the radiators.

I'm a street legal XR650R owner, I also have a supermoto setup, but I've been riding more dirt and dual sport lately. There are lots of people that will say one is LOTS better than the other. They are BOTH excellent, HIGHLY reliable bikes, with TONS of low end torque and can be geared for ~110mph. You CAN'T go wrong with either.

As you are interested in street use, the 650L definitely has the advantage with E-start and street legality. However, the extra grunt from a 650R will be greatly appreciated.

A set of assembled Excel rims and Talon hubs will set you back a good $1000 to $1200. An oversized 320mm front brake kit will run you ~$200 with the stock caliper or ~$600 with a 4 pot racing caliper. Then you need tires, which you know aren't cheap. Chopped front fender etc..., the list goes on and on and on...

Your used to a performance bike since you ride a RC51, I would look at the R, lighter with more power, I'm used to arm stretching street bikes too so I'm still hoping for a XR750R, the more the merrier.

Man! That Snaggle knows his stuff and provides great responses! Ill add my 2 cents. I beleive I'd only change a few words in Snaggles response, the words a bit to allot. The L is about 50lbs heavier than the R is even when the R is plated it is only 4 lbs heavier than a stock R, so the difference is about 46lbs, the L being the heavier than the R. The L is also allot slower stock than anR but can be made faster (than it is stock) but not faster than a similarly prepped R , but for allot of moolah! The R is a rageing monster when you put on a pipe, jet it uncork it from the smog crap. The L is a rock of reliability and pretty much so is the R, but the R feels sooo much lighter and stronger everywhere. Plus, even though I am a XR600R owner, and the L looks more like an XR600R than it does a 650R The 650R looks more modern than the L. Ride both Id say and come up with a decision. I feel the 650R feels like a well prepped XR600R, but a tad heavier. The 600R is also about 50lbs lighter than and L.

I sold my 96 Erion Racing CBR900rr, that was tricked out and very fast to buy my 03 XR650L 2 years ago, did the mods and have never looked back. Its too damn fun on the street and in the dirt.

I would like to have a supermotard, but I am sure it would be ticket tempting like a good sportbike. I had to hit 150mph evry ride I took on my just had to at some point..too easy. too fun. I wore full gear and an Arai lid, but its still tempting fate no matter who skilled a rider you are. Road conditions are not track conditions.

I sold my bike to slow down a bit and be here to watch my kids grow up, and for a change of pace as well. I dont have to load up a truck, just strap on gear and hit the hills.

And I didnt want to kick shit at 41...been there.

You will dig either bike...duh they are RED

if you don't mind putting in the extra leg work it is no contest. r all the way. only reason why i would have bought one is if i couldn't get a r plated. why wouldn't you want more power and a lighter bike, not to mention a plastic tank.

as far as the motard setup goes i would say 1500 is probably a good ballpark it would end up costing you in the end. i put some cbr f3 wheels on my r on the cheap, probably about 300 for the setup. i just couldn't justify spending that 1500 on wheels when i only paid 3000 for the bike. if you don't plan on doing any dirt riding with it at all then you can relace your stock hubs with motard rims. i think that runs about 550, but then you can't switch back and fourth.

Go on CycleTrader a search for 650R's and you will find a titled, I believe 03 650R "motard" all ready to go, or get started with. It looks clean, and owner claims the bike has never seen the dirt! Sad Thing :ride:

As said, both bikes are great, they each have their own personality. I prefer the XR650R due to of course the engine which puts a permanent idiotic grin on your face and also the suspension which is superior to the L. The R feels much better balanced and with minimum suspension adjustment takes the rough stuff pretty well. A Baja Designs kit and legal tires will put the R on the street. The L suspension is, for me, marginal at best and needs a lot of work to even come close to the R. If possible, ride both bikes under different situations and that should tell you which bike works best for you.

I am in eastern Pennsylvania. I recently bought an 85 XL600R to see if I liked the dual sport thing. I like it, evidently the old XL600R is pretty much on par with the newer XR650L performance wise. While no slouch, its nothing like a YZ400/426/450 power wise as I was hoping. I am looking for a used XR650R right now that I can street title.

Here is the form for street titling a dirtbike in PA:


Thanks everyone, keep the advice coming.

I think I am leaning toward an R unless i find a good deal on a L. I don't mind the work to get a R street legal and I like the fact of the extra power and the water cooled idea. (but either probably would be fine seeing I have nothing besides my loved RC51 to compare it to)

I have been dropping hints to the wife and she is resisting at this time. I will just have to wear her down :ride: I do have to get rid of some stuff in the garage and finish remodeling the kitchen first before another big purchase.

Then it is all GO !! :ride:


I have ridden both and now own an "R". Mine also has the Baja Designs E-start kit which is nice. There is no contest, get the "R".

I second that. I used to own an L, which was a rock solid bike, but found a really clean R for less than the selling price of my L. One thing that probably doesn't get mentioned enough is how much better the components are on the R. Of course the engine, suspension, and frame are all much more modern and refined, but so are the little things (ie removable clamps bolted onto the frame of the R instead of all those clamps and retainers just welded to the L - they also streamlined the R by hiding some of the hose routing like the rear brake reservoir supply) - just little things but they do add to the fit and finish of the bike.

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