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New member, XR650L questions

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Hello all,

I joined tt quite awhile ago, but just recently bought a new, left over 2008 XR650L (all dealers in my area only had 2008 and 2009 models). I've put about 550 miles on the bike so far in about a month and absolutely love it. In fact, it's the bike I've wanted to get for the last 15 years, just didn't take the plunge until now.

I'm getting ready to take it back to the dealer for the first service (second time back there since I bought it - first time was a flat rear tire with a wood screw through the side wall with only 23 miles on it, on my first ride - super bummer!).

I don't have much if any mechanical experience and until now with the bike, haven't had much interest in working on my own rigs. But, I would really like to learn all I can about this bike and do all my own work. I have the service manual on order.

Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself since I'm sure I'll be spending a lot more time on here reading posts and learning as I go. As of right now, I have a lot of questions on the bike, if anyone would like to offer some advice, I'd definitely appreciate it!

1. I've read a little on the uncorking, removing the smog equipment and all. I'd like to do this for more power but will the bike still be legal on the street if I do it?

2. Does anyone suggest the Corbin gel seat? I ask not because I don't like the stock seat, in fact I do. It looks like it is lower profile than the stock and I'm only 5'8", so the bike is REALLY tall for me. I make do with it though and it seems either the shock or seat are breaking in and I can actually touch the ground a little better.

3. I'd like to add a skid plate for protection when riding in the woods. I've seen a few different ones. Which is the best and can the XR650R plates also bolt right up to the L? Will a skidplate restrict too much air flow to the engine for cooling?

4. How important is it that both front and rear tires match? When I replaced my rear tire, it was suggested that the front match too (Pirelli's). So, I went ahead and bought both new ones, even though the front was brand new still. Did I get taken or is it suggested to go with the same? It looks like the rear is wearing a lot faster than the front. When I go to replace the rear again, will I have to replace the front eventhough it is not nearly as worn?

5. I have a hell of a time getting an accurate oil level measurement. I've been checking it right after running it as the dealer suggests, but if I let it cool for 2-3 minutes as the manual suggests, there is no oil on the dipstick. The service dept said to just rev the engine a couple times and then check it again. How does this give me accurate, consistent readings? I just wish I had a repeatable method that would allow me to be confident the oil on the dipstick is a true representation of low, ok, too much.... Any suggestions?

6. Is the 650L being discontinued? I really hope not. I truly love this bike and plan on getting another after I wear this one out! The Honda site only shows 2008 and 2009 models and thats all anyone had in my area at least.

I apologize for the overly long post, but these are things I've been thinking a lot about and just need some guidance. Thanks guys!


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1. it would only be legal if your state does not have an emissions test or inspection, everyone does it though

2. It seams most really like the seat, there are a few that have posted negative comments, its a personal choice

3. If you have a drill any skid plate for the 650R will work, I have the stock 650R plastic slide plate only to keep mud from building up on the engine which effects cooling too.

4. Tire sellers have lawyer liability to consider. Probably half owners use mismatched tires on purpose

5. The bike will use oil, if after two minutes there is no oil on the dipstick that would indicate you need to add oil. If these bikes have one Achilles heel its they don't like to be run with no oil.

6. If they are its because the tooling to make them is worn out, they sell every one they make, no inside info here

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Ok, jeez, lots of questions. First off, I just like to encourage people to use the search feature of the forums (advanced search), it'll give you days of material to weed through. I'm not trying to school ya, just point out that it's available and works well.

So about those 6 questions

1. Smog stuff is cosmetic only - removign it wont make the bike faster at all. It's totally up to you. Based on your post, I'd leave it on for now.

2. Gel seat? No idea. Other options are using a seat cushion of some kind on top - animal hide or wooden beads are popular.

3. Skid plates for the L are great, definately put one on.

4. You were robbed. There is NO reason to match tires. It certainly doesn't make sense to have a street tire on the back and a knobby in front but as long as both tires are "similar types" there is never an issue. I hope you kept the front.

5. Measure the oil after the bike is warmed up, turn it off and check the level right away.

6. Discontinued? who knows. It's due for a makeover thats for sure. The front forks aren't really compeditive anymore. Look at the other dualsports sold today and you'll notice more modern forks.

It IS a great bike though and will continue to surprise you as to what it can get you through. All you need to know is how to do regular maintenance. I suggest a new oil filter every time you change the oil. Don't skimp on the oil. Change it often. Don't wait 3000 miles if you take it off road. If you just use it on the road to commute, 3000 maybe.

Welcome and good luck.

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I used to have the same problem with checking the oil you do. I don't remember where but I read you need to have the bike level not on the stand when you check it. Worked for me. I have had a pile of motorcycles in my life street, dirt, enduro even Harleys, by far and away the "L's" i've owned give me the most satisfaction. Welcome to the club.

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Jon, (good name by the way and spelled correctly)

1. If your State does not require smog inspections, get rid of it. It's extra weight and butt-ugly. It won't add any more power though. For that, you need to get it to breathe better: remove the snorkel, re-jet, aftermarket exhaust, etc.

2. I'm about 5' 10" and wanted to lower the seat too, but did not want to lose any wheel travel. I removed the seat cover and carved out a lot of foam, added a 5/8" gel pad and stapled the stock cover back on. I sit a lot lower and the seat is more comfortable than stock.

3. Skid plates are essential as my beat-up, dented, and bent plate will attest. IDK about the 650R plate but the 650L skid plate from the ThumperTalk store is very good and strong. Plus, it helps support this forum. It also has some large holes for breathing and cleaning.

4. The tire guy is full of ­čśĆ! I would go broke changing both tires at the same time. My rear tire lasts about 1K miles and the front about 1.5K miles. Plus, I haven't found a matching set of tires I like. I currently run a Pirelli Scorpion Pro in front (great tire!) and either a Dunlop D606 or Teraflex in back.

5. I warm mine up, turn it off, let it sit about 30 - 60 seconds, then check the dipstick. I also change the oil and filter every 1K miles using a Honda filter and Mobil 1 V-Twin formula synthetic oil. 24K miles and never a problem with the engine.

6. Every year there seems to be a rumor that our beloved "L" is going to be discontinued. As long as people keep buying them, Honda will probably keep making 'em. Although, I wish they would improve a few things such as switching to USD forks, bumping up the compression, and adding a kick start. Even if they did discontinue them, there are tons of OEM parts and aftermarket goodies that will be available for a long time.


Edited by jonr3
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Welcome to TT. Haynes has come great books to sort your lack of mechanical experience, here's a link http://www.haynes.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10001&storeId=10001&categoryId=21001&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=10004&top_category=10004. You can get them at any American online book store. I recommend the Motorcycle Basics and Motorcycle Maintenance Techbooks.

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