L or R ??

I am looking for a XR650 to use as a street / motard bike. I want the thing to be street legal in California too.

What is the difference between the 650L and the R?? Looks like the "L" is the street version w/ mirrors and lights and stuff. Am I right? Are the specs the same as the "R"?



1) R with a dual sport kit.

2) They are totally different machines. Totally different.

3) Go to a Honda dealer and check them out.

4) Ride Red.


Thanks !!

Not that the L is bad. You can shave alot of weight off it, and bump up the power. But its old tech compared to the R.

The r is the real BRP.

I have first hand experience with this...

I purchased an L after being out of riding for a few years and after the first ride I knew that I had bought the wrong bike. I was going to stick it out for a while then a few months later a 650R Plated came out in the paper and I got rid of my L and went with the R.

The best move I ever made. The L is like a cadillac and it's hard to get after it on a bike that has a freakin dash board.

I say go for the R you will be much happier in the long run.

The L is a street legal bike, has electric start, mirrors, speedo, odometer, trip meter, horn, battrey, and is air cooled. The R is a dirt bike, liquid cooled, kick start, and can be made street legal. The R is lighter in stock form, and a better choice for off road by far. The L can be enjoyed off road with a few changes, but you still have to deal with the weight. Two things that I considered when I bought mine was the electric start, and not having to really change anything to make it street legal. After I wore out the original tires I put on a set of Dunlop 606s, what a difference off road and I dropped the front sprocket one tooth for better woods riding, and added a larger fuel tank for more range. But if your looking for a better dirt bike and electric start isnt a consideration the R is a much better choice. The R isnt called the BAJA bike for nothing

R dual sported for sure

Hey, what do you guys have against the l i do just fine on the technical trails on it. Plus i dont have to worry when i lay it over cause theres no stupid radiators to have to worry about getting smashed. :)

just my 2cents


Have you ridden and R?

Actually not but i cant imagine that really all that differnt besides the radiator and the road legal stuff. but i definently would like to ride an R just to see how much of a difference there is. :)

My riding buddy has an L and as everyone else pointed out they are completely diffrent animals. That's not to say that the L (with a few mods) is a bad ride. It works well, but for pure dirt riding it does not even get close to the R. The HP on a L even with a pipe and a jet kit is only around 40. The HP on an R unplugged is around 53. Plus the L wieghs 50 pounds more than the R in stock form. You do the math. Everytime my friend laid his down he broke those damn wings on the front that direct air over the engine. My R with its water tanks is still slimmer and they don't break when you lay the bike down. Again nothing against the L, but if you want power and better abilities in the dirt the R is a clear winner.

I think if I was chosing a bike for mostly street riding with occassional off road use & comfort in mind, then I'd look at the 'L' model. For off road only or for dual sport use with occassional on road use, then the 'R' makes more sense to me. If I was building a SM bike with strictly performance over comfort in mind, then I'd be looking at the 'R' because it has a significcantly better power to weight ratio than the 'L' and there's plenty of aftermarket performance items for the 'R' when it comes to 'SM', but the 'L' might be the better bike if comfort is a priority.

I've never owned a XR650L nor have I ever ridden one, so I can't offer any first hand opinions, but the few persons I've talked to who have owned a 'L' and then switched to a 'R' have said there's a night & day difference in performance & off road handling and wished they had bought the 'R' to begin with, but their riding appeared to be more off-road focused. It's my understanding that the XR650L is basically a 350lb street legal version of the older but ultra reliable XR600. I've been told the 'L' is quite a bit more comfortable compared to the 'R' model if you plan to ride mostly on the street, especially for longer distances, so that may be something you want to investigate further if comfort is a priority over performance.

Here's some XR650R SM articles to check out.






Here's some of the sweetest looking XR650L SM bikes I've seen.



The L is like a cadillac and it's hard to get after it on a bike that has a freakin dash board.

Also what do you mean by this???? :)

IMO there is a huge difference.

The lightness of the R is very noticable as soon as you sit on the bike. The dry weight of the L is 324lbs and the R is 277lbs. That right there is a very big difference. The L is very top heavy (with the metal tank and all the controls).

The L has a 644cc engine and the R has a 649cc engine (not a big difference but still a difference). There's a difference in the suspension between the two bikes as well.

If you get a chance to ride an R take it. You will see what I am talking about. When I had the L, I was so nervous about laying it over and breaking the dashboard that it was difficult to get after it. I removed all the non-essentials along with the smog kit...but it just never seemed right

The L is good for cruising the streets and the FS roads but that's about it.

Last year while I was at a track just spectating, I seen a guy on a XR650L that was drawing some attention for a few laps. He was passing YZF's, XR's, DRZ's, and many other bikes. It was a site to see that thing with mirrors, license plate and all flying through the air. It was by no means a smooth ride and was bottoming out all over the place and plowing in the turns, but the guy who was riding it put on quite a show for a few minutes. It made me think more about the 90% rider / 10% bike theory. I had a similar thing happen to me while I was on a make shift track in the desert, except the bike that was smoking everyone including CRF450's, YZF450, etc, was a CR80 big wheel that was ridden by a small kid (probably 14 years old or so). He was no average rider and put on one heck of a show. There was a decent sized jump that we were all taking kind of slow because there was a bigger off camber jump in front of it followed by another jump and that bigger center off camber jump was very intimidating cause you could easily smack it hard if you jumped too far from the first jump, but this kid on the CR80 big wheel would get serious air from the first jump and flip his bike sideways so that he cleared the big center off camber jump and would land perfectly on the downslope of the third jump every single time. I didn't see anyone else try that maneuver the three days I stayed there. Also, this kid would just shred through the corners and the only place anyone was able to gain on him was in the straights. I finally pulled off the track to watch cause I was getting beat up. That kid was just super smooth in everything he did and made everything look super easy. Finally everyone else pulled off the track and we all just watched him in amazement until he got tired of showing off.

The L is like a cadillac and it's hard to get after it on a bike that has a freakin dash board.

Also what do you mean by this???? :)

The L is big, wide and heavy....a very nice piece of equipment but not something you want to take out and thrash...kinda like a cadillac

Yeah if i ever get a chance to ride an R i will definently ride one. But the power still aint bad on my bike i can wheelie in first and second easily. Any one in southern pa own a 650R that i could test ride!!!! LoL :)

OK it's my turn to chime in on this one.

I ride the "L" on the Dirt and Street, These are my impression and experiances as my buddie has the "R" and I've riden both.

Get the "L" if..

-1 Get the "L" if you are 6 feet or taller (the biker is taller)

-2 If your going to be on the Road more then 50% of the time (Wider set that's more comfortable)

-3 You want to ever cary a second passanger onboard. (the "R" doesn't have back foot pegs nor the support frame)

-4 If you are a Big guy as the bike can carry a heavyer load up to like 350lbs The "R" is made for the lighter 175-190 rider. But my buddie is 250 and his "R" doesn't bottem out.

-5 You don't have to freeking load the thing up in the truck, latch eveything down, worry about it falling out the back.. I hate the hassel, with a "L" you just get on it and go to your destination without any problems.

-6 You want to save money! $5,500 streetable compaired to $6,500 which is for the bike and Dual-sport kit.

-7 FYI: The bike is heavy to get off of the ground if you drop it, I'm 200lbs and it's a [@#$%&!] to get up sometimes.

-8 The jetting and exhause upgrades are simple and really change the "L" around. Depending oun your skills (not the bike) you can hang with, lead, or follow the "R".

Get the "R" if..

-1 You have access to alot of dirt as you will chew up the dirt only tires on any roads that you use to get to the track or trails etc..

-2 You have a trailer or a trunk that you can load the "R" in already. If not you need to get ready to buy one.

-3 Your a horsepower junky, As after you do the jetting and exhause insert you'll have a new bike.

-4 You want a lighter bike as again the "L" is 30-35 lbs heaver then the "R" The "R" weight wize is like a toy compaired to the weight of the "L".

-5 You never want to ride on the street. If you do It's going to cost you an extra %500.00 - $1000.00 bucks, depending on what you buy. (I.E. Speedo, mirrors, title, tags, Dual-sport kit, they have different types, stators, light bulbs, horn, fender and lastly DOT approved Tires. You will wonder why you didn't get an "L" during this process. My friend has mentioned that to me several times and he loves his BRP "R"!

In summary the "L" vs. "R" is like being a "Republican or and Demy" Pick you side, but in the end it's the simple stuff like Your only 150lbs dude so get the "R" or your really never going to ride in the dirt so get the "L". Everone has sometype of situation that if found will sway them to the "R" or the "L". If someone says get the "R" because of the power, I disagree, a modified "L" has plenty of power to the point that it can go over 100mph and handle in the dirt and to the normal guy it will feel powerful enough. If that's not enough for you get a freeking 700cc big bore kit for the bike. I don't by the more power thing anymore, don't fall for it. The ultimate desiding factore will again be your riding style or you wallet.

Good luck, I tried not to be biased one way or the other, hopefully it came out that way.


L or R ??

#703429 - 09/23/03 08:58 AM Reply Quote

I am looking for a XR650 to use as a street / motard bike. I want the thing to be street legal in California too.

TTers-- he says straight up he's looking for a street/motard bike....not a dual sporter, not a dirt bike, not a cheap commuter bike.

For street/motard you would be nuts to go with an L. Has anyone ever even heard of anyone motarding an L? Ive never ever heard of it. There are 100's of motard'd R's out there. In fact its one of the most winning motard set ups. Leading motard teams in Germany, England, and France motard the heck out of the R.

If you want a street/motard bike -- as stated in your post-- then dont pay attention to the L enthusiasts--they are stearing you in the wrong direction and it could cost you BIG bucks to learn your lesson.

Get an R. Make it street legal before Jan 1 in California-when the laws change. Buy some 17 inch wheels-larger calipers/rotor, water-wetter, steering dampner, pipe, re-jet the carb, open the airbox, safety wire the thing, and you have the bascis of a very fast/fun and track worthy motard bike.

Dont even consider an L for motard/street for 3 seconds.


I must admit, "Irondude" is right. I am looking for a Supermotard bike that I can also make streetable. I really need it for racing and streeting it is a second priority. After reading all of your responses and after doing some more research I have made up my mind.

Thank you guys for your advice and taking the time to answer my Newbie question!


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