I bought my XR650l in 2005 and promptly took it to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I found an article on Thumper talk back in 2006 that described the perfect mods to overcome the sedate nature of the stock model. I made Dave's mods to the carbs, installed an FMF pipe, put a smaller sprocket up front and added a K&N filter. Of all the power mods I have done to my 10+ motorcycles this mod provided the most impressive power and response gains for the least money.
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I also added:
IMS 22L tank
IMS foot pegs
1.5 inch bar risers
Renthal classic desert bend bars
Baja defines fender elimination and lighting
and other assorted doodads of little importance
These mods made it look cool, extended the range and greatly expanded the seating position allowing me to stand comfortably for better control over long sandy romps through the jungle.
The bike handled well through mud and deep sand and was a joy on twisting mountain roads.
I have owned a CRF450 X and ridden several big KTM enduros. They handle better and have more power, but they cost significantly more money to own and they are difficult to maintain.
The reason people love retro motorcycles is that they take them back to a simpler time when a man could comprehend the bike between his legs, fix it with pliers and a screw driver in the bush and it could take him anywhere. I felt like a rockstar on my CRF 450 but on my XR I feel like a gritty bullet proof jungle explore with unrestricted access to the entire world. When you get down to it, it is all about how you feel out there. The XR makes me feel good and it always works.