Honda XR650L: Lightweight Adventurer

Scott Brady

Founder
My motorcycle adventures started on a Honda XR250L, spending nearly every afternoon ripping through the desert south of Phoenix. My first street legal motorcycle started a few years prior, shuttling back and forth from the house to the fire station I worked at in Idaho. It was a barely-running Honda CB450 from the early 1970s.


Fast forward to 2008 and just a few weeks before I was leaving for the Trans-America Trail, nearly crossing the entire country on dirt. I found a 2005.5 KTM 950 Adventure just in time and obtained my AZ motorcycle endorsement just days before loading the bikes on a trailer. I fell in love with that bike and rode it regularly for years. Last year we transitioned the KTM to Brian McVickers care and I was left moto-less.


This led to a string of test bikes including a Ducati Multistrata, Triumph Tiger, Hammarhead Jack Pine, Zero DS, and a 1992 BMW GS PD (currently on display in the office). My regular rider is an 1150 GS Adventure, a fantastic motorcycle but leaves my love of technical riding unsatisfied.

As a result, a somewhat spontaneous purchase happened and a 2010 Honda XR650L arrived at the Expedition Portal HQ.

My goal is to make it a lightweight adventurer for weekend-long trips and local exploration. Modifications will be limited and only to address some limitations and weaknesses of the 20+ year old chassis. Should be a fun project.


I am also sure there are some 650L gurus on this forum that can help with part selection, primary of which will be a larger fuel tank, new tires, heavier rate rear spring and a few accessories.


Twisted Throttle did an interesting job with one, certainly more modified than I intend but a few good products to consider.

 

Attachments

WAND3R3R

Adventurer
Xr650l

I just bought a Honda XR650L a few weeks ago. I bought a frame support kit from Twisted Throttle and plan to install it this week. I will try to post some pics. My plan is to carry the bike on the back of my truck camper and use it to explore places the camper will not go.
 

SOAZ

Tim and Kelsey get lost..
My motorcycle adventures started on a Honda XR250L, spending nearly every afternoon ripping through the desert south of Phoenix. My first street legal motorcycle started a few years prior, shuttling back and forth from the house to the fire station I worked at in Idaho. It was a barely-running Honda CB450 from the early 1970s.


Fast forward to 2008 and just a few weeks before I was leaving for the Trans-America Trail, nearly crossing the entire country on dirt. I found a 2005.5 KTM 950 Adventure just in time and obtained my AZ motorcycle endorsement just days before loading the bikes on a trailer. I fell in love with that bike and rode it regularly for years. Last year we transitioned the KTM to Brian McVickers care and I was left moto-less.


This led to a string of test bikes including a Ducati Multistrata, Triumph Tiger, Hammarhead Jack Pine, Zero DS, and a 1992 BMW GS PD (currently on display in the office). My regular rider is an 1150 GS Adventure, a fantastic motorcycle but leaves my love of technical riding unsatisfied.

As a result, a somewhat spontaneous purchase happened and a 2010 Honda XR650L arrived at the Expedition Portal HQ.

My goal is to make it a lightweight adventurer for weekend-long trips and local exploration. Modifications will be limited and only to address some limitations and weaknesses of the 20+ year old chassis. Should be a fun project.

I am also sure there are some 650L gurus on this forum that can help with part selection, primary of which will be a larger fuel tank, new tires, heavier rate rear spring and a few accessories.


Twisted Throttle did an interesting job with one, certainly more modified than I intend but a few good products to consider.

Lots of great mods for these Scott. CR Forks really help to bring the suspension out of the 80's. Lots of items to take off to ligthen them up too. Tempting to just start with an xr600, but then the magic button goes away!
 

mhiscox

Expedition Leader
Welcome to the club, Scott.

The Thumpers subforum at Adventure Rider has an general XRL thread with all the pictures, suggestions and advice that you could ever want:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114834.

Sadly, as you'll have noticed if you've already been there, it's about the most diffuse information possible, with about 35,000 posts and 2.7 million views. (As I said, welcome to the club.) But using the search function within the Thumper subforum--searching for, say, "Clarke tanks" or "XRs Only rack"--will generally get you enough posts to give a good idea of the merit of the mod.

Ride safe,

Mike

 

LaOutbackTrail

Adventure Photographer
Great bikes for sure. I set mine up on a broke college student budget. But setup has changed many times. It is currently in a state of disassembled stock-ness...

I Started off with a used IMS 4.0 tank then switched to the Acerbis 5.8. I liked the size and weight of the 4.0 much better for offroading, the 5.8 allowed for the extra range needed, with a 35mpg motorcycle. :Wow1: But, the weight felt like it was dramatically increased. The acerbis did add some wind protection. It also hurt my knees. I will likely be purchasing the Clarke 4.7 tank soon.

I will also pick up eibach springs from xrsonly.com front and rear. You have the choice of spring rates.

Luggage. There is a plethora of options in this department. I'm a fan of soft luggage and will be using Wolfmanluggage.com the next go 'round. I've used everything from tourmaster to dirtbagz to happytrail aluminum panniers and rack. Aluminum panniers are definitely not suited on this bike.

There is quite a few parts to bolt on available through xrsonly.com, they certainly owned many of my paychecks during college...:sombrero:

Will post pics this evening.
 

juicebox

Adventurer
:bike_rider:

I'm pretty excited about this thread.

I wanted to make a lightweight, dual-sport bike with my old XR600R I had...


It never came to fruition though, I sold it after I had brain surgery because I thought I wouldn't ride again. I have started looking through the classifieds for an xr400r project, but I just saw that xr600r that I sold pop up in the classifieds, so it'd be cool to buy my old bike back! :wings:

Those pigs are heavy though... I thought my 600r was heavy, I rode my friends 650L and it was like riding a :26_13_1:... WAY too heavy... So I am interested in how you are going to make this 650L a "lightweight"... :coffeedrink:
 

LaOutbackTrail

Adventure Photographer
Sorry, I forgot to post pics last night... But after thinking about it I've already posted many of the pics HERE.

I agree with Juice... the XRL is definitely not a lightweight bike, but in comparison to the others that Mr. Brady has toured upon, it is a great improvement in my opinion. I dual sported an XR400R and absolutely loved it. I wish I hadn't sold it... even called the guy I sold it to to see if he still had it but he had passed it on already too.:(

I take that back... I loved everything but the kick start. Sometimes kicking a hot bike is just not ideal. Like after being sick in Mexico for 4 days out of a 7 day trip... Or after mile 60 of that endurance race on super tight single track only to invert the bike in a creek bed... 15 miles from the finish of the race.

Definitely not easy with a bike loaded for an adventure...


My XR650L, however was a decent balance in all honestly. I prefer being more offroad capable with ok hwy manners. That being said, I rode the bike to and from Mexico. Into Mexico. To eastern most Kentucky from Louisiana and back, mostly via I-20 and I59. I did manage to take two days to go from Pikeville, KY to Chatanooga, TN on my way home, without interstate.

But where the bike really shined was when we were doing a lot of double track and mountain roads in northeastern Mexico. No failures compared to my Kawasaki and BMW companeros of that trip.
 

NothingClever

Explorer
Those pigs are heavy though... I thought my 600r was heavy, I rode my friends 650L and it was like riding a :26_13_1:... WAY too heavy... So I am interested in how you are going to make this 650L a "lightweight"... :coffeedrink:
Yep, +1. BRPs are called BRPs for a reason.
 

Trail Monkey

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0014
It's a lot lighter than my GSA... just did 2000 miles on my 640 Adventure. a bit of a challenge but doable and the weight was great on the rough stuff.. out a big tank on that scott and lets head for baja..
 
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