Honda XR650L: Lightweight Adventurer


Seems you're trying to make a 650L into a TransAlp....? You can get a '89 Transalp with less than 15K, with extras for $3K, a nice one. The V twin is much stronger than the single jug bikes and cruise all day at 70+ mph without getting blown into other lanes and still have a great off road bike. ALready has the larger tank, fairings, corbin seat, rack, short and tall windshields....etc. They are rare in the US, but parts are easily available from Honda. Just say'n....:bike_rider:



Where can a guy get one of those?

Today is your lucky day! I have just the "deal" for you! :ylsmoke:

The style bike you want for a "lightweight ADV" is a 250/350/450 4T modern enduro.

68'000 km (42'235 miles) on a KTM 525

Can pick up Yammie WR 450's for nothing....left over brand new Husky TE' 450's for $3500. Saw a BRAND NEW Husky 350 for $5500.

Lotsa power: A modern 250 makes more power than the 650L. The 650L is around 30HP, the 250 at 38HP, 350 at 45HP, 450 at 54HP...all of them roughly 100-120lbs lighter. All of the bikes are going to carry the same
amount of gear, wouldn't it be better starting with 100 lbs less from get go!?

Better brakes, suspension, frames, much much improved ergonomics than the much dated XR650L, tons of after market.

Acrebis makes 3.4 and 6 gallon tanks for the WR...and most of the other brands.

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double moo

Sold mine a couple years back to get an EXCr530. Miss the XRL on nearly every ride I take. IT was not as good at many types of riding... but way more comfortable for dirt road traveling. Not as fast... but more stable at speed. The weight that is a killer in the tight fast dirt stuff, is a life saver for exploring around type riding. Lighter and way more dirt worthy than the KLR. Set it up right and you'll love it... and the bombproof air cooled engine is a plus.

and definitely go with the Giant Loop!!!


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Lightweight Adventure Bike ? Yes it is !

I love the XRL and think it is a great lightweight adventure bike for the price ? Like others have said there is no perfect bike ? I have 5 bikes right now ?
I have a 1983 XL600R also and got that in 1984 and it has over 37,000 miles on it now , so I know a little bit about riding these machines ? Best for adventure rides that use mostly dirt roads , two tracks, forest roads and 4x4 roads with some paved thrown in to get gas and food . I done these riding from my home in Calif. across the Great Basin to the Rockies and back a few times .

A couple friends and I did a week trip to Death Valley this spring in April that was as much dirt 4x4 roads as we could and camping all the way ? I road the XRL and one friend Mark road my old 83' XL600 and the other road his XR400 . We all have been riding since we were kids and are all in our mid fifties now . We all carried sleeping bags and tents and cooking stuff food and water . Remember a week in DV , camping you need lots of food and water and fuel ? So we carried more stuff than if we could hit a store every other day like you could on lots of adventure rides ? Dewitt , the one on the XR400 thinks the XR650L is to big for him , but for me ( 6'2 240lb's ) I don't have any problem with it . Like the guy in the video moto x it , if you are a good rider it can do a very good job ?

My bike setup , Acerbis 5.8 gas tank , Giant-loop Coyote bag ,Tusk tank bags ,luggage rack ,other stuff like bars and risers, shock rebuild and spring D606 tires ? Big Agnes sleeping system , small cheap tent ,small cooking stove and pans , 2 gallon folding collapsible water container ,plus hydration backpack , food , riding gear, extra gallon gas ? To much stuff ! We didn't have any problems getting around and can go almost anyplace but the worst single track ?

I also have a KTM 950 a BMW1100gs and a Harley Electra Glide for touring with the wife . I took the Electra Glide up a rough forest road with the wife in Idaho to the head waters of the Salmon River and camped ! Have taken the BMW down a steep single track into Steep Hollow Creek in Calif and road down the creek for over a mile though deep sand and gravel crossing river over and over again , but for real adventure I'd rather be on the XR650L where I know I can go almost anywhere I want ? Great bike , very reliable and doesn't need as much maintenance as a KTM ?



Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
When I moved back to the states from France I was forced to sell my Honda Africa Twin. I replaced it with a '96 Honda XR650L. Not really a proper substitute for the big twin, but it did the job. I had a blast on my 650. My only tweaks were a larger tank, stub windscreen for pavement romps, and a few minor adjustments. I put 10,000 miles on that bike in short order. Okay, I was also 25ish and didn't care it was rough, buzzy and built like a mass produced moto.

In Zion...I think:
Please excuse the really poor image.

This was my other ride at that time. This was my idea of "Dual Sport." Two bikes. :)


Ray Hyland

Expedition Leader
ExPo Project - Honda XR650L

We have a new project in the shop. A 2010 XR650L.

It is an economical, reliable and accessible bike to almost anyone, and it will be a nice contrast to the big BMW/KTM type projects we usually do. The stock seat is comfy, and the bike is stable at speed on the highway (we were doing 75mph with a good cross wind and moderate traffic and the bike felt secure on the factory knobbies.

Currently the bike is completely stock.

Click pics for a bigger view.

sm_XR650L (1).jpg

We plan to slowly add the bits it needs to improve it, but not to go over the top, as we want to stay true to the bike's simplicity.

So to get a feel of it in the dirt, we went for a quick trail ride on Saturday.

It has a good seat height for me (I am 5'10") and feels lighter than you expect in a 650.


Once we got into the dirt though, three things became very clear:
1. The stock foot pegs are tiny, and actually slope up at an angle, so they are not a great platform when you plan to stand up all day.
2. The stock bars sit really low, so once you stand up, you are hunched-over.
3. The shiny steel tank is very hard to get any grip with your knees.


So the immediate plan is for:
1. New Pegs
2. Bar risers and a taller bar
3. Grippy-tape on the tank.

More to come.

We are getting old - thanks for the reminder ;)

Threads merged.

We're all getting old but I just want you to get on with this project so I have something to read during my twilight years. :)

A few months back the local (Prescott AZ) Honda dealer had a XL650L on consignment, very impressive bike and I regret not bringing it home.

Looking forward to this build.

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Ray Hyland

Expedition Leader
I've used the TechSpec Gripster product with good success:
Very nice, we may give that a try.

It's been pretty busy in the shop lately with all the Land Cruisers floating around, so we haven't done a ton to the bike yet. But we have done a little bit...

We are not setting this up as a circumnavigator, it will be more for short trips and exploration, so we dont need a lot of luggage space. But we will need the ability to carry a spot, some food and water, tools, tubes, and a sleeping bivy.

With that in mind, the folks at Giant Loop sent over a tank bag. My only request was that it not be red. (The bike is already red enough).

They sent a very cool Diablo Tank Bag in Black and Grey. It has a 4 litre capacity, unzips from the base for security or to fill the tank, and has a clear map/phone/gps pocket built into the top of it. It's waterproof and has padding and a divider inside for your camera, etc.



I was surprised when I rode the bike with the bag, it actually makes it better offroad, as the bag is thin but firm when packed, and quite grippy, so it makes it easier to grip the bike with your legs when you are standing on the pegs.

And speaking of standing, next we will tackle some ergonomic issues with a CR high-bend bar, and some risers.

bar and risers.jpg

Stay tuned.