XR650R adventure commuter


Yesterday I picked up a new to me XR650R. Never had or even driven a thumper before but had an idea of getting a second bike to both have some fun on gravel roads, go on weekend camping trips and also extend my motorcycle commute longer in to the fall/winter. We'll see how that goes.

Initially I was looking for a XR600 which are more in line with my budget but then a couple of days ago this 650 came up and the price was right. Even better it was close to home. It's sort of rough looking and has 30000km on the clock but it feels solid and runs strong. It also has some nice upgrades. I haven't had time to go through everything but so far these are the vital mods I'm aware of:

FCR41 carb
Slip-on exhaust
K&N filter and modded box
Modded stator and H4 headlight
Bar risers
Bigger foot pegs

First impression is that it feels like a very brutal motorcross compared to my Ducati 1000 road bike. I think I imagine it to be more motorcycle:ish if that makes any sense. Second thing is the tourqe. This thing hauls!

Plans and mods:
Go through it and see what need to be done
Acerbis large tank
Larger headlight
A rack and saddle bags
Handle bar heaters
Larger hand guards

Happy for all advice on how to make it a good adventure bike!

Last edited:


I come in Peace
Nice! Hard to get R model with a street plate in California..

It's a lot different than your street bike because it's a true dirt bike. Even compared to a KLR650 I thought it was a lot different when I rode my friends in Baja.

Looking forward to your build up. Enjoy!


Over here the R comes with lights etc from the factory so they are road legal. On the other hand, as far as I know we don't get the L version with electric starter.

Recommended books for Overlanding

Dreaming of Jupiter
by Ted Simon
From $16.04
Overlanding the Americas: La Lucha
by Mr Graeme Robert Bell
From $20
Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place
by Mike Martin, Chloe Baker, Charlie Hatch-Barnwell
From $30
Road Fever (Vintage Departures)
by Tim Cahill
From $8.99


I come in Peace
Happy kicking! Be sure to wear a good boot that protects the back of your leg for when the kick starter fly's up and smacks your leg. My XR400R is kick start only.. Also, not sure if it's the same on your 650, but I never stand on the bike with the side stand down when kicking it over because the 400's side stands tend to bend and break if you do that.


Thanks for the tips guys!

The steering stabilizer looks interesting. Too bad the dollar is crazy expensive for us these days…

After riding it some more I also think I need to look in to new tyres. They seem very hard motocross style tyres. Maybe something like TKC80 would be better for the type of riding I do.


Expedition Leader
Tyres wise, just done a ful year commuting 30 miles each way in Aberdeen, and found these tyres for my bmw.

Full rubber for the boring commute in the center and then ribbed on each side for the dirt rides
cut through the cow pats and muddy tractor trails

Heidenhau K60 scout- M&S check the size as they have difeent treads for each size....oponeo was cheap for them


I have started to order some new stuff for the bike.

TKC80 wasn't available in the sizes I wanted so I decided to go with Michelin T63. From what I've heard it seems to be a decent alternative.


Then I got a larger fuel tank from Clarke on it's way. It's 4.3 gallons and should give a decent range.

I also bought a 7" H4 headlight from Ebay. It might give a bit better light due to the larger reflector but mainly I thought it would look cool with a round headlight. I have to fabricate a mounting bracket and tidy up the cables behind the headlight cover that will be exposed now.



I was able to start my xr650r in flip flops if the bike is tuned well it should be easy to start 98% of the time.


Yeah mine seem to be really easy to start as well. Might be due to FCR41 carb. A couple of times it has stalled when I kept the choke on for too long. But then a I just kick it without choke and it starts right up. As soon as you learn the technique and the quirks of the bike it seems to be quite OK without e-start.

Although I count on that it will be really grumpy one day in a situation where I really don't want it… :)


Yesterday I fitted the new 4.3 gallons / 16.3 litre Clarke fuel tank. The installation was pretty straight forward except a few fitment issues. The finish was good. Some plastic left from the casting in the hole for the petcock that needed to be removed.

Biggest problem was that the threaded inserts for the mounting brackets was slightly off on one side as you can see in the picture. I solved it by removing the insert in the bracket that is suppose hold the bolt and that way I could bring the bolts closer together. I hope this won't cause the bolt to rattle loose. I took some loctite on the bolt for extra precaution.

After fitting the radiator shrouds to the tank I noticed that the lower mounting holes on the shrouds didn't line up with the radiator holes anymore. For now I attached them with zip-ties. I'm gonna see if I can adjust the radiators slightly to line up the mounting points.

DSC_0109.jpg DSC_0110.jpg

Really exited about the added range and can't wait to take a longer ride:)



New member
I love XRRs I had one as my commute/adventure/only bike for a while. They are the most amazing bikes. As others have said, if it's not easy to start, something is wrong. Properly setup, one maybe two kicks is all mine ever needed. The only downsides to them, and the reasons I sold mine were: maintenance and tire wear on the street. As a commuter I was piling on miles which meant oil changes and service a couple times a month going by Honda's service intervals. Also it just chewed through rear tires at an alarming rate on the street. But I still regret selling mine. Such a beast.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Expedition Leader
You don't "Kick" a 650 to start it, you just push the lever down. I own one and have raced them many times, it's my favorite bike. One only needs to remember the 10 MPH rule - anything below 10 MPH is work, after that it's all fun!

A couple of things to consider,

Gearing - raise the gearing to 15/45. This is the optimum gearing for fast travel and it moves the rear axle to the best handling position.

Air - The 650 wants/needs to breath. If possible, and better exhaust and adding vents to side panel helps a lot, but be sure to remove the intake restrictor.

Jetting - Let me know you altitude and I will send some jetting for you.

Fun bikes that are not afraid of a little snow!


Recommended books for Overlanding


I already have a Keihin fcr-41 carburetor, slip-on exhaust, K&N filter and open side cover so on the power department I'm more than satisfied.

I'm considering doing something to improve cooling though. I'm trying to persuade my wife to start riding motorcycle and had her practicing on the XR Saturday. After 5-10 min of riding on first gear in a parking lot the engine overheated and puked some coolant. First step will be to check the thermostat and by a 1.6 radiator cap.


Last weekend I did the first longer trip on the bike. A friend and I took a two day trip covering around 750 km/466 miles on gravel, logging roads and dirt tracks. With help of a special map with only gravel roads marked and Google earth we managed to make a route where we didn't have to ride tarmac more than maybe 5% of the time.

Quite soon the on the first day we got in to a really tricky situation. There were two gravel roads that weren't connected but only 1,5 km away from each other and based on what we could see on Google Earth there seem to be a path or track. Turned out to be a track from a forest machine and the terrain was quite a challenge. I took us around 2 hours to get the XR and the even heavier GS1200 through. In 28°C and with mosquitos doing their best to drive us nuts this was one of the toughest physical challenges I've gone through. It was brutal. And when you get tired you start doing mistakes. The bike fell over a couple of times and I ran my shin right in to the foot peg when slipping of the kick…

IMG_20150705_144805.jpg DSC_0124.jpg

Anyways eventually we got out and were treated when scenic and fun roads the rest of the day.Although due to the forest incident we were way after our schedule and would't reach our intended destination. We found a nice lake to camp at and could cool off in the water and get a fire started.

DSC_0128.jpg 18867990483_10da3ba060_k.jpg


Last edited: