Long Term Review: Honda XR 650

What can be said about Honda’s XR650 that has not already been said many times over? Although arguably not the best bike out there, it is still one of the most versatile bikes available. Like the Swiss Army knife of motorcycles, it manages to always get the job done, no matter what that job is.

We have had our Honda XR650 for over a year now, and it has been ridden hard and put away wet and dirty way too many times. It started its life with one owner who rode it for about 400 miles then stuffed it in a storage unit for 3 years, hence the Lost XR. The Lost XR was bone stock when it made its way into the shop, but we wanted to fit it with the best aftermarket parts available and ride it for a full year to see how these parts would last and what effect they might have.






We started with a call to XR’s Only www.xrsonly.com and provided a list of parts we needed for the big red pig. The first item on the list was a new exhaust system. XR’S Only produce a beautiful pipe and muffler and it works great. Once installed, with a couple of changes to the jetting, the bike really came alive. The sound is outstanding and it really is a work of art with regard to welds and fitment. It also trimmed a few pounds off the bike, which is not particularly light to begin with. Over the course of the last year, these components have shown very small amounts of wear and tear after 8000 miles of riding. We only missed 4 days of riding last winter because of ice so this bike gets ridden a lot.






The next big item we installed was a rear disk protector, and it too is a beautiful component. It does not just bolt on like the factory one but also holds the caliper in place. This is one solid unit and it has taken many hits without any damage. The installation was a breeze and it has really does its job.





The skid plate again is elegantly simple but stout. The welds are perfect and tough as nails. I have slammed this plate many times on rocks and logs with no damage at all. Installation took but a few minutes with no fuss.

I have been on bikes since I was 14 and I still ride hard today. This bike sees a lot of single track and very technical trails up here in Prescott. Because of that, Acerbis hand guards were a must and they have really taken a beating. We also added bar risers and the Renthal CR bars to get the stance a little higher. Rounding out the cockpit, we mounted a Lowrance GPS with preloaded topo maps. Heated hand grips keep my fingers nice and toasty on our cool mountain mornings.








The stock foot pegs were a bit on the narrow side, so we used the XR’S Only wide foot pegs and the front sprocket cover. The wider pegs makes for a nice stable feel and I can move around on the pegs for the right riding position.

The factory lighting on them lights are about the worst of any bike I have ever ridden. I think I could do better with a Bic lighter, so we pulled all the lights off and went with LEDs all the way around. I am running a Baja Design head light right now and have seen that other drivers really pay attention to me when on the road.





We also replace the tiny steel gas tank with a 4 gallon Clarke see through tank. This really added some extra time out on the trail. One of my riding buddies rides a Honda 450X and he seems to think that my bike now is his personal pit stop when he runs dry.

After three years hidden away in a dark storage unit, this bike has made huge changes and is now ridden regularly. The performance has drastically been updated with all the parts we have used, and the look has improved as well. This 650 will run for many years with very minimal maintenance, something that cannot be said for a lot of the bikes on the trail today.






Like the old Swiss Army knife that many carry in their pocket today, the old 650 still stands out as jack of all trades in the dual sport market. It starts in the hot or cold, runs all the time, and can tackle the highway or technical trail without complaint. Be sure to take the time to dial in the suspension for your weight and add some mods that fit your needs and you can’t go wrong.


We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to XR’s Only for their help assembling this parts kit. Without it, this bike would still be good. They helped make it great.


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