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leevtr 3 Oct 2008 15:43

Difference between XR650R/L
 
Hello peeps,
I've been having a scout around ( from the comfort of my arm chair!! ) for an overland/rtw bike, and wanted to know the difference between an XR650R and XR650L. A friend of mine who knows a lot more about dirt bikes than me, said the later red ones were made in spain, and not up to Hondas usual standards. I have owned 5 Honda rode bikes and none of then have ever so much as coughed, so i'm kinda sold on another.

Cheers loads for any advice :thumbup1:

JMo (& piglet) 3 Oct 2008 16:54

Where to start? - they are totally different bikes, sharing only manufacturer, similar name and number of wheels...

XR650L is air cooled, electric start, steel frame, modest (although competent) suspension, fully road legal (ie instruments, key ignition, lights, horn, turn signals etc.) 'trail' or 'dual sport' machine. It can trace it's roots back along a long line of air-cooled thumpers from Honda.

XR650R is water cooled, kick start only (although aftermarket e-start is available), alloy frame, fully adjustable quality suspension, and most are 'enduro' models so only have head and tail light (although some euro spec bikes were supplied with dual beam headlight, brake lights and turn signals). Introduced in 2000, it is essentially an open-class race bike, with few concessions to road use - that said, being a Honda, it is surprisingly competent in a dual sport role.

If you want more specific info about each machine, look at any number of Honda resources on the web. If you want personal opinions on how each bike works as an overland machine, you're in the right place here...

xxx

leevtr 3 Oct 2008 17:26

Sounds like the L model is IDEALLY the one to go for. I was wondering if because the R is an enduro bike primarily, does it have a high maintenence eigine that needs rebuilding regularly, or can it be treated like a road engine ie. 2-3 k between oil changes etc.

JMo (& piglet) 3 Oct 2008 20:10

Hi Lee - yes, you're right in as much as the oil change intervals on the L model are a lot longer. The handbook for the 650R says to change oil every 600 miles! but as I said above, that is primarily in racing conditions. Essentially the XRR has a much smaller oil capacity - only 1.8 litres, so the oil gets worked very hard.

On average I change the oil and filter every 1000 miles in general trail riding conditions, although on my trip to Europe & Morocco this year, I pushed that to around 1800 miles - although the oil was black and thin by then. Ideally you should stick to around 1500 mile (max) changes, and always change the filter too - they are only a few pounds. Otherwise the XRR is pretty low maintenance, valves don't go out of check very often unless you are thrashing it - 6000 mile checks would be fine, longer if you're gentle.

The XR650L is certainly a great travel bike - Chris Scott used one extensively and the Americans particularly love them - cheap, rugged, low maintenance, electric start (don't leave home without one!), but that is the main problem- the 650L is essentially a USA and rest-of-world model, and was never imported into the UK. You might be able to find a grey import on the open market, but they are very rare in the UK.

Personally, having bought an R and prepped it up as a full-on rallye bike (and adventure tourer), there is a lot to recommend it - however, there are far better bikes for distance work, you've got to want to take the tricky route to make the hardcore 650R really worth the effort.

I have just bought a new Yamaha 660 Tenere after years of being dyed in the wool Honda... and the new Ten' is a fantastic machine - everything the XR isn't on the road, and almost as good off-road for the sort of trail riding you might undertake on a solo overland trip... seriously, get finance if you have to, but get one - it's awesome!

xxx

mollydog 3 Oct 2008 21:50

But for common dirt roads

JMo (& piglet) 3 Oct 2008 22:23

Quote:

Originally Posted by mollydog (Post 209532)
How about the weight of the new Tenere' ? I've read a few
reports saying the Ten is a bit of a handful in deep sand, more serious rocks, steep up/down. Since you've owned the R Honda ... what do you think? Could you match your XR650R Honda in technical conditions?

I appreciate your comments ... The Ten sounds like a great travel bike! :thumbup1: Maybe the perfect compromise?

I love the look of the Tenere', and we are all hoping Yam will import it to the USA (they may well do so) I've owned many Yams (used to race YZ250 two strokes, enduro), but I do know that 660 engine is a heavy Mother. We see it here in Quads and old MUZ's. Bit long in the tooth design wise (early 90's) I would think Yam would put a lighter, more modern motor in the Tenere'. (lightly tuned version of the WR450? .... perhaps a 550? :D)

Hi Patrick - don't believe all you read - journalists love to see 183Kg vs. 48bhp and make assumptions... also I imagine they have only ever been ridden on the standard (road orientated) tyres?

Sure the XT660Z is pretty weighty compared to a traditional dual-sport, but it feels a lot lighter than the figures suggest when riding - the weight is carried low, and when you are up on the pegs it is wonderfully manouverable. Remember this bike already has a 23 litre tank, fairing, decent lights, big battery, full instrumentation, pillion pegs and luggage worthy rear subframe. Add all that to a DR or XR or a KTM 640 and the weight is getting close to the same?

To answer your initial question - compared to my XR650R which has the 6 gallon acerbis tank, AQ fairing and nav gear fitted, sure the XR is a little more lithe, and is certainly more eager performance wise, and I'm sure is still 20Kg lighter - but in the real world, trail and overland riding, there is not much in it - you could take the Tenere anywhere you'd realistically expect to take a faired/big tank off-roader, and the XT is vastly more comfortable on the highway. I've not ridden the XT in really nadgery terrain as yet, but assume the XRR would have the edge, if only due to the better suspension and little less weight.

I agree the engine is 'old-school' compared to many of the current generation machines (not least the new KTM690 Enduro), but I think that is part of the equation - the XT660 lump is proven and dead reliable - 12,000 mile valve checks and 6000 mile oil changes - makes a big difference on a travel bike, which essentially this is? A WR engine, although very reliable as a race bike, just wouldn't have the same 'fit and forget' ability in that respect. The Tenere will lug along all day off road in second gear - plenty of torque and smooth delivery from the efi - it is a gem in that respect.

And personally I'd say 48bhp is plenty for the sort of riding the Tenere was designed for, it's not a racer after all (although I hear some wags are racing a couple in the upcoming Dakar in South America - that should be interesting to see!). It won't light many fires, but it just gets on with the job with a quiet confidence. As a travel buddy isn't that is exactly what you want?

xxx

ps. I agree with you about the DR650SE - it would be my choice over the XR650L too I think, although even harder to come by for Leevtr in the UK!

ssa2 3 Oct 2008 22:50

Honda XR650L
 
I have owned two of these one was a 2003 and one is a 2005. Have put about 14,000 miles on each of them. Not bad bike for the money. I took the second one to Prudhoe Bay Alaska from Minnesota. Had trouble with breaking frames as the back end is pretty much made to hold the tail light. That is the end that I broke twice. But when you are taking a month trip you will have it loaded more than it is designed for. Pretty easy to fix as I had it welded in Mexico once and I did it myself the second time. I have also driven a KLR 650 to the Panama canal and the Honda is a better bike but the problem is not to many make anything for it. The KLR has more people making things for it. I have had problems with overheating on the interstate highways at 70MPH for long distances with 90 degree air outside. Oil temp goes up to 225 pretty easy and on long trip it will push 275 which is hotter than regular oil shoud get. Same quality Honda as far as I can tell. Larry

mollydog 4 Oct 2008 01:40

Stop!! Stop!! I picked the 100 lbs.

JMo (& piglet) 4 Oct 2008 02:28

Hee hee - Patrick, I fear we are guilty of hi-jacking a Honda thread with all this talk of Yamaha and Suzuki!

But to answer your questions (and hopefully convince Leevtr that the new Ten' is the way to go, especially as he is in the UK and there are a couple still for sale in Carlisle I believe...)

• You're right about UK bike journalists, they tend to compare everything to the latest sports bike, and the vast majority have limited if any experience riding off-road. I'm actually a freelance contributor to TBM magazine (amongst others) in the UK, who specialise in dirt bikes and adventure riding.

That said, most of the press in the UK has been surprisingly positive, once they've actually ridden the bike... many test it against the Honda Transalp 700 and the new BMW 800GS, and it still gets a good review in that company - the conclusion being that if you genuinely want to do some off-road riding, the Tenere is the pick of the three.

• I know what you're saying about weight, but really, the Tenere is very well equipped right out of the crate, the only thing you need to add is some hand guards and a more comprehensive trail tool kit (which is what I've done), then it's good to go. I'd go so far to suggest that the extra weight also helps with stability with luggage on board, as the % difference is not so great? Certainly that seems to be what the BMW crowd say... x

• As for comfort, while the magazines don't really mention it (maybe they don't ride all that far?) one complaint from owners on the XT660.com site is that the seat can be a bit uncomfortable. I think the problem stems from Yamaha scooping out the rider's part a little too much? Presumably in an effort to get the seat height down a little (although for those used to riding dirt bikes, it is not so intimidating). Not only does it make the padding a bit thin, but it produces a marked step in the seat that some rides don't like as they can't move around so much. Personally I find it ok (but not brilliant), and the step actually makes quite a nice perch when you are semi-standing off-road.

• As for crash worthiness - fortunately I have yet to find out, although it did drop off the sidestand the other day on an incline (my fault). The plastic 'cheeks' on the edge of the tank are essentially sacrificial (and pretty robust at the same time), protecting the main tank in the event of a fall. If they do get damaged they can be replaced as a pair for around £30.

The fairing/screen is narrow enough not to hit the ground in a sideways tumble, and likewise the exhaust cans are tucked in very neatly under the seat, and the large plastic grab handles will take the brunt of any fall at the rear.

The body work is painted rather than self-coloured plastic, so it will show scratches eventually, although my black bike has black plastic underneath, so the visual impact should be minimal.

As you surmise, it seems a very well thought out machine, especially for the price (it's considered very cheap for a new bike in the UK). One neat touch is the clutch cover has a small protective plate over the lower edge, to stop any damage from the brake lever in the event of a fall. The gear lever is spring tipped and steel (so can be bent back into position in a serious crash). The bike comes with braced alloy bars, that look like Renthals but are a copy. Some say they are weak in comparision, but that might just be with the weight of a 183Kg bike on them?! No matter, Renthal etc. are a straight swap replacement should they get bent.

• I agree with your thoughts about a new engine, same goes for the XR650R - it's a big old lump of an engine, and no matter how many fancy wheels, forks and shocks you fit to a bike, the engine and frame make up the majority of the weight.

The Tenere engine is large, and the frame is steel. The KTM 640 Adventure used to weigh in at 158Kg in a similar specification, so it is possible. But like I say, the Tenere carries it's weight well on the move, it's only a struggle picking the bastard up!

• The bike comes with a huge Euro 3 compliant catalyst exhaust, I'm sure losing that would save a few Kg, and even liberate a couple more hp? - it would certainly feel less 'bunged up'. As for mpg. The tank holds 23 litres, which is just over 5 UK gallons. I reckon you've got a range of around 300 miles on that, so around 60mpg would seem reasonable? - maybe a touch more if you are gentle.

xxx

djorob 5 Oct 2008 12:36

Xrl 650
 
2 Attachment(s)
Hi leevtr.
I'm a fan of the XR650L as you can sometimes be very glad you have an old school air cooled bike in some parts of the world!
There are lots of used parts (The XR600R shares most things chassis wise) on ebay and the motor is found in the Dominator, SLR, FMX, ect. Also a few generic XR parts are common as well.
The steel frame needs a bit of bracing if you are carrying luggage as the constant thrashing it will get off road will stress it heavily.
I have just finished bracing an XRL frame for just this reason (see pic).
As mentoned, the XR650R is angled as more of a rece/enduro machine with it's ally frame and kick only (electric start is a REAL bonus on nthe XRL).
The battery box on the XRL sits just in the right place to get smashed by rocks (left hand side opposite the tailpipe) as it is plastic so a steel replacement would be a good idea.
An xr250/400 oil cooler will graft on pretty well and large tanks are pretty common too.
They are hard to find in the UK but they are about and you can pick up a bargain sometimes too.
Let me know how you get on bud.
Dave.

Baron Bolton 5 Oct 2008 19:24

DJO you little ripper
 
That frame looks sexual, good job mate. I'll stick by you with the XRL praise, primarily because I've never ridden an XT, F800 or anything else discussed here! :-)

I'm trying to negotiate a deal to import an XRL from NY this week, pretty much new, and I fancy going through the Prep thing all over again for some reason!

So if anyone wants a slightly over priced, overland prepared 2004 XRL, give me a shout!

Sorry, off topic.

MollyDog, you certainly seem to be a fountain of knowledge on here, on almost an hourly basis! Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom.

Fenian 7 Oct 2008 16:55

Quote:

Originally Posted by JMo (& piglet) (Post 209556)
• I agree with your thoughts about a new engine, same goes for the XR650R - it's a big old lump of an engine, and no matter how many fancy wheels, forks and shocks you fit to a bike, the engine and frame make up the majority of the weight. The engine is large, and the frame is steel. The KTM 640 Adventure used to weigh in at 158Kg in a similar specification, so it is possible. But like I say, the Tenere carries it's weight well on the move, it's only a struggle picking the bastard up!

•xxx

hey ya JMo!
This thread is pretty interesting and Im learning more about the Tenere which I dont believe I have ever seen in Canada. You refered the to XR650R as having an old lump of an Engine and a steel frame. I believe you were refering to the XR650L though. the R as I know it is aluminum frame and a race bred engine, and cool differnetly. Ones oil other is air. justthough I would see if maybe I read it wrong or you meant to say the L not the R.

Keep the info coming though guys,:thumbup1: Im looking for a bike, and am still trying to decide which one and for what uses will it be used regularly and what uses seldomly.

Fenian:mchappy:

JMo (& piglet) 7 Oct 2008 18:12

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fenian (Post 209997)
hey ya JMo!
This thread is pretty interesting and Im learning more about the Tenere which I dont believe I have ever seen in Canada. You refered the to XR650R as having an old lump of an Engine and a steel frame. I believe you were refering to the XR650L though. the R as I know it is aluminum frame and a race bred engine, and cool differnetly. Ones oil other is air. justthough I would see if maybe I read it wrong or you meant to say the L not the R.

Keep the info coming though guys,:thumbup1: Im looking for a bike, and am still trying to decide which one and for what uses will it be used regularly and what uses seldomly.

Fenian:mchappy:

Hi Fenian - sorry I wasn't clear - the engine and frame I was referring to in your quote was the Tenere (I should have put the reference to the XXR in brackets to more clearly differentiate, and written Tenere again when talking about the steel frame). I used the XRR reference as a number of owners spend a great deal of money trying (in vain) to make their Pigs a bit lighter, but the fundamentals still remain. While XRR engine is not an old lump, it is heavy compared to the newer generation of open class thumpers. The Sorry for any confusion...

xxx

ps. I've edited my original post to make it clearer - thanks for pointing it out x

Fenian 7 Oct 2008 21:36

Ah, thats cool man. I was at work, and was sorta rushing through the posts, before the Captain came in. So I might have missed or misread stuff. I find the DS/Enduro Bike selection seems to be the hardest of choices. So many variables. but Im enjoying the data people are giving.
:clap:FENIAN

BCK_973 10 Oct 2008 20:34

Yes that is a orgasmic job! More pictures,need to know what the front bracket is for?
That frame doesn´t look good on that couch!(deserves a dirt mountain road)
Let us know a bit more of your proyect here
Karl


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