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Old 18 Jan 2004
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XR & XLR differences

I'm thinking of getting a XR250 for trail riding and have seen an XLR at a good price which has all the extras too however don't want a tamed version of the XR. Are there any differences besides the petrol tank which is steel. for example is the suspension a bit more tame ?

for trail use I usually go for the much more powerfull CRM250 which I love but fancy a go on a 4 stroke, Ive had a go but it seems a bit under powered does anyone have experience of XR/XLR250's, I'd like to do a few enduro's this year so thought the 4 stroke may bee better reliability but again it does seem lacking compared to the CRM which also proved reliable and easy to rebuild.

comments welcomed
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Old 19 Jan 2004
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It sounds as if you're not looking for an adventure/overland type of bike. The XLR will probably be tuned to make less horsepower than the XRR - I haven't ridden an XR250L but in the case of the 650L, it's tuned to make much less power than the R. It's also about 50 pounds heavier, and as far as I know, the same amenities that weight down the XRL are included on the 250L. The suspension is also not tuned for serious trailriding - you'll need to have it revalved and possible put heavier fork springs in if you're going to ride it hard.

So it's not the ultimate trail bike, but a great street legal trail bike nonetheless. And as for reliability, lifespan on XRs is typically many, many years as opposed to CRMs which probably need to be rebuilt numerous times over the course of their ownership.
Wright Bagwell
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Old 21 Jan 2004
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I believe I've owned the bike you're talking about, so here's my experiences;

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Honda made two ranges of dirt bikes, XR and XL. The XR were competition bikes and the XL were street bikes. Just about everything was different between the two ranges, although the engines tended to be developed from the same basic configuration. The XR were more powerful, but had higher seats and lacked road kit. Whereas the XL were lower, slower, but road legal.

The thing is, in this galaxy far far away (Japan) most people bought the street legal version, but longed for the extra power and speed of the competition bikes. So a bright engineer thought of putting the XR engine into an XL frame, and the XRL/XLR was born!

So a couple of years ago I too saw a XR250L for sale at a good price. So I whopped some knobblies and hand guards on it, and it was fantastic. As an introduction to green laning and getting muddy it was brilliant. It's light enough to pull out of a ditch, and fast enough to get you from green lane to green lane before nightfall. I sold it to a mate of mine as his first dirt bike, and he's converted now as well.

Okay, now the downsides,
* It makes very little power, as in 'less than my lawnmower'. Coming from the CRM it will feel sooooo slow.
* It will also feel really really heavy, because compared to a CRM it is heavy.
* Next is the suspension, which is street oriented and would need serious work to make it enduro ready. After a couple of months of ownership I found that I was starting to bottom the suspension out. As my confidence grew so my speed over the ground increased, to the point the suspension couldn't keep up. And I'm not a fast rider.
* Finally it's got a RFVC head, where the camshafts run directly in the head, i.e without bearings. If the previous owner hasn't been too liberal with the oil you might have wear problems with the head. It is possible to have bearings retrofitted, but it's not cheap.

My advice is to stick with the CRM250 for enduros. Whether a 4 stroke is better than a 2 stroke is a debate that could go on for years. In my opinion it's down to personal preference, and if you've been riding 2 stroke for a while then I would stick with it. Really if you want to go 4 stroke you should be thinking of the 400cc class, which with modern bikes is a step up in power whilst keeping the weight close to that of the CRM.

I personally went up to an XR400, which has good suspension and enough power for me at this point. I prefer air cooled bikes because I'm learning and that means I crash a lot. I'm sure I'd have gone through a lot of radiators by now with a water cooled bike. Also the XR400 engine is mature and has built a reputation for being reliable. I have thought about using the XR for overland trips, but the fuel consumption isn't too great. We'll see.

Hope that helps.


'02 Honda Africa Twin
'00 Honda XR400
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