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  #1  
Old 19 May 2010
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Xr650l

For anybody contemplating a long trip on an XR650L; DON'T DO IT! Four months ago, I took off on an XR650L from Arizona to Ushuaia. These bikes were simply not made for long distance travel. They are uncomfortable, top heavy, slow, and I'm not so sure that they are as mechanically sound as many claim. I am currently stuck in Colombia rebuilding the entire top end due to a lubrication failure. I've been here two and a half months waiting for parts and could have been in Peru by now if I walked! On this same trip, my brother rode a KLR 650 with 40,000 miles and he didn't have any problems. Not only was the KLR more reliable but much more comfortable and could haul much more weight. The XRL is to top heavy to carry much weight. I wish I had taken a KLR and would gladly trade my XRL for one if I could.
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Old 19 May 2010
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oops

Hey sorry to hear that you've had greif!
I do know a few folks who'd say the complete opposite but any machine can have problems!
I had a KLR 650 once and you wouldn't catch me buying another! I now have an XR650L in the workshop! Go figure!
I find it super light after a BMW GS!
Baron Bolton on the hubb will tell you that his XRL did him proud on a recent UK-Magadan-Mexico trip.
What was the actual issue that caused the lubriction faliure?
I have heard that the external oil feed pipe on the xrl motor can sometimes be a little lacking in diameter!
What oil are you using? Is a cooler fitted? How is the level as it's a bugger to check on these?
I hope that you get it sorted mate.
Let us know your progress.
Best of luck.
Dave.
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  #3  
Old 19 May 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LastRide View Post
I am currently stuck in Colombia rebuilding the entire top end due to a lubrication failure.
This is not unusual for Honda-singles, I have been through it myself.
After the rebuild the top end will probably run like a dream for the rest of your trip, good luck!
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  #4  
Old 19 May 2010
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Countless problem free journeys have been done on the 650L and countless more will be.

You were just unlucky. Was in maintained to the book ?? Fiddled with before you bought it ?? It's hard to tell.

If you bought it for a highway cruise, then you can only really blame yourself. It's an offroad bike.

I wouldn't criticise a Harley because it was too heavy for the Paris Dakar rally, only myself for buying the wrong bike for the job.

I'm guessing you did long days on the Pan American highway which is not what the bike is made for.
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  #5  
Old 20 May 2010
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Let me chim here TED!
I agree with some comments here: slow....yes.You will get 120 km/h as cruiser speed no more!
Its not comfy.....yeahh man you hit the nail!
Its....this its that....of course.
Lubrication failure......i think you need to check oil allmost every day after highway use.Thats the secret on this engine.Its dry sump!!!!!!
KLR aren´t but they can destro a top end easy too.
I have a pig(650L) since 1994 with over 100.000 miles on it.
I call my pig "the fart". Why is that? because only the owner likes it!
Good luck on the road Last Ride!
Check oil more often
Karl
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  #6  
Old 7 Jun 2010
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Ok, I'm finally back on the road. What an experience, wouldn't wish that on anyone. You were right Alibaba, after repairs, the bike is running like a dream but Ushuaia is still a long ways away... My confidence is growing with each km but still a bit nervous. I check the oil religiously now, many times a day. We went through the lubrication system at the shop and everything was working to speck. I'm running 20-50 as synthetic is out of sight down here. Any other issues that I should know about?
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  #7  
Old 8 Jun 2010
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Good to hear you got the bike going again.

If only you had done your research on this bike before you left you could have solved a few issues and maybe avoided problems. (maybe) These bikes were very popular in California in the mid 90's. Everyone had one ... including me. On any weekend in Baja you'd see twenty or thirty of them riding around. But they came and went.

1. Comfort
A good after market seat would have solved most of this problem along with bar risers, different bend bars, wider pegs? The stock seat is junk. You should have figured that out in the first 300 miles. Impossible for super long touring. I rode mine on 500 mile days but it nearly killed me.

2. Oil
I've met so many new XR owners who DO NOT know how to properly check the oil on a XR Honda. This is critical and so many riders screw this up.

These bikes react badly to low oil levels. I pitted a cam on an old XL600R (similar motor) in the late 80's in Baja. The dip stick was only half way down from full. These bike DO USE some oil normally when run at high speeds on highways day after day. Nature of beast. Your pre ride research should have turned this up. So keep it full and always check when motor is hot, not just warm. Twice a day is sufficient.

Most owners seem to overfill with oil because they check oil level when bike is not fully HOT (like first thing in the morning), then ADD oil ... and it's too much. This can cause problems too ... like filling air box up with oil, soaking air filter with oil, bike runs crappy after that.

So get the bike fully HOT, shut off and wait one minute. Now check dip stick while parked on level ground, do not screw in dip stick, just insert and pull back out. That is true level.

On this bike high quality synthetic oil will really help everything last longer.
Only use synthetic AFTER motor is broken in using regular mineral oil. (about 3000 miles) Going to synthetic too soon on that Honda will have oil consumption go UP. (indicates rings not seated) Big singles take quite lot of hours to fully break in and stop using oil.

Top Heavy:
No argument there. I never liked the top heavy feel or handling on my '94 XR-L. I bought one new, did a long Baja ride (1400 miles) ... it did good but really was too tall for me and after racing two strokes for many years, was not for me. But over all it did pretty good. Decent travel bike if set up right. I sold mine after only one year.

Slow:
This bike is tricky to jet right. The Carb is not a good match for that motor. But once the mods are done they actually run well. Certainly not fast but will keep up with a KLR, DR650, TT600 ... but not a KTM, Husky or Husaberg.

The XR-L Honda's run very hot and really need an oil cooler, IMHO, especially for over landing. If not, then you should try to change oil every 2000 miles or so, and as mentioned, synthetic oil preferred.

But dozens of really good riders around here rode XR-L's for years doing crazy Baja rides at high speeds, so they have been tested and are generally good if taken care of and if you know the tricks to allow the bike to survive.

Biggest problem was battery box breaking off and rear sub frame bending or breaking off from overloading. Do NOT over load rear rack, sub frame will bend or break. I have seen several break off.

The XR650L Honda fell sharply from popularity when better bikes came along. The Suzuki DRZ400E really knocked the XR-L out of the picture along with Honda's XR400, a better bike in every way. Then came Honda's off road only XR650R which is still popular today as a dirt bike, not so much as a travel bike but some have managed to adapt them. Lots of riders did street legal conversion on this bike. No electric start, but a good bike and miles better than the XR-L, IMO.



Safe riding ... Keep it upright!
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  #8  
Old 13 Jun 2010
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Thanks for the info Mickey D. That's great stuff to know.
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  #9  
Old 10 Dec 2010
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Nice write-up on XR ! I had XR650L and after it was stolen bought XR600R. The biggest issue to me in these bikes is the vibration in the handle bar. My hands get numb in 1.5 hour of riding them on highway.. I never rode KLR but I suppose it would be common issue for all singles..
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  #10  
Old 11 Dec 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4serge View Post
Nice write-up on XR ! I had XR650L and after it was stolen bought XR600R. The biggest issue to me in these bikes is the vibration in the handle bar. My hands get numb in 1.5 hour of riding them on highway.. I never rode KLR but I suppose it would be common issue for all singles..
Hi
My XR vibes but not much.I can read number plates from mirror!!!!!
I rode a KLR recently and man that was imposible! You see on the mirror only a distortioned image.But can change from bike to bike.....
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  #11  
Old 10 May 2012
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Great info Mike, I'm sure that it will help me for years to come with my 2012 XR650L.....

peace
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