XR650L v XR650R v Tenere
here are some impressions for those that are trying to chose between Jap singles. 3 of us did a tour in Algeria and the impressions come from 4 weeks in the saddle on and off road. I've only briefly ridden the KTM Adventure and BMW F650 so won't comment directly except on perceptions of the Adventure, later.
XR650L imported to UK from Oz. fitted with 40+ litre Acerbis tank for XR600 and custom-made racks (thanks, Ernie at Overland Solutions). for my money, a bike needs 40 litres in Algeria (see KTM below). the racks took Touratech boxes, two 10 litre jerry cans and, even, a 60kg stone rose for a short while. the bike uses the dominator engine in the XR600 chassis and does it very well. I got reasonable fuel consumption (700km on the road before reserve). the suspension is up there with the best for the overlanding job - compliant and yet stable. I inadvertenly took a 4-foot jump fully laden and no drama. it would need more power for rallying, but not for touring. the two bad points are the seat height (very tall) and the amount of work required to fit the tank.
XR650R is awesome fun: the engine and suspension are ready for rallying, but too racey for my liking. it did better than I expected in taking the load and is a gas in sand as it has so much power. for my money, it loses out due to 1000km service interval and max tank size of 27 litres meaning jerries galore. susprisingly, it gave the same consumption as the XR650L.
the tenere (3AJ) was unreliable, but could have been much better with more preparation: the suspension was terrible, it had many punctures and the battery packed up. it needed a new rear shock, rear rim, battery, exhaust, front brake, fork oil ... the fuel consumption and power were adequate. if you got a good one for £1500 and spent £1500 on it, you'd have a reasonable rather than great bike as you'd still only have 23 litres plus jerries galore.
KTM Adventures are by far the most popular bike in Algeria and, if you can hack the jerries, are the best bike straight from the crate. I've only ridden them briefly, but asked a lot of owners and found the suspension and engine to be good and reliable. when KTM/Acerbis/IMS come out with a 40 litre tank, I'll get one!
my awards ...
ready to roll on short pistes: Adventure
nearly ready to rally: XR650R
for the long-haul: XR650L
classic rather than meritorious: Tenere