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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
Photo by Ellen Delis, Lagunas Ojos del Campo, Antofalla, Catamarca

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Ellen Delis,
Lagunas Ojos del Campo,
Antofalla, Catamarca

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Old 6 Nov 2001
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Honda XR650R? Good for on/off road touring?

Just curious as to what everyones thoughts are on the Honda XR650R or XR650L for on/off road touring. I wont be doing any RTW stuff anytime soon, but did want to do some relatively long distance tours. Is an XR650 setup something like the one below (from Acerbis) a good start? I'd be adding the larger tanks (as shown in the pic) and also miscellaneous racks, bags, etc. Thanks in advance!

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Old 30 Nov 2001
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The XR600 is a great bike. You can't go wrong with one.

OasisPhoto.com – Images from the Magical Sahara.
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Old 11 Dec 2001
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Way off road man! I went to a park with a friend with one (I on my KLR650) and he rode circles around and over me. You'll definately want a bigger tank though. His didn't have an electric starter. He really hated to kill that thing! I'd take one with some small mods. I've been changing my KLR toward the off-road bike; there's no such thing as the perfect bike.

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Old 11 Dec 2001
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The XR650R is a fantastic bike, but it's not really clear what sort of touring you'll be doing. If you spend most of your time on the road, even country highways, you'll probably regret buying this bike unless you get a Corbin seat and a windscreen for it.

But it's the perfect bike if you're going to be offroad almost all the time and want the performance of a racing bike. Otherwise, I'd consider the KLR, a Dakar, a DR or perhaps an Adventure (after putting a Corbin seat on it). The creature comforts will eventually start to win your heart despite the fact that you will sacrifice the ability ride as aggressively off road.

The 650L may be a consideration too - electric start, MUCH better lights than what's available on Baja kits (if you ride at night this is a big deal) and supposedly a much stronger subframe, which is a consideration if you're going to be loading up any heavy panniers.

You can't get the fuel capacity with the 650L that you can for the 650R, but on the other hand if you're not going out across the Sahara, it's probably not needed.

Another thing to consider as well is that an air-cooled bike could be slightly less problematic - you always run the risk of breaking radiators on a water-cooled bike, which can leave you stranded at the most inconvenient times.


Wright Bagwell

Wright Bagwell
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Old 3 Feb 2002
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Most personal replies to the Xr600R, don't bear experience in touring. My XR has spent three years on the US enduro circuit, and last year 3 months travelling through south America to Terra del Fuego.

As a bike the engine proved flawless, with a few exceptions. "pinking" due to the high power ratio was common with all fuel types in latin Ameria, the only solution was to hang back on the throttle and change jets frequently at different altitudes.

The bike is really designed for enduro riding. The stock seat, is a 20 minute seat, problem solved by purchasing a Corbin seat. Be warned the Corbin seat fits poorly and apart from the leather was a terrible manufacture (4 of us travelled and the problem was common on all bikes). Luggage is the next problem, the soft bags fitted really had no where to attach, and a frame had to be built to prevent them swinging onto the back wheel.. The caught fire twice from the exhaust! so make your heat resistance material bomb proof.

Desert Michelins where fantastic tyres, lasting about 7000 miles. The local tyres lasted about 1500 miles.

in 10,000 miles we each went through 3 chains, and 6 chain sliders! It's very difficult trying to purchase these in south america so take them with you. the weight on the suspension, causes this extreme wear, stretching the chain massively.

In hind sight, one of our party rode the XR 650 L, by far the most comfortable, better geared and best prepared for the trip. This would have been the bike to travel on leaving the XR600R, to do what it best at, trail and enduro riding.

Good Luck
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Old 18 Feb 2002
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I have an 01' XR650L with 7000+ miles on it. I ride it in all conditions! That's cruising at 70mph down the hwy (fatiguing), gravel roads (Chris Carr flat-tracking) and tight, whooped eastcoast single track (quite a workout and not advised). Never have done an extended tour on it, but do avg. 200-300 mile days pretty regularly. The stock seat has me squirming after 60-70 miles and the height is tall (I'm 6'0"). The tank is too small for hardcore offroad touring. It has been smogified by the EPA (weight and power loss). O.K., after you spend about $500 for a big tank, corbin seat and a Happy Trails rack, your ready to go just about anywhere. I love this bike. By far my favorite of all the motorcycles I own. No matter the weather nor the abuse I put it through, it starts with a push of a button and is simple as hell to maintain. If I could only have on motorcycle to ride, it would be a big bore dual sport, and I think I found the best compromise between street and dirt. It may not do any one thing great, but it's a dual sport, a compromise. I would buy another in a heartbeat. Just too much fun!

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