For is "older guys" that remember when - 10-12" inches of travel was not even conceivable and a 300 lb bike was acceptable. The 650L is a marvel and would of been thought of as a trick factory works bike (about 30 years ago). As it has been so accurately stated I am sure many times before, depending on the riding that you do = the bike you need...
my 05, 650L is way fun feels light off road, is zippy on trails and has a ton of power and low end grunt. Mishandled it and it WILL mishandle you (as stated before) It is hard to get used to the very tall feel off road in the woods. On the road it is a blast and has power everywhere and effortlessly crusies at 60MPH. Handling is nimble and better than expected for a BIG DS, weight seems not a factor at all on the road. For what it is intended for it is the perfect DS bike IMHO. Proven reliability and engine design makes it a bulletproof ride. The water cooled DR is a nice bike but I have heard that on the road it is buzzy..hard to make up for the extra 250cc that the 650L possess.
When I ride my old 1974 XL350 it is way fun and has good power for an old vintage DS, handling is poor off road and the suspension is horrible with 6" in the front and 2-3" in the rear. We have come a long ways technologically. I admire my 650L, hell I love it! yet ya know there are similarities between the old Honda XL's of yesteryear and the 650L, engine design (SOHC 4-valve head)- anti back pop back valve the carb etc..why mess with a good thing and the 650L since it's inception has sold like aspirins at income tax time. Nuff said.
Hey your XL350 was like a works bike compared to the CL350 I rode off road, the trails got wider on each pass just from me fishtailing, and with those state of the art trials tires you didn't follow the trail you made new ones.