Should I modify my xr650l or get a new bike?


18 replies to this topic
  • Craigur

Posted March 28, 2006 - 03:48 PM

#1

Here we go again, another thread on what could be the better big bore. I'm 49 and got back into riding a year ago after a 20 year leave. I bought a 96' xr650l because I wasn't sure about what the current state of affairs were then in regards to current technology. I figured I would ride it for a while and then see what would suite me the best. This is where I’m at, I love the xr650l, it’s an amazing bike, although, I’ve found that I have one problem while riding it. It’ll do anything I ask it to do but when it comes to going up steep hills with turns and possible rocky or sandy conditions, the bike is scary because of it’s somewhat limited turning abilities. What I’ve done so far is I’ve raised the forks 13 mm and I’ve geared it down to 13/48 on the sprockets and things still feel scary in this situation. In regards to my riding skills they're still on the week side, I'm only getting out maybe once a month so they'll be slow in coming.... In regards to dual sporting, I liked the idea of having that capability when I bought the bike but everybody I'm riding with only wants to do dirt and desert riding... Which is Ok I guess, licensing and insuring the bike seems to be an extra expense I'm not taking advantage of... Even though I love the bike and I’m ready to trick it out, I love my family more and I want to come back to them in one piece. So here’s my question, is there something I can do to this bike to get to where I feel comfortable handling the type of situations that I’ve described? Or, the other option I’ve been thinking about doing is selling it and buying a wr450f, please feel free to post your thoughts about what I should do.

  • 2000 xr650r

Posted March 28, 2006 - 05:11 PM

#2

If you never ride on the street, you should have looked into the 650r. But in regards to the riding you are doing you may need a wr450f or crf450x. If i was you, i'd keep the L and get a secondary bike so if you wanted to dual-sport later. If your funds are short, just save save save till you get enough. Thats my 2cents.

  • ewbish

Posted March 28, 2006 - 06:23 PM

#3

First off, put those forks back where they were, that's half your problem. Put good quality fork oil in 'em, no air, and put a front brace on it. Replace the 12 lbs of crap on back with a Maier MX fender and a BD LED brake/tail light. Dump the factory light for a Diablo, and dump the odo/speedo for a enduro comp. This is all I did, and I race mine.

In fact, I just raced a Hare n Hound this weekend that was 80% sand and 20% rock. I walked all over CRF's and YZF's. In the big sand washes, it wasn't even a competition, I was running at 85mph and passing them left and right. In fact, I passed a lot of guys on "better" bikes, all the way up 'til I missed a marker and went screaming off into the desert, ending with a 30 minute search for the course. If they put guidance systems on CRF's, I might look at them;-)

FYI, passed 4 riders in the race with pissing radiators-that's 4 free positions in my book.

  • XR_mad

Posted March 28, 2006 - 06:41 PM

#4

if anything you should be lowering the forks... and is the bike setup properly for your weight and height?

  • snaggleXR650

Posted March 28, 2006 - 06:47 PM

#5

Ewbish is correct.

I do alot of riding with guys on stripped and dirtified L's. They have no problems keeping up with me on my R, and we (R's and L's, old school, overweight pig bikes) have no problem keeping up with the shinier, newer, better, lighter CRF250X's and KTM 200 EXC's.

There is a saying that goes something like "...95% rider, 5% bike..." This is pretty much true.

Wear proper protective gear, MX boots, gloves, helmet, knee and upper body armor etc... Get TONS of riding time in. Your skills will develop and your confidence will grow. If you are scared while riding, you don't need to be riding. When you are scared you are thinking about the hospital and stuff, NOT doing what you're supposed to be doing, RIDING. This goes for whatever bike you have, or any riding that you are doing.

  • Craigur

Posted March 28, 2006 - 07:04 PM

#6

Alot of what I'm hearing sounds good, I can see that my skill has improved quite a bit over the one year I've riden so far, and I know I have more to learn... In regards to Hare n Hound races and flat out desert races I know I have the bike for that and I love that part of it. I know I can also rocket straight up a hill. The only thing I'm having trouble with is the real technical aggresive hill climbing... Hills that have turns with rocky boulders combined with some sandy spots... In regards to adjustments I've already done the sag adjustment, but what else can I do to the bike in particular for turning and navigating in these dificult hill climbs that we can find up in the Calif. high desert...Thanks for the responses so far, keep them coming if you're up for it...

  • BigBoreRacing

Posted March 28, 2006 - 09:09 PM

#7

[COLOR=Red]Jack up the "XR650" pull the "L" out and park an "R" under it :thumbsup: [/COLOR]

  • Jayzonk

Posted March 28, 2006 - 09:20 PM

#8

I think the fact that the bike is so tall is what is giving you problems on the hills. On my L, I lose a bit of confidence on the steep stuff, especially if I have to navigate around a few things. Taller, with a lot of weight centered high on the bike seems like it's the issue to me. Sounds like you'd be better off with something lighter. Even smaller than a CRF450. Maybe the 250 is right, depending on your weight.

  • Wheels up

Posted March 29, 2006 - 04:28 AM

#9

I love my 650 L in the tight and rocky stuff. Im also 6'4'' 215 lbs. I can touch in any situation or terrain and it works great. I would say if you are of the shorter build get a CRF 250 or 450 cc. X or R model. The 450's work great.

If I were you I would get the WR or CRF model.

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  • rkuckkahn

Posted March 29, 2006 - 08:55 AM

#10

I'm 6-3, 200 lbs. It took me a while to get adjusted to the 650L. I'd give it some time. True it is heavier, taller but I found that I need the pulling power and height. I get on one of the smaller, lighter bikes now and feel like there's nothing there. 650R is great too but I wanted to use mine on the road too. R's can be tough to get street legal.

Personally I'd stick with it a while it should come around for you as it did with me. The bike, actually any bike, gets smaller the more you ride it.

  • roadcam

Posted March 29, 2006 - 09:17 AM

#11

I went with the KOUBA-Link, lowered bike about 1.5", and Corbin seat (poor workmanship) lowered it another inch, at least ... made all the difference ... :thumbsup:

  • ride no evo

Posted March 29, 2006 - 09:53 AM

#12

I think the fact that the bike is so tall is what is giving you problems on the hills. On my L, I lose a bit of confidence on the steep stuff, especially if I have to navigate around a few things. Taller, with a lot of weight centered high on the bike seems like it's the issue to me. Sounds like you'd be better off with something lighter. Even smaller than a CRF450. Maybe the 250 is right, depending on your weight.


It is tall and the most problems I have had is with turning on a hill due to the height/weight of the bike. I dont think that you are going to find a bike that will do everything, more nimble will lose some streetability and what ever. If the L is paid for keep it, they are bomb proof and you dont have a payment. If you need something more woodsy save up!!!

Either way just get out and ride!!!!!

  • pigryder

Posted March 29, 2006 - 10:41 AM

#13

Dude Im 5'10 160lbs and have both the L and the R and I ride really technical rocky trails, hil climbs, and single tracks and wouldnt want any other bike than my bigbore 650s, Ive been riding for about 20 years and its experience that makes it what it is, a few of the guys I ride with dont even want to ride my 650 it just scares them! What Im trying to say is you need more seat time even if its putting around the yard!

  • Rover31

Posted March 29, 2006 - 11:09 AM

#14

I gotta go with ebwish & snaggle here, a lot people dog the xr650L but put it on a diet set the susp up and you can fly past others.
I just bought a 300EXC and yeah it's way fast handles better, is lighter and all of that but when the XRL is set up proper it is great it,s a better all around bike.
Spend your money on a fork brace and gold valves frt & rear and you will be very happy and faster, than if you just bought a big bore.
Travis
That said I have to sell my XR675L want it?

  • ewbish

Posted March 29, 2006 - 11:43 AM

#15

Alot of what I'm hearing sounds good, I can see that my skill has improved quite a bit over the one year I've riden so far, and I know I have more to learn... In regards to Hare n Hound races and flat out desert races I know I have the bike for that and I love that part of it. I know I can also rocket straight up a hill. The only thing I'm having trouble with is the real technical aggresive hill climbing... Hills that have turns with rocky boulders combined with some sandy spots... In regards to adjustments I've already done the sag adjustment, but what else can I do to the bike in particular for turning and navigating in these dificult hill climbs that we can find up in the Calif. high desert...Thanks for the responses so far, keep them coming if you're up for it...


I imagine your CA high desert is probably a lot like AZ's high desert-mix of rocks, sand, and lots of very steep elevation changes. I'll say again, get those forks back where they belong. By raising the forks in the triples, you've shortened the rake even more on a bike that's already pretty short for its height, and it put's it in a "stink bug" stance-this leads to that feeling of instability in off camber hill turns. There's a line just under the fork cap, line that up with the top of your triples, and make sure both forks are perfectly even. If you've never serviced your forks, get that OEM junk out of them. That all by itself will make a huge difference. I run 20ozs of Honda's good synthetic 8-10wt in each fork. I don't run air, and in fact you'll want to bleed them off after about every hour or 2 of riding as they'll pump up. I use a RWS fork brace, can't say enough good thinks about that either, but the cheapest and easiest "fix" is service those forks. I prefer very soft compression damping, so my clickers on the shock and the forks are only a couple of clicks off from full soft. Set your race sag AFTER you set up your front forks. Look at your bar and lever position as well, the stock bars are junk and feel funky, I'm running Fly bars, and run them back just a bit, with my levers adjust nearly pointing at the ground-everything lines up perfectly standing. I'd also evaluate how you are attacking the difficult technical stuff. Are you off the seat? Good, now, are your legs hugging the bike? Clench the bike with your knees, not your hands! Once you ditch the junk on the back fender, you will be able to move around the bike a lot more-this will make a world of difference in the really rough stuff, especially when navigating a steep downhill turn, you can get your butt much farther back on the bike.

In tight sand track, the pig is a handful. I've found I get my best results in this stuff by climbing up on the tank and keeping weight on the front for turns, then shift back coming out. When I'm in nasty rocks, especially on a hill, I imagine if I rolled a ball through it, which route would that ball follow? And that's the line I pick.

Yah, it's big and heavy, but it's air cooled and bullet proof.

  • ghoti

Posted March 29, 2006 - 01:23 PM

#16

And don't forget to steer with the throttle. I've found the bike responds to aggressive moves very well. Meaning if you're unsure of what to do the bike will go where it wants. So like everyone else said get out there and ride. If technical climbs make you uncomfortable avoid them until your confidence is better.

  • Rover31

Posted March 29, 2006 - 07:12 PM

#17

And don't forget to steer with the throttle

And with a set of dunlop 606 (the best front DOT I have found yet) the front tries to tuck, apply throttle & ride away!
Travis

  • BOLT Performance

Posted March 30, 2006 - 04:15 AM

#18

Sell me the bike and go buy the WRF... Thats the best solution !

  • SDBSKI

Posted April 01, 2006 - 04:09 PM

#19

I thought dropping the forks is better for the technical stuff and stock is better for whoops. I tried both and it seems to handle better in tight stuff with them dropped. Has anyone else tried this?





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