XR-L for Touring?


21 replies to this topic
  • xr4venture

Posted April 10, 2007 - 09:29 AM

#1

This is a bit long, but I want to give you some background before asking you if the XR650L (or DR650 if you don't mind commenting on the Suzuki in this forum) would make a good dual-sport tourer for me.

I currently own a BMW R1200GS and an XR400....

My first foray in the dirty world on a motorized bike was on the BMW (I spend lot of time mountain biking - my other passion) - and I loved it... I like being able to ride hundreds or thousands of miles carrying all my gear (tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear, etc) over asphalt and dirt... and in some cases, when I get to a place like Moab, strip all the gear off the bike and head out for an epic ride (to steal the term from Speed Channel), like the White Rim Trail.

Late last year I took a good spill on the BMW, no injuries... but the bike needed some mostly cosmetic repairs and a new front brake master cylinder/reservoir... all in all, a few grand to repair (I went for the gold since I was making an insurance claim). And it hit me - I'm getting a little too aggressive in the dirt for the BMW, and I should get a real dirt bike if I want to play more.

So I got a used XR400 - what a blast! It's so easy to ride off-road compared to the BMW! The problem is, I always want to take the XR, and the poor BMW sits in the garage. But I can't tour on the XR400... not my kind of tourer...

So, the question, can the XR650L be a good tourer for me.... I don't care if it can cruise at 80mph all day... I want to be able to load all my camping gear on the back, ride the asphalt at 70mph for 500+ miles over multiple days, and then strip off all the touring gear and have that epic ride... Would you take an XR-L from CA to Utah or Colorado, carrying all your camping gear? How does the XR handle high ambient temps - like 100+ deg?

I've read that the XR-L has a weak subframe that limits it's ability to carry a load on the rear.... so I'm not sure if it could handle 1000's of miles with all my camping gear.

The other issue I've heard is the oil capacity, which makes the long distance stuff a problem... Can it go cruise the asphalt at speed for many hours with high ambient temps? How about long dirt days with high ambient temps? Oil capacity is an issue here right?

So an alternative to the XR-L is the DR650.... the DR is suppose to have a stronger subframe, and had no issues carrying a load on the back... the DR also has a larger oil capacity and even an oil cooler... basically, the DR seems like it has been designed for the longer haul, but has given up some off-road ability. The off-road abilities of the XR-L are what keeps me looking at it over the DR.

Which do you think would work better for me, the XR-L or the DR?

Sorry for the long post. Thanks for any input....

  • goblin127

Posted April 10, 2007 - 09:42 AM

#2

I have never driven my XRL as far as you intend to,but I would not think the bike is not up to it . These bikes after all are used all over the world in some real nasty places. The big issue I can see is where to put all your stuff. Rear sub frame is an issue ,but there is a rear rack available. I have a small tank bag for mine and there is a bigger one available. I use a wolf man beta rear bag that has other options available to carry quite a bit more mostly as the rear seat is the suport. Check wolf man products out.

  • evomx971

Posted April 10, 2007 - 12:31 PM

#3

In my opinion, 100-200 miles in a day is ok but a 500 mile day would be tough. I have a Happy Trails rack with a Givi plate on my L and it seems to handle my big top box with my laptop and stuff it in fine. I'm comfortable my L would cruise pretty happily at 70 all day. Lack of wind protection, the seat and vibration I think are the big detractors from big mileage.

Have you considered the KLR650? It sounds perfect for what you're talking about. It's not an R400 but would be better than the GS and I know guys put huge miles on their KLR's. Huge aftermarket for the KLR's too.

  • xr4venture

Posted April 10, 2007 - 05:25 PM

#4

I am looking for something more dirt worthy than the KLR... yeah the KLR is better then the GS, but it's still not really fun in the dirt...

If the GS is 90/10 (street/dirt), I'd put the KLR at 80/20 or 70/30.... is there a 50/50? I am thinking the DR is more 50/50 or 40/60... I think it has a counter balancer to reduce vibrations - which might help with some engine buzziness over long distances....

The XR-L doesn't have a counter-balancer, right?

Everything I am reading is pushing more to the DR.... except I love my XR400 and I think the XR-L would be as much fun, with more road ability... but maybe not enough for my needs...

Thanks for your input....

  • wheelnut46

Posted April 11, 2007 - 06:27 PM

#5

I am looking for something more dirt worthy than the KLR... yeah the KLR is better then the GS, but it's still not really fun in the dirt...

If the GS is 90/10 (street/dirt), I'd put the KLR at 80/20 or 70/30.... is there a 50/50? I am thinking the DR is more 50/50 or 40/60... I think it has a counter balancer to reduce vibrations - which might help with some engine buzziness over long distances....

The XR-L doesn't have a counter-balancer, right?

Everything I am reading is pushing more to the DR.... except I love my XR400 and I think the XR-L would be as much fun, with more road ability... but maybe not enough for my needs...

Thanks for your input....


Bah - I tried them both and I bought the XRL. because with the DR:
The seat is uncomfortable.
The suspension needs to be worked over to compare to the XR.
The gas tank is only 1/2 gallon larger - no big deal.
Less suspension travel.
Less ground clearance.
Oil cooler hung on side like an afterthought - OUCH - that still scares me.
and it's not red.

  • bcone

Posted April 11, 2007 - 07:45 PM

#6

:thumbsup: I'm confused. It seems that you have bikes that will do what you want. One for touring and another for dirt. Why try and get one bike that will be a comprimise and do either poorly when you have excellent bikes that fit the bill. Unless your running out of money or room I don't see the point. :ride: As for the XRL I think it's a great all arounder, but I cannot imagine trying to carry luggage and ride 500 miles on one :worthy: . If you do, you will need the 6gal tank.

  • Jeff@TheQuadShop

Posted April 12, 2007 - 04:15 AM

#7

Here is some good reading on long distance travel on an XRL http://www.trailscou...m/Resources.htm

  • xr4venture

Posted April 12, 2007 - 07:30 AM

#8

:thumbsup: I'm confused. It seems that you have bikes that will do what you want. One for touring and another for dirt. Why try and get one bike that will be a comprimise and do either poorly when you have excellent bikes that fit the bill. Unless your running out of money or room I don't see the point. :p As for the XRL I think it's a great all arounder, but I cannot imagine trying to carry luggage and ride 500 miles on one :worthy: . If you do, you will need the 6gal tank.


If I could find a way to tow the XR behind the GS, then I would be very happy :ride:

You're right, it is a compromise... but at the moment the off-road aspects of the bike are almost as important to me as the on-road... and while the GS will carry me to where I want to go very comfortably, when I get there the off-road abilities are lacking.... don't get me wrong, it can handle the dirt - and 100hp can be fun off-road :ride: ... but 500+ lbs is a handful... and the repair bill can be :lol:

I figure, maybe I can give something up on the road ability, and gain a bit on the off-road ability.....

  • creeky

Posted April 12, 2007 - 08:07 AM

#9

Have to agree with the majority, the XRL 650 will be a little tiresome on 500 mile days, but if you are up to it the XRL definitely is, it is pretty bullet proof with regular maintainance. This website offers a really neat luggage rack, click on "adventure riding". www.turbocity.com

  • TREADMARKS

Posted April 12, 2007 - 08:21 AM

#10

I love my XRL, but 500 miles a day is a lot to ask from a big single.

Some things that I have added in the past that you may wish to consider:

A windshield would be nice but it is a pita off road, so you may want to consider a sport fairing or some sort of a deflector. It would help reduce fatigue some, but would not really get in the way off road.

The vibes at freeway speeds can add to you fatigue. Make sure your wheels are balanced properly. A barsnake, gel grips and gel gloves would provide some relief.

I bought a two step seat that is firm and higher in the back. This gives me a freeway position towards the back that lets me lean forward to get out of the wind, and a city/off road position that is close to the tank. There are also some highway pegs that mount up front that will help you change leg positions to minimize leg fatigue.

Put your tools in a detachable front fender bag, and get the touratech bar bag to store things you may need while driving. A small tank bag can also help out. Happy trails makes a robust rear rack that would support a trunk, and small throw over saddle bags for a buell blast will hold quite a bit without needing any hardware.

An oversize tank like the Clarke 4.7 gal will increase your range while directing more air to the motor for cooling.

I think Scotts makes an auto oiler for the drive chain. Get the touring model as it holds enough to automatically lube your chain for 4-5000 miles before needing a refill.

Jag makes a ten row vertical oil cooler that you can mount in the wind which will increase your oil capacity by about a quart (including lines). A switched PC fan attached to the oil cooler will allow you to keep everything cool if caught in traffic or tight trails.

LED blinkers and tail light will consume less power and allow you to mount a power jack or two near the dash for a GPS and tunes, while still providing enough power for charging of the battery.

The Avon Distanzia is a great highway tire for wet or dry, and still gets pretty good traction on fire trails and backroads.

Don't forget Dave's mods and/or proper uncorking. This will give better mileage and run cooler at the same time!

Hope this helps.

Visit the ThumperTalk Store for the lowest prices on motorcycle / ATV parts and accessories - Guaranteed
  • MrFurious

Posted April 21, 2007 - 05:53 PM

#11

Another option might be the KTM 950 Adventure? From what I've read they seem to be the most off-road capable (non XR) touring friendly dual-sport out there. A little heavy for flicking around in the tight stuff, but they work great in the desert.

http://www.motorcycl...?ArticleID=2850

Also, here's a good read comparing the XRL to the BMW F650GS

http://www.motorcycl...px?ArticleID=71

Finding a bike that will excel at both touring and off-road is probably going to be impossible, but I think it would be much easier to modify a more off-road oriented bike to be more touring friendly than vice-versa.

  • gregman_1

Posted April 21, 2007 - 06:55 PM

#12

I have an older Clarke 4 gallon tank and I have one niggle-to access all the gas you need to stop and tilt the bike over on the left side to get all the gas on the right side over to the petcock. The added capacity is very welcome though. I have not been able to take the XR out on any long rides yet, but I used to do 400 mile Sundays on my DRZ400, and the XR is a Cadillac compared to that thing, so I assume long weekends would be no problem. The XR is waaay more capable than a DR stock, especially in the suspension department.

  • Murman NT

Posted April 23, 2007 - 07:50 AM

#13

I've made regular 3-4 hour trips on mine, but 2 hrs is basically my comfort zone, then I stop to walk off the vibration induced "Monkey Butt". Hence, 500 in a day is a stretch.

I run a set of Nelson Riggs bags, and they sit level with the seat so that a tent and sleeping bag are no prob to mount above.

Due to two melted side plates, I had an aluminum bar fabbed up to keep the bags off the muffler. It runs from the rt blinker to the rt pass footpeg, and I just squeeze it on. It's got "U"'s cut in each end, so I just sort of clip it into place. It's about 2" wide, but if I was doing it again I'd go wider.

I was looking for a KLR when I bought my L, because I assumed I'd be more road than dirt, which I am, but I'm happy with my L, and won't be changin' anytime soon.

My 2 cents.

  • x32792

Posted June 21, 2007 - 04:52 AM

#14

Doesn't look like any ONE bike does everything well or is ready to go fresh out of the box.

The DR650, KLR650 and XR650L all have 650cc and weight about the same.

One of the appealing features (to me) on the DR650 is ability to lower the seat to 33" without having to buy aftermarket lowering links. A small thing, but nice.

The KLR 650 is a Cult Classic, but who wants to buy a bike and then have to rebuild it? Addressing all the known issues is no small task.

From what I have read, the XR650L only needs a skid plate, lowering links, rack, Corbin seat, larger tank, magnetic drain plug, and you're good to go.

  • martinfan30

Posted June 21, 2007 - 10:18 AM

#15

iuse my xrl for sport touring. last trip was 500 miles over 4 days. with wolfman bags, tent, chair, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, food, cooking supplies, fishing rod/tackle and various other items of mass destruction. no problemo for the big squealer! i have pics if interested.

  • murgatroid42

Posted June 25, 2007 - 10:12 PM

#16

...So, the question, can the XR650L be a good tourer for me.... I don't care if it can cruise at 80mph all day... I want to be able to load all my camping gear on the back, ride the asphalt at 70mph for 500+ miles over multiple days, and then strip off all the touring gear and have that epic ride... Would you take an XR-L from CA to Utah or Colorado, carrying all your camping gear? How does the XR handle high ambient temps - like 100+ deg?

I've read that the XR-L has a weak subframe that limits it's ability to carry a load on the rear.... so I'm not sure if it could handle 1000's of miles with all my camping gear.

The other issue I've heard is the oil capacity, which makes the long distance stuff a problem... Can it go cruise the asphalt at speed for many hours with high ambient temps? How about long dirt days with high ambient temps? Oil capacity is an issue here right?....

Yes, yes, yes, you can tour on an XR650L. BTDT. The bike will do it. Here's my bike at the start of a 7 day, 1500 mile ride throughout Colorado. My first day was 400 miles, mostly on pavement before getting to the good stuff:
Posted Image

Or how about riding from Colorado to Montana and back?
Posted Image

You are right, the rear subframe only holds 10 lbs. Either reinforce it, don't get any Big Air, or pack well. The secret is in how you pack - heavy stuff up front, light stuff on the rear. I had saddlebags, and put the heavy stuff (tools, etc.) down low and towards the front of the bike in the saddlebags. The stuff on the rear is a bulky but very light sleeping bag. If you put most of the weight over the rear part of the seat (which was designed for a passenger), then you are OK.

Most thumpers will use oil when run at 70+ for a long distance. Bring a quart of oil for your trip. I added about a half quart in 1500 miles. The best way to reduce engine and oil temps is to rejet the bike and use a good synthetic oil.

I have ridden several 400+ mile days on my XR650L. I was not sore at all, even with the stock seat. Just pack the bike, and go have an Adventure with it!!

  • Huffa 2

Posted June 26, 2007 - 02:09 AM

#17

Heavens to murgatroid, those are beautiful pictures you got there, really nice !

Posted Image

Love the windsheild, fits nice it seems, I might have to buzz that idea from you, where did you get it, is it a one off custom job from another model ?

Could I see some close ups of that, how it mounts and all ?

What gearing do you run?

I am one to say DO IT venture, get a L and try it and if it doesn't work out, just sell it, that's all. They hold their value so well, I bet you wouldn't lose any coin on reselling it.

2 possibly helpful suggestions here ...........

http://cgi.ebay.com/...sspagenameZWDVW

What a rack :thumbsup:

http://klr650.com/ME...Sport Tires.htm

I never used them, but read hours of info on them. One of the best tires out there it seems ?

http://www.advrider....t=mefo explorer

  • HawkGT

Posted June 26, 2007 - 08:03 AM

#18

....I think it has a counter balancer to reduce vibrations - which might help with some engine buzziness over long distances....

The XR-L doesn't have a counter-balancer, right?....


The XRL does have a counterbalancer. Most single cylinder four strokes have counterbalancers. Off the top of my head I can't think of one that doesn't have one.

Singles are hard to balance though. Counterbalancers tackle the secondary vibration of the crank weights' fore and aft movement. They do a pretty good job of that since the crank weights and the counterbalancer move in the same way--around and around. But the primary imbalance of the piston moving up and down is only partially delt with by the cranks counterweights. Because of the linear movement of the piston it's essentially impossible to completely balance it out with the rotational movemement of crank wieghts. You can get close but it will never be perfect. Singles always tend to have some buzz because of this.

  • murgatroid42

Posted June 28, 2007 - 10:05 PM

#19

Heavens to murgatroid, those are beautiful pictures you got there, really nice !
...
Love the windsheild, fits nice it seems, I might have to buzz that idea from you, where did you get it, is it a one off custom job from another model ?

Could I see some close ups of that, how it mounts and all ?

What gearing do you run?

I am one to say DO IT venture, get a L and try it and if it doesn't work out, just sell it, that's all. They hold their value so well, I bet you wouldn't lose any coin on reselling it.

Ah, someone who knows where I got my username!!

I get asked about that windshield all the time. The windscreen is a Maier windscreen from JCWhitney (see link). It is the Type 4 (square bottom fits on top of my rectangular headlight), clear, 7/8 in. bar type, $69.99. I broke one of the plastic mounts where it attaches to the windscreen, and could not find any replacement parts, so I made some from $2 of sprinkler head parts (really) which now hold it together.

An alternative windshield that 2 co-workers have is the National Spitfire which seems to have a more durable mouting system to the windshield than the Maier. Slipstream might also make an equivalent. I don't have any pics on how it mounts (I sold the bike), but it has bars from the lexan screen that go to 7/8 in. clamps that mount on the handlebars. The mounting is similar to handgards. It took a lot of fiddling, and the wing nuts that held it in place always came loose until I used some real screws.

The windshield doesn't stop all the wind, just kept some off my chest. I really don't know if it is worth it, but it does look cool. It will give you some headshake in crosswinds or from large trucks on the highway. With new D606's on the front on my XR650L, it could shake at 65-70 mph, about 5mph lower than without it. A coworker with an XR650L has the same problem. I put a TKC80 up front, and could go 80+ without headshake, but still large semis will make the front move around. I'm just telling you what I experienced. In spite of this, I have it on almost all the time, and I have ridden the bike on several 400+ mile days. My $0.02.

I used 14/45 gearing, meaning I put an XR600 front sprocket and kept the stock rear one. It worked well for me. The 14T countersprocket was enough to let the bike launch from idle, and it still was not too buzzy on the highway. If anyone runs dirt on an XR650L, get a 14T.

Regarding your "just buy an L and ride it" comments, you are correct, yes, absolutely!! I put 10k miles on and had a good time. I later found out that wimpy old me couldn't ride it in the sand, so I sold it and now have a green DRZ-S. A different horse for my new riding expectations, actually. The bikes are different, but I miss the long-distance touring capabilities of the XR650L.

You're right, if one buys a used bike, one can ride it for a few years and then sell it for only a small loss. That XR650L and I had some good rides together...

  • jonr3

Posted June 29, 2007 - 05:17 AM

#20

I rode about 400 miles yesterday on my 2000 XR65L. Usually cruised between 70 - 90 mph. The bike did great... my butt not so well. I think with a better than stock seat, it would be a great cruiser, especially if you could add some highway pegs.





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