Almost a year ago I bought my first motorcycle, a 1993 xr650l. I was inclined to get a krl but found a used xrl in my price range. It had about 12K miles and cost $2k. It was stock except for being unplugged and a slip-on supertrap muffler. It showed its age but ran strong. Looking over lots of ads since, I should have paid about $500 less, but I was very eager to get on the road. I have put about 3500 miles on the bike in the last year. Running fire roads, dirt secondary roads, two-lane mountain twisties and lots of in-town commuting.
Before long, I realized I spent much more time on the street than off so I changed out the stock tires for Dunlop D607 front/Trailmax rear. Every day that I don't have to use four wheels, I use the xrl for the commute (40 miles round trip) to work. I am able to get a jump on all other traffic off the lights and cruise at 65 - 70 mph in the stretches where traffic allows. The height of the xrl puts my line of site on the road at about the same height as in my Astro van. Once your comfortable with the xrl, it is very maneuverable, quick and nimble.
I have put in a few 200 + mile (usually a mix of dirt and pavement) days on the xrl and I have to admit, I was fatigued at the end of the day. Chest and shoulders were sore from holding on/fighting the wind and a general fatigue from the buzziness. Before I balanced the front tire, the ride was kind of scary over 60 mph - the balancing makes a huge difference. I know there are some who cruise for extended stretches at higher speeds, but I still don't feel real comfortable over about 70 or so.
The D607's feel good on the street and highway (I'm a noobie and I know it, I don't come anywhere near the traction limits in the corners) and handled most dirt and gravel roads pretty well. The only negative experience I have had was on a dirt road with some sand drifts in sections a couple weeks ago and the front tire felt like it wanted to fold back under the bike going through the deeper sand.
I am very happy that I got the xrl. It has been great for learning basic riding skills (building on the MSF basic riding class), it cuts through traffic with ease, and is a pretty simple machine to maintain.
When it comes to care and issues with the machine, this forum is a great resource. I have learned enough from lurking and reading the archives here that, along with a little help from Clymer, I feel pretty confident doing most of the maintenance and repairs myself.
Bottom line is its a fun bike that, if you are not in too great a hurry, you can buy used for a reasonable price and keep it up without breaking the bank. I have already bought a second motorcycle for longer highway rides but I have no intentions of letting the xrl go.
Whatever you choose, have fun and ride safe.
Thanks for writing, I'm even more excited to get one now