XR650L for Desert (Baja)


23 replies to this topic
  • lab_furn

Posted October 08, 2007 - 10:36 AM

#1

Hello,

I have been lurking around for months as I search for a new bike, as well as other forums. With the plating issues in California I have been wanting to go with a street legal bike that could be used in the desert as well. It would be 50% desert / 50% street.

Part of the reason I am considering the XR650L is because I hear it does really well on the street, low maintenance, reliable and I have never owned a bike with 650cc's. My concern is the desert. I have heard more than once this bike refered to as a Baja type bike (maybe even on the Honda web site), but the added weight seems like it would be a problem. I struggle in sand washes or when the sand starts to get about 4" deep.

My questions are I am curious to know if many of the XR650L owners have their bikes set up mainly for desert and if they might share some pictures? Also, I am aware their are mods and things you can do to get better performance out of the motor, but which mods would be recommended for better handling in sand (i.e. gearing, stabilizer, etc.)? Something to help keep the front end up and on top of the sand.

Lastly, I should note when I mention sand, I am not talking dunes, just the average sand you find in the Southern California deserts when trail riding.

Thanks!
Jim

  • martinfan30

Posted October 08, 2007 - 12:17 PM

#2

Hello,

I have been lurking around for months as I search for a new bike, as well as other forums. With the plating issues in California I have been wanting to go with a street legal bike that could be used in the desert as well. It would be 50% desert / 50% street.

Part of the reason I am considering the XR650L is because I hear it does really well on the street, low maintenance, reliable and I have never owned a bike with 650cc's. My concern is the desert. I have heard more than once this bike refered to as a Baja type bike (maybe even on the Honda web site), but the added weight seems like it would be a problem. I struggle in sand washes or when the sand starts to get about 4" deep.

My questions are I am curious to know if many of the XR650L owners have their bikes set up mainly for desert and if they might share some pictures? Also, I am aware their are mods and things you can do to get better performance out of the motor, but which mods would be recommended for better handling in sand (i.e. gearing, stabilizer, etc.)? Something to help keep the front end up and on top of the sand.

Lastly, I should note when I mention sand, I am not talking dunes, just the average sand you find in the Southern California deserts when trail riding.

Thanks!
Jim


ssome guys put cr USD forks on. fork brace and good tires help alot. you can get em lighter by removing stuff, mine is around 300.

  • jonr3

Posted October 08, 2007 - 12:33 PM

#3

Hello,

I have been lurking around for months as I search for a new bike, as well as other forums. With the plating issues in California I have been wanting to go with a street legal bike that could be used in the desert as well. It would be 50% desert / 50% street.

Part of the reason I am considering the XR650L is because I hear it does really well on the street, low maintenance, reliable and I have never owned a bike with 650cc's. My concern is the desert. I have heard more than once this bike refered to as a Baja type bike (maybe even on the Honda web site), but the added weight seems like it would be a problem. I struggle in sand washes or when the sand starts to get about 4" deep.

My questions are I am curious to know if many of the XR650L owners have their bikes set up mainly for desert and if they might share some pictures? Also, I am aware their are mods and things you can do to get better performance out of the motor, but which mods would be recommended for better handling in sand (i.e. gearing, stabilizer, etc.)? Something to help keep the front end up and on top of the sand.

Lastly, I should note when I mention sand, I am not talking dunes, just the average sand you find in the Southern California deserts when trail riding.

Thanks!
Jim


I used to spend a LOT of time in the deserts around S. California and Arizona on my old XL350 and 350 Scramblers, but I don't think you will have a lot of problems in the sand on an L. The front end is relatively light compared to the torque & horsepower of the 650 (unlike the Scrambler). Get yourself good oversized tires designed for flotation and traction, and gear it down so that when needed, you can hit the throttle to keep the front end up. Also, a steering damper will help a lot and a fork brace wouldn't hurt. For dunes, you would want to run a paddle tire.

And like MartinFan says, strip off everything you don't need.

  • OUTERLIMITS

Posted October 08, 2007 - 01:39 PM

#4

I'm not sure about L's, but in general the things that help in the sand are:

1. Tires with a less rounded and flatter profile and smaller, yet deeper knobs. I had a KLX650R that came stock with dunlop 752's and they were great in the sand on that heavy bike. They don't make them anymore, but I think the equivalent is the 952, which I believe is also a more durable tire with the same tread pattern. Lower air pressure will help. If you normally run 18, try something like 13. This depends a lot on the tire and the weight of the bike so it's all relative and different for different bikes.

2. Fork springs that are a little stiffer for your weight so as not to dive too much.

3. Extending the forks down in the clamps so the caps are flush with the clamps.

4. A stabilizer always helps if you have the cash.

More than anything else, momentum is your friend. You'll struggle nearly as much on a 2-stroke 250 in the sand as you will on a 650 if you are in 1-2nd gear. Much like water skiiing, it's easier going fast than slow. Standing helps, keeping your weight back, and staying loose and not fighting the bike. Trying to steer too precisely in the sand will just wear you out. I find that if I try to steer the bike in a general direction and just flow with it, I'm a lot smoother than if I try and be too precise and then fight the bike when it does not go exactly where I want it (We're talking a difference of inches here, not feet).

In a nutshell, the earlier you can get up on a plane on top of the sand and stay there the better.

  • Manchu

Posted October 08, 2007 - 02:45 PM

#5

If you haven't already done so, try searching 'XR650L' on youtube. IIRC, there are several videos of XRLs in the desert/dunes.

Worst case scenario, you could always go with a high comp piston (10.5-1...??) to give it a shot in the arm.

Given the same situation I believe I would most likely try to shed as much weight as possible, re-gear, and add an oil cooler.

:confused:

  • Denn10

Posted October 08, 2007 - 02:51 PM

#6

LAB what part of CA u in?

  • martinfan30

Posted October 08, 2007 - 07:39 PM

#7

LAB what part of CA u in?


dont answer him LAB, this guy is a stalker!lol:busted:

  • Denn10

Posted October 08, 2007 - 09:10 PM

#8

LOL THX martin

  • desert4seat

Posted October 09, 2007 - 12:13 AM

#9

My L is only used in So-Cal deserts / Mountains and Baja.
It’s rarely used as a street bike (maybe 3% street)
Get a Forkbrace, a real skidplate, a Dez tank, and Renthal vintage desert bend bars.
Also, go with an IRC M5B rear tire (get the 140 – it’ll fit) – best tire so far for ultra hookup in sandy conditions
Those 5 things are a must for turning your L into a formidable desert weapon…of course the list can go on if your bank account can handle it.

Heavy bike? Sure is! But what other bike can do this much, and never let you down… for such a small amount of additional modding?
NONE WILL

I’ve posted these pics in the past, but here you go again:
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  • lab_furn

Posted October 09, 2007 - 06:39 AM

#10

LAB what part of CA u in?


We used to go to Johnson Valley. There is one sand wash in particular that I only really felt comfortable riding in on my old MX bike. This time around I plan on going to Ocotillo Wells more because it is closer to where I live (Temecula). I thought it would even be fun to try riding the bike there and that's the biggest selling point of the L for me. Maybe even an occasional road ride to Palomar Mountain or Julian.

Thanks for all the great info. I have come full circle researching bikes for the last few months. I am glad I took my time because I have changed my mind numerous times on what I want. I think an XR650L would be a fun project bike. From all the feedback and posts I have read, I don't think I would be disappointed. The biggest factor for me is low vs. high maintenenace. I know there are a lot of debates regarding the amount of maintenance on other bikes. There never seems to be any questions on how reliable this bike is.

Visit the ThumperTalk Store for the lowest prices on motorcycle / ATV parts and accessories - Guaranteed
  • martinfan30

Posted October 09, 2007 - 08:41 AM

#11

i grew up riding johnson valley and bell mountain(which i hear is closed).

  • Denn10

Posted October 09, 2007 - 10:10 AM

#12

yeah thats all closed up now Only true OHV area close is right outside barstow to Hodge road on east side of Fwy all other areas they have kicked everyone else out.

  • martinfan30

Posted October 09, 2007 - 10:15 AM

#13

yeah thats all closed up now Only true OHV area close is right outside barstow to Hodge road on east side of Fwy all other areas they have kicked everyone else out.


that is F****** sad man! that was some good riding! is soggy dry lake area still open? its lucerne out off of besemer mine road.

  • Denn10

Posted October 09, 2007 - 10:22 AM

#14

i havent been out in Lucerne for a few years since i stopped racing D37 desert i ride closer I think most is still open though. they still have races and rock crawlin events out there.

  • martinfan30

Posted October 09, 2007 - 10:26 AM

#15

i havent been out in Lucerne for a few years since i stopped racing D37 desert i ride closer I think most is still open though. they still have races and rock crawlin events out there.


how far are you from there and are you familiar with it?

  • lab_furn

Posted October 10, 2007 - 06:22 AM

#16

I know there are still desgnated OHV areas open in Johnson Valley with access from Old Woman Springs Road, but there was a crackdown on riding on roads that are near cabins. You used to be able to ride from the dry lake bed where most people camp out to Giant Rock without a problem. You risk getting ticketed if you take roads near houses to get there. I still like it there, and will go back at some point, but it won't be the same.

  • BeeDub

Posted October 10, 2007 - 02:40 PM

#17

lab I have gone through your dilemma already, and finally just did it, went out and bought a 650L. I sold my WR 450 because you can't plate them here anymore. Started out wanting a DRZ-SM with convert to dirt, then Husky 610, then some sort of KTM (625 or 640adv). I'm sure I'm missing a few other bikes I've considered. Anyway, I haven't gotten to put many miles on the bike yet, still waiting on insurance, but I've had the bike a few days and haven't felt any remorse yet. Can't wait to really take it out riding, street, dirt, everything. Can't wait 'til Christmas either...:confused:

Oh, and +1 on all the areas closing around here, it really sucks, and we need to do something before it gets to the point they stop selling us bikes! One good thing about the one I just bought, I'm pretty sure they can't treat me any different than a car on the road!

  • martinfan30

Posted October 10, 2007 - 02:58 PM

#18

lab I have gone through your dilemma already, and finally just did it, went out and bought a 650L. I sold my WR 450 because you can't plate them here anymore. Started out wanting a DRZ-SM with convert to dirt, then Husky 610, then some sort of KTM (625 or 640adv). I'm sure I'm missing a few other bikes I've considered. Anyway, I haven't gotten to put many miles on the bike yet, still waiting on insurance, but I've had the bike a few days and haven't felt any remorse yet. Can't wait to really take it out riding, street, dirt, everything. Can't wait 'til Christmas either...:confused:

Oh, and +1 on all the areas closing around here, it really sucks, and we need to do something before it gets to the point they stop selling us bikes! One good thing about the one I just bought, I'm pretty sure they can't treat me any different than a car on the road!


congrats on yer new piggy!

  • gearloos

Posted October 10, 2007 - 06:00 PM

#19

My L is only used in So-Cal deserts / Mountains and Baja.
It’s rarely used as a street bike (maybe 3% street)
Get a Forkbrace, a real skidplate, a Dez tank,

Hey Desert4seat, What tank is that exactly? I think thats the one I want to get for my '07.

  • Schwagman

Posted October 11, 2007 - 04:03 AM

#20

Jim,

Ocotillo Wells is an awesome spot if you haven't ridden there before. Flat w/ multiple terrain types. Hard Hard Hard...and rocky too. Close for me also...Escondido. One of our favorite spots.

Suggestion. CHANGE THE BACK TIRE from stock before you go. I bought my 07 L from a guy who crashed during a terrain transition when the back came out from him. The original factory Dunlop tire seems to do well on the street but only handles modest offroad terrain. I have used my L around my property and quickly noticed the "lack" of hook-up. I now have a 120/100 Dunlop 739 AT on the back. Aggressive knobbie. I plan on 90% dirt. It may not work for your riding genre.

I have just started to mod my bike and that was the first thing I noticed. I will be out in Ocotillo Wells the weekend before Halloween puting it to the test. I'll be the guy on the 07 XR650L...with the knobbie. Oh yeah, the bike is red!!!:confused:

Peace

Schwag





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