To 650L or not to


27 replies to this topic
  • noddy

Posted March 31, 2008 - 09:21 PM

#1

Hi everyone . . .

New to the forum and Dual SPorting - and am currently shopping for a steed. I have a long history of street bikes (sport) and have been aching to hit the dirt.

I'm from Canada and the XR650L is the only Honda DS on the Market right now (other than the tiny 230 that doesn't suit my needs).

I've been searching here and on ADV, and Dual Sport BC, and everytime someone asks about the 650L, people chime in about the 650R and how great it is. I'm sure its great, but I'm likely going to have to trade in my current bike and deal with a new model (for reasons I won't go into here). So the 650R isn't an option (unless I can find used at the dealer).

So, my question is, is the 650L at all suitable for me - my needs:

- 5 foot 8 inches, am fit
- 32 inch inseam
- commute daily 20 - 30 kms
- plan forest service roads - some more knarly trails, no ripping through single tracks or jumps likely
- want some performance (vs a Suzuki DS, etc)
- want some reliability (vs a KTM, etc)
- fuel efficiency (so no mega upgrades for power, at the expense of economy)

While my riding is likely a little milder than the average, I still like to have more power than you need, esp when commuting. Right now I have a 1000cc street bike, and I'd like to still have some performance on the road. Off the road, I'm sure even the 230 will keep me busy for a while, but its on the road that I'll miss the power.

However, (due to the commuting), seat height is an issue for me . . .

So, does the 650L bring a little more to the game, or is it a redder, taller version of the Suzuki DR650?

Trust me, I tried the search feature before posting this, I promise. . . .

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Cheers

  • redrider650

Posted March 31, 2008 - 11:36 PM

#2

I think it'll be a great machine for you, especially for your commuting needs. Their reputation for being reliable is unmatched, you can't kill a XR! Even though its more of a dirtbike and its heritage is all offroad it does great on road as well because its a heavier machine, you won't be blown around a whole lot on the street. It may not be the fastest bike out there but they are deffinately torque monsters and plenty of aftermarket if you need more. I'm fairly close to your hieght being 5'7" I couldn't ride the bike in stock form so the dealer lowered it for me with a lowering link. Still a little high but you get used to it. Good luck with your decision. :prof:

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  • jonr3

Posted April 01, 2008 - 04:23 AM

#3

So, my question is, is the 650L at all suitable for me - my needs:

- 5 foot 8 inches, am fit
- 32 inch inseam
- commute daily 20 - 30 kms
- plan forest service roads - some more knarly trails, no ripping through single tracks or jumps likely
- want some performance (vs a Suzuki DS, etc)
- want some reliability (vs a KTM, etc)
- fuel efficiency (so no mega upgrades for power, at the expense of economy)
However, (due to the commuting), seat height is an issue for me . . .


- I'm 5' 10"
- 33 inch inseam
- commute daily 35 miles roundtrip
- on weekends I'm off to the ORV park: fire roads, trails, jumps, etc.
- clutchless wheelies in 1st & 2nd without even trying
- 7,500 miles with only oil & filter changes - 0 repairs
- 45 to 50 miles per gallon

I've ridden almost 400 miles in one day, and except for a slightly sore a$$, it was a great ride. I have done all of the basic mods and added a steering damper, and it does everything I want it to. I don't think you can go wrong with a 650L.

  • Motosprtman

Posted April 01, 2008 - 06:38 AM

#4

5 foot 8 inches, am fit (maybe a lowering link and drop the forks in thge triple clamps)
- 32 inch inseam
- commute daily 20 - 30 kms (the XR650L will be bored :-)
- plan forest service roads OK
- some more knarly trails, OK but you will hate yourslef when you drop it.
- no ripping through single tracks or jumps likely, Unless your Scott Summers it ain't happein anyway.
- want some performance (vs a Suzuki DS, etc) XR650L :-)
- want some reliability (vs a KTM, etc) XR650L :-)
- fuel efficiency (so no mega upgrades for power, at the expense of economy)
Gotta rejet for engine longevity and drivability improvement. Stock they are so lean that you stand a chance of burning the motor up before it's time.

This bike has been in production since 1993. It is essentially a XR600R with a NX650 Motor stuffed in it. FUN FUN FUN and dead on reliable. Bulletproof.

  • martinfan30

Posted April 01, 2008 - 07:00 AM

#5

The XRL will suit your needs to a T! The only thing I see as an issue, which actually may not be an issue is the seat heigth. Go sit on one. If too tall you can install a lowering link.

  • Huffa 2

Posted April 01, 2008 - 07:23 AM

#6

The XRL will suit your needs to a T! The only thing I see as an issue, which actually may not be an issue is the seat heigth. Go sit on one. If too tall you can install a lowering link.


Honda should sell a tall (stock version) and a short version (8" of travel or so) they would sell a lot more of them I bet!

  • noddy

Posted April 01, 2008 - 07:44 AM

#7

Excellent, thank you very much for the input.

I had a fear that all the good stuff I heard was in reference to the 650R, and that I would be disappointed with the 650L.

As for height, I have sat on the XR650L, DL650, DRZ400, G650Challenge. There's a good Honda dealer near me that has their head screwed on, so I'm okay giving them $$. However the height of the XR was likely to need adjusting. Thanks to your input, the XRL will stay in the running, but likely with a lowering link.

Now, I have one more road tour to do, and then its to the dealers to test ride and see who doesn't try and rip me off on the trade in.

All the best.

Noddy

(PS - keep the feedback coming, the more the merrier)

  • Suikerland

Posted April 01, 2008 - 08:46 AM

#8

You mentioned a few times that you want lots of power on the roads....
to be realistic, don't expect an adrenaline rush on the streets on a 650L (especially after a big sport bike).
The 650L will get you to some wild, out-of-the-way places & will challenge you in the dirt, but on the road it tends towards being practical and reliable, not exactly thrill-a-minute.

If you want crazy fun on the streets, get an uncorked 650R with 17" wheels and street tires. But that's not what you're looking for so...
the 650L will serve you well and give you adequate performance on streets, but (more importantly) many happy hours in the dirt, far from the paved roads.

  • cleonard

Posted April 01, 2008 - 08:58 AM

#9

If you are used to 1000cc sport bike HP, you might not be a happy camper. All of these bikes don't have even close to the hp numbers. A completely stock 650L is barely breaks 30hp. With some rejetting and other basically free mods you can get close to 40. The 650R is more like 50 with simple mods. The other bikes that you are considering are close to those numbers.

What these bikes lack in top end HP, they make up in low end torque. That makes them pretty quick off the line, but then they quickly run out of juice over 60 to 70. Top speeds are in the 90's usually, depending on gearing.

  • paul246

Posted April 01, 2008 - 09:32 AM

#10

I went from a Valkyrie to my L, a drastic difference. My inseam is only 30 inches. Just love this bike, though...a keeper.

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  • Motosprtman

Posted April 01, 2008 - 10:47 AM

#11

when I ride the HD Dynaglide I have - it is awesome, endless power, smooth torque, stable, very, very, ez to ride,

when I ride the XR650L, awesome, endless power, incredible torque, darts about where I point it. Can't stop grinnin'

Two totally different bikes, for two totally different purposes.

can't compare a street bike to a dual sport.

  • RipperFox

Posted April 01, 2008 - 10:56 AM

#12

I you buy a bike to ride on the street...buy a street bike that acts like a street bike.

If you buy a bike to ride on the dirt...buy a dirt bike that acts like a dirt bike.

But you cant ride two. So...If you have to ride on a street to get to the dirt, Base your choices on where you are going. Not on how get there. Grin and bear the street performance until you get to the dirt. And forget about the pavment trip to get there, Then twist and enjoy.:prof:

  • noddy

Posted April 01, 2008 - 05:59 PM

#13

I have no doubt the 650L will not be the same as the RWHP of my FZ1. At the same time, I often ride my wife's BMW F650CS, and enjoy ripping around the city on it, using 3 gears where the FZ will only use one makes it feek like you're faster than you really are.

I live in Western Canada, where there are way more dirt roads than paved. So DS is calling. My interest in power is more centered on how the 650L compares to the other dual sports. Everyone raves about the 650R, and some about the 650L, I just wanted to ensure that there were some advantages. 'cause the Suzuki has plusses (economy, price, good local mechanic), and I may not need to lower it. But if the 650L does bring a little more to the game, it may still stay on my list.

The confusion comes (as noted) where people always rave about the 650R, a bike that is sadly not available in Canada new.

  • Purcell69

Posted April 01, 2008 - 06:04 PM

#14

I you buy a bike to ride on the street...buy a street bike that acts like a street bike.

If you buy a bike to ride on the dirt...buy a dirt bike that acts like a dirt bike.

But you cant ride two. So...If you have to ride on a street to get to the dirt, Base your choices on where you are going. Not on how get there. Grin and bear the street performance until you get to the dirt. And forget about the pavment trip to get there, Then twist and enjoy.:bonk:


Preach on! I never could see the need for a truck to drive my motorcycle to the dirt. I'd rather deal with a little extra weight than trucking to a place to ride, (at least that's how I felt when I lived in Arizona and EVERYPLACE was a place to ride.) :prof:

-Joe

  • fredodido1

Posted April 01, 2008 - 07:21 PM

#15

he Noddy, i just got a 08 xrL. I'm about in the same boat as you are, always ad speed bike, ZX-6R my first, CBR 900 , Ninja ZX-10R my last bike. and i also ad 2 stroke 250 dirt bike RM's and CR's... so to be honest the power of the 650L is not crazy by any means... i did the small mod's, exhaust, air intake, rejet and all... but still... at 140km/h, it is pretty much it, you still have a bit to play with but... The accelaration between 0 to 100 is pretty good and from 100 to 120 about 4 sec.

so don't expect a rocket, specially after driving those 0 to 100 in 3 sec. bikes... it feels slow. but it is a dual purpose bike and will go slower but a lot more places than the rockets, and that is why we buy them i gess. I tryed the KLR and it feels heavy and is not a good on the dirt but is more comfy at hight speed.

Get one and tell me where you are in b.c. maybee we can go for a ride. i'm in Nelson.

overall i'm pretty happy, the XR as a solid honda feeling and is well build.
I only have 1500km done with mine so it is a first impression.

  • fredodido1

Posted April 01, 2008 - 07:30 PM

#16

Noddy, just forgot to mention, don't forget that the 650R is liquid cooled and as a lot more to go wrong on it, and it does go wrong more... so if your 200km away in the bush, you wan't to be riding a bike that is a little bit slower but will take you back home riding and not walking... That was a big thing in my decision making reliability of the XRL is better.

and for the suzuki... well from reputation, they are not as well built and the suspension is not as good, remember you get what you pay for. The XR is a better machine than the DR.

  • Purcell69

Posted April 02, 2008 - 06:51 AM

#17

I have had two Suzuki DR350's one kick and one electric. They were dependable, fun bikes, but not much for the Interstate. The kick bike, (1990 DR350S) seemed to have better overall gearing. The electric bike, (1998 DR350SE) was less friendly in stock gearing off road and had less top-end on road.

Not that any of this matters since they were replaced with the DRZ400. Both were good, reliable bikes, but they're no Honda. My first open class enduro was a Honda 1985 XL350R. Great bike, I wish I'd never sold it. If you don't mind the extra weight of the L, it is a wonderful dependable ride with a lot of potential. The seat height takes some getting used to, but can be lowered if need be. I have an '07 XR650L with just over 1,700 miles on it now and I can't be happier.

-Joe

  • Murman NT

Posted April 02, 2008 - 08:01 AM

#18

Noddy, just forgot to mention, don't forget that the 650R is liquid cooled and as a lot more to go wrong on it, and it does go wrong more... so if your 200km away in the bush, you wan't to be riding a bike that is a little bit slower but will take you back home riding and not walking... That was a big thing in my decision making reliability of the XRL is better.

and for the suzuki... well from reputation, they are not as well built and the suspension is not as good, remember you get what you pay for. The XR is a better machine than the DR.


I have an L, and i think I'm buying a DR here in the next week or so (Still lots of snow here). While the dirt is the most fun I have on my bike, commuting and using it as my main summer vehicle means most of my kliks are put on, on paved roads. I'd like to say its 70/30, but its more likely 90/10 street/dirt. The DR is supposed to have much better road manners than the L, and the gain you make on the road far outweighs the loss on the trail. That said, I've always enjoyed my L on the road. I'm curious to see if I notice a huge difference, as truth be told, I've never driven a DR, so I'm buying it blind, but I have been assured by what I have read in the DR forum.

I'll know better what is best in late July, when I'm on vacation back where the L is, currently in my brother's hands.

As far as not as well built, I don't buy that at all. I know the stock suspension is weak on the DR (for bigger guys), but the stock carb setup is weak on the XRL. Both bikes appear to need some modding. DRs are nearly as long in the tooth as XRs and the RFVC650 motor. Reliability shouldn't be an issue to a well broken-in machine, in either case.

I'm gambling that I'm gonna love the DR as much as I love my L, and I hope to be able to appreciate the differences, but I'll let you know.

P/S I did find another guy on TT who had both bikes, and he preferred his DR. PM me and I'll get you his pm.

  • Suikerland

Posted April 02, 2008 - 12:09 PM

#19

Noddy, just forgot to mention, don't forget that the 650R is liquid cooled and as a lot more to go wrong on it, and it does go wrong more... so if your 200km away in the bush, you wan't to be riding a bike that is a little bit slower but will take you back home riding and not walking... That was a big thing in my decision making reliability of the XRL is better.
.


I was going to get an L for the same reason, but went for the R because I think the reliability of the R's liquid cooling has more than proved itself. Big singles have all moving over to liquid cooling (with the exception of DR and XRL) for good reason - it works well.
And I ride in extremely hot climate, where I don't think the air-cooling of the L would be very happy.

  • AaronBrown

Posted April 02, 2008 - 03:14 PM

#20

Sounds like you live in the perfect area for the L. I say go for it.





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