Honda XL 650 questions

11 replies to this topic
  • cva4259

Posted July 24, 2010 - 10:19 AM


So what are the weak points or probelms with the XL 650's I've hears the DR's gear box blows up, and thata the KLR's burn oil and have some issue with a cam chain. SO what is the weak sister with the HONDA XL 650, if any?

  • HeadTrauma

Posted July 24, 2010 - 11:13 AM


It's actually an XR650L. There was only one RFVC XL model and it was a 600. Using "XR650L" or "650L" will make it easier to find information. :smirk:

The valvetrain oiling and countershaft splines are probably the main soft spots of the RFVC design. They're still not deal breakers IMO. Even a major failure of either one is not likely to destroy the engine like when the DR's gearbox comes unglued. The RFVCs also run a bit on the hot side, especially at sustained high rpm like on a highway. Adding an oil cooler is never a bad idea and having big fins welded onto the head is another option, albeit more expensive.

Keep them full of oil, get the jetting right, don't keep the chain too tight, and a 650L will last a very long time.


Posted July 24, 2010 - 11:29 AM


I've had mine since 1994 and it is a great bike. Compared to the other two, I don't see why anyone would choose them if they are remotely interested in going off road much. The XR 650L is an old but well proven design, albeit dated. They are heavy, but no worse than the DR or KLR, Many rejet, open up the air box, and install a free flowing exhaust (this mod not only improves the power, but lower operating temperatures). Their main disadvantage for me is the amount of time it has consumed from me to ride and tinker.:smirk:

  • cva4259

Posted July 24, 2010 - 12:33 PM


Sounds like they really don't have any major flaws. Honda did a darn good job with this bike.

  • frog13

Posted July 24, 2010 - 04:34 PM


your major flaws.The majority of things you will read negatively about the 650l is folks complaining about the bike when it's taken to extremes and doesn't perform like their motorcross bike of years ago!.:smirk:

  • cva4259

Posted July 24, 2010 - 05:04 PM


How are they on the freeway can you hold 75 wihtout much buzz, is it well counter balanced.

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  • Flatroads

Posted July 24, 2010 - 05:08 PM


How are they on the freeway can you hold 75 wihtout much buzz, is it well counter balanced.

No worries there. Feels ok to me at 75, even with D606s.

It is a big-boys-bike, though. If you've got short legs, you may be a little uncomfortable at a stop.

  • Pork-n-Bean

Posted July 25, 2010 - 05:24 PM


I purchased my XR650l about 1 year ago and am totally happy with this machine! I did the same research you are doing now in comparing with the KLR & DR and believe I made the absolute correct choice. I ride mostly back & forth to work (routinely 75mph on the superslab), but have put in some time in the woods and it is truly capable and impressive. Like the guys said, it is somewhat tall and a little heavy - but that is about the only faults I can think of short term. I am 6'1" and 230 so it suits me just fine. If height is not an issue I can assure you won't be disappointed. If you do a search on how many miles people have put on their XR's that will help give you an idea of the lifespan of this beast & possible issues encountered along the way. Best of luck!


  • kennym

Posted July 31, 2010 - 06:58 PM


i have a2008 xr 650l i just changed the oil put in 2 qt like the book said andit is not reading on the dip stick.( ps did not change the oil filter) i took the ca smog off would that allow more oil?

  • HeadTrauma

Posted July 31, 2010 - 07:08 PM


Did you run the engine for a few minutes before checking the oil level?

  • kennym

Posted July 31, 2010 - 08:01 PM


yes i put 1 qt in ran for a 30 sec put 2 qt in checked it had more than half the dip stick had oil on it ,ran for 1min checked the level and the dip stick was dry

  • HeadTrauma

Posted July 31, 2010 - 08:10 PM


That's why I said a few minutes and not "30 seconds." If there are two quarts in it and nothing is showing up on the stick, then either you're not checking it correctly or the pump lost prime. The latter is not common...

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