Honda XR650L – 4000 mile report Adventure Motorcycling Handbook | Motorcycles catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions

Honda XR650L – 4000 mile report Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

28 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Honda XR650L – 4000 mile report Adventure Motorcycling Handbook
Honda XR 650L

Honda XR650L – 4000 mile report

Despite early reservations in Tunisia (it’s always the way on your first ride fully loaded), we agreed the bikes made a good alternative to a KTM 640 Adventure which was our second choice.

What we liked

Decent suspension (but see below)

Economy (but Andy’s was mysteriously 15% down on ours)

Clutch and gearbox took the hammering well

Engine never baulked at crap fuel

Despite low bhp, it was never lacking

Very accurate speedo/odo

Anvil-like reliability – worth a lot out in the desert

What we didn’t like

Too high and top heavy with that giant tank (oh really?)

‘Sternwheeler’ steering (due to oversprung front end)

Rough riding with alloy panniers – smaller and softer next time

Accurately measuring the oil level

Skinny rear subframe

Accessibility for rear spring adjustment

Worthwhile mods/gear

Tough tank and rack fabrication

Nifty Petzl Zipka headtorches

Michelin Desert/T63 knobblies

DID gold plate chains

Foam Unifilters

Renthal bars and Acerbis Pros

My rally screen

Andy’s IMO

My tank net

Our bashplates!

Reduced gearing (14/48 – never changed it back after Oued Samene)

I liked my Q/D Zega panniers

RAM mount

My trusty Coleman Dual Fuel 533 stove

Backpack hydrators (but my Platypus bladder leaked)

My Altberg boots – light enough to swing over and to walk in

Aerostich Darien Light jackets

Bel Ray synthetic oil – didn’t do the engine any harm

Thermorest matts (a three-quarter Ultralite was fine)

Hardwiring the GPS

Not in 2013 – some of this gear has become obsolete or become a lot better

Sub-functional mods/gear

Honda XR 650L

Fitting heavy front springs (without doing the same on the back)


My GSX-R seat (barely better than the Honda plank)

My RK (Tagasako) chain stretched quicker than the DIDs

A few of my rear alt spokes snapped – the others’ OEs were OK

Those 10L Ortlieb water bags are hard to use and one leaked from new

MSR stoves – both packed up but not designed for regular ‘desert’ fuel anyway

My Renthal grips – as bad as Honda (but I used ordinary gloves)

Canvas tool bag on my bash plate – nice idea but metal would be better

A lower tank with a fuel pump would lower CoG and improve handling

My car type oil temp gauge never worked

12v cig lighter PTOs – unreliable contact on the rough terrain – hardwiring or DINs is best

Enlarged sidestand foot was a not big enough in soft sand

Equipment failures (not including crashes)

Some of my rear spokes

Andy’s rear T63 (rock damage)

Jon’s tank bungs

One Orlieb bag

MSR stoves

Rear subframes found cracked on Jon’s and possibly Andy’s bike.

Other than that, these XRLs came back running much better than my previous Yamaha Teneres, but they were new and run on good oil.

I’ve lately been told that the Desert Riders boots I had custom made by Alt-Berg are now part of their line up. Click the image on the left for more.

Honda XR 650L
Honda XR 650L
Honda XR 650L
Honda XR 650L
Honda XR 650L
Honda XR 650L

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