The XR650L is a powerful dual sport dirt bike that has been a popular choice with dirt bike riders since 1993.
In fact it was one of the first dual sport bikes ever put into production, even before they were called ‘dual sport’.
Although the XR650L is probably the heaviest bike out there for its size, it does a good job of handling the toughest trails and it cruises well on the road.
But with some modifications, the XR650L can be made a lot better than the factory standard version.
In fact, if you spend some time on this bike, you can build yourself a real winner.
The modified XR650L was the enduro bike of choice in the 90s and 2000’s and won a lot of enduro races in its time and was a favorite with many top riders.
I will be going over these details, modifications and upgrades for the XR650L in this article.
Nothing much has changed on the XR650L since 1993 and if you check the specs, you will find that the specs for the bike are virtually identical since it was first built in the 90’s!
The reason for that is that they seemed to have got it right the first time and rider feedback was pretty good, so they just kept the successful formula going.
Firstly, it has an air cooled, large 4 stroke engine that is super reliable and pumps out a lot of low end power.
Secondly, the bike sits quite high off the ground and has a good ground clearance which makes it perfect for difficult trails.
Thirdly, it is sold as road compliant which means you can use it to get to work in the morning and also ride it on forest trails on the weekends.
It also cruises just fine on the freeway and its low revving capabilities means that there is not much vibration through the bike, making it a really comfortable bike to ride long distances and at high speed.
They are also electric start which appeals to most riders and there is also plenty of room to carry a second passenger comfortably on the back.
Finally, they are cheap! They are huge value for the price.
It has a huge amount of low end power and it hardly needs to rev much when riding it on hard trails as it has so much inertia and torque.
Its not great with high end revving though and you will find that the power drops away over about 7000rpm.
It has a very wide gear ratio over the first 3 gears and you will find that 3 gears is all you will need for riding on enduro trails.
The acceleration is okay on the XR650L but not great because it likes to stay in the lower rev range.
The bike is also quite heavy to get through softer terrain because of its weight but there is enough power to pop the front wheel whenever you need to to get through harder parts of the trail.
Overall, I think its a good bike that would suit adventure bike riders and those that prefer to take it easy through the trails or just use it as a weekender bike.
|Engine Type||644cc air-cooled dry-sump single-cylinder four-stroke|
|Bore And Stroke||100mm x 82mm|
|Valve Train||SOHC four valve|
|Induction||42.5mm diaphragm-type CV carburetor|
|Ignition||Solid-state CD with electronic advance|
|Final Drive||#520 O-ring-sealed chain; 15T/45T|
|Front Suspension||43mm air-adjustable axle Showa® cartridge fork with 16-position compression damping|
adjustability; 11.6-inches of travel
|Rear Suspension||Pro-Link® Showa single-shock with spring-preload, 20-position compression- and|
20-position rebound-damping adjustability; 11.0-inches of travel
|Front Brake||Single disc with twin-piston caliper|
|Rear Brake||Single disc|
|Trail||102mm (4.0 inches)|
|Seat Height||37.0 inches|
|Curb Weight||346 pounds (Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and a full tank of|
fuel—ready to ride)
|Fuel Capacity||2.8 gallons, including 0.6-gallon reserve|
|Ground Clearance||13.0 inches|
|Miles Per Gallon||52 MPG – Miles per gallon|
the XR650L comes in at 346 pounds which is its curb weight (157kgs) and take a few pounds off to work out its dry weight.
The XR650L is a 40 horsepower engine and its power is mostly available in its lower rev range. The bike is not really known for its high end revving power which means that it is slower to accelerate than other dual sport bikes.
You can add another 5 HP to the bike by uncorking it. You can learn how to uncork your XR650L in the modifications section of this article.
The 2019 XR650L retails for $7000 and that includes a 12 month factory warranty.
Used, you can pick up a pre-loved 2010 XR650L for about $4000 in good condition.
Top speed for the XR650L is 100MPH according to Honda. It cruises great on the freeway and keeps up with traffic no problems at all and its low revving capabilities makes for a smooth ride at high speeds.
The XR650 is a good option but if you are looking for something that handles better and has better acceleration power in a 650 sized enduro bike, I would go with the Suzuki DR650. It beats the XR650L hands down in power, speed, handling and overall performance.
XR650L Adventure Bike Accessories.
The stock XR650L seat is not bad but nowhere near as comfortable as it should be. If you are planning long road adventures then the stock XR650L seat will start to feel uncomfortable after a while.
I recommend the Seat Concepts seat cover and foam kit. This is a kit that fits over the existing XR650L seat frame.
This kit is super soft and provides a nice wide, super comfortable base for long distance road riding.
This kit requires the use of an electric stapler to punch into the hard plastic frame. If you don’t have access to one, I recommend taking it to your local upholsterer to get it done for you, Here is a video to show you how to do it.
I like my handlebars sitting a bit higher than stock as I find it more comfortable, especially over long distances. The handlebars on the XR650L sit way too low in my opinion.
To do this I have used the Rox Speed FX Pro-Offset Elite Block Risers that fit the XR650L.
I don’t like steel handlebars because they bend when you drop the bike on the ground and so I replace the handlebars to aluminium on every bike I have owned.
The XR650L comes with steel handlebars so I recommend upgrading to the Tusk Chub 1 1/8″ Big Bar.
This bar not only looks great but its also wide and stiff so it doesn’t bend under pressure.
Hand guards are a must for all adventure and enduro bike riders.
They will save your levers from snapping when you drop the bike and they also protect your hands from getting whipped by branches and other debris.
I recommend the Tusk D Flex Pro Hand Guards. I use these on all my bikes in fact. They are great value, look awesome and are as tough as they come.
This is more of a cosmetic thing but the original front fender on the XR650L is wide and clumsy.
I recommend upgrading it to the Polisport UFX Free Flow Front Fender.
This fender is way more modern and will give the front of your bike a modern motocross look.
The stock mirrors on the XR650L are rubbish and won’t last that long.
I recommend the Double Take Adventure Mirrors. They are made from a special material called Zytel that is flexible and guaranteed to be indestructible.
The mirror width is a lot larger than the stock mirrors and will give you greater visibility overall.
They also absorb the vibration of the bike really well so the mirrors won’t vibrate badly like the stock mirrors do.
The headlight on the XR650L is okay but it is very fragmented when riding at light and not as bright as it should be.
I recommend the JNS Engineering Headlight Kit.
It plugs straight into the existing electrical harness and takes only 5 minutes to install.
It provides a much brighter and a more even beam of light. Check this out –
The standard headlight is not even half that power.
Also, the tail lights aren’t the best and you will find that the indicator lights are clunky and will break off after every ride through the dirt.
I recommend the Tusk Mini Stalk L.E.D. Turn Signals. They are so much better in shape and size and will not get in the way.
For long distance riding adventure bikes, a power source is a must to charge phones, GPS, power lights and other gear.
I recommend the Tusk 12 Volt Power Socket. You simply fix the socket to the handlebars and run the wiring down to your battery and you have a good power source to use anytime you need to.
When you are running a lot of gear off your battery then you are drawing more power from it, This means that you want your bike generating as much power to the battery as possible to avoid any breakdowns.
The best way to do this is to upgrade the Stator. I recommend the Electrosport Stator for the XR650L.
This Stator provides 20% more power than the OEM stator which is perfect for adventure bikes that draw lots of power from their electrical accessories.
The standard battery in the XR650L is a standard lead battery which is super heavy.
I recommend the Antigravity Re-Start Lithium Battery. It comes in at 50% lighter! than the standard and will give you more voltage overall and double the life.
It also has 330 Cranking Amps which is double from the standard 150 amps.
Also this model of battery also comes with a kickstart feature that will kickstart your bike if the battery ever goes dead.
It works by pressing a button on the battery that releases a reserve charge to the bike to get you moving again. Nice!
You will definitely want to upgrade the tires as the stock tires wear out too quickly.
I recommend the Dunlop D606 all terrain tires. You can use them for trails and the road and they last for ages!
Also, put in some ultra heavy duty tubes as well to avoid flats while out on the trail. I recommend Bridgestone Ultra Heavy Duty Motorcycle Tube for front and back.
Place some rim locks into the rims so there is no risk of the tires rolling off on hard terrain. The factory XR650L have no rim locks installed which is crazy for such a high powered machine.
I recommend getting the Talon Billet Rim Lock for the front and back rims.
The stock standard tank is a pathetic 2.6 gallon metal tank and it just isn’t big enough for adventure riding.
Also, using metal for tanks is a bad idea as they bend in if you drop the tank on rocks, leaving you even less room for fuel.
Upgrade the tank to the Acerbis plastic enduro tank. It has a whopping 6 gallon volume! and will let you ride for much longer without having to refuel.
You can’t use this tank (or any larger tank than 3.2 gallons) for the XR650 if you live in California because of California’s’ bullshit pollution laws! sigh..
All enduro and adventure dirt bikes need a skid plate and the XR650 is no different.
Even though the XR650L is very high off the ground, you can still bash into rocks on harder parts of the trail.
Crack your engine case and your riding adventure is over.
I recommend the Ricochet Offroad Skid Plate. It’s made of super thick aluminium and protects the underside and sides of your engine casings from anything you can throw at it.
If you are doing a lot of log/rock climbing you will need to protect that rear brake disc from getting bent out of shape.
I recommend the Devol Rear Disc Guard.
At first I was a little apprehensive about the closed design because i was worried about mud getting jammed up inside the guard. But I was wrong and it worked well.
The factory standard footpegs aren’t good enough. They are tough but they just aren’t long enough for your boot and it is easy for your foot to slip off the peg. They also hurt after a few hours of riding.
I recommend upgrading to IMS Rally foot pegs. They are super grippy and are much wider to take the entire width of your boot. They are also a lot more comfortable.
The problem with heavier bikes like the XR650L is that they put a lot of weight on their side stand.
On the road this is fine but on a soft surface like dust and sand, the stand will dig right into the ground and the bike will just fall over on its side.
I recommend The JNS Engineering Side Stand Foot Pad. It gives the stand a much larger foot to provide a better footing on soft surface. No more bike falling over!
This is the stock standard air filter. It is bulky and hard to clean. It also starts rusting up from old age after a while.
I recommend getting the Twin Air filter for the XR650L. They are super easy to clean and you can also carry a spare filter cover if you need to without taking up any room in your toolkit.
A big problem with the XR650L is that the front sprocket is a little narrow. This means that it slides back and forth on the countershaft causing premature wear.
To fix this, I recommend the Primary Drive front sprocket. This sprocket takes up all the room on the countershaft so it doesn’t slide about.
The Primary Drive sprocket is also made of hardened steel which is harder then the stock standard sprocket which means that you will get way more life out of it.
For maximum durability, I recommend the Primary Drive Gold X-Ring Chain.
It is probably the toughest chain out there for half the price of other brands. The chain is also gold plated so it also looks really cool.
The factory standard exhaust is good but it is heavy and doesn’t let the XR650L breathe as well as it should.
I recommend the FMF Q4 silencer.
You will not only save a ton of weight with the FMF pipe but it will also give the bike a more aggressive growl that sounds really cool.
It also stays compliant with USA noise regulations and is a few pounds lighter than the stock exhaust and you may even notice some more power on the wrist as the bike can breathe better.
But also, this pipe makes your XR650L look like you just rode in the Dakar rally. It looks awesome!
If you will be using your XR650L for adventure rides then you will need to carry luggage on the bike with you.
The best way to carry luggage is with pannier racks.
I recommend the Tusk Pannier Racks with Top Rack and Sub Frame Supports.
The Tusk pannier racks is made up of a a tough powder coated steel frame and sub-frame that fixes firmly to your bike and keeps it perfectly rigid
It also comes with a top rack to carry a total of 3 bags on the back of your bike which is all the space you will ever need.
The Tusk panniers are compatible with the FMF pipe I recommended earlier.
You will also need saddle bags to carry your gear in.
I recommend the Nelson Rigg Sierra Dry Saddlebags.
These awesome saddle bags are made with tarpaulin grade PVC so they are 100% waterproof and hold a whopping 27 liters per bag! which is heaps of space.
They are also built with a removable frame to keep their shape and also have quick release buckles to remove the bags quickly from your bike if you need to.
The way to uncork the XR650L is to pull the pipe off the engine head and check for any restrictions in the pipe. If there is a metal plate or welding spots you will need to file those out.
The next step is to cut off the snorkel at the top of your air box. This snorkel was designed to let the bike keep breathing when you are riding through really deep water.
The problem with it though is that it restricts the engine from breathing properly. Cut it off and you will feel a difference in power on the wrist.
The XR650L runs a bit lean and is a pain in the ass to warm up. It takes a good 10 minutes of high revs on full choke before the engine can warm up. Nope.
I recommend the Dyno Jet Jet Kit. This kit will not only eliminate cold start problems but will also give the XR650L a 5% power increase across your entire rev range! Nice.
These Jets are a must if you are upgrading the pipe, carb and piston.
The above uncorking mods and jetting will give you an extra 5-10 HP which is a nice boost for low cost.
The next step up to increasing power would be to install a larger carburetor that will make the engine work harder.
I recommend the Mikuni TM40 Pumper 40mm High Performance Carburetor Kit for the XR650L. ($400)
This carb has been race tested by engineers that specialize in XRs and will not only give your bike more power, but will also help to warm the engine up faster and it will also idle better as well.
An upgraded carburettor will also require an upgrade in jetting which I have described in the below jetting section. These mods can be tricky so if you aren’t sure what to do, I suggest taking your XR650L to a qualified mechanic who can put it all together for you.
The next step up to giving your XR650L more power would be to replace the top end.
I recommend the Wiseco Piston Kit for the XR650L.
The Wiseco piston has been designed to run at peak performance and power.
If you don’t know how to rebuild the top end I strongly recommend taking your XR650L to a qualified mechanic.
With a larger carb and Wiseco piston, you can expect another 10 HP of extra power.
All these above mods will give you an extra 20-30 HP in power which is as much as you should go on an XR650L. Remember that the bike is air-cooled and increases in power will give you an increase in heat. Too much heat and the engine will seize.
If you want to go harder than this, I would suggest putting your cash into a liquid cooled bike that can handle a big increase in power (such as the Suzuki DR650)
Latest posts by Johnny Rhodes (see all)
- How to Whip a Dirt Bike. A Beginners Guide to Getting Sideways. - September 23, 2019
- The Best Dirt Bike Tool Kit for Trail Riding [that Won’t Break]. - August 6, 2019
- How to Wash Dirt Bike Pants. 5 Tips for Making them Last Longer [and 5 things to never do]. - August 5, 2019