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Old 09-16-2007, 09:34 PM   #1
TCBronson OP
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Honda XR650L for touring?

Has anybody used a Honda XR650L for long distance touring? I was thinking about making a KLR type touring bike out of a Honda XR650L? Everything I have read says that the XR is not good on the interstate. Why not just buy the KLR? Because I want a Honda and Honda does not sell a bike in this category here in the U.S. any more. I wish Honda would bring back the Transalp or send the Varadero over here!

So here's what I was thinking...add a larger gas tank, windshield of some kind, change sprokets for highway cruising, handle bar risers, add saddle bags, a rear rack for a tail bag, tire hugging front fender, new seat...any other suggestions.

I thought about a Honda ST 1300
or maybe a Vstrom 650 or 1000 (not a Honda)
Kawasaki Versys (not a Honda)
BMW R1200GS,(not a Honda and too expensive!)

My goal is to ride this thing from Arkansas to Alaska and back next July and on many other long distance tours there after.
Thanks for your thoughts,
Tom
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Old 09-16-2007, 09:44 PM   #2
mikeprod92211
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You can do it easily, the XR L is pretty indestructible!
Get an Ascerbis 6 ga gas tank, or an IMS tank, stronger rear sub frame to carry load, Renazco seat, Slipstreamer Spitfire windshield, Wolfman luggage, and go for it.
Bike will take you there and back, multiple times!
You could equip it for probably a grand, and have a bike you really want, just don't expect it to be a 75 - 80 mph freeway flier, more like a 60 - 70 mph back roads and dirt roads machine.
It can be done!
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Old 09-16-2007, 10:00 PM   #3
Klay
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You can make the XR into a fine bike for traveling. I'd leave out the windshield and just lean on the wind, however. A big thumper is happiest cruising along at 60 or 65 and you just don't need a windshield at those speeds. Keeps things simpler and there is less turbulence.
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Old 09-17-2007, 05:26 AM   #4
Mythic
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IMO - If you think you "could" be happy with a KLR, then there's no reason you couldn't be happy on a XR-L.

However, there's 2 things that make me wonder whether you'd be happy on either of those:

1) You used the "I" word. Neither of these bikes are going to be "happy" spending an entire day cruising an interstate. Not saying they won't do it, saying they're not going to be happy - IMHO the XR-L less so than the KLR. The gearing can be changed, but the head tube angle can't - means it's simply not designed for long-range, high-speed "interstate" type touring. It'll be twitchy, jumpy & simply wear you out after 4 or 5 hours. 2nd reason for MO, as mentioned it'd be happy all day at 65-75mph. Can't speak for back east but on I-5, I-10, I-15. I-40 & I-80 you're litterally blocking traffic & a hazard @ 75mph. Over 75's out of the "comfort" range of these bikes, even when re-geared.

Secondary highways? Yeah, all day, no problem - not it's "element" but they'll do it just fine. Interstate travel? Not in my opinion

2) 2nd reason I question whether you'd be happy is simply looking at the list of other bikes you were looking at/considering. Again in my opinion, those bikes better "fit the bill" for the type of touring I get the impression you're talking about doing - Perhaps much better choices for you in the long run.

If you want a bike to split the difference between the XR-L/KLR, and the other things you mentioned, I'd look into a 950/990 Adventure. Yeah, not a Honda but might be just what you're looking for.

No offense, but people that are looking at, considering, or thinking about ST1300's, V-storms, Verseys & 1200GS's typically wouldn't look twice at a XR-L or KLR.

Very different bikes designed, built & intended for very different purposes.

JMO.

>edit 2 add<

Mythic screwed with this post 09-17-2007 at 05:35 AM
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:11 AM   #5
x32792
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points well taken

Quote:
Originally Posted by Descalzo
IMO - If you think you "could" be happy with a KLR, then there's no reason you couldn't be happy on a XR-L.

However, there's 2 things that make me wonder whether you'd be happy on either of those:

1) You used the "I" word. Neither of these bikes are going to be "happy" spending an entire day cruising an interstate. Not saying they won't do it, saying they're not going to be happy - IMHO the XR-L less so than the KLR. The gearing can be changed, but the head tube angle can't - means it's simply not designed for long-range, high-speed "interstate" type touring. It'll be twitchy, jumpy & simply wear you out after 4 or 5 hours. 2nd reason for MO, as mentioned it'd be happy all day at 65-75mph. Can't speak for back east but on I-5, I-10, I-15. I-40 & I-80 you're litterally blocking traffic & a hazard @ 75mph. Over 75's out of the "comfort" range of these bikes, even when re-geared.

Secondary highways? Yeah, all day, no problem - not it's "element" but they'll do it just fine. Interstate travel? Not in my opinion

2) 2nd reason I question whether you'd be happy is simply looking at the list of other bikes you were looking at/considering. Again in my opinion, those bikes better "fit the bill" for the type of touring I get the impression you're talking about doing - Perhaps much better choices for you in the long run.

If you want a bike to split the difference between the XR-L/KLR, and the other things you mentioned, I'd look into a 950/990 Adventure. Yeah, not a Honda but might be just what you're looking for.

No offense, but people that are looking at, considering, or thinking about ST1300's, V-storms, Verseys & 1200GS's typically wouldn't look twice at a XR-L or KLR.

Very different bikes designed, built & intended for very different purposes.

JMO.

>edit 2 add<
Your points are well taken. I'd like to hear your Brand recommendations and possible modifications for a good, reliable and affordable (if these three words come together at one point?) 80% on and 20% off Adventure Tour bike.
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:27 AM   #6
blackbirdzach
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Other than the bar vibrations, it's fine! Just keep an eye on your oil and get a bigger gas tank. I had quite a few long days and weekends with my last one.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...highlight=crab
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:58 AM   #7
Ceej
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I've owned both a KLR and XR-L. I wouldn't say there is any noticeable difference on the highway. They both kinda suck on the highway, but you get used to it. There is, however, a huge difference in off road performance in these bikes. Slap a big tank on the XR and it will be equal or better than a KLR in every way.
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Old 09-17-2007, 10:05 AM   #8
wheelnut46
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This guy went 3000 miles two-up through Mexico on a XR650L

Excellent slideshow
http://picasaweb.google.com/spawnoft...ey=fpT9hTfWcFg

Says he's going to do a ride report sometime.
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Old 09-17-2007, 10:26 AM   #9
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welcome tcbronson. i have an L and a 650 strom. i have done a little slab work on the L but i would not want to tour on it if there was a lot of slabbing to do. on the dirt and secondary roads at lower speeds the bike is an absolute blast. long days on the L can get pretty uncomfortable. the strom is great for distance touring and does fine on the interstate and really long days would be much more tolerable.

good luck

al
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Old 09-17-2007, 10:39 AM   #10
montesa_vr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCBronson
So here's what I was thinking...add a larger gas tank, windshield of some kind, change sprokets for highway cruising, handle bar risers, add saddle bags, a rear rack for a tail bag, tire hugging front fender, new seat...any other suggestions.

My goal is to ride this thing from Arkansas to Alaska and back next July and on many other long distance tours there after.
Tom
I think you're on the right track for the changes. I'm not a windshield guy, and without a windshield you wouldn't need the bar risers for the highway.

I like the front fender low too. Get it down there where it can keep the mud out of your cooling fins. It isn't easy to do a really sanitary change there. The easy way is to unbolt the high fender from the bottom of the triple clamp, bend a strap of aluminum into a U, attach the fender to the strap and duct tape the sides of the U to the fork tubes. Ugly but its free, it works, and you can easily put it back to stock whenever you want. Maybe some XRL owner out there has a clean way to do it (with pictures?.)

Luggage wise, do you plan to camp? If you have your heart set on camping you'll need side bags, but they will really slow you down and affect your gas mileage. It's a lot more aerodynamic to put the stuff behind you on the rack in a big duffle. Load it too heavy though, and you won't be able to keep the front wheel on the ground when you let out the clutch.

Hope you have a great trip.
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Old 09-17-2007, 10:54 AM   #11
rider33
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you can, and people have, gone cross-country on just about anything,
it's just that a bike designed for that purpose is going to make it a lot easier frankly. If you are are really talking 80% street, I don't think the
XL would be the best choice. You can mod it to make it better for that
but it's happier in the dirt really. The KLR fits what you are looking for,
the Wee would make it easier. Having owned both, for the trip you are looking at I'd go for a Wee and butch it up a bit (crash bars w/ bash plate etc). You can mod a bike to improve it's ablity for whatever use you plan
for it but it helps to start with a bike that is closer to the intended use
to begin with. If you don't want to go cross-country on a touring bike,
I'd at least go for a good standard (what the Wee is really) before I'd go
for a single. The GS's would be right up this alley as well but then again,
you've more than doubled the cost by going that route.
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Old 09-17-2007, 11:50 AM   #12
TCBronson OP
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Thanks to all

Thanks, to all..I appreciate the input. I like to be different and I thought that the XR-L would be different, but I think you all are right about it not being a good slab bike. I could just see me spending a bunch of money and then be totally unhappy with the result. So, how about making a ST 1300 into an adventure bike....

I have always been a big fan of Honda's and it is dissapointing that they do not offer the kind of bike I really want here in the U.S.

I guess I will just keep looking at the competiton and I may have to be unloyal and buy a different brand.
Thanks, again!
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Old 09-17-2007, 12:11 PM   #13
barchetta
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Like Dirtgeek, I also have a 650 Strom, and a XR650L.
I love riding the XR on the dirt and gravel roads, but if I'm doing some longer days on the highways with friends, the Strom gets the nod.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't like my Strom on gravel roads - the front end tends to wash out, and the bike is expensive to drop. To be more fair to the Strom, I should have reduced the air pressure in the tires when I got to the dirt. That would have helped a bunch.
For long trips, I would choose the Strom for the following reasons:
- Better gas mileage - I get 55-60 mpg even when loaded with gear (didn't use saddle bags), plus you start with a 5.5 gallon tank
- Quieter - With a larger windshield, it is so nice and quiet
- Speed - The Strom can run all day at 85 if I want
- Comfort - The bigger seat on the Strom is pretty comfortable
- Smooth - You don't get the buzz in your hands or feet like the XR
- Super easy to change the oil (one drain plug, one fill hole)
- Excellent headlights, even better than many cars
- Fuel injected - just tap the starter, and it fires up regardless of temp.
Just pack a compressor or tire pump so you can adjust your tire pressure for off-road excursions.
Things that aren't so great about the Strom:
- definitely more of a street bike than a dirt bike.
- may want to do some suspension work if you do any serious off road
- pain in the butt to change the air filter, which is more of an issue if you do a lot of offroad, otherwise filter is good for 7-8K.
- I like the looks of the XR much better than the Strom
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Old 09-17-2007, 12:25 PM   #14
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don't get too hung up with brand loyalty. the nice thing about these types of bikes is the price of used ones. i'm in for under 10 grand with these two bikes. i'm more of a function over fashion guy. you can find used ones that are farkled out nicely for good prices. start hitting the shops and sit on the ones you're interested in.

al
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Old 09-17-2007, 12:35 PM   #15
markjenn
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This is a heck of a spot to get hung up with Honda brand loyalty. They have BY FAR the weakest 80-20 adventure bike lineup - you really have to coerce the XR-L into the mission, when Suzuki and Kawasaki each have two 650's in both singles and twins that fit the bill much better.

It used to be that I thought Honda was a cut above in overall quality among the Japanese big four, but these days you're really splitting hairs to find any real difference in quality.

- Mark
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