museum. Not only is the material wonky, but the bend is a
throwback to another time. In truth, we don’t think anyone
liked it back then, either. And finally, those stock footpegs
are like standing on pencils. Call IMS.
The range isn’t bad, but it’s not good. After all these
years we still don’t understand why Honda didn’t give this
bike a bigger fuel tank. It will squeak out 100 miles on the
street with the stock 2.8-gallon tank, but that’s not enough
if you’re riding with your buddies on KLR650s. Acerbis,
IMS and Clarke all offer bigger tanks.
Stock motors aren’t bad. Back in the old days, Honda
went a little crazy trying to keep up with the Team Green
Kawasaki KX500s in Baja. The more they modified the XR,
the less reliable it became. In stock form, the XR will never
break, and the power is fine now that it doesn’t have to
keep up with Larry Roeseler. Even the stock muffler is sur-
prisingly good considering how quiet it is. If you do decide
to hunt for a little more power, there are affordable solu-
tions. An aftermarket exhaust should be teamed up with
a few well-placed vents in the airbox and rejetting. Moose
has a Stage 1 jetting kit that makes that last part easy.
The price is amazing. Honda’s MSRP is $6690. The tool-
ing for this bike has long since been paid for, and Honda
is probably doing just fine with that price. That’s almost
$4000 less than a contemporary dual-sport bike like the
KTM 500EXC. Admittedly, the Honda can’t perform as well
in the dirt, but by the same token, the KTM would be tor-
turous on a 500-mile road trip. The XR is perfectly smooth
and happy at freeway speed, and the vibration is at such
a low frequency that it’s actually somewhat comforting.
That’s probably the most important thing to know about
the Honda XR650L. It’s available, inexpensive and still
pretty good at what it does. It just so happens that “what it
does” is everything. ❏
ADVENTURE / HONDA XR650L
There are people who say that the
conventional cartridge fork was as good as
off-road front suspension got.