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Old 02-21-2011, 09:51 AM   #1
drew2 OP
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Washington DC
Oddometer: 91
xr250r vs. xr250l

I'm looking for a cheap (<$1500) light dualsport to replace my NX125. I want more power and better suspension but also something lighter and more friendly than my drz400s for tight northeastern trails.

I am a fairly slow rider and my usual activity is just exploring trails, not trying to keep up with anyone.

I have read tons of rave reviews of the xr250r, and it sounds perfect except that i need a bike that can be plated in PA. I am assuming it's next to impossible to get an XR250R plated here. That leaves me with the xr250l (if i can find one).

What are the functional differences between these models?

For a 1994 I am finding 108kg/238lbs dry for the R and I can't find a weight for the xr250l. Wikipedia says it weights about 40lbs more. Can the xr250r parts be swapped on to drop the weight down? Is the XR250l as nice to ride as the R or is the suspension significantly downgraded?

Any advice or experience is appreciated, thanks!
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:20 AM   #2
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Joined: Nov 2006
Location: on the road
Oddometer: 2,414
The XR250 engine got some major changes in '96.
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:04 AM   #3
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Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Tampa
Oddometer: 11,251
Whole new chassis and suspension in '96 as I recall as well.

I don't really know how the XRL differs from the pre 1996 XR-R. I'm sure you could loose some weight if you can live without the blinkers, mirros, passenger pegs, rear mud guard and all that stuff.

The XRL was pretty slow, heavy and not the easiest thing to get started after you drop it. A DR350S or SE would be similar, but better imho (not a lot lighter than the drz though).

A DRZ is pretty darn friendly - maybe work on it a bit to get the weight down a little. I'd rather ride a DRZ than an XRL no matter how tight the trails, but I tend to ride fast so my preferences could differ.
'09 Buell XB12XT, TL1000S, H1F, M620, CR250R, KX100, XR650R, Cota 315R

Summer 2009 Ride Report
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:06 PM   #4
drew2 OP
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Washington DC
Oddometer: 91
Thanks for the responses.

Yep I looked at getting the weight down on the DRZ but it doesn't seem cheap or easy, and I'd rather not make any drastic mods right now.

This bike will be replacing the NX125, not the DRZ, as my brother and I share bikes so we need two. We both find that the 'ease' of riding the nx125 makes it more fun to ride than the DRZ sometimes, especially on slick rocky trails.

It seems that the hard starting issues of the xr250l can be fixed by swapping to the xr250r carb and jetting. Again, no personal experience so recommendations appreciated!

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Old 02-21-2011, 12:39 PM   #5
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Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Wichita, KS
Oddometer: 659
I seem to remember that really the only differences between the R and L were:

E start, and associated wiring/battery
Smog junk

I also think the L has real crappy CVK carb, but i can't be sure of that.

They are both easy to ride, soft, dirt couches. Neither of them are sharp trail weapons, so honestly I would get whichever model you find first that best catches your eye. Already having a street legal title and plate woudl definetly give an edge to an L model in my eyes. By this time, you can surely find tons of cheap upgrades for the 250 on ebay or other websites.
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:46 PM   #6
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Location: Tampa
Oddometer: 11,251
My only personal experience with the L was when my dad bought one in the early 1990s. He found it too heavy, too slow and too hard to start and sold it in less than a year (and got a CR500 ). I was about 12 at the time and on a YZ80 so I never really rode it. I did wait around a bunch while he tried to get it started. His was bone stock and in pristine condition. Maybe it could be made better with easy modifications, but stock it wasn't all that impressive.

A CRF230L might suit you well too - its quite a bit more compact and lighter-feeling (might not actually be lighter) than the XR (I've ridden various XR250Rs) though not quite as much power and the suspension isn't as good - still lots more of both than the NX though.
'09 Buell XB12XT, TL1000S, H1F, M620, CR250R, KX100, XR650R, Cota 315R

Summer 2009 Ride Report
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
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Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Actionville NC
Oddometer: 574
Currently own a pre-96 XR-R, and a DRZ-250.

I like the XR-R. Big differences were R had an oil cooler and slightly different cam. Oil cooler to help cool it on slow trails. L had taller tranny gears in 3-6th gear for better highway manners. The R doesn't have the stator capacity as the L does so lighting can be tricky but doable. I'm running LEDs everywhere. There were some slight differences in the suspension but you may not notice if you're not riding hard.

My R will be street legal as I bought a L frame w title and changed everything over from the R. R is kick start only, but it starts easily even after sitting for a couple months. 2-3 kicks at most.

Depending on which DRZ you have, the 250 or 400, the R will seem a little lighter and more nimble.

plating depends on your state. You may be able to buy one from another state and bring it in but you'll have to verify that with PA. You can look at the flea market here or ebay to find small DS bikes.

a recent thread over on TT discussed this very thing. Good luck
09 Kawi KLR 650
05 Road Kind Custom
01 Suzuki DRZ-250
96 Honda Shadow
93 Honda XR 80
87 Honda XR250r
83 Honda XR350r
73 Honda XL350
73 CB750
73 Yamaha DT-1

wife calls it a sickness. I'm running a M/C rescue
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:15 PM   #8
Joined: Oct 2012
Oddometer: 4
XR250l tires

Yoko/ - wondering what you are running for tires, mine came with newer Pirelli Scorpion ATs, they are primarily street tires and run great on the road, not so good on the trails. I, however, ride about 50/50 and would like more dirt friendly tires. I would put straight knobbies on except they would last about a month. Know of any good compromise?

ps - I had a DR650 years ago, and like the xr250l better. And I am 6'3" and 250lbs. I stiffened up the rear pre-load and had the Mrs on it this weekend....quite doable for short runs!
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:24 AM   #9
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Joined: Sep 2008
Location: The Little Apple
Oddometer: 2,340
I have Shinko 244's on 2 of my bikes and I really like them. They're cheap, stick to the asphalt great, and work good on gravel and dirt.
I run Klotz in my weed wacker and chainsaw for the smell
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