DR650 vs XR650L?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Maxacceleration, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. Maxacceleration

    Maxacceleration Off the grid

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    Pardon me and please throw up a link if this has already been hashed through.

    Considering these two bikes to build up from stock.
    Which has more potential?

    Air cooled vs air cooled.
    Curb weights? Honda 346 fueled vs Suzook 366 (fueled?).
    Within an inch on wheelbase (Honda is shorter at 57").
    Honda has roughly an inch more suspension travel at 11.6/11.1 vs 10.2.
    The biggest difference to me is seat height with the Suzuki much lower at 34.8 vs Hondas 37.0. Thats tall.
    Just reading spec sheets...
    Looks like aftermarket tanks, racks etc is out there for both.
    Build quality between the two?
    I could go on and on.

    I realize they have been around forever. I am looking at them again for their pure simplicity vs more modern techno bikes.
    Backroads type use, not interstate stuff.
    Had a new '86 XR600 back in the day...
    I have rode tall dirt bikes forever, but a tall loaded up bike seems a chore in some situations (like throwing a leg over).

    Opinions on each? The DR seem much more popular.
    A Ford vs Chevy thing?
    #1
  2. Trey3

    Trey3 n00b

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    I also had a 80's xl600. I'm currently riding a fairly modified 06 dr650. One of my good friends has a xr650, that he has let me ride a few times. Our bikes have simular mods ( full exhaust, airbox mod, jet kit). I would say the main difference between the two is that the Dr has more power through out the whole rev range and especialy in the top end. The Dr has a two plug head, and a larger diameter header; just two things Ive noticed that may account for the difference in power. The xr on the other hand has a much better suspension out of the box. The xr feels more like a dirt bike. The dr seems to run cooler, it has larger fins on the cyclinder and head than the xr. The dr also comes with an oil cooler which the xr does not. This is just my oppinion on a few things I have noticed. The difference in power may be how the bikes are set up, but like I said we have simular mods.
    My biast oppinion is that you should try out the suzuki..:evil Good luck in your search
    #2
  3. bobnoxious67

    bobnoxious67 Baby steps...

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    This.

    Buy the one that sings to you, that you like to stare at and think about, and that makes you want to ride:deal
    #3
  4. MarylandStrom

    MarylandStrom Been here awhile

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    I owned an XR650L a number of years ago. And spent a long weekend riding a DR650.

    Both great bikes. Here is what I remember:

    Honda - Very, very tall. I'm 6'0 tall and it was strange the first time I rode it. It felt so high. As mentioned above, it's very dirt oriented. And you can wheelie forever.

    Suzuki - Much more compact feeling in the height as well as front to back. Does well on the road and smooth trails.

    Either bike handles the dirt pretty well, but in my opinion the Honda felt far superior once the going got rough. In fact the harder you hammer it, the better it feels. I didn't get that same sense with the Suzuki while hitting rough sections.

    I loved both bikes, so you really wouldn't go wrong either way. If I had it to do again, I would probably stick with the Honda because of it's offroad abilities. I raced motocross for years, so it's still in my blood. If I just did paved roads and dirt fireroads, then the Suzuki would be the ticket.
    #4
  5. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer

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    In many ways it is a Ford or Chevy thing. For me the choice came down to KLR or DR.

    In functional terms both are reliable, affordable, and have loads of aftermarket support.

    I ended up going with the DR based on ergos (it felt better sitting on one in the showroom), the oil/air cooled factor (no radiator, fan, or coolant to worry with), and the simpler maintenance (i.e., with ordinary tools).

    Mine has almost 8,000 miles on it now, 5,000 of which were put on it last year on a trip to the CDT and back. (Yes, I rode the little sucker there and back ...)

    :thumb
    #5
  6. danketchpel

    danketchpel Long timer

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    Ergos are definitely a huge factor. When I was looking for a 650 single "dual sport" bike the XR650L was simply too tall for me, period. I've ridden a couple XR650Rs and that motor will leave you with a huge stupid grin, but that's an apples/oranges comparison for sure.

    I like the DR650 ergos especially for more off-road compared to say the KLR650, it has much more of a "dirt bike" feel to it.

    You didn't mention what your dirt/street ratio is and that will certainly be a factor. The way I read your post I'd suggest the DR as I "believe" it will be the better scoot for you in the long run. I think Suzuki's air/oil cooling is better than the XR's air only and I think Honda's radial valve arrangement is a bit more complicated than need be.

    I don't think you will go wrong with either but I guess I'd sum up your ergo points and dirt/street ratio then see how them stack up. I think the DR will be better if there is more pavement involved and the DR has a much lower seat height.

    I went for the KLR simply because I was looking for even more street comfort, larger fuel tank, water cooling, stock rear rack, and better wind protection. I already have "real" dirt bikes so I didn't need to include that factor for my decision. If I wanted more dirt capability I would have chosen the DR in a heart beat.
    #6
  7. farrington300

    farrington300 No wait....What?

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    The xr has more ground clearance as well. Also, I think the XR can drop a pretty good chunk of weight really easy vs the DR. Between the tank, shrouds, smog, sub frame, tail light, etc. I have taken about 20 to 25lbs off the xr. Also, and this was the selling point for me, the xr has a wider ratio transmission than the DR. The fact that there is a taller 5th gear available was icing on the cake.
    #7
  8. Maxacceleration

    Maxacceleration Off the grid

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    All great points!
    Yes, how much weight can be dropped, the taller 5th gear ratio... Good Honda pluses.
    I feel both these bikes need a 6th gear - oh well.
    I do not need to commute. This could be a bike for ADV/weekenders only.
    Maybe 50/50 use? Hard to estimate.

    The KLR wind protection & big tank plus water cooling are big pluses no doubt. Weight is a minus.
    The air cooled bikes don't burn up really, but the oil cooler is a good add on the DR.
    Looking simple!

    I lean towards the DR at this time. Gotta check ergos.
    #8
  9. basketcase

    basketcase lifelong reject fixer

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    Regarding the 5th gear/6th gear business, with the stock 15t counter-sprocket installed I cruised at 80 mph indicated (74 gps) all day on the DR on the slab with no problem.

    After we got on the trail I did the 20 minute switch to a 14t counter-sprocket. I ran the 14t sprocket from Datil, NM until I got off the trail at the northeast side of Yellowstone. The fact is, the 14t makes the low speed 1st and 2nd gear personality of the bike much more trail friendly and will easily allow you to run 70 mph on the hard roads. I never felt like I needed a 6th gear.

    Ground clearance wise I never had an issue and I was hauling around 70 lbs of junk in my trail kit. Nor did my buddy who was riding a lowered DR have a clearance problem -- and his bike was set up on the stock suspension. Unless one is going to be weaving through rocky, jagged single track the value of an additional inch of ground clearance debate is well, debatable. :lol3

    I'll upload a photo of the roughest stuff we rode (rocky jeep trail) and then come back via edit and include it.

    Via edit --

    Here I am with the full load of crap. As the trip progressed the pile got smaller!
    [​IMG]

    This photo is from northern New Mexico. As long as one stayed on the jeep track it was smooth (relatively speaking) but if one wandered off the trail it got rough! Don't worry about how I know this...
    [​IMG]

    I really need to get the rest of the photos online and get my story posted before I die. :huh
    #9
  10. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

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    Actually, the Honda will burn up, sort of. The Honda does not like to be ridden at high RPMs for long periods of time or in other conditions where the engine heat will build up. If you do, you will drop a valve seat with all of the resultant damage associated. They really need an oil cooler if you even think you might ride in these types of conditions.

    Also, the Honda CDI module will fail, it's just a question of when. There's tons of postings in the XRL thread about it, so unless you do the Techforlife mod yourself, carry a spare module.

    Also, regarding the seat height. I measured my stock XRL and it came in at a hair over 38", not 37" as claimed. That's just plain silly to have designed the bike to be that tall with all that weight. I've only got a 31" inseam and I couldn't manage the bike until I lowered it (more than 40 years of dirt experience). Riding was fine, but stopping was another story. Stop lights were an ordeal. Parking lots, yeah, another thrill. It handled well in the dirt, but all that weight combined with that height, made it a real handful. I rode Death Valley with it, with loaded saddle bags, and it performed well. However, the sub-frame did show signs of stress and really needs re-enforcing if your doing things like that.

    I could on, but............

    I've owned both and honestly the DR is the better bike of the two listed. :deal
    #10
  11. acesandeights

    acesandeights Asperger

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    Since someone mentioned you can lose 20 lbs of weight quick on the XR, and you asked about that being the case on the DR650, it’s my understanding you can lose 10 lbs by switching to an aftermarket exhaust on the DR650 (15 lbs stock, 5 lbs aftermarket). Certainly there are other things, changing tail lamp, passenger foot pegs, etc. I don’t know how easy or quick you can lose 20 lbs, but you’ll be well over 10 lbs loss with very little effort.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    #11
  12. vintagespeed

    vintagespeed fNg

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    i only rode my buddy's XR around the block, but i wouldn't do my daily commute on it.

    the DR is great on the road and once i get my USD forks on it soon, should be much better in the dirt. :evil

    it's not called the swiss army knife of motorcycles for nothin.
    #12
  13. Utah Bones

    Utah Bones Gas X ready!

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    :bert Get it together people! :lol3
    #13
  14. bobbed06

    bobbed06 Cavalera Conspirator

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    The DR with the oil cooler and heavier weight are better suited to long distance touring with offroad capabilities a bit less than The XRL.

    The XR is a better dirt performer and not suited for long hauls without the addition of a oil cooler.

    No matter what you do to either bike each machine still stays true to its original purpose. The XR is more dirt oriented and the DR better for long hauls.

    I personally dont feel comfortable on the DR off road in the trails as it feels heavier to me than the XRL because it is and I can easily override the capabilities of the DR while offroading. That being said both bikes need suspension help out of the box VIA springs and valving for your weight. I wasnt impressed with the brakes on the DR either.

    They are both great machines for their intended purpose. My vote would be think long and hard about what you are gonna do with the bike you buy and purchase accordingly. DR more road XR more offroad. You cant go wrong with either one.
    Happy Trails
    #14
  15. ShadyRascal

    ShadyRascal Master of None

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    SSSHHHHH!!! Whaddaya tryin' to do, solve half the arguments on this site??


    :lol3
    #15
  16. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    I thought my DR had a great wide set of gears with stock gearing,it runs smooth at 80 mph no problem all day if needed,the XRL is taller geared then a DR? News to me.Mine gets 50 mpg pretty much all the time.
    The XRL tends to run hot,valves and valve seats can go kaphlooei on em from this. Luggage on an XRL is kinda dicey as the subframe doesnt take well to it,DR's seem to thrive on overloading.
    Every XR/XRL Ive ridden vibrates a fair amount more then my DR,I guess you get used to it.
    XRL has more travel,better suspension for dirt,is taller. Its a stretch to get my leg over my DR when its loaded,I wouldnt want it any taller.


    A good seat,lower pegs and the DR has great ergos.
    #16
  17. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I have read about the Honda's running hot and using oil, and there may not be a lot of oil in there.
    The Suzuki has the oil cooler AND a jet that sprays oil under the piston and they don't seem to use any oil or over heat no matter how bad it gets or what you do with them.

    I think, in some respects, the DR might even deal with heat better then the water cooled KLR which is known to use oil and not like running at high speeds for long.

    I tried to sit on an XR at the dealers once, at 6 foot tall I don't think I could flat foot it at all.
    #17
  18. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Ditto,a friend of mine had some valve seats drop out of his XRL head,he was using it to commute in the Bay Area like it was a street bike,it lasted a while doing that but was expensive to fix when it shat the bed.
    Ive ran my DR at 80 and above for 600 miles at a crack,doesnt seem to have any effect on it I can see,it actually seems smoother at 80mph then 70,odd but true. Ive never tried a 16 tooth countershaft sprocket as it does so well stock.
    XR'S/XRL'S have always overheated stators and eventually can lose 3rd gear.

    DR's can have problems also,but most do pretty good. If I scatter my DR someday,I'll get another.
    #18
  19. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Its odd that a buddy's stock XRL is spun out and vibrating at 75mph while my DR is smooth and happy at 80+.
    You say the XRL has a wider set of gears and a taller 5th?
    Amazing.
    Ive actually cruised my DR at an indicated 95 so probably 86 mph in reality. Riding along a smooth hiway in Nevada,it seemed perfectly happy to do this with stock gearing.
    #19
  20. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    Your buddy's bike is geared down, clutch slipping or something, they are geared really tall stock - roughly the same as the DR650SE overall for gearing, both wide, gappy gearboxes.

    I've ridden them both. I think the DR650SE probably suits folks who have a road bias (including dirt roads) while the XR650L has a significant advantage off road, especially if you pick up the pace a bit.

    The XRL doesn't have an oil cooler, but it is a dry sump motor so the oil gets pumped through the frame and its essentially impossible for the sump to suck air if its bouncing around a whole bunch, on its side or whatever. The DR uses a wet-sump with is the norm for street bikes (and unusual for off road machines), it works out fine either way. If you'll be pushing the XRL hard an oil cooler is wise, plenty of options with the one from an XR400R being the best imo.

    I'm 5'10" tall and don't find the XRL too tall at all. If anything its a touch cramped. I'd be inclined to try a tall seat. Folks on this site whine about height a lot, but most anywhere off road focused you don't find that - most dirt bikes are in the 37-39" seat height range, works just fine. Any shorter and you won't have enough ground clearance or won't have enough leg room.

    Some folks (i.e., footdragger) get a bit cultish about their favorite flavor of thumper. You'd be wise to take some big grains of salt with advice given in this vein (for example, the alleged XRL 3rd gear issue is actually a DR issue and as far as I'm aware - and I've been around both machines forever - there are not persistent stator issues with either model). Its really a wash in terms of build quality and troulbes between the two imo - with the XRL you've gotta watch the temps and/or add an oil cooler, with the DR you have to watch out for 3rd gear, base gaskets and starter sprag clutches. All fixable, none a major issue.

    You can punch the DR's motor out to 780cc, the XR's motor is pretty much maxed out as standard, though making it breath better will get you more performance.

    Between the two I'm not sure which I'd chose, really would depend on what I'd be doing. If its all street, no brainer I'd get the DR (but realistically I'd get a street bike), all dirt I'd get the XR (but realistically I'd get a dirt bike), for a mix it just depends on the focus and balance.

    You should also contemplate a dual sported XR650R and a TE610 while you are at it :deal
    #20