The yr is 1993, and your model new Honda XR650 is nearly probably the most succesful factor on two wheels. Twist the waffle grip and also you’ve acquired practically 40 hp on faucet from the carbureted 644 cc thumper, and the speedometer needle will tickle 100 mph when you’re courageous sufficient. Weaving via the plenty of Pontiac Bonnevilles and Chrysler Lebarons, you make your technique to the gravel, the place the XR will take you additional than the rest with a license plate.
Blink for a second, and it’s 2023. The world has modified, and the Bonnevilles and Lebarons are gone. However the XR650 remains to be right here, and isn’t going wherever. Celebrating 30 years of practically unchanged manufacturing, right here’s to Honda’s unkillable XR650.
In comparison with the remainder of Honda’s off-road roster, together with the Africa Twin, MX-inspired 450RL and even the 300L Rally, the XR650L seems to be prefer it ought to include classic registration. I imply, this factor actually shouldn’t be. Apart from just a few minor tweaks, the XR650 is out there at present in the identical specification as when it was delivered to the US 30 years in the past.
The highest canine of Honda’s previous XR off-road lineup for ’93, the XR650L mixed the tried and true mechanicals of the XR600R with a extra highly effective 644 cc engine from the NX650 Dominator. The air-cooled, SOHC engine encompasses a gear-driven counterbalance shaft to clean out the thumper’s operation, and its low finish torque makes the five-speed transmission greater than sufficient.
The carburetor is without doubt one of the solely issues to alter on the XR. It’s nonetheless fed by a Kehin CV carburetor, however it’s grown from 40 to 42.5 mm. However even with out gasoline injection, and burdened with obligatory smog tools and a road-legal exhaust, the Honda XR650 remains to be good for 40 hp and 47 lb-ft of torque. It should even return 40 to 50 mpg if handled proper.
Whereas most have made the change to aluminum, the XR remains to be based mostly on a primary and strong metal tube body, which has an inside oil reservoir. Suspension is nearly unchanged, consisting of 43 mm Showa entrance forks and a Professional-link rear shock. Each ends function preload and compression adjustment, and are good for 11 inches of journey (that’s 2 inches greater than the Africa Twin and simply an inch shy of the 450RL).
Ergonomics within the saddle are going to really feel like 1993. The seat is tall at 37 inches, and the two.8-gallon metal gasoline tank is excessive and in your online business. One-piece metal bars entrance the analog speedometer and 4 standing lights hold the important data in verify. The clutch remains to be cable operated, and the lights are nonetheless all rectangular. Filled with gasoline, the XR weighs in at just below 350 kilos, which means she’s definitely no light-weight.
Certain, the previous XR isn’t going to win many battles on paper, however whenever you want one bike to do all of it, and do it low-cost, the XR650 is your bike. MSRP on the 2023 model is available in at $6,999, which remains to be aggressive for what you’re getting, however seller holdovers and low-mileage used bikes can supply a big low cost.
Hop on the classifieds wherever, and also you’re positive to search out a number of XRs for $4,000 or much less, prepared for a brand new set of rubber, and a brand new lease on life. Construct an inexpensive ADV bike, or a stripped-down tracker — this bike is actually a clean slate. All one of the best mods, or any points you might probably have, are all nicely documented within the boards. However for probably the most half, all an XR wants for a contented life over 20,000 miles is common oil modifications and valve checks.
Its strong options aren’t for everybody although. Critics gripe concerning the Kehin carb and five-speed transmission, however updating these options would most likely spell the top of the engine’s EPA and CARB compliance, and the mannequin all collectively.
In a method, the XR650L is a nicely saved secret for these within the know. Homeowners are a distinct breed, and are both on their second XR, or are conserving their first 40,000 mile bike working on 15W40 diesel oil. They eat sand for breakfast, and deal with a 50-mile work commute for dinner. And so they wouldn’t submit it on Instagram, even when they’d one.
There’s nothing glamorous or techy concerning the XR650L, however so long as the world wants a bulletproof, tried-and-true machine, the XR will proceed to promote. Contemplating the variety of cheap, throwback bikes we’re seeing available on the market at present, we wouldn’t anticipate the top of the XR650 anytime quickly.
Heck, Honda simply unveiled the new XR150L for 2023, additionally air-cooled with a metal body. And even when the XR have been to drop from Honda’s lineup for the following mannequin yr, the 650 will stay related (and prevalent) for years to return.
So subsequent time you come throughout one in all these dinosaurs on the path, give a wave, and salute the spine of Honda’s dual-sport lineup for the final 30 years. [Honda]