The yr is 1993, and your model new Honda XR650 is nearly essentially the most succesful factor on two wheels. Twist the waffle grip and also you’ve obtained almost 40 hp on faucet from the carbureted 644 cc thumper, and the speedometer needle will tickle 100 mph for those who’re courageous sufficient. Weaving by way of the lots of Pontiac Bonnevilles and Chrysler Lebarons, you make your approach to the gravel, the place the XR will take you additional than anything 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 continues to be right here, and isn’t going anyplace. Celebrating 30 years of almost 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 appears prefer it ought to include classic registration. I imply, this factor actually shouldn’t be. Aside from just a few minor tweaks, the XR650 is offered at this time 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 includes a gear-driven counterbalance shaft to easy out the thumper’s operation, and its low finish torque makes the five-speed transmission greater than ample.
The carburetor is likely one of the solely issues to vary on the XR. It’s nonetheless fed by a Kehin CV carburetor, but it surely’s grown from 40 to 42.5 mm. However even with out gas injection, and burdened with vital smog tools and a road-legal exhaust, the Honda XR650 continues to be good for 40 hp and 47 lb-ft of torque. It’ll even return 40 to 50 mpg if handled proper.
Whereas most have made the change to aluminum, the XR continues to be based mostly on a fundamental and strong metal tube body, which has an inside oil reservoir. Suspension is just about 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 gas tank is excessive and in your corporation. One-piece metal bars entrance the analog speedometer and 4 standing lights maintain the very important info in verify. The clutch continues to be cable operated, and the lights are nonetheless all rectangular. Stuffed with gas, the XR weighs in at just below 350 kilos, that means she’s actually no light-weight.
Certain, the previous XR isn’t going to win many battles on paper, however while you want one bike to do all of it, and do it low-cost, the XR650 is your bike. MSRP on the 2023 mannequin is available in at $6,999, which continues to be aggressive for what you’re getting, however vendor holdovers and low-mileage used bikes can supply a big low cost.
Hop on the classifieds anyplace, and also you’re certain to seek 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 affordable ADV bike, or a stripped-down tracker — this bike is actually a clean slate. All the very best mods, or any points you may probably have, are all nicely documented within the boards. However for essentially the most half, all an XR wants for a cheerful life over 20,000 miles is common oil modifications and valve checks.
Its strong options aren’t for everybody although. Critics gripe in regards to the Kehin carb and five-speed transmission, however updating these options would in all probability spell the tip of the engine’s EPA and CARB compliance, and the mannequin all collectively.
In a method, the XR650L is a nicely stored secret for these within the know. Homeowners are a special breed, and are both on their second XR, or are protecting their first 40,000 mile bike operating on 15W40 diesel oil. They eat sand for breakfast, and deal with a 50-mile work commute for dinner. They usually wouldn’t submit it on Instagram, even when that they had one.
There’s nothing glamorous or techy in regards to 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 this time, we wouldn’t anticipate the tip 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 had been to drop from Honda’s lineup for the following mannequin yr, the 650 will stay related (and prevalent) for years to come back.
So subsequent time you come throughout one among these dinosaurs on the path, give a wave, and salute the spine of Honda’s dual-sport lineup for the final 30 years. [Honda]