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The magazine's Honda XR650R began as a potent desert enduro bike with a Baja Designs dual-sport conversion kit. The bike has power to spare, especially after the rebuild of the engine top end and installation of a Hot Cams Stage 1 camshaft.  Machine work by L.A. Sleeve enhanced the performance and reliability of the motorcycle. Now street legal and plated, the platform serves our video filming in the field.

 

This purpose built motorcycle has the inherent agility and chassis engineering to get the job done in the desert and mountainous terrain. Here, tires are a crucial consideration for a motorcycle that winds up a hundred miles from nowhere in remote backcountry. For dual-sport tires, I picked the Michelin T63 and the Michelin Cross AC10 rubber with Michelin matching tubes. 

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If you'd like to see how I mounted and tested these tires, go to: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/4WD-Mechanix-Magazine-Tests-Michelin-Dual-Sport-Motorcycle-Tires.html. I put these tires to the test in the dirt and on highway under the brute torque of the Honda XR650R in the Part 2 video.

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This Honda XR650R has ample power for additional equipment. For an improved skid plate and engine side guards, plus rear bag racks, I turned to TCI Products. In the Part 2 video, you'll see this equipment and the high quality Nelson-Rigg bags that will tote gear and video equipment into the back country. Expect detailed HD video coverage on the TCI and Nelson-Rigg products shortly...

 

Moses

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Hi Moses,

As you might remember, I put the T63s on my XR650R. I got an 80/90 front, and a 120/80 rear. I was quite happy with them on pavement and hardpack, but where I am now is almost nearly all sand, and so I have decided they're too small. I've since changed the rear to a 130, and I look forward to wearing out the front so I can put a 90/90 on it. In these conditions the 80/90 front goes hunting all the time and has landed me on my butt more times than I'd care to count. The main problem (compounded by my lack of skill) is in the deep sand ruts from trucks (when you're riding in/along them). I run with as low a pressure as I dare (about 7.5 psi front), which helps, but the bike is just too heavy for good sand work with an 80 cross-section on it. 

My $0.02 worth.

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Appreciate your sharing, David...I mounted these tires for their dual-sport/DOT legal rating.  I fully understand your point, the OE tire size is on the light side for a bike as heavy as the XR650R, especially with the oversized fuel tank and rear racks.

I actually had a 130 on the rear (previous owner's choice) before the tire change but did not have an opportunity to test it before the Michelin T63 swap...Let us know how the 90/90 and 130 at the rear works on the roads and sand you describe...very helpful to all of us.  The roads sound like "Long Way Down" with the Beemers, constant sliding around and plowing in deep sand.

On that note, lifting weight from the front wheel helps, a delicate balance that involves sufficient acceleration and shifting your weight rearward to prevent the front tire from plowing.  A ride last week was a good illustration.  I was having no trouble with a sandy stretch of trail on the uphill run.  When we returned facing downward, my bike's weight transferred toward the front wheel, and the front tire wanted to plow.  It took throttle applied lightly and leaning rearward to unload the front tire and stop the plowing.  Same road, different chassis angle and weight transfer.

Moses

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