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Honda XR650R Motorcycle: Transformation Into a Bona Fide Dual-Sport!

dirt motorcycle motorcycle fuel tanks dual-sport motorcycle motorcycle accessories motorcycle camping camping gear tire repairs motorcycle off-road adventure-touring

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#1 Moses Ludel

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 02:09 PM

It all began with a passion for desert enduro bikes.  After a dozen viewings of "Dust to Glory!", my bike of choice was the Honda XR650R liquid cooled thumper.  Finding the right used machine, rebuilding the engine top-end with machine work by L.A. Sleeve, dialing the tune, after months of waiting, I finally mounted the beast and headed into the desert.  An hour of dirt riding validated my choice, for my kind of riding, this is the perfect motorcycle.


Michelin DOT tires (9).JPG Michelin DOT tires (10).JPG

Fresh top-end rebuild with a Hot Cams Stage 1 camshaft, the magazine's XR650R is ready for the desert!  With an estimated 55 horsepower and 50 lb-ft torque in this form, the bike will meet every performance demand.


My original goal with this motorcycle was a reliable, highly capable motorcycle for HD video filming at off-road events and travel-adventure rides.  And now I faced a significant obstacle:  Where would I put all the camping and video gear?  Was a purpose built enduro motorcycle able to perform double duty like this?


Michelin DOT Tires (1).JPG Michelin DOT Tires (2).JPG

Michelin T63 and Cross AC10 tires were the first step toward taming the desert beast and making it more on-highway capable. The DOT approved T63 tires offered the best trade-off for both dirt and asphalt use. 


The internet is rife with examples of Honda XR650R motorcycles morphing into supermotards and dual-sports. In fact, despite its reputation as the ultimate Baja racer and "off-highway" desert bike status across North America, the Honda XR650R reached much of the global market in semi-street form. Draped in highway amenities and trim for Europe and Australia (detuned substantially for the Down Under market, making it all the more street worthy), the XR650R has the ability to serve incredibly well as a dual-sport.  My cycle was purchased in just that form, the previous owner was Texas based and had added a Baja Designs conversion kit and DOT tires.  The bike was on- and off-highway legal, and I readily registered, plated and titled the motorcycle as such at Nevada.


Michelin T63 Tests (3).JPG Michelin T63 Tests (7).JPG

Off pavement, the Michelin T63 tires work well.  DOT for the highway, they deliver on asphalt, too.  Here, I test the tires at Nevada's wild horse country and later on a curving ribbon of asphalt.  The Honda XR650R dual-sport conversion can deliver in both worlds!


Here I was with a dual-sport platform, so why not go the next step and add the necessary cargo racks and luggage?  As a highway rider as well as a dirt guy, I instinctively switched to the Michelin T63 tires for an on-highway improvement.  Tested on dirt and the highway, the tires were as close a compromise as practical for both asphalt and Nevada's graded gravel roads and alkaline dust single-tracks.


TCI Nelson-Rigg Web (7).jpg TCI Nelson-Rigg Web (6).jpg

TCI Nelson-Rigg Web (3).jpg Michelin T63 Tests (9).JPG


The next step was a leap, the choice of TCI Products' Sequoia and Borrego racks, along with TCI's skid plate and engine guard protection.  Installed, there was no going back.  The Johnny Campbell/Steve Hengeveld Honda A-Team profile vanished.  Was this okay?  Well, truthfully, I did pause for a moment.  After years of selling myself on the idea of a Baja-bred desert enduro bike, to see these, admittedly, well-crafted and precisely fitted saddle bag and tail racks, hanging off the back end of a race-bred dirt motorcycle, was certainly a "different" look!


Michelin T63 Tests (5).JPG TCI Nelson-Rigg Web (5).jpg Michelin T63 Tests (6).JPG

This video gear and motorcycle camping gear need a place to ride! The Nelson-Rigg luggage and TCI Products racks have provided an outstanding solution. The package transformed the Honda XR650R desert enduro bike into a dual-sport that rivals the "big" adventure-touring bikes—at half the curb weight and nimble enough for single-track and fast-track desert!


Once I added the tastefully designed and rugged Nelson-Rigg luggage to these quality racks, I was able to exhale.  In fact, as I fitted the luggage onto the stable and sturdy TCI racks, following closely with the video cam to catch the nooks and crannies of the bags, it became clear that this is one good looking, highly versatile and rugged package!


I'm thrilled with the utility of these racks and bags.  Moreover, the cycle has the best of both worlds: Capability off-road yet ample suitability for short—and even long—highway riding!


Click on the links to see the tire testing, the TCI Products rack and engine protection installations, and my choice in Nelson-Rigg luggage.  You'll not only be impressed, if you've been indecisive about converting your pristine enduro bike into a dual-sport, this might very well tip the scale!



#2 socom51



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Posted 10 September 2014 - 04:36 AM

Here is my version of the XR  beast

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#3 Moses Ludel

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 09:36 AM

socom51...Welcome to the forums and thanks much for posting the photo.  Please furnish more pics at the forums "Garage", you have a tastefully done, racing prototype, "badass" XR650R!


I just got back from Baja, Mexico, the launch of the BFG All-Terrain KO2 tires.  (More on that at the forums shortly.)  If you want to get a bunch of motorheads into a lively discussion about the Baja 1000 and motorcycles, just mention your Honda XR650R!  I drove a "Wide Open" race buggy for two days, my co-driver the first day was Marty Fiolka.  He was involved in the production of "Dust to Glory", and we had a lively chat about the XR650R.  Our last night at Mexico, I talked with a member of the Ford/Miller Motorsports driving team who just happened to be wearing a T-shirt from the Baja 1000 race.  I mentioned my XR650R, and guess what:  He has raced the Baja 1000 on his XR650R.  We talked about tuning and starting technique, he was quite interested in how I can start the beast in one or two kicks, three kicks maximum, hot or cold...Small world?  Or is there just some serious interest in the iconic Honda XR650R!


 I'm about to mount a big fuel tank.  Is yours an Acerbis?  I'm considering their 6.3 gallon tank.  Looks like what I need for the Nevada desert, some stretches are over 100 miles—each way...What's your range?


I'm sure David and Greg can't wait to hear more details on how you've set up your machine...I certainly want to know!



Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: dirt motorcycle, motorcycle fuel tanks, dual-sport motorcycle, motorcycle accessories, motorcycle camping, camping gear, tire repairs, motorcycle off-road, adventure-touring

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