Few motorcycles have enjoyed a longer production run than Honda’s venerable XR650L. And the reason for its longevity is actually quite simple: This big 644cc single is, at its core, an affordable machine for all purposes. Tall and softly sprung for a comfortable ride on potholed city streets, back roads, and trails, it’s also under stressed. Its quiet air-cooled engine develops modest power and hardly seems to break a sweat even under a cruel throttle hand.
There is nothing particularly trick about the XR650L, just an ageless tubular steel frame, a conventional fork, an electric-start carbureted engine, and decades-old styling. But despite this, the biggest Honda dual-sport just flat works. Take it on the freeway, park it at work or school, or throw some soft bags over the gas tank or tailsection and take off. The XR650L will comply with unwavering grace. And if you’re inventive, its performance will wake up quite a bit with some thoughtful tuning.
Likes: Good value for money, go-anywhere capability
Dislikes: Tall, heavy at 346 pounds wet, and somewhat sluggish in stock form
Verdict: Although not great at anything, it can do almost everything