2013 Honda XR650L First Look

September 5, 2012
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
Off-Road Editor|Articles|Articles RSS|Blog |Blog Posts |Blog RSS

Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA’s Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn’t matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

2013 Honda XR650L.
The 2013 Honda XR650L remains relatively unchanged from the 2012 version, except for a dressed up tank decal.

Honda is keeping the XR650L in the dual sport lineup for 2013. Big Red’s well-known air-cooled Single has been whittling away at overstocked inventory on dealership floors but returned last year as a 2012 model. A color change on the tank decal is the 2013 highlight, but the trusty on/off-road motorcycle retains the components that have made it a standby for so many years.

A 644cc engine uses Honda’s RFVC (Radial Four-Valve Combustion Chamber) design. Without a radiator to smash, the Honda is one of the more bulletproof models when it comes to surviving crash damage. The lumping mill bumps to life with an electric start and does not have a kickstart for backup. The bare essentials make it street legal in all 50 states with the California model sporting some extra emissions hardware. Part of the street kit includes a steel fuel tank which holds 2.8 gallons. Honda has ensured that the XR passes all CARB and EPA standards.

The chassis is a steel frame that houses the oil for the dry-sump engine design. The swingarm is a box-tube design crafted from aluminum. The XR rolls on 18/21-inch wheels. Being one of the more dirt-worthy of the big duallies, this gives Honda riders the best options for different tire choices. Ground clearance is some 13 inches and the wheels are spaced 57.3 inches apart. Climbing aboard the XR takes a decent inseam with a 37-inch seat height. At a claimed 346 pounds (curb) the Honda is either a big trail-capable dual sport machine or a small, barebones adventure touring mount.

An air-adjustable 43mm fork provides nearly a foot of travel. Our experience with the XR shows them to be softly sprung, but the fork has 16-position compression damping to dial it in. Out back is even more room to play with 11 inches of travel from the Pro-link shock. The Showa unit has spring preload, compression and rebound damping adjustment. Disc brakes are mounted front and rear.

The 650L comes equipped with hand guards and a small rear fender pack. Price for the 2013 XR650L isn’t listed yet but the ‘12 model retailed for $6690, so we can expect it to be comparable.