Three-hundred forty-three point two pounds—that’s how much our project Honda XR650L weighs in fully-stock trim. While the XR650L is, without a doubt, one of the best stock dual-sport models ever produced, even the strongest of riders give a little whistle when they see how many pounds the big Honda clocks on the scale.
Before we even begin to dive in on the modifications, we know that there are a handful of easy—and totally free—ways to reduce the overall weight of the 650L. Below are our quick, no-cost (as in: totally free!) diet tips that we’d recommend every off-road rider follow to reduce unwanted weight and improve the handling ability of this outstanding motorcycle. Grab your toolbox and follow along!
Weight: 0.16 lb.
To begin with, remove the front reflectors on the 650L’s lower triple clamp. These puppies are dead weight, and for off-road use they serve no function other than to add weight and eventually get ripped off. Of course, you’re going to want to make sure that you properly reinstall the bolts into the triple clamp using the recommended torque spec of 24 foot-pounds. Be warned, these pinch bolts can snap if you overtighten them!
Weight: 0.56 lb.
If you’re using the street-legal capabilities of the Honda XR650L like most riders—that is, to connect sections of off-road—you probably aren’t going to be burning too many miles on the street. If you’re comfortable, we’d advise that you remove the throttle-side mirror, dropping over half a pound of weight high up on the handlebar. The left side mirror will suffice for keeping the bike street legal and seeing behind you on the road. Still, we recommend that you save the takeoff mirror in case you need it for the other side—it can always be turned around and used on the left.
Weight: 0.21 lb.
As the famous saying goes, ounces equal pounds! Even something as small as removing the seat strap can yield handling benefits when combined with additional weight savings. This is a fairly simple mod—pop the side panels, unscrew the allen bolts on each side of the strap, and pull that sucker off. Like the reflectors, this is a useless DOT regulation that has no real application in the dirt. Ditch it!
Rear Tool Bag
Weight: 0.53 lb.
Remove the rear tool bag. Yes, really! The Honda is already a tall bike, and unless you’re six-and-a-half-feet tall, you’re likely going to kick the bag when mounting the bike. Plus, that’s a horrible spot to add weight; every pound placed high up on the rear fender feels like double. From a center-of-gravity perspective, if you must carry spares on the bike, a tank bag is a more intelligent option.
Weight: 0.25 lb.
We give Honda credit for trying, but the XR650L’s chain guard is next to worthless—it doesn’t do much from a protection perspective, and if you get something caught up in the chain guard, it can bind up and do more harm than good. Pop out the one-way tab and remove the bolts—you’ve just saved yourself another quarter pound!
Rear Brake Reservoir Safety Cap Guard
Weight: 0.03 lb.
There’s not a lot of benefit to this guard above the rear brake reservoir; it is there to check a regulatory box, and can be removed as soon as you buy the Honda. A direct hit to the plastic cap will likely cause damage whether or not the guard is in place; fortunately, though, this area is fairly tucked away and protected from odd sticks, stones, and other trailside nasties.
Passenger Pegs & Mounts
Weight: 2.13 lb.
This is the big one—over two pounds of dead weight that doesn’t help you one bit on the trail. It takes less than a minute to remove and reinstall the passenger pegs and mounts. If you intend to have a passenger on the bike, they can be reinstalled with ease. Yet for average, everyday trail riding, you’ll likely feel the savings of 2.134 pounds mounted fairly high and rear of the center of gravity of the XR650L.
The total of these weight savings is significant: 3.87 pounds all together. What’s more, it costs approximately $0 to pull these off! Stay tuned for our next diet post, where we’ll go into detail on removing the kickstand switch, modifying the turn signals, and a handful of other great tips for lightening the XR650L’s load.