Honda Australia stopped importing the XR650L in 2008 despite the dual-sport bike being perfect for our conditions.
It’s a lost opportunity for Honda as the Kawasaki KLR650 has dominated the adventure touring market ever since. However, Honda Australia says they have no plans to import the bike.
The XR650L is a versatile dual-sport machine that is as comfortable commuting as it is ploughing across the Simpson Desert. It is powered by an ever-reliable air-cooled 649cc engine, has plush long-travel suspension and, thanks to an engine counterbalanced, it runs smoothly on the highway.
I owned one and it was capable of smooth running even at its top speed of 160km/h, yet it was light enough to tackle single trails and powerful enough to pull through sand, even with luggage on board.
The XR650L also has great fuel economy, yet I replaced the small 11-litre on mine with a larger Safari tank to give it suitable range for outback touring. The only problem is the very tall 940mm seat height.
The bike was introduced in 1992 and has been built virtually unchanged ever since. The engine comes from the NX650 Dominator and it has the lighter XR600R chassis so it weighs only 158kg. It is basically an electric-start version of the lighter and racier XR650R which has won many Baja 1000 races.
It is a shame the XR650L, or Dominator or the Africa Twin are no longer available. They would be great Aussie bikes.