Years sold: 1992-2009, 2012
MSRP new: $4349 (1992-93), $6690 (2012)
Blue Book retail value: $1550 (1992-93), $5646 (2012)
Basic specs: A dual-purpose bike that weighs 345 lb. with its 2.5-gallon gas tank filled to the brim. It’s powered by a 644cc, air-cooled, counterbalanced, sohc, four-valve four-stroke Single producing 33.3 hp at 5750 rpm and 32.4 ft.-lb. of torque at 4250.
Why it won: When introduced in 1992 (technically, it was an early-release ’93 model), the XR650L was considered the best dual-purpose bike ever built. Honda combined the basic chassis of its off-road-only XR600R with the electric-start Single from the discontinued 1998-99 NX650. The outcome was a motorcycle that had a strong off-road bias but was no slouch on the pavement, either, with enough oomph to reach a top speed of 96 mph. Its long-travel suspension (11.6 in. up front, 11.0 at the rear) allowed the 650 to soak up the punishment of some pretty aggressive off-road riding, even if it did present the bike with a seat high enough (37.0 in.) to induce nosebleeds. Still, as an all-around mount that could have you roosting rocks one minute and rocking down the pavement the next, the XR650L was the ride of choice.
Aside from paint and graphics, the XR650L has gone unchanged since 1992, so it’s not competitive with today’s d-p bikes. But it’s still a very practical and versatile machine, many of which can be bought for little more than pocket change.
From the 1992 Ten Best story: “It’s this year’s Best Dual-Purpose Bike and may be the most fun you can have on two wheels.”
Useful resources: The XR650L isn’t the kind of motorcycle that prompts the fervid buzz that many others generate. There are a few forums that contain discussions regarding this particular Honda, but most of their posts are dated as far back as four or five years—though much of what you will read remains valid today. Besides, you still can find quite a bit of information about the bike on the Internet—reviews, bikes for sale, aftermarket accessories, photo galleries, hop-up tips—if you simply type “Honda XR650L” in your browser.