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6 Common Failures Of The Honda XR600 And 650L: Problems, Disadvantages And More

Anytime you’re shopping for a new bike, or come across one you can’t quite make heads or tails of and want more information, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the common bike problems. This time we will delve into the common failures of the Honda XR600 and 650L .

Today we are going to focus on the famous Honda XR series, we will tell you what are its advantages and disadvantages including some of the common faults of these old bikes, how to fix them and what people are saying about them.

The most common failures of the Honda XR600 and 650L

We’ve done some good research on the XRs, mainly because we like them so much. There is no doubt that it is a beautiful specimen that we would all like to have.

With that being said, we’ve scratched every corner of the automotive world’s research pages and come up with these 6 most common problems with the Honda XR600 and 650L.

1. Difficult starts (we mean 30-40 turns of the bell)

Dirt bikes and most older motorcycles use more primitive starting technology than the electric starter motors equipped on almost all modern models. With this way of starting your motorcycle it will work in almost any circumstance, which is especially useful since electric motor starters will eventually fail.

Kick or crank starting uses an external lever that connects directly to the engine’s crankshaft . When a direct force is applied to this crankshaft lever, kicking it down with a fair amount of pressure causes the engine to crank.

The Honda XR 600 and 650L are older bikes and also use a decompression lever to start the bike.

We know from experience that the decompression aspect of older bikes like the XR600 and 650L can be finicky and not fun to deal with, especially on cold mornings. And also, a poorly decompressed boot system can make you move in the air and your ankle suffers.

When you need to get that XR 600 or 650L going, taking the time to put 30-40 laps on the bike is no fun (but it’s a great way to warm up on a cold morning!) This is because a kick It’s only going to start the bike if the ignition timing and piston position are in the right place when you kick down.

If your ignition timing and piston position aren’t in sync so that you get a kick start every time, you’re going to be huffing and puffing by the time your bike finally turns and purrs.

The starter circuits in the ignition module are the culprit (specifically on the 650L model) and should be replaced if this problem is too much for you. Take a look at the starter circuit wiring and check for any burned or corroded wires to replace them.

Older bikes that need to be cranked are going to occasionally give some trouble in this area, however. You yourself must decide if you are going to take the trouble to correct this inconvenience.

2. Difficulty finding parts

More than a failure, this is a problem suffered by many lovers of this class of motorcycles. Although the Honda XR 650L is still in production, the last XR 600 rolled off the assembly line in 2000, having been replaced by the slightly modified 650L.

But for some of us, even the sleek, modern 650L is never going to compare to the simplicity of the 600 produced from 1985 to 2000.

Unfortunately for us cro-mags, the newer, fancier Honda XR 600 is at least 22 years old, which means the parts are hardly ever made anew. Also, a limited park of bikes means that in any amount of time after which parts were no longer available, it is likely that every other XR 600 in the world is now a parts bike.

3. Engine shuts down

So you’ve done your 30 or 40 turns of the crank and your XR600 or 650L is finally running, warming up to the maximum temperature at which the bike normally operates. Unfortunately, your 600 or 650L will probably stall from time to time the moment you push in the clutch.

This can be really frustrating, and the reason behind the Honda 600 and 650L engine shutting down isn’t all that surprising. The valves need to be adjusted correctly, and on these bikes, it is very common for the valves to go out of their specific clearances .

The valves need to be adjusted because the constant pounding of the valve causes it to dig deeper into the cylinder head. If you don’t adjust them, the tip of the valve can come into contact with the rocker arm or cam actuator and shut down the bike immediately, as well as causing long-term problems.

If your Honda XR600 or 650L stalls, be sure to set the valves to their specific clearances, which can be found in your owner’s manual. Many XR600 and 650L owners have found that this makes an overnight difference in their bike’s performance when shut down.

Another common culprit for an XR series bike stalling is a malfunctioning or broken pulse generator, which can be easily replaced to keep your bike running without stalling.

4. 3rd gear tends to fail on the XR600

The 1st and 2nd generation XR600s built in the early years are usually the models most likely to have 3rd gear skidding. Although the problem has been greatly reduced in the following generations, it tends to be a weak point of the XR series. It is one of the common failures of the Honda XR600 and 650L that most harm speed lovers.

Gears tend to fail due to tooth wear . When the teeth of a gear have worn down to a certain point, it will not engage with the clutch and will skip.

Unfortunately for many XR600 owners, the 3rd gear plate is going to wear out and stop working long before any other part of the gearbox. It will undoubtedly need to be replaced because worn gears can ultimately create catastrophic damage to the motorcycle.

5. Carburetors bring simplicity but come with problems

The Honda XR600 and 650L are fully carbureted, all the time. Taking a no-frills approach to styling and maintenance of these Neolithic bikes, the 2020 model has the same carburettor system as its 1986 godfathers. Updated, to be sure, but essentially the same.

Anyone who has owned or ridden an older bike, or one like the 650L who still prefers simplicity, knows that carburetors have their problems. They get dirty and can be a pain to adjust correctly.

The carburetor is an important element of the operation of your motorcycle that needs proper maintenance , especially if you are going to use it off road in dirt and mud.

Apparently, your XR’s air filter keeps all the harsh debris out of the air intake, but over time the nooks, crannies, and valves of your carburetor are going to build up with dirt residue and low-quality gas grime.

There is nothing wrong with an old carburettor system and they are fairly easy to clean, although if they do need a tune-up it is best left to certified technicians or at least someone really familiar with the specific carburettor.

6. Oil change rate

Older bikes, especially ones that get a lot of use and are stored wet like the XR600 and 650L, need more constant oil changes. We recommend changing your oil every 400 to 500 miles, possibly more often if you’re hitting the wilds.

Regular oil changes can really help preserve the longevity of your bike’s engine . With quality new and used parts for the XR600 becoming increasingly scarce, maintaining them is very important.

We’ve heard of guys riding these bikes so hard they use a quart of oil a day, so make sure you change the filter every time you change your oil.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Honda XR600 and 650L

Now that you know the common problems and failures of the Honda XR600 and 650L, here are some pros and cons of the Honda XR600 and 650L:

Pros of the Honda XR600 and 650L:

Overall, the Honda XR600 and 650L are highly regarded in the sportbike community for a number of reasons, including:

  • They are very reliable
  • Torque monsters maxed out
  • Soft suspension for a relaxed ride

Cons of the XR600 and 650L:

Here are some of the flaws of the XR600 and 650L:

  • They are heavy enough to deter some pilots
  • hard to boot
  • Growing shortage of good parts

What do reviews and opinions say about the Honda XR600 and 650L?

Like any device created by man, the Honda XR600 and 650L motorcycle has some criticism from some users:

“The 450 of its day, the XR600 was the quintessential 4-stroke dirt bike for many years. Without a lot of power at almost any RPM, you can ride casually or aggressively and it will propel you along with no problem.”

“There’s one in every Honda showroom. It won’t be in the window or in a prominent place, but it’s there, and it will be sold, replaced, and sold again. The Honda XR650L is a staple in the world of motorcycles. Dirt Bikes.Once considered the most dirt-sport capable dual-sport bike money can buy, it now fills a different role as a multi-platform machine that caters to adventurers, commuters and trail riders. Even if you think you know it, the XR650L is worth another look.”

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