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Honda’s 2000 XR650R Details

2000 Honda XR650

2000 Honda XR650

Honda’s long-awaited aluminum framed four-stroke dirt bike has arrived – the 2000 XR650R. Although not the lightweight motocrosser (and competitor to Yamaha’s YZ400) that many people expected, the big XR is nevertheless impressive.

Slim, motocrosser-like ergo's

Slim, motocrosser-like ergo’s

Along with the all-new aluminum frame is an all-new liquid-cooled four-valve single overhead cam 649cc engine that weighs only 88 pounds. As evidence of Honda’s efficiency in this design, the single top tube aluminum frame doubles as an engine oil reservoir, and even the subframe is aluminum.

Honda incorporates many modern design elements from its cutting edge motocrosser, the CR250. If you look at the swingarm, for instance, it looks very much like a CR swingarm, and the master cylinder for the front brake comes directly off the CR250.

Fully-Adjustable 46mm Kayaba Fork

Fully-Adjustable 46mm Kayaba Fork

The new motor weights just 88 pounds, and, all together, the big XR weighs in at a claimed 277 pounds dry. Although this is six pounds more than the older XR600R model, keep in mind that the new machine not only has a larger capacity, liquid-cooled motor, it incorporates updated suspension, including the almost-legendary, 46mm Kayaba conventional cartridge fork – with both compression and rebound damping adjustors (compared to the older models’ 43mm Showa fork which was adjustable only for compression, not rebound). Some of you may remember that Kawasaki used a conventional 46mm Kayaba fork on its 1989 KX’s, and several motorcycle publications called these forks the “best ever”.

Entirely new liquid cooled motor

Entirely new liquid cooled motor

The fork is matched with a Kayaba shock in the back, which is also fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound.

As XR’s come with fairly restrictive exhaust and in a fairly low state of tune stock, Honda offers a factory “power up kit”, which includes intake manifold, carburetor jets, muffler insert, “and more”. This power up kit, according to Honda, increases both horsepower and torque by 27 percent. The big XR should be fast out of the box, but it should be capable of ripping your arms out of their sockets with the optional power up kit installed.

An interesting comparison will be the XR650R with KTM’s new 520EXC. The KTM 520 is reportedly much lighter than the XR650R and, on paper at least, appears to be a much more serious racing machine.

Our guess is that Honda will find plenty of customers for the XR650R, however, given its legendary reliability and the impressive race record of its predecessor (including nine AMA off-road championships and seven Baja victories).

Aluminum frame and sub-frame

Aluminum frame and sub-frame

MD is already dreaming of an XR650R with the power up kit in super motard trim (street legal of course).