Honda XR650R - Supermotard. Part Two

OK, so I've done this before. The original XR-L project that I undertook cost me multiple engine breakdowns, lots of hair pulling and a budget the equivalent to a third world country.
I built this bike back in 94' when White Brothers were initially dabbling in Supermotard stock and they were really the only source for the trickest pieces in town. Was there a better or cheaper way to achieve asphalt-sliding nirvana?\

When Honda released the long awaited and much revised XR650R in 2000, to me it immediately became a top candidate for SM duties. It offered more of everything in a stouter, lighter, flex free chassis and with water-cooling to boot. The latest XR-R promised the same deal as the original XR or XR-L, but with less hassle, more reliability and much more readily available power. I personally had less of a Trump-style budget this time round - but my goal, as usual, was more of everything.

So where to start? We'll, we started up top and worked our way down. With me being 6'1" tall, the ergonomics had to be addressed immediately. The bars were too close to my lap and needed to be pushed up, up and away. A dirt-loving (riding not eating) friend had recommended a company by the name of BRP. I'd been told they stock a very nice triple clamp setup that offered a beefier CNC machined clamp that typically reduces flex for improved steering. Dirt guys are notoriously hard on their equipment and even though I hadn't envisaged 70-foot doubles any time soon, I'd be grateful for the extra strength and stability.

A quick call confirmed that they indeed stocked a revised setup for the XR and that it also pushed the bars forward some 19mm. The part was dispatched promptly to our lush premises at and installed in double time.

Installation was a breeze. The stock clamp was loosened, removed and the aftermarket piece installed. True to word, the BRP clamp pushed the beefier Pro-Taper bars suitably forward (stock bar mounts are available too) and offered the option of installing a Scotts Steering Stabilizer atop the bar clamp, as an added bonus the BRP clamps were beautiful to look at too.

On contacting Steve Forward at Scotts we negotiated a deal for one of his steering stabilizers. For those not familiar with the Scotts damper, it's a rotary style damper that sits atop the BRP triple clamp for ease of use with added "trick appeal". My previous experience of SM guise was a slapping sensation, especially whilst performing my stunt repartee. Supermotard offers wheelies "R" us style performance and I wanted to know that I would be in full control when good wheelies go bad.

Scotts Steering Stabilizer is fully adjustable for sweep (left to right movement) and has a very unique high and low speed adjustment. You can dial out any low speed resistance and retain the high-speed damping to curb those tank slappers. The damper is very unobtrusive and works very well. Two bolts could see it removed and placed onto another sport bike within minutes, so double duty too.

Obviously the most distinguishable factor of Supermotard style is the addition of 17" rims. The most prevalent rim provider is Excel. Their rims are very strong, readily available and to confirm their quality, starting to become OEM standard on most motocross bikes - did I mention they were strong?

Now, in the past, I've previously built my wheels in a two different ways. I've either bought the wheels ready built or being budget conscious, bought the rims, spokes, and then used the stock OEM hubs and built them myself.

This has always been a major pain. The ready built wheels, usually need some squeezing and fiddling to fit like an OEM piece and my do-it-yourselfers are usually awkward to get the offset's correct and the wheels straight and true. The upside with home made though, is because you're using stock hubs; it all goes back together easily (and safely). The preferred sizing is a 4.25-inch rear and a 3.50-inch front - time to go wheel hunting…

I again looked into the two options, and whilst doing so Paul Brent of MotomasterUSA contacted me. He informed me that they supply ready-made wheel setups for Supermotards, featuring my much preferred Excel rims, with the customers choice of Talon or Haan hubs, laced with heavy duty spokes shipped to your door. Having previously used Talons, I was drawn to the lighter weight (and no less desirable) Haans.

The MotomasterUSA wheels arrived. Were bolted on, and bike ridden. No farting around, fiddling or bloody knuckles. Out of the box, onto the bike. Great price too. This 17" wheel size offers you a maximum choice for tire selection as the preferred racing setup is a soft rain front tire - to offer additional grip and a little stability if you go off road, combined with a slick on the rear for maximum drive on the smoother stuff.

Now the original intent of this project was a street biased quasi racer. Michelin stepped up to the plate and threw in a set of Michelin Race Pilots. Sure, DOT race rubber is a total overkill for the street, who said anything about being sensible? The bike only weighs a tad over 300 lbs, it's not exactly a tire eater, so forgive us this once. The rear is a 150-60/17 and offers a nice profile with no rubbing of hard parts or anything. The front is a more traditional sized 120-60/17.

MotomasterUSA also supplied us with the oversized brakes too. The front 320mm rotor is a laser cut, full floating piece replete with a matching rear, the parts were already installed, so no fuss there either.

MotomasterUSA also saw fit to supply us with a very nicely made 4-piston Supermotard caliper. This Dutch made piece barely squeezed between the oversize rotor and rim and came with the CNC'd bracket to properly space and attach to the fork. I can't overstress how well all this stuff went together. One company - one order - one box; instant Supermotard… gotta love that.

To assist with the newfound tire grip, braking power and to give consistent feel, the OEM brake line was junked in favor of a Galfer supplied steel braided line. This firmed up the braking action from the lever downwards. This also offered immediate two-fingered feel for confidence inspiring harebrained late braking maneuvers, enough said.

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