By: Jacob Wisdom
I write a lot about dual sports, because personally I find them to be the most fun way to get around on two wheels. With a Stage 2 HotShots Cam and titanium Pro Circuit exhaust, my XR650R had an incredible power to weight ratio, and would scream around the streets sliding the rear tire at every opportunity.
There are varying methods for preparing a dirtbike for street use. Many need nothing more than the bare minimum of accessories, such as turn signals, headlight, brake light, horn and rearview mirrors. Others do a full conversion; I refer to this as "going full motard". Oversized brakes, street tuned suspension, new wheels with street only tires. Motards are cool looking bikes, but are extremely expensive to create, and once done generally never see dirt again.
I opted for a middle ground. I wanted a bike that I could still take to the desert with minimal preparation, but that would take any street use in stride.
In order to accomplish this on top of the necessary upgrades for street use, I purchased a 40 tooth rear sprocket coupled with a 15 tooth front, dual sport tires made by Shinko (Chinese brand, they rocked!), installed a key switch I had lying around and installed a modest Cee Baileys windscreen. With 15/40 gearing I was pushing about 80mph at 5000 RPMs.
My former pride and joy
With this setup I rode from Orange County to UCSD many times in moderate comfort, and even did a trip to Las Vegas and back. It won't be as cush as a Goldwing, but you bet it'll be a lot more fun on city streets, and will cost only a fraction of what a Goldwing would run you. Additionally, with the same bike I did multiple long trips in Baja and many rides up Saddleback Mountain and around the deserts of California, pre-running the courses for our race buggy.
You may reconsider though if you're a bit shy, as you'll find yourself drawing looks from all over the place. People still seem to be surprised everytime they see a dirtbike riding on the street.
A thrifty buyer can expect to spend approximately $2500 for an XR650R with the above mentioned upgrades for the street. Not bad at all, considering just a few years ago the XR650R was the bike to beat in the off-road racing realm. Relegated to a long line of discontinued bikes, the XR650R is now appreciated only by those willing to think regressively when it comes to motorcycle selection.