Riding a Honda XR650L on the Freeway (Fuel Consumption Test)


The Honda XR650L is unique in that it is too heavy to be a dirt bike, but too dirt oriented to be an adventure bike. That doesn’t mean it is not a great all rounder. The question is, how does it perform on the freeway? I got hold of four different sizes of FritzCo counter shaft sprockets and did some testing on the freeway.

The Honda XR650L can comfortably cruise at 65 mph on the freeway with the standard 15 tooth counter shaft sprocket. While a 14 tooth counter shaft sprocket increases the engine speed by 7.1%, you can still ride at the speed limit.

I tested four different sizes of counter shaft sprockets at a constant speed of 110 km/h on the speedo, which is about 107 km/h on the GPS (or 66 mph). I didn’t know at all what to expect.

Honda XR650L at 65 mph on the freeway

The table below shows the engine speed (rpm) at an indicated 110 km/h for the four different sizes of counter shaft sprocket (source: www.gearingcommander.com).

Counter shaft sprocket (teeth)RPM @ 107 km/h on GPS
13t4 848 rpm
14t4 502 rpm
15t4 202 rpm
16t3 939 rpm

To measure the fuel consumption at the different gearing ratios, I filled the gas tank to the bottom of the filler neck and rode exactly 100 km, 50 km out and 50km back on the same route. Then I filled up the tank to the same spot and took down the mileage.

The 15 tooth FritzCo counter shaft sprocket (standard gearing) is very comfortable at 110 km/h, but I had to gear down to 4th on steeper hills to maintain my cruising speed. With the 14 tooth sprocket, I could easily maintain my cruising speed in top gear.

The 7.1% lower gearing also made the XR650L much more fun to ride. I tried not to accelerate too quickly for the sake of the test, but it was noticeably more difficult to contain myself!

Unfortunately, the 16 tooth sprocket was too big to fit my bike. Many riders have successfully fitted the Fritzco 16t counter shaft sprocket without issues, but I couldn’t even get a 25/1000 inch (0.6mm) feeler gauge to slip in between the chain and the engine.

No clearance between engine and chain with the 16 tooth sprocket

That left the 13 tooth. Immediately, out on the freeway, I realized a fuel consumption comparison is pointless. The revs are close to 5 000 rpm at 110 km/h and the XR pulls like a KTM690. What a fun setup! I played around a bit, and decided to ignore the consumption.

The table below compares the fuel consumption of the standard 15t and the 14t counter shaft sprocket over 100 km (62 miles) at a constant 107 km/h (66 mph) in 5th gear.

Counter shaft sprocketFuel consumption
(km/l)
Fuel consumption
(mpg)
15 tooth18.75 km/l44.1 mpg
14 tooth17.53 km/l41.2 mpg

Francois Steyn

I've been riding motorcycles since I was in school and have traveled thousands of miles on various bikes through more than 10 countries. For more info, check out my about page: https://adventurebiketroop.com/about-us/

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