1995 Honda XR650L
by Daniel Peter
Daniel and I met back at Rockerbox a year or two ago. He's a photographer by trade and spends his off-time getting out to race AHRMA events on his Yamaha SR500. After flipping through a few photos of his SR for me on his phone I was already on board with his aesthetic vision. His SR is of course very purpose built being a race bike but still has tasteful modern touches that are a great blend of form and function. You can tell Daniel is clearly opposed to things that are ugly, regardless of how function driven they are. When I had caught wind that Daniel had an XR650 under the knife as a personal project I was fully tuned in. He brought the bike to this past weekends Parts & Labor Day event at the shop and I can tell you that seeing and hearing this bike in person makes you wonder why you're riding anything but an XR650. Without knowing every square inch of a stock XR the amount of work that has gone into this bike can escape you. The craftsmanship is flawless to the point where you'd think this was some specialty model that must have flown under your radar all these years. Here's Daniel with the full background story on his new ride, "Cabin Fever".
"About this time last year, I came to realize I desired a motorcycle that didn’t exist: 70s styling; twin shocks; air cooled; powerful yet light and reliable, with enough ground clearance and suspension for riding trails; electric start…I was drawing a blank. Then I took a long look at the 1995 XR650L sitting in my shop. The performance was there but the looks were seriously lacking. Awkward, all plastic bodywork, purple side covers...good enough for a dirt bike but not quite the pony that would turn heads. So I set off to build a bike that fit my needs perfectly."
"The XR has a completely new subframe, now carrying twin YSS shocks. Most of the rear section is bent out of one long piece of 1” tubing. The new seat contours the frame rails and is upholstered in brown antelope leather. The tank is from a Honda CG125, with a 2-tone paint job by Polowy Fab&Finish. For better fuel flow, I also welded in a new bung for a Pingel petcock. This supplies a 41mm Keihin FCR-MX flatslide with a big K&N filter. The carburetor and handmade stainless exhaust are the only performance mods on this bike. I felt that the 650 motor offered just the right balance between performance and reliability. The 2-into-1 header has a slip fit mid pipe, exiting via a 1.75” Cone Engineering muffler. The engine is much more responsive now and has a proper bark to it.
I rebuilt the wheels using the stock hubs, 19”/18" rims and stainless Buchanan spokes. The front tire is a Heidenau K60 Scout with grippy side knobs for off-road steering confidence, and the rear is 140mm wide Pirelli Scorpion. The forks are stock XR650L, lowered internally by 4” and upgraded with Race Tech Gold Valves for better performance.
The front brake is a 4-piston Brembo with a 320mm floating rotor. It really stops! The front end also sports LSL Street bars with clear brown Tomaselli grips, and a Hella 500 Black Magic headlight. The taillight housing is hand made and lights up with a super bright LED cluster. The juice comes from a tiny Shorai battery, hiding in an aluminum box under the seat. The fenders are also aluminum, hand-trimmed to get just the right shape. The front one is mounted via a fork brace, which is pulling double duty, also keeping the front end more solid."
"Why “Cabin Fever”? The minute I randomly saw this grayish green paint chip with said name at a small hardware store in Wisconsin a few months ago, I knew that was to become the base for the bodywork color. I couldn’t come up with a better name for a bike that’s the perfect cure for a long week at the office. You can ride it to work every day, mount up the removable rack on Saturday morning, pack the essentials, and go have a fun weekend trip. Twisty roads or gravel, this bike will do it all."
"My appreciation goes out to my girlfriend Susan, for her patience and support, Luke Satas and Hugh Jay for lending their fabrication tools and knowledge, Brady of Polowy Fab&Finish for executing the paint job exactly how I imagined it, Janusz Kukulski for another great seat cover, Bob at Coating Specialties, Klaus at YSS USA, Motoworks Chicago and my friends Josh and Val for excellent piloting during the photoshoot."
For more updates on new projects, follow Daniel on Instagram: http://instagram.com/danielpeterphoto