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XR650L Reinforced Subframe for Touring

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XR650L Reinforced Subframe for Touring

Postby 4Strokes » Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:51 am

Topic: XR650L Reinforced Subframe
Author: KEENO
Posted: 08/04/2006 2:42:42 PM

I've read, on occasion, that rear subframe on the XR650L will crack if loaded and used for 'aggressive' Adventure Touring. I wish to do a some adventure touring on my XR650L and want to reinforce the rear Subframe before issues arise. Which area is prone to cracking? What's the best fix? TIA... KEENO

Reply by Johnny_Bravo on 08/05/2006 1:38:36 PM
I've also often heard of this issue, especially when panniers are mounted on the bike and a lot of equipment is carried. (I was actually just considering posting this same question)

Reply by KingTutt on 08/06/2006 11:22:34 PM
A while back I saw a website of a guy named Kevin Basso who rode from Tennessee to the Oregon coast and back on his "L" carrying what turned out to be more stuff than he needed strapped to the back on the seat, tail rack and home made panniers. His frame cracked/broke twice during that trip. He has a website called trailscout with pics and write ups on the whole trip. It's very cool. This pic (copied from the "trailscout" website) should give you some ideas as to where to re-enforce your frame if you plan on loading up the back of your XR650L.

This is the first break.

His frame then broke again towards the end of the trip but this time on the down tube part under the seat just below the plate welded in place to fix and re-enforce the first break.

Hope this helps.

Reply by Admin on 08/07/2006 07:44:51 AM
Kevin Basso's Website is listed in the Description of his pics in the XR650L Gallery section. Kevin's pics are the very first pics in the category.

Reply by 4Putter on 08/07/2006 08:37:56 AM
I'm surprised to see those cracks. Seems very "unHonda". If there is anything a Honda rider can count on its that the bike wont break apart while you're riding it.

Reply by Admin on 08/07/2006 08:56:21 AM
Perhaps the rear end was overloaded. Here are some pics:


Reply by 4Putter on 08/07/2006 10:38:32 AM
True, Admin. I suppose the tolerances on those structures do not assume an overloaded downward pressure.

Reply by KEENO on 08/07/2006 12:06:06 PM
Thanks Guys. I had been out to Kevin's site and even emailed him directly. I Guess I missed the pics and he never referenced them in his reply. Here's his reply: "The best bet is to not put any more than 10 lbs on the back rack and no more than 20 in the saddle bags. Really no need to reinforce if you abide by that. A welder could probably look at the frame and see where to reinforce if need be, but my problem was I put too much weight on it." I stumbled onto his site and realized I work 10 miles from the start of the Trans America Trail here in Columbia Tennessee. Thaanks for the pics! KEENO

Reply by Johnny_Bravo on 08/07/2006 12:46:56 PM
This is definitely not a problem I'd worry about when carrying a normal load. However, this is a very common problem with people who take the XR650L on round-the-world (RTW) trips (which I'm planning on doing)where you're carrying everything you need to survive on the bike and the the equipment carried weighs in at much higher than 30lbs. In this case, reinforcing the sub-frame is a mandatory mod.

Reply by forgeanvil on 08/09/2006 06:57:10 AM
The failures in the pictures look like they happened right at the welds. Whoever welded those spots got the tubing hot and weakened it right where they were trying to reinforce it. No matter how strong the patched side, he still left an unreinforced point right at the stress point and right where he did his welding. Rather than slapping on flat patches and hoping the welds would hold, anyone who wants to strengthen that spot would do well to fabricate a "T" from tubing that has an interior diameter really close to the framing tube outer diameter, cut the frame tubing and slide it into the "T", and do the welding at the ends of the "T". That way the heat gets put into an area that experiences less stress and there is a solid, mechanical joint there, not a cobbled up mess of really ugly and poorly executed welds. It doesn't seem to me that 30 pounds of added weight could possibly cause the damage shown here. More like a really hard landing and just the wrong angle where the frame got stressed. The later pictures are sort of hard to make out but looks like the same thing... blobs of weld and plate on one side,a relatively clean break, and unblemished tubing on the other. That is a sure sign that the tubing was weakened by the welding and failed.

Reply by 4Putter on 08/09/2006 07:23:57 AM
Forgeanvil--Most impressive assessment. I'm guessing you're a welder by trade. Yet another expert on our highly trained staff at Cheers!

Reply by forgeanvil on 08/09/2006 08:52:18 AM
Blacksmith and thanks. The fix I describe would not be easy with all the welds and attachments and frame members coming together right there. It would be better if there weren't so many welds grouped right at that spot. Mechanical connections are much better and stronger than welds and the engineering is pretty poor if you have to stick chunks of metal on top of your frame to keep it together. Maybe someone should start making aftermarket frames that do a better job. To be fair, though, I've abused all my XR's and ridden them super hard at times and have never seen a failure like the ones in the picture. I prefer the hydration pack and credit card version of traveling, though.

Reply by KingTutt on 08/09/2006 11:05:14 AM
The guy did significantly over load the rear. I guess anything not designed to carry a load will suffer when overloaded. I like the hydration pack and credit card idea!

Reply by b_king on 08/09/2006 3:02:42 PM
Just curious, the L is designed to be able to carry two people. So how is gear an excessive weight compared to an extra human? I don't imagine Kevin could have put upwards of 100 lbs on his L. If he did, I'd like to know what he brought with him!

Reply by forgeanvil on 08/09/2006 5:40:01 PM
Good point,b-king. Wonder if Kevin did a little upside down time in some rocks or something?

Reply by mitchner9g on 08/09/2006 8:44:29 PM
Originally posted by b_king
Just curious, the L is designed to be able to carry two people. So how is gear an excessive weight compared to an extra human? I don't imagine Kevin could have put upwards of 100 lbs on his L. If he did, I'd like to know what he brought with him!
maybe he found some gold in them thar hills!

seriously, aren't those passenger pegs just for 'show'? you know: one of those little things that you can feel good about removing when you first get the bike and know that it's immediately 5 pounds lighter?

who rides two-up on the "L"??? if you do, there's a bud lite "real men of genius" commercial that we need to dream up for you here on

mr. "I take my girlfriend EVERYWHERE MAN!!!!"

Reply by HapyCurmudgin on 08/10/2006 04:48:41 AM
My g/f goes with me from time to time on my L. I have to crank up the shock a bit (dont tell HER that) but it handles it just fine. I wouldn't be doing any hills or Evil Kneivil stunts but just going for a spin i have never had any problems. and i cant stand Bud Lite! *gack*

Reply by bpoulter on 08/20/2006 07:49:57 AM
My XR400 Manual states the the rider and all luggage and accessories should not exceed 100kg or approx 212lb with just me on it I've blow the limit, but have not noticed any bending or cracking yet. All the weight in the photos is right a the back putting max leverage on the frame.

Modern bikes with subframe I don't think are as strong as the older bikes where the rear part was welded to the main frame and constructed of thicker and bigger tube. Plus they had to support the twin rear shock action.

Reply by ShooterDave on 05/20/2009 06:12:46 AM
While reading this tread and others, I've come up with some questions. First off You say that he over loaded his frame/tail rack. Well if he overloaded it then what is the max load you can put on? I am also planning on an extremely long (4k mile) trip. Im planning on using a rack and custom made saddle bag rack, plus saddle bags and a bag on the rack. I like camping so ill be hauling my stuff, i pack light though. On the chain cover it says not to exceed 320lbs, but is that total weight overall, so my weight subtracted from 320 is how much stuff i can carry? Again how much is too much weight for the back rack and side saddles? Also since it is a 4k mile trip i was thinking of replacing my sprockets and making it a 15/42 combo, to lessen the rpm at speed so i can go 65mph and make it easier on the engine? The trip will most likely be 90% on road and 10% off. any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Reply by bbultema on 06/15/2009 7:43:10 PM
Why does everyone think that it hurts the engine to rev out a little. Most engines last longer at a higher rpm and lower load (read lower gearing). A pig at 65 mph is no where near red line. I went to a 14 front and like it a lot better. It really helps in tight areas.

Reply by madmac650 on 06/16/2009 4:46:07 PM
You could use the passenger foot pegs to tow your buddies Suzuki. Just kidding! Seriously though, I wanted to take mine off, but I know I'll need them as soon as I do. I carry 100' of 500lb test paracord w/ me(very small)fits in stock tool bag. Pull some one out or tow em?. Those foot peg mounts are tough enough...I think. They also kinda saved my left ankle when I went down on the pavement. That peg skidded across 20' or so of pavement suffering only minor scratches while saving my plastic, battery box, foot, etc.

Reply by flatfender on 06/16/2009 9:23:42 PM
ShooterDave "wat is the max load you can put on?" The weight rating sticker is a consensus number, irrelevant, use the maximum allowable load of the rear tire instead. The 650L rear wheel bearings are also used on 500 pound street bikes like the 700 Sabre and 700 Shadow, so they will certainly be adequate for extra weight. Large aluminum panniers bolted to rear racks, rear trunks, 2 gallon jerries, 5.8 gallon tank are all doable together. Your bike is not a KLR650 so get a good rack with good reviews from a known reputable company, no winging it. Search "Kubiak" on this site and you can see his all black XR600R with KZ1000 saddle bags and a pelican case rear trunk, dual exhaust and a custom rack to tie it all together.

Maximum allowable loads will depend on:

  1. Roads traveled and how you ride. If the bike is just sitting or the going is real slow you could definitely put a quarter of a ton on it without breaking the frame. If you're only going to be on pavement then a lot of weight is okay. Blasting from state to state off road desert racing style you might need a chromemoly rack and reinforcements done at a so-cal fab shop.
  2. Where you load it. The greater the mass the more resistant to direction change (what breaks the frame), spread the load out. If you load everything on the rear fender you will need to add strength to the frame. Use the big saddle bags for light stuff and small bags for heavy stuff. Separate the heavy stuff and tuck it in here and there, be creative, use over-tank mini saddle bags (ATV style), tank bag, front fender bag, tool pouch above the skid plate, tire repair kit and spare plugs in the airbox, etc. There's even room behind the headlight for something.
  3. How you load it. If you can't leave home without your favorite 12" cast iron frying pan then put it in the center of your sleeping bag, if you bolt it to your frame it's going to break it, your frame not your frying pan.
Another thing to think about is the rear axle being the fulcrum point concerning weight added to the rear of the frame. This action causes weight normally supported by the front of the bike to be transferred to the rear axle. Any weight you can move forward of the rear axle will be better. Example, adding 50 pounds to the rear frame will be >50 pounds added to the rear tire and that added weight taken off the front tire. Even moving 5 pounds forward (battery relocation mod) makes a huge difference in getting the XR650L to turn better in the tight trails.

One more thing, get your bike set up and do a weekend run first, say 200 miles, figure out what you like and what sucks. I'm planning something similar to you and just completed my trial run, lots to change before even 1000 miles is doable for me.

One more thing again, consider getting heavier springs, adding weight will only make the paranoia of bottoming the front forks worse if you ever encounter a panic stop. When I bought my bike the springs were real soft, it was uncomfortable and unsafe, now its real good, I can't stop rippin through town, the cops definitely got my name.

Reply by corky on 06/18/2009 5:27:40 PM
I saw many pictures of broken/cracked frames on the net. I gusseted my frame before it broke. Good luck, Corky

Reply by flatfender on 06/18/2009 10:54:00 PM
nice job corky, what tail light are you using?

Reply by corky on 06/19/2009 06:13:26 AM
It's an Acerbis light and bolts right on. Good luck, Corky

Reply by dman3998 on 06/29/2009 09:31:40 AM
IMO the reason the sub frame breaks besides the obvious being overloaded. IS MOST of the racks that you can purchase that "bolt on" only bolt on to the subframe up on the top. and add to the leverage that helps break the frame in the spots on Keven's bike. I made a custom rack that uses some support points lower down and have not had any problems. I do long trips all the time with 20 lbs on the back no sweat.

Reply by ShooterDave on 07/04/2009 12:20:45 AM
flatfender - thanks for the tips, please let me know the results of you latest trial run so i can incorporate them for me. also what kind of new springs would you recommend? back? front? both? anything would be great. also ive changed my trip from a lousy 4k to a trip to all 48 continental states, hence why any points would be helpful. thanks -ShooterDave

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