A common observation about the XR650L is that the ergonomics are straight out of the ’80s. Even though the big XR is a tall bike (the seat height is 37″) the distance from the seat to the footpegs is surprisingly short and the handlebars are low and close to the rider. The end result is a tall bike with a cockpit that some think is a bit cramped for average to tall riders. At 5’11” I don’t find the cockpit uncomfortable when seated but the ergonomics are not ideal for standing. It’s not that I can’t stand while riding the XRL, it’s just that the standing position is not the best, especially for standing for long periods of time. To improve things I think the footpegs should be lower and the handlebars should be higher and farther forward.
While there is no easy way that I know of to lower the footpegs, moving the handlebars up and forward was not difficult. There are a variety of different aftermarket risers that allows the bars to be either raised or raised and moved forward from the stock setting. I decided to give Rox’s two inch, anti-vibration, pivoting risers a try. These particular risers raise the bars two inches and allow you to pivot the bars forwards or backward about an inch. They also work with either 7/8 inch handlebars or 1 1/8 inch handlebars, giving you the option of changing from one size to the other if you ever want to.
The stock XR650L handlebars are typical 7/8 inch steel bars with a crossbrace. There isn’t anything wrong with these handlbars – they are a decent set of handlebars – but they aren’t as strong as aluminum handlebars and the crossbrace gets in the way of mounting accessories on the handlebars. Having previously used 1 1/8 inch aluminum “fat” bars on other motorcycles I decided a set of Pro Taper CR High Bend fat bars would be a good choice to use with the Rox risers. The bend on these bars makes them about an inch taller than the stock bars.
Installation wasn’t particularly difficult. I had to grind off centering nubs from the starter assembly and the turn signal assembly, which was a quick and easy job with a Dremel tool. The stock cables were long enough to work with the new set-up so I did not have to buy new, longer cables.
The end of the handlebar is now about 3 inches higher and an inch forward of the stock set-up, making it more comfortable when sitting or standing.
Now that the handlebars are good to go, it’s time to make the seat more comfortable for long rides.