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Dual Sport Riding Gear for Montana

My XR650L set up for commuting and riding canal roads in Mission Valley, Montana.

Riding Season

Motorcycle season in northwestern Montana is too short. Snow lingers into April and falls again in early November.


Honda XR650L with Acerbis 5.8 gallon tank, better foot pegs, 2" bar risers, DoubleTake mirrors, Grip Puppies, UNI foam air filter, and Kuba lowering link. I've lowered the front forks in the triple clamps by 1-1/8" and set the bike's resting seat height to ~36" using the rear shock preload screw (seat is 1" lower than standard). Rear clicker is at the middle setting. Air valves on forks are equilibrated to atmosphere. I really like the short windshield, a $60 model off Ebay (Xitomer brand) - no buffeting, air flow is excellent. Bike does 75 mph no problem, but gets buzzy at speeds above 60 mph. The XRL lacks the modern geometry of the CRF450RL, but the seat is comfy, its not too heavy (375 lbs), its stable on the road, has darn good suspension, and can carry luggage. Its faster offroad then you've got balls to ride, but prefers not to lead the pack. In short, its a big, comfortable farm bike with plenty of torque made for athletic guys over 30.

Carburetor & Jetting

Stock Keihin. Jets = 158/58. Mixing screw 2-1/2 turns out. One washer on OEM needle. FMF Q4 exhaust. Snorkel removed. Smog pump deleted. I live at 3000 feet elevation. I run regular gasoline (87 octane). Choke to start. The bike rips.

Previous Motorcycle

2009 Suzuki VStrom DL650ABS. The VStrom was great on long rides, but too heavy for everyday use or offroading.

Next Motorcycle

Honda CRF450RL, new Honda Transalp, Husqvarna 701LR, or Honda NX500. When I go round the world, it'll be on a Suzuki DR650.

Typical Ride

I commute to work 20 miles on a two-lane highway in fast traffic. For fun, I'll take 2-hour roundtrip loops from my house using farm roads, fire roads, canal roads, and two-track trails. This is farm and ranch country.

My Size

I am 5'9" (175cm), 165 lbs (75 kg), and average build. In Levis and Carhartts a 33 waist x 32 inseam, right between Medium and Large.


Alpinestars Corozal size 10.5. Warm, comfortable, protective boots that I enjoy wearing. Small amount of flex in the sole. Fine for short walks, but not good for hiking.

Knee Guards

Leatt Dual Axis in L/XL. Great fit, very comfortable, a little heavy, a little warm, more than adequate protection. Good for day trips, but I would opt for something more compact and more flexible for a BDR ride. See what Mosko offers or see what Fox has for heavier mountain biking knee protection.


Mosko Moto Woodsman Enduro Over the Boot 32" in obsidian. Really, really nice pants. They fit great and look good. Highly recommended. Legs are plenty long. Size to your waist. Upgraded from Aerostich Darien 34R (3-layer Goretex Cordura), which were plenty protective and hard-wearing, but lacked stretch and are losing their waterproofing.


Klim Adventure, which are a bit clumsy, but well made. There are better gloves out there, like those from Rev'it.


Shoei GT Air II medium. Light, comfortable, quiet, dorky. I prioritize light weight and comfy fit. May add an Arai XD-5 or Shoei Hornet next so I don't get beat up at the playground. The Krios doesn't fit my head.

Base Layer

Depending on the temperature, a Nike Dri-FIT t-shirt (warm temps) or Helly Hansen LIFA Merino midweight hoodie (cold temps). CKX Xentis insulated snowmobiling shorts eliminate cold crotch.

Mid Layer

Either a puffy synthetic-fill vest or Picture Junip Tech Sweater, which is a sleek, stretchy, high-collar pullover made with Primaloft and a wind-blocking nylon front. No annoying neck zipper. Do whatever you can to eliminate neck zippers and layers that chafe at the neck/chin.


Rev'it Eclipse Medium mesh w/ D30 armor in shoulder, elbow, and back. I don't love this jacket. Its good in hot weather, but a little short and snug, especially with an insulating layer underneath. Looking to replace with Klim Marrakesh or Induction or some other mesh jacket.

Wind Jacket

Aeorstich Innershell pullover. I don't think they make this anymore.

Rain Jacket

Rev'it Cyclone 3 H2O large yellow.


Whatever you like.


Either a merino wool hood from Smartwool or a thin, stretchy, fishing-style neck gaiter from Cabela's.


Either the built-in armor in the Eclipse jacket or cheap MX-type protective zip-up thing from Amazon (Gohinsstaar brand). Looking at replacing with a stretchy armor shirt from Adventure Spec (Super Shirt), Rev'it (Protector Nucleus), or similar.


Chase Harper Aeropac 4000 carries tools, spare parts, stretch net, and has room for a rain jacket or the mail. Sits atop Nomadic Enduro rear rack. Looking at adding Mosko Reckless 40 for trips.

Humans are not worthy of the mighty XR.


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