In the modern era, most four-stroke off-road bikes are equipped with an electric starter. Honda’s XR650R missed that call, but thanks to Baja Designs, there is a fix. Although it may look cantankerous and weighs 13.5 pounds, it starts the mighty Honda with the push of a button. There is no replacement for that, no matter how easily the bike kickstarts.I installed the kit in an evening, having previously pressed the gear on the flywheel. I used Baja Designs’ helpful instructions, which guide you through in a step-by-step process regardless of the configuration of your XR. Bolting on the flywheel, starter and replacement billet ignition cover is pretty easy since a flywheel puller is included with the kit! Wire routing demands a bit of time to get just right. The battery sits on a tray below the carb with the solenoid attached to some nice plates that secure it to the 650′s cases, so that it tucks in nicely. The same can’t be said for the new ignition cover. It requires a new shifter (included) to extend out a bit more. But once I was riding the bike, I never noticed the cover being wide. In fact, I hardly felt the weight at all. But I must confess, I fitted the kit on an XR with a 6.5-gallon tank, so I wasn’t really keeping count of the pounds. The best aspect is the low, centralized weight.There isn’t the advantage of gear reduction on the Bendix-style starting gear, so you must pull in the compression release to let the beast turn over. And the bike fires right up. It will start about 15 to 20 times on a fully charged battery without running low. Under normal use, I never ran the battery down, and that was with a standard-output ignition. Testing the system with repeated starts and minimal running time, I was able to get it depleted and then recharged quickly by disconnecting the headlight. And if it does run out, there’s always the kickstarter, which remains unaffected by the Baja Designs kit.Basically, the only strange side effect was a funny howl from the new case, caused by either the gear on the flywheel or some resonance from the new side cover, likely both. It didn’t affect performance. At $875, this isn’t cheap; but there are some quality parts in the kit, and you’ll never have to kick your XR again—that’s easily worth the price!
—Jimmy LewisDR Tested: 8.0
Baja Designs: 800/422-5292; www.bajadesigns.com