XR400R Budget Baja build - for Baja Rally 2016 - and beyond...

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by JMo (& piglet), Dec 5, 2015.

  1. Jeff B

    Jeff B Socially Awkward

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    Thanks Jenny.

    Will a compression gauge read it's potential high reading with the auto decompressor installed?
    #81
  2. The Jester

    The Jester Long timer

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    Interesting what you say about the original perch. I snapped mine during my last enduro bringing a premature end to the race. I had a spare lever but not a perch. Most of the aftermarket perches clamp front and rear rather than top and bottom which would interfere with my ICO switch. And there is no way I could give up my decamp lever on the 650. I found one in the end though which I hope will fit. I'll find out when it arrives in the post.
    #82
  3. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Jeff - I'm sorry, I don't know the answer to that I'm afraid - it's not a tool I've used (I'm a bit of an engine technophobe when it comes to things like compression testing)... hopefully someone else can answer this?


    Hi Jester - your post prompted me to post a photo of my set up, as I realised I've not actually shown the shorty billet CRF450X levers yet... (ebay specials, but very good quality!)

    [​IMG]

    As you [and any XR400 owners] will be aware - the XR4' originally comes with a separate decompressor lever and perch, which really clutters the bars...

    I soon swapped that out for an XR650R version (an aftermarket, but OEM pattern part), which combines the decompressor lever above the clutch pivot using a single bolt - much neater, and the XR400 and 650 clutch levers are also the same shape/thickness, which helps if you already had some spares (which I did).

    However, since I rarely use the decompressor lever at all, I felt swapping the assembly for the CRF450X version (again an aftermarket OEM pattern part) would make things even neater still - not only do you get a thicker/stronger clutch lever, but the short Hot-start lever for the CRF also works when connected to the decompressor on the XRs as required.

    Of course these days - having the thicker CRF clutch lever on your ageing XR is probably going to be a benefit too if you ever need to blag a spare lever at en event ;o)

    Hope that helps anyone else looking to de-clutter...

    Jenny x
    #83
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  4. stteve

    stteve Been here awhile

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    I have been trying to find some info re Lead-batteries and/or battery-packs, and i was told the battery-packs (like you have) will break down if constantly charged. A lead battery will not have that problem (so i was told).
    What is your idea about this, since you have one on your bike for some time now?
    #84
  5. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Stteve - So far, the battery has appeared to be fine - although the bike isn't used all that regularly of course.

    Certainly if you look at the components parts, the Baja Designs battery (that I have) is basically 10 x 1.5v NiCad cells linked together in a block of heat-shrink - but it does the job it would appear.

    However, I would not be adverse to replacing that battery with a more robust version as you suggest - Lead Acid or even a Lithium Ion battery (although they can have issues of their own, especially if you let them drop below a certain voltage), but for what I need (ie. to keep the nav power and lights on if I stall the engine) it appears to be sufficient, and fits very neatly under the seat.

    I'll continue to report back once I get a few more miles on it...

    Jenny x

    ps. Your question has prompted me to go out and check the voltage - since I fitted the new reg/rec, the bike has been sat in an unheated garage for the past two weeks (and in the UK it has been barely above freezing during the day recently) and the battery is still reading just under 12v (as I recall it was about 13.5v on full charge) - so that would imply the reg/rec was certainly at fault before as the battery would have been zero after about 4 days...

    In fact the sun is out, so I might just go out for a little ride this afternoon and squeeze that missing 1.5v back in ;o)
    #85
  6. The Jester

    The Jester Long timer

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    NiCd batteries do develop a 'memory' if they are regularly partially discharged or kept on charge rather then being fully discharged and recharged. Effectively, the capacity will reduce over time to the amount that the battery is regularly discharged by. A lead/acid or lithium battery does not have this.
    Beware however of completely discharging or overcharging a lithium type battery. It is relatively cheap however to include a charging device and battery monitor into a circuit. The best option for Lithium (LiFePo) would be to check out some of the RC model suppliers. I have used hobby king before - they sell a wide range of products and are cheap, but don't expect great customer service.
    #86
  7. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Just a quick update for all of you following this thread - the best part of two years' prep (after the Euro shipping deal was withdrawn last year), and my XR400R is finally on it's way to Baja!

    [​IMG]
    photo. Piglet gives the XR the final once-over before the long journey south...

    I spent today delivering the bike from North Wales to Rally Raid Products HQ in Northamptonshire, where John and I finished off crating three bikes for shipping next week from the UK to San Diego!

    [​IMG]
    photo. John assembling the Africa Twin crates we got from Motoden Honda in London - proprietor George Dennison is another UK rider racing the Baja Rally later this year...

    [​IMG]
    photo. Almost ready for loading - the metal crates will also be wrapped in plastic film to help protect the contents...

    For continuity, all the European bikes will be shipped in Africa Twin metal crates which are large enough not to require much disassembly of the bike/s (just removing the front wheel), and offer plenty of space for my two kit boxes, and a couple of spare tyres too.

    The next time I'll see it again will be in Ensenada the weekend prior to scrutineering... lets hope it arrives safely, and I can get the bastard to [kick] start after six weeks in transit!

    Toot toot for now!

    Jenny x

    #87
  8. timeOday

    timeOday Long timer

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    Where do you practice for Baja when you're living in the UK?
    #88
  9. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi timOday - as you surmise, there are not many places in the UK (or northern Europe as a whole) that have similar terrain to Baja - the closest place is probably southern Spain and/or Morocco of course - which is a similar distance away to if you lived in Oregon and wanted to ride in New Mexico - so you really have to make a trip of it...

    There closest 'rally' terrain (under your tyres at least) in the UK is in the south west, around Salisbury Plain (a huge military training area with certain tracks open to the public when they are not shooting stuff) - a lot of fast gravel, sweeping turns, track junctions etc. - good rally training.

    There is not a lot of soft sand in the UK (again, you need to go to southern Spain and Morocco for that) but fortunately Baja Rally route also includes a lot of higher elevation and narrow (not quite single track) rocky going, and there are plenty of forest trails and rocky terrain to practice on in the UK too.

    However, I am fortunate to spend quite a lot of time in the US these days anyway, so get to ride in the desert in Nevada, Oregon, Utah etc. - and not least Baja last year of course...

    Jx
    #89
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  10. philipbarrett

    philipbarrett Been here awhile Supporter

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    See you guys in Ensenada!
    #90
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  11. MartiniUp

    MartiniUp Long timer

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    That front brake line routing has to be fixed. With all the other attention to detail that is driving me nuts!
    #91
  12. VxZeroKnots

    VxZeroKnots Long timer

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    Your fixation with front brake line routing is hilarious, the routing is fine. Nearly every rally bike does it that way.

    [​IMG]

    I've been using the same style on my enduro/hard enduro/trail bikes for over a year with zero problems.


    See ya in Baja Jmo!
    #92
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  13. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi MartiniUp - as VxZero says, I'm not sure how else you could do it? You can't have the hose running over the nav. gear (in an MX style) as it would get hooked up, so it has to go under and be fixed on the lower triple clamp - and at the same time needs enough slack in the hose so that it isn't taught under full extension...

    Jx
    #93
  14. Luke

    Luke GPoET&P

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    Dogpile!

    IMG_1924.JPG
    #94
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  15. Jeff B

    Jeff B Socially Awkward

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    Good luck at Baja Jenny. :thumb

    We'll be cheering you on.
    #95
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  16. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Caught on Camera!

    [​IMG]

    Full story coming soon... (spoiler alert, the XR totally rocked down in Baja last week!)

    Jenny x
    #96
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  17. philipbarrett

    philipbarrett Been here awhile Supporter

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    Jenny was a champ! Despite being stricken hard by a bug (and surviving 3 aborted attempts by the medics to find a vein for the IV) after the Prologue she bounced back from Stage 2 onwards and nailed Stage 3 & 4, embarrassing some much higher spec'd equipment on the way.
    #97
  18. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    OK then, rather than try and compare my performance with those at the sharp end over on the official Baja Rally 2016 thread, I will endeavour to describe the week from my more modest perspective here...

    First of all, those of you who followed the Baja Rally last year may well recall that I ended up borrowing a KTM 500 EXC from a very generous ADV inmate, which it turned out only arrived in Ensenada in the nick of time - 4.45pm on Monday, the day of scrutineering (which technically had finished at 3pm) - which meant a long night prepping that bike to get it ready for a 5am start the following day.

    This year, I was confident that in shipping my own bike (that was completely prepared beforehand, other than having the Rally Comp device fitted prior to scrutineering) meant there would be plenty of time during the weekend prior to the start of the rally to socialise with the rest of the UK/European riders, and maybe even get a few shake-down miles in after the bike had been at sea for four weeks.

    Oh how wrong I was going to be!

    So, early on Friday (7th) morning, Lisa and I left San Jose with the intention of making it all the way to Ensenada that evening - expecting the container of Euro bikes to be delivered to the hotel by the following afternoon, leaving plenty of time to get everything assembled and tested as we reunited with the other European riders and their machines.

    [​IMG]

    We arrived at the Hotel San Nicolas (Rally HQ) just before 6pm - a journey of almost eleven and a half hours on the road with stops all told. We had a nice room overlooking the pool, and I was confident I'd be first in line to get started the following day...

    [​IMG]


    Saturday 8th October

    With no sign of any Orga crew around the hotel early that morning, we ambled into town for breakfast, with the intention of kicking our heels until the majority of the UK contingent arrived at some point later that afternoon.

    [​IMG]
    photo. walking along the harbour front, I joked that the Euro container was probably still somewhere in that stack... something we were later to find out was not all that far from the truth!

    During breakfast I'd had a text saying the container was due to be delivered to the hotel car-park later that afternoon (as per the original plan) and would certainly be available to access from 8am the following morning... So, there was nothing much more to do that day other than drink a few margaritas and catch up with the ever increasing number of competitors and crews who arrived in a steady stream throughout the afternoon.

    By evening there was no sign of the containers, but we were not unduly worried - after all - we'd have all day tomorrow to get things sorted, right?


    Sunday 9th October

    Sunday morning came and went. The Orga had arrived, and unfortunately the news from the port was not good. Apparently a 'paperwork issue' had come to light the day before, and now there was no chance of the container arriving today for sure, but they were confident the issue would be resolved first thing on Monday, and the container delivered as a priority later that day... how much later we would have to wait and see of course.

    I have to say, this was a little disappointing, particularly as the majority of the UK/Euro riders had flown out earlier in the week specifically to be ready to get to work on their bikes over the weekend. But still, there was a bar and a pool, and quite frankly nothing else we could do about it anyway - so we did that British thing, and ordered another round...

    Due to the delay, in an effort to maximise the time we might have available the following day for pre-event preparation (the day originally scheduled for everyone to complete their signing-on paperwork, Rally-Comp fitting and scrutineering) the Orga allowed all the Euro riders to complete their primary paperwork on Sunday - which I have to say with almost double the number of riders this year, would no doubt help to speed up the procedure the following day for everyone else too of course.


    Monday 10th October

    I can only imagine the number of phone calls to people in ever higher places that took place that morning in an effort to get things moving at the container port. With hindsight, had we known how long it was going to take, I'd have probably assembled an angry mob, driven down to the port, and commandeered a suitable truck myself!

    While the rest of the competitors and crews completed their paperwork and set about presenting their machines for scrutineering, the only thing the Euro riders needed to collect were our race plates (number stickers) and sat phones, before once again returning hopefully to the car park, and await the delivery of the container.

    The 3pm scrutineering cut-off came and went, only this year, I had twenty-two friends and associates all in the same position. A long night of bike prep and rushed scrutineering loomed horribly on the horizon.

    By 5pm we had all but given up hope - surely the dock crew would be going home by now?

    6pm... and, a fork lift truck was delivered!

    Some time later, the first of two container lorries finally rumbled up outside the Hotel San Nicolas.

    [​IMG]

    It was all hands to the deck in an effort to get the crates unloaded before nightfall:

    [​IMG]
    photo. the health and safety executive (Mexico dept.) gave us a hand to unload the containers...

    As the sun set, still there were plenty of bikes to unload - this was potentially going to be a long night for at least 23 of us (and their associated crews).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    photo. Helly Frauwallner (Austria) finally gets his hands on his bike!

    [​IMG]
    photo. At last! The mighty XR (and the Rally Raid LC4-50) see the light of day/night...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    photo. fortunately all I'd have to do is reattach the front wheel, fill it with oil and fuel, and have the Rally-Comp fitted.

    [​IMG]
    photo. working next the TAB/Motoden UK team (that is also Desert Rose Racing's motorhome in the background), I was fortunate to get the bike running after less than a dozen kicks, and was the first [of the Euro bikes] to be through scrutineering... I would almost get an early night!



    Tuesday 11th October - Day 1 (Prologue stage) Ensenada to MD Vinos

    Due to the late arrival of the containers the previous day, the Orga had taken the necessary steps to reschedule the first riding day, to try and accommodate these necessary changes with the minimum of disruption to the rest of the event.

    Fortunately Day 1 was essentially a ceremonial parade out of the city, followed by a short liaison south on Hwy 1 before a similarly short 'prologue' stage (starting in numerical order) for riders to shake down their machines and more importantly perhaps, to create a more accurate starting order* for the first full stage the following morning.

    *Once a rally is underway, the starting order of each day is traditionally based on your finish position of the previous day - in an effort to minimise the need for faster riders to overtake any slower riders ahead of them during the stage. With 70 starters this year it was certainly prudent to include a prologue so that the faster riders would be starting the first full day at the head of the pack the following morning. A big thumbs up to the Orga for implementing this strategy this year.

    [​IMG]
    photo. waiting (and waiting) to depart Ensenada, and get this funky show on the road at last!

    Due to the late arrival of the Euro bikes, the planned welcome presentation/initial rider briefing (and subsequent Rally Comp briefing) that was scheduled for the previous evening had been postponed and condensed, and was presented at 8am straight after breakfast on the morning of the prologue - no bad thing in my opinion, as it kept things brief - although some riders did complain that they didn't really have enough time for the workings of the Rally-Comp to be fully explained/demonstrated or to ask any questions that might otherwise have come up had they been given more time that had been allotted the previous evening.

    I have to say, while I was keen to get going that morning, I was also increasingly aware that I had started to feel rather sick - like I'd eaten something bad for breakfast perhaps, and as the morning wore on, I felt increasingly worse - cumulating in a quick trip behind the Desert Rose motorhome to ultimately throw up. This was not a good start to the week.

    I kept things together for the initial ride out of town, but felt distinctly poorly once I arrived at the DSS of the prologue. I told a concerned medic (who I have to say, are first rate on this event) that I felt unwell, but that I felt able to ride the initial stage - and headed out at my allotted time.

    Although the prologue was only around 35kms in total, the Orga had made sure it was going to be a wake-up call to anyone thinking this 'four and a half day rally' was going to be easy...

    The stage featured any number of tricky navigation instructions, and at one point I witnessed even top riders like Steve Hengeveld riding back and forth in an effort to find the correct route in places; while there were a number of off-piste sections and particularly soft and technical climbs to overcome - all in the heat of the afternoon.

    For myself, I wasted a good amount of time at what I felt were a couple of ambiguous road-book instructions, and this was compounded by me really not feeling very well at all by now. At one point I back tracked to regain my bearings and found a rider (#77) who had crashed heavily in a ditch - a broken wrist meant his race was already over... and fortunately another rider (Mike Johnson, the man behind the Rally Comp device) was already giving assistance.

    I made it to the finish [directly into the bivouac at the MD Vinos winery] in what I believed was a reasonable mid-pack time - certainly when I considered my own personal circumstances... then rolled the XR under our easy-up tent, and sat down with a Gatoraid...

    Minutes later I was on my hands and knees puking up like I can't remember. It was absolutely brutal.

    Lisa got the medics to attend and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and die - honestly, it was that bad!

    Ultimately (and presumably once they were confident the violent puking had stopped) they put me on a drip, and I got to spend the night in the back of an ambulance, being monitored throughout the night.



    Wednesday 12th October - Day 2 (SS1) MD Vinos to Santa Maria.

    I have to say, other than the indignity of having to waddle out into the desert at 2am in my pajamas (while still clutching my bag of saline) to pee, I had a pretty restful night; and woke while not feeling 100% perhaps, once a light breakfast had been consumed, confident I was well enough to ride the stage that day...

    Togging up and heading out to the DSS a few kms away, ultimately the medics at the start suggested/insisted that because of the severity of my illness the evening before, I really needed to take 24 hours to ensure I was properly over it.

    I'd scanned the road-book that morning (over breakfast), and saw the stage crossed the main highway approximately 180kms, so asked if I could perhaps just ride the first segment (and take the penalty for any subsequent missed waypoints, at least I'd get a time/result for the day), but it was not to be - if anything they explained, the first sector would be physically tougher than the second, and I agreed that it would be foolish to ruin the rest of my rally by trying to ride too soon - never mind being a potential liability should I be overcome on the course that day.

    Instead I followed the assistance route to Santa Maria, where Lisa had already set up our camp in a delightful spot on the edge of the beach.

    [​IMG]

    I spent the rest of the day fettling the bike (including an oil change), and taking it easy - a walk on the beach, something to eat, and a good shower before the rest of the dusty pack descended on the bivouac later that afternoon.

    [​IMG]
    photo. some of the UK riders and the TAB/Motoden bivouac on the beach at Santa Maria.

    [​IMG]
    photo. the beach at Santa Maria was littered with thousands of Sand Dollars - most of them still intact.



    Thursday 13th October - Day 3 (SS2) Santa Maria to Mission Catavina

    By the time I awoke (early, before dawn) I really was raring to go now. Having been given the all-clear by the medical team, I lined up with the rest of the riders - albeit right at the back because of my time penalty for missing the day before - with the start of the Special heading straight out of the bivouac hotel car-park, and onto the beach itself.

    Initially I made a bit of fist of it - stalling the bike (remember it's kick-start only) just a couple of hundred yards into the dunes - but ultimately saving myself from the indignity of an over-the-bars moment in front of the cameras at least!

    Once I found some semblance of a rhythm, I was pleased how well the bike seemed to handle in the soft beach sand, and later, when they sent us through a series of steep soft dunes again, the XR simply lugged up and down and inspired a lot of confidence.

    Last year, the stage that ended in Catavina was my favourite of the whole event - the final 50 or more kilometres into Catavina itself a hard charge though a giant cactus field, before ultimately navigating between huge granite slabs and boulders, reminiscent of a set so often seen in the original Star Trek series for example... Indeed, it was this stage that I described with such enthusiasm in an effort to encourage the UK and European competitors to attend this year, and was so pleased when the route that day turned out to be very similar.

    [​IMG]
    photo. I remembered this track junction from last year, and knew the next 50+kms would be a high-speed blast through the cactus fields. Time for a quick energy bar.

    Despite starting the day at the back, and not really seeing many other competitors that day, I finished in a respectable 36th place overall, and more importantly, had kept my nose clean and conserved my precious energy for the remaining days ahead.

    There was certainly no point in trying to race for overall position now - the bogy time and penalty from SS1 would negate any effort I put in in that regard, not that I'm particularly competitive anyway - and especially in a field of this calibre of course.

    Instead, I was going to focus on simply riding the course, and fundamentally try and enjoy it for once... So often during a rally you become preoccupied with not crashing and in the general strategy of the event, that you forget to take a moment and appreciate the fabulous terrain you are riding though.

    That is not to say I was going to ride like a tourist, but that fundamentally I had nothing to prove now other than to myself. I considered that riding my own [UK] bike, an XR no less, here in it's spiritual home of Baja California - was not only the cumulation of two years' preparation - but that fundamentally it was likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I was going to do my best to actually savour the moment!

    more soon...

    Jx
    #98
  19. philipbarrett

    philipbarrett Been here awhile Supporter

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    XR400, spiritual home in Baja - love it!
    #99
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  20. Jeff B

    Jeff B Socially Awkward

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    Awesome Jenny!

    Now on to Dakar.