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

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

  1. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Baja Rally report part 2.

    Last year, Mission Catavina (the southernmost point on the rally) was the final remote bivouac, before a 5am start and a two hour liaison in the dark over the mountains - followed by a 200km stage starting Rosario, and another long liaison into the event finish at Ensenada - a real taste of Dakar.

    This year, they'd mixed things up a little to the riders' benefit: after two long days/stages, Catavina now marked the half-way point, with the return north split into two days - which in turn promised a lot more stage miles and a lot less liaison on our way back to Ensenada - sweet!

    [​IMG]
    photo. The Rally Raid Products LC4-50 Dakar bike - this year being ridden by UK Dakar rider Chris Cork. I rode this bike in 2014 from the UK to Greece and back, and took part in the Hellas Rally as part of it's development. Built around a KTM 690, it's a big bike for the kind of terrain we were riding in Baja.

    Mission Catavina was my favourite Bivouac location last year, and once again it didn't disappoint - good food, plenty of room for camping and the hotel itself is a wonderful Spanish Colonial style outpost - with a central courtyard and pool flanked by the bedrooms (for those lucky enough to book a room in time).



    Friday 14th October - Day 4 (SS3) Mission Catavina to Rancho El Coyote

    A short 10km Liaison up the highway saw us at the start of SS3, which was all-new this year, and Scotty had promised would offer an awesome ride - he wasn't wrong! Starting out on a series of single track (barely visible in places) through the cactus again, together with some technical dry wash riding followed by fast two-track as the desert opened up.

    After around 80kms, the course featured a short neutralised section on the highway, and as I approached could see that all the previous riders had been held at a temporary checkpoint. Drinks, snacks and a modicum of shade had been supplied, as the Orga had to no choice but to temporarily halt the race while a problem with the radio communication relay plane was sorted out.

    It was a shame to break the flow - not least as once we were given the all-clear, we then convoyed up the highway 20kms before having to regroup once again for the refuel and start of the second timed sector that morning (I'm sure we could have simply stopped once, at this originally scheduled position - particularly since the road section was neutralised anyway, but there you go...)

    Still, our reward was another excellent 100kms or so of epic desert riding, ending at a second refuel point at El Rosario. Because of the enforced delay earlier that morning, the Orga then took the decision to cut the final 100kms of Special Stage (north of EL Rosario and into that evening's bivouac at El Coyote) in an effort to ensure all competitors reached the bivouac before nightfall.

    That was fair enough of course, although personally I found it rather disappointing to have to ride what was effectively the assistance route (up the tedious Highway 1), as I felt I'd been on a roll all day so far... Fortunately the final 40 or so kilometres off the main highway and inland towards Rancho El Coyote turned out to be a wonderfully twisty and scenic minor mountain road, so sweet enough compensation... To be honest, by this stage of the event, no one I spoke too minded the fact the day had been cut short - after all, we'd all had a fantastic first 200 kms, which for many riders, was more than enough each day anyway...

    In fact this is probably a good juncture to point out that while the Baja Rally is 'only' four full days (plus prologue), they really are FULL days...

    While the overall event distance may not not huge compared to some other week-long European/African rallies - in Baja, the stages themselves are all in excess of 300kms per day (so typically around 50% longer than your average European or Moroccan rally stage), coupled with comparatively little liaison distance - which means you are 'on it' for a lot more of the time each day; and that ultimately the proportion of actual race/stage distance compared to the overall event distance is much higher - which is kind of what you want, especially when you're onboard a lightweight enduro bike.

    Certainly the stage distances [and technicality within], coupled with early starts each day means that you effectively get what would otherwise be a week's worth of race mileage condensed into four and a half days - so it's pretty intense, and I would go as far as to suggest is not an event for beginners in that regard... you really need to be mentally and physically prepared for some pretty long and challenging days in the saddle.

    Anyway, back to the bivouac at El Coyote...

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    photo. early morning starts meant coffee was an essential ingredient...

    Lisa had found the same shady spot as we camped in last year, and alongside the majority of the other UK riders (team TAB/Motoden) we set about prepping for the final day the following morning - another oil change for the XR and, well, that's about all it needed really.

    Rancho El Coyote is essentially a camp-ground (with showers and toilets), and outside/BBQ style catering provided by the owners. There is alternative accommodation a few miles back down the dirt road at Rancho Melling where some of the competitors had managed to secure rooms, and I can only presume that that is where the Orga were staying that evening too, as there was precious little presence of official crew around the main bivouac, no results, and ultimately not even a rider briefing that evening...


    Now I am not going to knock the Orga here, as I'm sure they had their reasons for the lack of coordination on this penultimate evening - however, it would be fair to say that increasingly during the week, teams and certainly individual riders were getting increasingly frustrated at the apparent lack of coordination, particularly during the 12 or so hours each day that the riders weren't actually racing...

    Let me make it clear that between the DSS and and ASS each day, I personally felt the event organisation was impeccable. Safety was first rate, the road-books accurate, and checkpoints and refuelling all manned efficiently and in a positive and friendly manner. There was also plenty of cold drinks (along with water) and snacks available at every location - something that last year had depleted rather quickly after the second day...

    However, while stage safety and race logistics are paramount, they are also only part of the whole rally experience - and fundamentally, when weary riders return to the bivouac each evening, they need a simple and structured system to be in place so that they can manage their needs efficiently. Put succinctly - they simply need to know when the food will be ready, where to get their new road-books, when the rider briefing is, and what time they will need to get up the following morning - those are the essentials, and ideally, will be at a fixed time/place each day so that even if you arrive late and/or need to work on your bike, you can prepare for the following day with the minimum of disruption.



    Saturday 15th October - Day 5 (SS4) El Coyote to Ensenada (Hotel San Nicolas)

    The message had come round the night before (together with the road books) that [apparently] all riders were to assemble at 6am - with breakfast from 5am - and there would be a short liaison to the start of the final stage, with details of the route handed out during breakfast.

    Now this in itself was not a problem - it had been the format all week (I suspect the Orga choose to keep the liaison and stage road-books separate so as to help protect the location of the start and finish points - particularly as a lot of the stages run though private ground and need specific permission, and they don't want all and sundry trying to ride the routes outside of the structured event)... However, due to the lack of a rider briefing the night before, we had no idea of the distance involved to the DSS, and subsequently what time individual riders would actually need to leave the bivouac (there being no results and therefore no posted start times, until you were given your time card at the exit from the bivouac). I considered it particularly important in this instance, since El Coyote is eight kilometres down a dusty dirt road, so leaving individually would be eminently preferable for all competitors.

    While this may not have been such an issue in previous years (with around 40 or so competitors), now, with an event of this size - there really is no requirement for a rider in 70th place having to get up an hour earlier than they need to, only to have to ultimately wait at the DSS - and certainly not to have to endure the dust cloud of 69 other competitors on their way out of the bivouac...

    Of course [for some reason] we were all held at the bivouac exit, and had to ride out in a group along that damn track didn't we... the dust compounded by a handful of assistance vehicles that for some unfathomable reason felt they needed to get out the bivouac early for their modest 100km road drive back to Ensenada, and tried to push in before all the competitors had left. Again, all this needed was a little coordination.


    The final stage (SS4) this year had been solely created by Scotty's partner in the Baja Rally Organisation Alfonzo 'Poncho' Alonzo Diaz - and I have to say, it was utterly epic! Usually, Scotty and Poncho work together to reccy the routes and compile the road-book, but this final stage was all Poncho's own work...

    It started of fast and following on a series of sandy single-lane dirt roads, before diving into a series of barely two-track trails through undergrowth (and even cows at one point!). Although a lot of the countryside north of El Coyote is cultivated farmland, there was also plenty of gnarly rocky 'enduro' style going to navigate, and perhaps the 'grand finale' this year was crossing a narrow mountain pass on what was little more than a disused goat-trail. Awesome!

    Well, I say awesome - it was fine on an enduro bike, but more than one rider I came across in a particularly rough and washed out section was cursing the course: "How can they put us though this after the week we've just had!" I heard from one UK rider, as the XR tractored on by...

    However, while this was arguably the best day's riding for me personally - it was not without it's upsets - stomach upsets to be precise.

    I'd been suffering from stomach cramps ever since the refuel, and sure enough, on stopping in a field to assess my cap heading, I felt the overwhelming need for a toilet break. Oh. My. God.

    Still, I felt immeasurably better after that - although was almost caught short again a few kilometres further on - diving off the sandy piste and into the bushes once more... and apparently I was not the only one that day unfortunately.


    The end is in sight... almost.

    The final few kms of the special threw a curve-ball to some of the competitors - particularly if you'd not been accurate with your trip-computer in the preceding few instructions...

    I crested a brow at what turned out to be a clear track junction, although it wasn't actually marked in the road-book. This coincided with the final waypoint opening up in the Rally Comp device, which suggested the ASS was directly ahead and even to the left a little, despite the main track being the right hand fork...

    Now I'm not sure the Orga had done this on purpose (although I suspect they had, the devious little buggers ;o) just to make sure anyone who was now simply cruising for a finish remained on their navigational toes, but there must have been at least three or four competitors riding round in circles, trying to make head or tail of the arrow on the Rally Comp - some who had been there quite a while by the look of it too!

    I paused there for a moment myself, but trusted my instincts... there had been an instruction just 1/2 a kilometre previously saying to take the left fork at a similar looking junction, however, fundamentally, the tulip diagram showed an island in the middle of the three tracks, and there was no island here.

    I was confident I'd made the correct turn 1/2 km before, so continued on the main track to the right... sure enough, a kilometre or so further on, the piste started to swept to the left around a headland, and headed straight for the ASS waypoint in the Rally Comp. Bingo!

    [​IMG]
    photo. (by Nishant Verma) on the final leg of SS4 - the XR actually looks quite fast here!

    Concerned I probably now had at least three or four lost [and much faster] riders hot on my tail, I wicked up the little XR just about as fast as it would go, and ragged those last few sweeping turns on the wide piste straight into the ASS.

    Done!


    It was a 60 or so km liaison back to Ensenada from the finish, but I didn't mind - the XR was used to slogging along, and I revelled in the fact that I'd probably just had the best three days rally riding I ever have. I used the journey to reflect on the past few days, and to try and put it into some sort of perspective when compared to the other events I've competed in over the years...

    Certainly the key attraction of rally-raid events for me is that you are not [usually] elbow to elbow racing with other competitors, as quite honestly I'm just not that competitive and far too polite to engage in 'combative' style riding - certainly I always wave anyone faster by (and similarly try my hardest not to fill anyone in if I do happen to pass them) which is not really in the spirit of 'racing' I know.

    But that is the point of rally-raid - in that you are actually racing the course itself, not the other riders - and ultimately it's only your overall time that matters... Typically each competitor is set off at a 2 minute interval, not only in an effort to stop subsequent competitors simply following the guy in front instead of navigating themselves, but so that in an ideal world you never physically catch the rider in front, unless they happen to make a mistake of course.

    In reality, faster riders do catch those in front, while slower riders (who had a particularly good day previously perhaps) and/or those who make a navigational mistake drop back down the field as the stage progresses; but even in a tight and technical terrain like Baja, and with such a significant number of riders this year, the majority of the time you are out there on your own, and I like that - the part of me that is fundamentally an 'Adventure' rider particularly enjoys that sense of self-reliance and riding on your wits that rally-raid requires.

    And my XR is my favourite bike of all time (although my Rally Raid kitted CB500X is a close second - had to get that in somewhere ;o) - it's not particularly fast, but it feels unbreakable, and is so simple and utterly reliable it would always be my first choice for riding into the unknown.

    Yes the suspension is stock, and pretty saggy now (the rear shock has not been touched in what must be 50,000 miles now, while the forks I had refreshed last summer, although I retained the stock springs), but it actually turned out to be perfect for the conditions in Baja - certainly at the speed I was prepared to ride. For the most part I like to ride sitting down (yeah, I'm lazy - although I like to call it 'conserving energy' of course) - letting the bike and the suspension do all the work as far as possible, and it was always very forgiving, and would always find traction...

    The engine is also bone-stock (from the carb [other than revised jetting], right down the the OEM camshaft and auto decompressor), but I like it that way - particularly as it would appear I got a particularly sweet one (that admittedly has also been refreshed recently - with a new piston, barrel lining, valve seals, springs and re-seated valves - and therefore feels like new again) and fundamentally the XR also tends to flatter you when you make a clumsy mistake, and tractors up and over pretty much anything if you put your faith in it.

    The mods I'd incorporated into the rally-lite build (details from the beginning of this thread) also never let me down at all - the rear tank was perfect (although it turns out I never actually needed to use it's contents throughout the event) - and the simple wiring mods and navigation gear all worked faultlessly too. There were a couple of occasions where I was glad I'd fitted a steering damper, although on the whole the XR is very stable anyway - and I was particularly impressed with the way the XR simply ploughed through the soft silty dry river beds (typically the Baja 1000 course sections that were incorporated into the rally route this year), and which in comparison I had struggled with on the flighty KTM 500 during last year's event.

    As I rolled up outside the San Nicolas hotel, and subsequently parked the bike next to the pool - I had an overwhelming sense of completion.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I've owned this bike [since new] for over thirteen years now - and first rode it in the [Sahara] desert back in 2006, which in turn sowed the seed of one day competing in the Dakar Rally. Subsequently I invested in building a series of rally bikes in an effort to work towards that goal - while my XR400 remained my fun-bike - my UK trail riding and European travel bike. Although most recently I built it up specifically for the Baja Rally (using left-over parts from all my other rally bikes), at the same time I knew I would never be a contender in this event, so the focus of this machine was very different...

    Initially I was a little bummed that I'd be forced to miss SS1 this year (due to the sickness on day 1), as I'm pretty sure I'd have been able to make it through - although whether I would have enjoyed the rest of the event quite so much I'm not sure, and at least this way I was fighting fit for the last three days, while being onboard a bike in which I had the utmost faith allowed me to ride to the absolute maximum that I was prepared to do... and that is the overriding feeling I'll take away from this year's event.

    They say it's always best to end on a high - and right now, I consider I probably won't ever have quite as much fun during a rally as I did this past week. And I'm not sure I actually want to try anymore. I'm so glad I came to this conclusion onboard my lil' four-hunnard.

    Thanks for watching...

    Jenny x

    ps. Apparently I actually finished the event 36th overall - so at least I was consistent to my daily results... and am proud to say that technically I also achieved first place in the, erm, 'Vintage Veteran Ladies Class' (not a real class - ed.)


    [​IMG]

    Toot toot for now!
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  2. stteve

    stteve Been here awhile

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    Briliant report, Jenny.
  3. The Jester

    The Jester Long timer

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    Well done on completing the rally, and thanks for taking the time to write it up.

    You make me wonder whether I should be replacing my 650R with a 400. I like the dependability of the XR but the 650 really is way too big for most of my riding on Cyprus. Most of the modern bikes don't appeal though with their requirement for top end overhauls at relatively low miles. My recent jaunt to the Serres Rally, at 5000km and probably 75 hours of riding, required no more than filter and oil changes and a couple of valve checks.
  4. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    A couple more photos:

    [​IMG]
    photo. at the official finish, Hotel San Nicolas, Ensenada.

    [​IMG]
    photo. Piglet admires the personalised race jersey all competitors were given at the end!

    Jx
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  5. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Jester - it's hard to say... having had both, I liked them both for similar and yet different reasons. The 650R is a beast - like a stripped down KTM690 - grunt in every gear, and a great bike to ride fast in open desert conditions (which I'm sure Honda HRC and USA will tell you is exactly what it was built-for - winning Baja).

    In comparison, the 400R is a lot softer, but for trail and more technical enduro-style riding, I find far more precise and forgiving. It's also a fair bit lighter, and there is less to service and/or [potentially] go wrong - no water pump, radiators to break etc. and correspondingly is much more narrow than the 650R when you have a larger tank fitted for example, and basically feels a little less top-heavy compared to the 650R - particularly if it has a big tank fitted...

    I was fortunate that I was able to buy and fit an electric-start to my 650R back in 2007 (and subsequently sold it in 2009 to buy a WR450F) - ultimately, I don't think I'd want a 650R if it wasn't e-start, but I'm quite happy with the 400R as a kick-only bike.

    My suggestion of course is to keep your 650R (it's already a classic), but try and find a nice clean 400R too perhaps ;o)

    Jx
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  6. stteve

    stteve Been here awhile

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    You are in this clip at 2:20




    Verzonden vanaf mijn iPad met Tapatalk
  7. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Great report and race Jenny! Congrats!
  8. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

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    Great report I'm glad you took time to snap some pics and enjoy the rally
  9. The Jester

    The Jester Long timer

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    Hi Jenny,

    I agree with you - The 650 is a beast - I love cracking the throttle open at 70 and feeling the bike leap forward. Starting behind a group of riders on a long climb and blasting past them part way up, pelting them with rocks as I pass, is addictive. The downside though is straining to drag it out of the bushes, or pick it up and restart it after I have parked it upside down. I also have to be honest that I rarely use full throttle, even on the road. I know I would use a lot less energy and be just as fast, if not faster, with something lighter and less powerful. As an off road travel bike, I would find it hard to justify replacing the 650 as it copes so well with longer road journeys as well as any amount of serious off road. For taking on technical trails though it is a liability. My dilemma is that there is a very small market for bikes here in Cyprus. I don't know how long it would take to sell, or that I would get anywhere near the UK value of the bike. The other side of the equation would be finding a replacement. Used bikes here are in short supply and, short of buying a new bike, I may have to consider importing from overseas which adds to the cost. Keeping the 650 and adding to the stable wold be the ideal solution but I doubt I would get away with that.
  10. K_N_Fodder

    K_N_Fodder Long timer Supporter

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    Absolutely excellent summary Jenny, thanks for taking the time. I can't imagine racing while sick.... ugh! We were pre-running some local routes on Sunday - perfect dirt and weather but we can all feel winter looming. If you are ever back in the states in Wyoming I'd love to show you around.

    Yellowstone Rally 2017 route work...
    [​IMG]

    edit: sorry about the size, used to be really easy in Smugmug to change sizes...
  11. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    And as if by magic, the XR finally returned...

    [​IMG]
    photo. After a quick wash, turns out it survived the prolonged journey back to the UK pretty much unscathed... I was worried it would be a pile of corrosion and rust after 3+ months!

    I won't go into the ins and outs of why it's take quite so long to get my bike (and the others) back - but fortunately for me at least, it appeared that everything was still intact, and mercifully corrosion-free. Even the brake pads/discs are in reasonable condition considering the bike was crated at just a few hours after the end of the race, on 16th October 2016.

    So I spent this afternoon unboxing my spares (everything seems to be in order there too), and decided to strip the Rally-lite parts off the XR - not more than an hour job if I'm honest, as everything was designed to come on and off quickly - the nav-gear all pre-wired (and fitted to an RMS handlebar bracket) and the rear tank is just two bolts (plus the seat bolt on one side) and a QR fuel connector. Even the rear fender and tailpack comes off very quickly once the rear tank is removed.

    While the bike had been away I'd also wired up the OEM tail-light into my original red rear fender, and bought some red Polisport side panels (not an exact match, slightly more orange (CRF-y) than the original Fighting Red), and for now at least, have decided to go a totally retro for general trail-riding duty - including that repro tail-pack!

    [​IMG]
    photo. If I was being really precious, I'd also get another seat so the chunk I had to remove to clear the rear tank wouldn't be missing.

    Fortunately I was also able to source a pair of new OEM hubs while I was in the US at the end of last year - the rear is a new-old-stock XR400R part (now discontinued), plus the necessary bearings and spacers that are still available... while the front is actually a complete XR650R hub (still available from Honda) plus new XR400 spacers, and an XRsOnly speedo eliminator to replace the worn one currently fitted.

    So as a special treat for the old girl, these hubs will be built up with brand new rims and spokes - most likely gold Excel rims in 1.6 front and 2.5* rear widths, while the original OEM silver D.I.D wheels are retired as spares.

    *The reason for a 2.5 rear rather than the usual 2.15 is so that the fatter 140 size tyres (such as the Michelin Desert) are a little easier to get on and off, and sit more squarely.

    In the meantime, I have a few little jobs to finish off - change the oil, replace the chain and sprockets and, erm, that's it... since it's an XR of course!

    Jenny x



  12. philipbarrett

    philipbarrett Been here awhile Supporter

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    Not exactly something we're proud of. :baldy

    But glad she's finally home.
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  13. mung

    mung Been here awhile

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    That is a lot of rim and tire for a stock 400 motor. It may feel sluggish with that much mass on the rear wheel. Or it may just work perfect.
  14. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Mung - a 140 rear is what I'm running now (that's a Michelin Desert on the back, plus I was running the same size COMP3 and a mousse before the rally), and I find it gets along just fine... I'm not that fast anyway (although hopefully consistent ;o)

    Of course it's true you can fit a 140 tyre onto a regular 2.15 rear rim too (as above), but it just sits a bit nicer on a 2.5.

    I'll still have the original silver wheels if I did ever want to run a slightly narrower rear of course.

    Jx
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  15. mung

    mung Been here awhile

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    I used that Mishi Desert on the rear of my 650r and it was a beast. Worked well, lasted a long time and even on the stock rim it was not hard to change a flat if it was warm. It will work well for you.
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  16. PaydayGabe

    PaydayGabe It's never a DAMN tail wind !

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    I really enjoyed the report JMo. Brilliant .
    Congratulations on your completing the Baja rally. Obviously a testament to the you build quality and riding skills. My question is simple.
    Please expound upon the headlamp conversion on your ride. The lamps used, where you purchased them, how they are mounted on the cowling and the wiring. I'd like to copy your mod on my XR4r.
    Thanks for the reply. G, in Vegas .
  17. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Gabe - thank you for your kind words, and reviving this thread ;o)

    Post #5 on page 1 of this thread had a few photos and details about the headlight conversion, but to answer your questions directly:

    The lamps are a pair of Vision-X Solstice Solo's - one with a Wide beam pattern (30° as I recall) for low beam, and one 10° Spot pattern for the high beam. You can buy them from any number of places (mine originally came from JVO as part of my WR450F rallye kit) if you have a noodle on google/amazon, or direct from Vision-X in the USA here: https://www.visionxusa.com/shop/2-solstice-solo/

    As per the photos on page 1, they are mounted together using the supplied joining block and brackets, to my XR650R headlight mask - although it's also possible to mount them in the XR400R mask too (see post #12 on the same page), however things are a bit tighter behind there, and you get a better range of adjustment if you use the 650R mask (I think the one-piece mask looks nicer too...). You can still buy a OEM XR650R headlight mask from various Honda parts suppliers, they are around $65 as I recall, and they fit with the original XR400R mounting straps to the forks in the just the same way.

    The wiring is very straight forward - my whole bike runs DC via a Regulator/Rectifier (Electrix World make a direct replacement here: http://www.electrexworld.co.uk/cgi-bin/sh000001.pl?WD=xr400r&PN=RR167.html#SID=230?aRR167 which is plug-and-play), and the low beam is wired to the original headlight wires on the loom, so it's always on when the engine is running.

    The high beam feed is then tapped off the + headlight wire via a switch on the left hand bar, so that when you engage the high beam they are both on together, which is what you want really... don't forget these LED lamps only draw 20w combined, so a little over half what the OEM filament bulb required.

    Stick an LED brake/tail light bulb in the rear light, and you've saved another 15W overall too!

    Hope that helps...

    Jenny x
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  18. PaydayGabe

    PaydayGabe It's never a DAMN tail wind !

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    Location:
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    I was just reviewing the first few pages of this thread. The just completed harness on my 4r looks almost identical to your example minus a couple details. I completely disconnected the 35w filament lamp. No biggie. The 60w LED bar is more than enough . And I'm looking locally for a LED 1157rear. First start today since the conversion. Everything works, and no fires♨. Thanks, 20170802_145129.jpg G.:rayof ..8"..60w....
  19. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,389
    Location:
    California
    I just thought I'd update this thread, after a prompt over on the main XR thread recently where I've posted some photos of the latest refresh...

    Yes, this is the project that just won't die (well, XRs seldom do of course), and now the bike is in the US full time, I thought it would be a nice idea to thoroughly go through it again post it's rally career, and get it ready for [hopefully] street-legal trail riding duty here in the USA.

    First of all, having stripped the bike down for transport, I thought it would be a good idea to get the frame re-coated before reassembly, addressing a couple of areas that had been welded/primed during the Rally build - and again chose a similar shade of XR/CR red:

    [​IMG]
    photo. Frame (and sub-frame) re-powder-coated yet again! It was still in excellent condition after the 2016 Baja Rally to be honest, but I'd since had the side-stand bracket welded, plus the tabs on the subframe were added after the previous powder-coat - so I thought I'd get it shot-blasted and coated again properly once it arrived in the US - hopefully for the last time now!


    The other thing I wanted to do was finally replace the 50,000+ mile/16 year old wheels (that had been through a lot of cow pee and Welsh bog water in the UK, if nothing else), and I'd been fortunate to snaffle a set of new-old-stock OEM hubs from Ebay a while back (note the front is the same as a XR650R, while the rear 400R hub came from a seller in Japan)...

    [​IMG]
    photo. The NOS OEM hubs, laced with black DID Dirtstar rims [in OEM sizes] and Stainless spokes - by Dubya in southern California.


    [​IMG]
    photo. Starting to look like a bike again - during the rebuild, I also took the opportunity to thoroughly clean and re-grease all the rear suspension.


    [​IMG]
    photo. I subsequently decided to remove the BRP top-clamp and steering damper, and go old-skool again with the original top triple clamp and some ProTaper Fat-bar adaptors, plus some new Renthal RC High bend bars. Oh, and that's the original tank too!


    [​IMG]
    photo. For the time being I've decided to refit the original (2003) seat, plus the OEM style white rear fender and side panels, as I do like the slightly more contemporary hybrid CRF colour-scheme.


    [​IMG]
    photo. Along with a few replacement OEM hardware parts and pieces of plastic, I also splurged on a brand new XR650R headlight mask (which comes with the white number panel decal attached), as I wanted to retire my previous one with the Baja Rally race-plate on as a workshop wall momento. note. As before, the two bolts hold the Vision-X Solstice Solo lamps inside - one [wide] for low beam, and one [spot] for high beam - switched so the low beam stays on with the high beam.


    [​IMG]
    photo. Talking of switches, I also wired up this OEM Honda XR125L left-hand switch-gear I've had kicking around for ages - gives me a horn button, hi/low switch, and the all-important turn-signal switch if I'm going to get this bad-boy street registered here in the USA. note. Ultimately I had to change my billet shorty levers back to OEM style, so the clutch lever would clear the switchgear cluster. Yes, that is a CRF450X clutch perch, with the short Hot-start lever used for the decompressor. I also fitted a new pair of OEM grips and throttle tube.


    [​IMG]
    photo. More new-part porn and OEM indulgence. I elected to replace the shock guard and [long missing/removed] rear disc guard with new OEM parts (they're cheap enough), and fitted a new EBC wave rear disc with OEM bolts. New axle nut and washer too. The chain and sprockets were also replaced after the Baja Rally, so they are pretty fresh as well.

    So that's where I'm up to now - it's running sweetly and everything works - just got to sort some LED turn signals, then start the plating procedure (not here in California, obviously...)

    Stand by for new adventures soon!

    Jenny x
  20. shinyribs

    shinyribs Thumpers for life

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    4,242
    Location:
    The South
    The curious weight watcher in me wants to know if the new DID rims weigh any differently than the originals? Likely it's not enough to even bother over, but I thought you may have checked while you were working.