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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    Hi Shiny - no, I didn't think to check [before I fitted the tyres] to be honest - since they are essentially a direct replacement of the original DID rims, other than the black powder coat of course.

    Interestingly, they look like the same rims that are fitted to the new CRF450L.

    Jx
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  2. PHX_Joe

    PHX_Joe Adventurer Supporter

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    Really appreciate your extra effort on the build thread!

    Makes me think dumping more $ into my '98 would result in a decade or more of FUN at a relative fraction of a newer, e-start bike.

    Inspiring, thank you!
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  3. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    And thank you Joe! - certainly this particular bike has always had a special place in my heart (ever since I bought it new in 2003) - and I honestly don't see me ever selling it for as long as I'm able to ride (kicking the bastard into life not withstanding!) - it's so simple, and pretty much unbreakable, which for a fun dual-sport experience is all I really want out of a bike like this...

    The suspension/chassis is [still] more than adequate for the odd more spirited/competition ride (like the Baja Rally in 2016), and it's got enough go to make highway riding bearable - although any naked dirt-bike like this is far nicer on sub-60mph roads of course.

    I would like to try a new CRF450L at some point, just to see how far 'technology' has moved things on... but I feel that while the slimmer ergos and e-start of the CRF would offer a dynamic improvement, out in the real world on the trails, there really wouldn't be any more 'fun' to be had for the $10,000 that bike costs.

    As with my revamp/refresh back in 2015 for the Baja Rally, I think replacing worn out parts on this bike (such as replacing the OEM wheels most recently) is a considered compromise with regard to budget - I'm sure this bike has got another 50,000 miles in it before I have to think about stuff like that again!

    Jx
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  4. PHX_Joe

    PHX_Joe Adventurer Supporter

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    Cool. There's an mc mechanic here in Phoenix who completely rebuilding an XR4, including estart, 440 kit, suspension etc, thinks he's going to get $6k for it when complete. I suspect most would agree Honda would sell a bunch of them similarly kitted out, for that price. He used to build XR desert racers, now newer steeds, but like you and many others - has a lot of love for the simplicity and durability.

    I wonder if there's a market for such a product, like old Land Cruisers, Broncos, etc. Company in California getting $100k+ for old/new Land Cruisers.

    What you say, J, want to be a 'factory rep'? You're a bit of an Xr400 legend!! :hmmmmm

    Cheers!
  5. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hee hee - that's an interesting concept Joe - I was certainly impressed with the company who rebuild BJ/FJ 40s they had at Overland Expo last year - although like you say, those tended to start at around $100K!!! (note the higher end versions typically also had the current Toyota V6s, auto transmission and more modern suspension under the original body and frame - beautiful conversions!)

    The problem I see for the XR400R - basing any build on a street-titled donor bike notwithstanding (otherwise the potential for dual-sport is particularly limited of course), is sourcing suitable parts on the aftermarket without the expense of commissioning a batch of components yourself...

    For example, there doesn't seem to be anyone offering a dedicated XR400 specific rear shock these days? - and while it is possible to cobble together what is essentially a factory e-start using the TRX quad parts, the issue is the crank swap* - although if it were part of having a total engine rebuild anyway, I suppose that wouldn't add all that much extra to the cost.

    *It's worth noting for anyone unfamiliar that Swiss company Boechat.ch used to offer a bolt-on e-start kit - using all new Honda TRX parts, plus their own crank adaptor (to move the flywheel out so the ring-gear could be fitted behind) which was a very easy way to do it... I had their similar conversion on my XR650R too, and it worked just like a factory install.

    I know there is a vogue for rebuilding/restoring older dirt/dual-sport bikes (such as the legendary XT500), and those appear to achieve good money - but I wonder if they are then essentially mothballed as 'restored' classics - rather than continue to be ridden as enhanced alternatives if you see what I mean?

    I think I need to find some workshop space!

    Jenny x
  6. The Jester

    The Jester Long timer

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    Now something like this would interest me - with a 400 motor rather than the 250. Old school, bombproof XR motor with updated suspension and ergos. Far more useable than a 'restored' bike.
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  7. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Yes, that's pretty cool - although I'm not sure the [GasGas] swing-arm swap is really worth the bother by the sound of it, trying to get the linkage to work properly etc., and I understand it's pretty straightforward to fit a CRF250/450 front end to the XR frame if you want USD forks - while also keeping it 'all Honda' of course.

    Personally speaking, while the Aloop bodywork does look a little more contemporary perhaps, I think the fake/unnecessary radiator shrouds are a waste of space (unless you've got sponsors who want extra space for their logos of course ;o) - so I'd rather fit an IMS or similar larger tank for more range.

    I agree doing something similar with the 400cc engine would make even more sense too (although the 250 e-start engine is sweet enough as well) - but either way and whatever you choose to add, it certainly goes to show we're not the only people who still appreciate the simple and torquey style of the air-cooled XR engined bikes!

    Jx
  8. shinyribs

    shinyribs Thumpers for life

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    I really enjoyed my test of a 450L, but I agree with you that there's not a $10k defecit on the XR4's behalf. The one thing the 450L does very well is cruise at speeds around 50-70mph. It's just mindblowingly smooth and effortless. But for a day of trail riding, I still want my big comfy XR seat and that big thump of torque that's always waiting. The 450L rips pretty dang good!..but I swear the XR4 still has more grunt off idle.
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  9. The Jester

    The Jester Long timer

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    I agree about the swing-arm - surely having a suitably valved shock would achieve a similar outcome much more easily? The point is that suspension upgrades can transform a bike far more than a bit of extra power and, if some folks left their egos aside, makes much more sense than a more powerful bike for most riders. A CRF front end has got to be an easier way to go as the bearings and stem are more likely to be a direct swap. I certainly liked the CRF front end that was on my BRP.

    As for the Aloop tank - I agree that the fake shrouds are unnecessary and the drop in capacity would be a handicap. For me the real benefit with this is not the tank itself but the fact that it allows a flatter seat. My BRP had a high seat which removed much of the rise to the tank; perhaps this would also work on a smaller XR. I rode it briefly with the under-seat tank that came with it - I really noticed the improvement from the completely flat seat but really could not get on with the additional height. How anyone of normal stature manages to ride challenging terrain with one of those fitted I don't know.

    250 vs 400: perhaps I am falling victim to the search for more power? Certainly my current R80g/s is well down on power compared to my BRP and I don't miss it at all. (I am obviously using the bike on less demanding terrain and for a different purpose.) I would however miss the ability that either bike has to travel over longer distances at reasonable speeds without straining the motor. For purely off road riding the 250 would be less tiring, but for getting to a riding area or longer off-road adventure trips I feel the 250 would be lacking.

    Maybe though, once I finish getting my g/s how I want it, and I can manage to find space for a second bike, a little 250 could be my next project.
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  10. PHX_Joe

    PHX_Joe Adventurer Supporter

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    I bought my xr4 as a legit 1-owner 98, a doctor who (apparently) kept the bike well serviced. Luckily, the bike is well suspended for my weight, has plenty of juice, and always a fun ride in my C to C+ desert riding. It may very well be modified suspension, I couldn't tell, I have no other dirt bike experience - but seems all the things you guys describe.

    I primarily ride trails and camp off the bike, and wanted something light-ish, reliable, gutsy, and easy to work on. I have moderate mechanical skills, anc do all my own maintenance and add-ons, good fun. I've yet to have to change a tire, so still a true dirt-virgin!

    The story of the 250 guy is great! Way above my motivation or skill, but really cool.

    Anybody tried Chinese parts recently? I mean cylinder head and cover. I buy all OEM at this point, but if I had to go into the motor...... could almost buy a donor bike for the head and bits.

    Appreciate the thoughtful discussion.

    Happy 4th, thanks again!
  11. Yeti2ride

    Yeti2ride Been here awhile

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    Chinese parts ? I picked up a 98' model back in the winter for cheap because the guy said it was smoking, said he'd tried everything to stop it except for valve stem seals. Which he had already purchased, i put them in and just fired up last weekend. Still smokes a little, and its oil smoke. I mention this because, supposedly it is a chinese cylinder and piston. I believe it because he gave me the original take off as well. Runs fine, starts super easy, I have to use the decomp lever on the 98 to break compression. I never used it on my 02' model.
    Any thoughts on my smoke issues ???

    Edit. Bought it from a credible guy, a private boat mechanic. He only sold it because he had to make room for a high rolling customer's boat.
  12. boboneleg

    boboneleg we can rebuild him.

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    Hi Jenny, i've only just come across this thread but thoroughly enjoyed reading it this evening. Is this the same XR that I remember you using on one of Austin's PyreneesUp events?

    cheers, Bob.
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  13. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Bob - yep, the very same! - the winningest XR (well, one of two actually) that year ;o)

    [​IMG]
    photo. JMo and Dazzer 'the Peanut Smugglers' - Pyrenees-Up 2010.

    Jx
  14. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Just few photos of my 'street legal' preparations for here in the US...

    Those of you who have followed this thread from the beginning will know this bike was already street legal (and road-registered) in the UK, with the necessary brake lights (using hydraulic switches on front and rear master cylinders) and an LED bulb in the rear lamp, a 12v horn and separate Vision-X solstice LED lamps for high and low beam (mounted inside the original headlight mask, with the old lens as a protector) - and that fundamentally in the UK at least, it is not necessary to have turn-signals fitted if it has a 'solo seat, and designed primarily for off-road use'. Mirrors are also optional in the UK.

    However, to get this bike inspected for road-registration now it's here in the US, I needed to add some turn-signals (again, LED to save current draw as I'm still running the stock stator), and thought it best to add a pair of mirrors, just incase the inspector insists on one each side.

    [​IMG]
    photo. the simplest way to add turn signals is using a two-pin LED flasher-relay, that is wired between the 12v source (in this instance the main lighting circuit) and the handlebar switchgear (OEM Honda XR125L which I've had in a box for years).

    I know the under-seat wiring looks a bit like spaghetti at the moment, especially with all those bullet connectors - but this is primarily to ensure everything works, and now I have what is essentially a full loom on this bike, ultimately I may well replace the multitude of bullets with dedicated block connectors to simplify and tidy everything (a winter project perhaps).

    [​IMG]
    photo. additional [turn signal] circuit requires more bundles of bullets - for now at least.

    Similarly up-front, that is a LOT more wiring than this bike used to have originally... a shame in a way, as I loved how simple the original loom on this bike was - and for the moment at least I've elected to keep the turn signals on a completely separate (and thus removable) loom, so that should I ever revert this bike to race/rally mode, those can be removed to simplify the amount of wiring on the bike.


    Initially I experimented with my ex-rally MX style rear fender, where the LED turn signals could be mounted on tabs to the rear of the subframe...

    [​IMG]

    However, ultimately I decided I preferred the original red rear fender and OEM tail-light assembly, so took the drill to my OEM fender so that the turn-signals could be mounted perpendicular (rather than angled) through the plastic panels:

    [​IMG]

    The only other thing to do was to add a pair of Double-take mirrors on RAM balls (I already have one on the clutch side, but added a U-bolt version to the right hand side for the second mirror), and another RAM ball to mount my Garmin Montana 'dashboard' in a powered cradle.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So fingers crossed that little lot (along with DOT approved tyres of course) should see the bike signed off as suitably converted for road use at the DMV inspection station - scheduled for later this week...

    Jenny x
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  15. philipbarrett

    philipbarrett Been here awhile Supporter

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    Did you check you needed turn signals? In Texas they are not required unless the bike originally came with them.
  16. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Philip - I replied to a similar question on the main XR400R thread recently - and yes, where I got the bike inspected (Nevada) and where I plan to register it initally, it needs turn signals as the [converted OHV] bike has to have a full compliment of DOT equipment - including orange and red side reflectors I found out during the inspection - in that same way as a factory street legal bike requires them prior to registration.

    Also, if I’m going to be running this bike on the road with any regularity it makes sense to have them fitted anyway of course (both when riding in traffic, and to avoid any unnessary stops by traffic police with nothing better to do) - and these thin LED turn signals are very small, light, cheap and bendy - ideal really!

    Jx
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  17. BornAgain

    BornAgain Been here awhile

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    Yeah even though it's not required here I would still put turn signals on. If for no other reason than not having to explain to the inspector for the yearly inspection that they are not required or more importantly watching other drivers faces as they try to interpret hand signals :hmmmmmother than the universally accepted single digit :lol3 Nice job on the build.