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I have just arranged the purchase of a couple of XR400's over in the states. I will be flying out there to meet them on the 14th June with a mate and we will be riding from the east to the west coast of the states off road. I am more used to XT6's than XR400's and would be grateful for advice regarding reliability of electrical components (reg/rect/cdi), especially with regard to taking spares out with me in case of failures.
Also any other things I should know about these bikes?!
My first shakedown day will be 220 miles through tennesee!!
I have never heard of any electrical failures on XR400s - so I don't think you have much to worry about. They're reliable as bikes can get. I have a lot of friends who ride them and for them it's mostly a matter of changing oil, and air filters to keep them running well.
I've got over 3,000 miles on my '97 XR400, most of it thrashing offroad. I've never had any serious problems with the bike. Likewise with my friend who has the same bike. The only problem I've had is with a weak fuel line that kinked and restricted the flow of gas. Took me a bit to figure that one out! Keep an eye on your fuel line and replace it if it looks weak. Another common problem is to overtighten the front axle pinch bolts and strip them from the fork tube.
The XR is about as reliable and user-friendly as an offroad bike gets. The seat is comfortable for all-day offroad riding. The component such as sprockets and chain are high quality and will last a fair bit. As someone said, keep the oil and filter clean, check the valves regularly and ride it!
its a honda ... it'll never let you down. trouble is, both mine were stolen so lock them together as they're too easy to pick up even when triple-locked.
starting is easy once you know they flood badly if you touch the throttle so don't! if you drop it and it floods, throttle wide open and kick 10 times to clear it - then it'll start just fine.
can't remember what jets the yankee ones come with, mine were both australian. I ended up with 52 pilot, 142 main with the snorkel and exhaust tip in. nice and quiet, but went well enough for 80mph across the hamada south of Bordj Omar Driss.
I have the Clymer manual if you want it. special price?
The XR400's are not street legal in the US. They can be made street legal in many states, but maybe not some of them. I doubt if you'll be able to go across the country off-road. You'll have to go on the road for much of the trip, so they will have to be street legal.
If you look at the Trailscout website, most of the trail is on dirt roads, with some pavement. The bikes have to be street legal. And, it only goes from Tennessee to the West coast, not coast to coast.
I rode my 98 XR400 from UK to Singapore last year. 20,000 miles including some pretty brutal stuff in Cambodia and I had no problems at all. The piston rings needed replacing after about 15,000 miles which is not unusual but that was it. It never broke down or failed to start once. It was simply unstoppable, and still is.
For parts, the XR400 is ubiquitous in the US and getting parts should be easy (unlike Asia where they’ve never heard of it).
Anyway, pack a few oil filters, which are very small (Honda recommend oil changes every 600 miles but I think that’s for competition use. I changed mine every 1,200 - 1,500 miles with no problems) and use decent oil – an extra couple of dollars per litre is a good investment. Add to that a spare split link for your chain, spare levers, tubes, bulbs, etc and the usual trail riding essentials.
Before you set off across the States, try to get the jetting right in the carburettor – speak to a dealer – it does make a difference, and learn to read a spark plug (black and sooty – too rich, white – too lean, biscuit brown – just right). But I wouldn’t worry too much about carrying lots of different size jets for the temperature/altitude variations. The exception is if you’re going very high over the Rockies. I only changed mine in the Karakoram mountains (about 16,000 ft) when, even with the smallest jets I had, it was running a bit rough/rich.
The only downside on the XR is the need for routine maintenance/tuning – oil changes, checking valves clearances, etc. It’s a bit tedious but very easy. After a while you’ll be able to do it in your sleep.
Buy a Haynes manual and take it with you if you have the room.
As for tools, the spark plug is deeply recessed in the engine and the Honda plug socket is a good investment (you need a 12mm spanner to turn it). One should come with the bike (along with the multi-use spanner) but they’ve normally been lost or stolen. A 17mm socket is useful for turning the crank to find TDC when checking the valve clearences and, obviously, you’ll need a feeler gauge to check the gaps (0.10mm and 0.12mm if I remember correctly).
I would recommend you join the Yahoo XR400 group. Whenever you have a question, post a notice and I guarantee you’ll get several replies (with sound practical advice) within 24 hours. Quite a few in the group are based in the US so it may be chance to meet up and be taken out on some of their trails.
Starting is all down to technique. Once you get it you’ll start the bike first or second kick every time – even when cold. Have a look on the Yahoo XR400 group for more details.
If you get the chance try having heavy duty tubes fitted. I used the Pirelli variety and had only one puncture on my entire trip (and that was a large shard of steel which I picked up in Phnom Penh which nothing would have stopped).
One thing I can personally advise against is spinning the bike around on the sidestand. I did it, fell over in the process and virtually ripped the sidestand off the frame. It’s been welded but it’s still quite weak and the last thing you need is a heavily loaded bike with a weak sidestand.
The biggest pluses of the XR400 are fun, fun and fun. So enjoy.
I could write for hours on this subject so if you have any specific questions then please feel free to drop me an email.
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