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-   -   Is it worth changing bike? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/which-bike/is-it-worth-changing-bike-42949)

XRChris 23 May 2009 08:11

Is it worth changing bike?
Hi everyone, well I currently own a 97 Honda XR400 which I have owned for 7 years and probably havent done more than about 15000 miles on.

This has been stored in my garage for 2 years now but I am debating on giving it an overhaul or just selling it and using the proceeds for something a little bigger and more comfortable and with a magic starting button rather than having to kickstart, something like an XT 600E.

I will be planning to use the bike to go to the Spain this year (Picos etc) and then next year going C2C in Canada and then hopefully in 2 years time something big like Alaska to Argentina.

Cant quite decide so opinions/recommendations would be most welcome.

Warthog 23 May 2009 10:07

We had a bigger bike (R1150GS) for our South America trip. It got written off and I bought an XR400 of about the same age as yours with the insurance pay out and pocketed the rest.

As you know its a cracking little bike. Mine came with an Edelbrock Quiksilver carburetor. Whether the reason or not I have readily acheived 75mpg on that bike. WIth a 22litre tank that is a lot of miles. So in one sense this ia great bike for overlanding: can cruise at 50-60, can off-road etc.

However, its not all roses and these are the points that make me question the XR. Comfort: the saddle is a b!tch!! That said, a sheepskin thrown over transformed it, so £15 from Ikea could resolve that issue. The other issue for me that is not so readily resolved is the oil change interval. I've heard anything from 1000 miles to 600 miles for oil change intervals.

Granted this is based on it being used as a race bike (it's original purpose) or blasting down greenlanes etc, not pootling along (you could change the rear cog to stress the motor even less). Still, I would not be happy leaving the oil in there for more than 1500 miles even on Fully Synthetic oil. SOme have done so and claimed no ill effects and I'm sure that is true: Hondas are robust.

So this is what you'd have to ask yourself: can you live with that on a trip that will be about 15,000 miles (ten oil changes), instead of 5 or even 3 with some models?

My XR is not my main trip bike as it can carry neither pillions nor dogs, so I can live with this for short hops into the neighbouring countries. On a longer trip though, I have to say that better road manners would curry a lot of favour: after all how much off-road do you plan to do?

If you can live with these limitiations (and a number have on here and seem to be very happy with their bike's performance) then I say keep wht is a good little bike. If you want fewer maintenance restrictions, and better tarmac behavious, then perhaps a bigger single is better for you...

Here endeth the epic sermon!!

roxxo 23 May 2009 11:15

Hi XRChris

My two pennth.....

I won't go into the pros and cons of any particular bike.

If you have doubts and thoughts about changing your bike. Do it.

If you don't get on with your new bike, change again.

I know it's easy to say and there is a cost involved but hey it's only money and we only come this way once.

Once those seeds of doubt about keeping a bike are sown they will germinate.
You will only prolong the inevitable.
You are no longer be satisfied with the XR.

You know deep down it's the right thing to do.

Don't ask me what bike to get though :-)

Go with what you really fancy.
Heart choice over head choice every time.

Best wishes

Dick 23 May 2009 14:07


I've dropped you a quick PM



XRChris 23 May 2009 20:53

Thanks for the comments guys - I am used to doing trips of 300 miles in a day on the XR but never got used to that saddle although the sheepskin is an interesting idea to try.

My main problems lie with the oil changes and that its only a kickstart as an electric start makes things so much more pleasant.

My XR has had a few mods to it such as a Mikuni pumper carb and the former owner swapped to a larger 15 ltr tank. I also changed the stator to one capable of twin 100watt outputs.

As you say it is a fantastic bike but i have reservations regarding long distance usage.

Took a look at 2 XT660E's today and looked pretty nice althogh i would probably prefer something a little more simple like the older XT600 or Honda equivalent.


Warthog 23 May 2009 20:57

If you bought an XT, you'd have to change your username...

Surely no bike is worth that?!?!

XRChris 23 May 2009 21:14


Originally Posted by Warthog (Post 243100)
If you bought an XR, you'd have to change your username...

Surely no bike is worth that?!?!

HA HA HA yes I hadnt thought of that......'Dashes off to check if XTChris is available'. :rofl:

josephau 23 May 2009 22:35

Well XRChris, there must be a reason of why you only rode 15,000 miles in 7 years on the XR. It's just too little. So you know what your heart is telling you, and now you are just going through the process of confirming what your head is telling you. So just get another bike.

C2C in Canada, big bike is better. Spain, depending on whether you off-road much or mostly on-road. Alaska to Argentina, 600cc-ish is probably the best. IMHO

At the end of the day, don't plan so far ahead, take one trip at a time and find the perfect bike for that. It's pretty drastic to me when you rode only 15000 miles in the last 7 years and suddenly you wanted to be a globetrotter. What happens next and what bike to get for future trips? Cross the bridge when you get there.

XRChris 23 May 2009 22:51

Well its really 15000miles over 5 years as the XR has been in storage for 2 years due to work/college commitments but I get where you are coming from.

My plan so far is only a loose goal and it doesnt matter to me if it slips by a year. I have been putting off until tomorrow for too long now so I am finally getting the backside into gear so to speak.

josephau 24 May 2009 22:58


Originally Posted by XRChris (Post 243114)
so I am finally getting the backside into gear so to speak.

Ahh, I see. Good luck then, getting the right bike, planning your trips, and going on your journeys. They are the fun parts anyway.

pottsy 25 May 2009 11:20

I echo Roxxo's post totally. If you feel you need to change the xr then go for it - we all need a change now and again. My xt has recently had a rebuild and i had a look at a couple of bikes to change to, but i was a bit shocked as to the dross that is out there and after a fantastic day out in S England (some 250 miles) i've come to appreciate mine that much more. Enjoy the upcoming trips!

XRChris 25 May 2009 12:01

Yeah - I guess I had mostly made my mind up but thought it was best to check with people who had more experience than me in these matters.

The XR is a great bike and used to fit with why I wanted it but now I could do with something that fits in a bit better with my future aspirations.

Well that and the fact that I really do miss the magic GO button he he

roxxo 25 May 2009 15:52


Originally Posted by XRChris (Post 243244)
Yeah -
Well that and the fact that I really do miss the magic GO button he he

Def. one of the must haves :-)

You wouldn't buy a car with only a starting handle.

I used to curse my XR250 every now and then when it was a real bar steward to start. They say it's about procedure and technique but mine had a mind of it's own. A bit like my MZ ES250.

Less head ache and sweat with my Speed Triple.

Cheers XRChris/XTChris.. what about XTC (ectasy?) :-)

JMo (& piglet) 25 May 2009 20:21

I would agree that the XR400 is probably not the best long-distance travel bike - but then as roxxo says - just what is?

Plenty of people have coved huge distances on a four'hunnerd, not a great pace I imagine, but that really isn't the point unless you're Nick Sanders perhaps?! In fact I remember reading about a Japanese guy who'd taken one round the world at least once - kick start and all!

I'd actually go the other way to many of the suggestions above - you know this bike, and I take it you trust it? You can fit an electric start for about £600 these days, which is a lot less than you'd pay to change to something else, and which would be something unknown? You've already got a bigger tank, can bare the seat (although as warthog suggests, a trip to Ikea might make it even better), and the bike is as simple and reliable as it gets.

Regarding oil capacity, I agree that is a faff - but it wouldn't be beyond a bit of jigging to fit a supplementary oil tank/reservoir in the oil line somewhere? and increase the capacity by a litre or so - yes you've still got a smallish filter in there, but it's no smaller than a DRZ400 which can go 4000 miles between changes?

Maybe I'm just looking through my rose (red) tinted glasses again, but I've just had a corking weekend riding my old XR400 again - those bikes rock!

Then again, who am I kidding, sell it and buy a bloody Tenere...


josephau 25 May 2009 20:58

If you get a new bike, beware the risk of certain qurkiness and/or problems due to pure bad luck. I have only owned five bikes in my life, but I come to appreciate the fact that the bike which has given me thousands of problem-free miles potentially has higher value than a new bike with all the gizmos and modern convenience. Yes, the novelty of a new bike is really tempting, but it occasionally comes with something that is unexpected or even disappointing. That's the risk IMHO you will have to take. Given the future trips you are planning, one may assume a newer bike as probably a safer bet. However, I do think a lot of us may under-estimate the reliability, hence peace of mind, of a trusty (it should be capital "T"), familiar bike of your own that is already sitting in your garage. Besides, 15,000 miles on a bike is not really at a point of falling apart, I would go so far to argue that it may be reaching the phase of its life that it will just keep getting better.

Perhaps you know this better than any of us: how many times the kickstart has failed you? and how many times you've heard that a GO button has left many stranded because they have no kickstart option?

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