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Is 1997 XR400R good reliable bike?

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I've owned this bike since 2001. Mine is mostly stock other than the exhaust tip and air box opened up.  I've never had to take the engine apart for anything. 

Ive been on and off this forum over the years and it seems like I've read a lot about the problems on the xr400 and starting to wonder how good they are because it seems like they have some problems that could kill my xr. 

1st problem I'm worried about is the kick start shaft. It might break off at any time. Should I just replace it now?  What's the chances of it actuallly breaking off?

2nd my carb choke could break off and get sucked into my engine and cause major damage. Should I replace it now? 

3rd I've been told the carb is no good and should just be replace but at $400 I don't see the bike  being worth that kind of money that's about 1/3 the value of the bike  I don't have much trouble starting it and the bike runs fine but I can see how a pumper carb you'd make it better especially off idle quick throttle input.

4th suspension needs work and the older I get and less jumping I do it seems like the suspension is very stiff going over bumps. Seems like I feel every bump and suspension doesn't do much to smooth it out. That never really bothered me much before but like I said now that I'm older I'm wishing for a smother ride. Back when I jumped it a lot more I thought it worked good off of jumps and hard landings. I've not had to replace anything on the front fork or rear shock  I did change the front fork oil once but never had a seal leak or anything.  I did notice the bottoming bumper on the rear shock is split in two but to replace that means a complete shock tear down.  

People have said the intake valves are a weak spot and I have seen that on my brothers xr250r  it wore out the intake valves but I feel like my 400 runs a lower rpm and was hoping it that would be easier on the valves  I don't want to take it apart just to see since it is running fine. I really like the fact that my xr400 has never been apart.  

I have noticed smoke from the exhaust when cold starting but it is very random and intermittent so I don't know what that is about.  I kind of thought it was from too much choke or or something when starting it  

What do you guys think about the xr400?  I really like it but is it really as good as we think?  I wonder if something newer might be better?  I never thought I'd sell my xr but maybe I should move on to something newer.  I'd like to get something that is street legal and that's probably the main reason I'd like a change.  

 

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Do a forum search for a bsr42 carb. Probably cost around 80 bucks total, for carb and throttle cable. That will give you everything you need from the carb.

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Proper maintenance is next to non existent with your average bike owner.

Suspension...Id redo a suspension on a just bought 17 anything. Youd be surprised what a professional suspension service can change about your bike and make it a whole different bike. Whether its fresh off the line or twenty years old...at the leaat change the oil/co2.

Your smoke in exhaust when cold is valve seals. When youre in there, do your own leak down test by pouring gas into the manifolds, are the valves letting gas leak by? Yes, then just buy some lapping compound and its like starting a fire with sticks. Put it on a drill with a fuel line connecting it is easier and faster but easier to lose control if your drill doesn't have speeds. Slow and steady makes a flat smooth lap. 

Carb just needs everything that's soft inside new. And buy NEW jets. Dont just clean twenty year old parts that cost ten, twenty bucks. Clean carb often. Gas is getting dirtier. Yes get a steel choke plate. Make it yourself or id imagine xrsonly would have one for the 400. DO THIS FIRST. Like dropping a penny in an empty soda can. Replace rubbers and jets while youre in there...but a pumper carb is the way to go.

DO SUSPENSION SECOND. Youll cream your pants

And kickstarts gonna break off cause its a hard starter and its been womped and stomped for twenty years instead of a fresh clean carb, fresh clean gas, perfect valve gaps, and you can just rest the weight of your foot on it and itll start. But if you think its gonna snap, yes, replace it with brand new that hasn't been womped and stomped for twenty years because po's never kept carb clean or valve gaps right.

How are your valve specs?

The 400 is a monster. Just change your oil. Its not just make sure oil level stays topped off. Unless you can see molecules...the properties of that oil are getting a savage beating, and you dont just want black pancake syrup. 

Thats why I use Rotella T on all my aircooleds, great cheap oil I can do three changes every gn or hp4 change. 

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All bikes have their little idiosyncrasies and weak points. The XR is no different, otherwise its very robust and reliable. 

The stock choke plate being a cast part is susceptible to breakage, as we've seen from others experiences. The fact that it has happened make the odds/chance of it too high, nuff said. So it's a cheap fix to head off that possibility.

I think failures seen in the kick start lever and knuckle is due to folks putting their full weight on the thing when the engine is at the wrong point in the stroke. If you'll bring the engine to TDC for every starting kick, there's no reason to be breaking the mechanism.

Just do basic maintenance and precautionary care and it's been most folks experience that these thing run for decades.

Keep your valve clearances adjusted right so they don't prematurely wear into the head. Your smoking on cold start up is usually caused from leaky valve stem seals. Oil that gets left in the head after shutdown will leak past the seals, into the cylinder while the bike is stored. Then the next time you start it up, you get smoke until that oil burns off. Pretty typical for the age of the bike. Not really detrimental, but you should be vigilant about checking oil level regularly.

The stock carb runs fine with stock bore. Just a matter of learning to jet and tune it. I only moved to the Mikuni pumper because I couldn't get the stock carb to run well with the 440 big bore.

If you've had the bike since 2001 and have done zero maintenance, doesn't matter what bike it is, that neglect is going to catch up to you.

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Reliable? Yes. Definitely. I've only had mine ('02) for five years and it has been nothing but reliable. I change the oil twice a year, keep the air filter clean, and put gas in it. I've adjusted the valves twice. Changed the spark plug once (I think the one I took out was probably 10yrs old). It amazes me how this thing just keeps running strong every time I load it up and take it out. It needs suspension work done but I've been too lazy to get around to it. It's green sticker season in CA so I see the XRs everywhere I go! Great bikes!

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I have a 97 XR400, so far it's been indestructible. I did a lot of research before I bought, and think the XR's are the best playbikes of all time. Mine smokes a bit on start up, but otherwise runs great, I plan to ride it into the ground.

 

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18 hours ago, notoriousE-R-I-C said:

Proper maintenance is next to non existent with your average bike owner.

Suspension...Id redo a suspension on a just bought 17 anything. Youd be surprised what a professional suspension service can change about your bike and make it a whole different bike. Whether its fresh off the line or twenty years old...at the leaat change the oil/co2.

Your smoke in exhaust when cold is valve seals. When youre in there, do your own leak down test by pouring gas into the manifolds, are the valves letting gas leak by? Yes, then just buy some lapping compound and its like starting a fire with sticks. Put it on a drill with a fuel line connecting it is easier and faster but easier to lose control if your drill doesn't have speeds. Slow and steady makes a flat smooth lap. 

Carb just needs everything that's soft inside new. And buy NEW jets. Dont just clean twenty year old parts that cost ten, twenty bucks. Clean carb often. Gas is getting dirtier. Yes get a steel choke plate. Make it yourself or id imagine xrsonly would have one for the 400. DO THIS FIRST. Like dropping a penny in an empty soda can. Replace rubbers and jets while youre in there...but a pumper carb is the way to go.

DO SUSPENSION SECOND. Youll cream your pants

And kickstarts gonna break off cause its a hard starter and its been womped and stomped for twenty years instead of a fresh clean carb, fresh clean gas, perfect valve gaps, and you can just rest the weight of your foot on it and itll start. But if you think its gonna snap, yes, replace it with brand new that hasn't been womped and stomped for twenty years because po's never kept carb clean or valve gaps right.

How are your valve specs?

The 400 is a monster. Just change your oil. Its not just make sure oil level stays topped off. Unless you can see molecules...the properties of that oil are getting a savage beating, and you dont just want black pancake syrup. 

Thats why I use Rotella T on all my aircooleds, great cheap oil I can do three changes every gn or hp4 change. 

+1 on the Rotella T. I use T6 full synth on ALL my old wet clutch bikes.

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Yes, intake valves on late xr250 with 2:1 rocker ratio wear out.  Replace with Kibblewhite.  I never heard of a valve problem on xr400 with oil in it.

Plenty of people happy with stock carb.

Rear shock spring is too stiff compared to forks.  Forks are some of the best around and shim stack mod makes forks more plush.    Rear shock is great too, just needs lighter spring.  I think early xr400 spring is lighter.

Xr400 is one of the most reliable dirt bikes ever made

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On ‎7‎/‎30‎/‎2017 at 0:34 PM, dlock5 said:

Do a forum search for a bsr42 carb. Probably cost around 80 bucks total, for carb and throttle cable. That will give you everything you need from the carb.

Like this one?!?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mikuni-BSR-42MM-CARBURETOR-ATV-MOTORCYCLE-BOMBARDIER-CAN-AM-DS-650-INTAKE-ENGINE-/252909137759?hash=item3ae28f2f5f:g:jZIAAOSw~y9ZBfda&vxp=mtr

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Wow...just twice a year?


Haha! Yeah I was just doing it once a year for the first three years. The shop manual has the oil change interval for every 600 miles...I'd keep track of the mileage but got nervous when I would reach 400 or so.

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I don't know if that one is the same or not. The one I'm talking about, comes from a Polaris predator or outlaw 500 carb. They're like 50 bucks on eBay, I would do a search and read some threads on it first, if I were you.

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