1998 XR200R Refresh

I have a 1998 XR200R that I bought basically brand new from a guy in 1999.  It was my first bike and I still have it today.  I even rode it in a few harescrambles years ago and finished in the top ten every time, even against "big modern" race bikes and the like.  The bike isn't very fast, but as you know, it's a tractor and the worse the terrain gets, the better the bike is.  Now I'm a bit older (32) and decided recently that I want to give the bike a little overhaul and run it in a few harescrambles in 2018.  I have a KDX200 as a second bike and love it, but I've always felt more comfortable on the XR and like the power delivery better.  I will never get rid of the XR.  It is, however, in need of a little overhaul.  The bike is stock except for a Supertrapp silencer.  It was taken to a shop in the early 2000s for a tune up and the valves were "checked" and were in spec then.  It still has a stock front tire today haha.  The bike starts in four or less kicks, but I want to freshen the motor up, new plastics, tires, brake shoes and do something with the suspension.  It still has stock everything internal.  As far as the motor goes, I plan on just a piston, rings, and adjusting valves and replacing timing chain for safe measure.  I was also planning on possibly either just adding heavier fork oil, or sending the forks to Race Tech.  Has anyone ever dealt with Race Tech?  The rear spring seems "ok" still, but could be a tad stiffer.  Compared to the KDX, the suspension is the biggest downfall to the XR, but the lower height and light weight and power delivery are better IMO.  Thanks for any replies.  I can't wait to see the look on their faces when the ol' trail bike with drum brakes shows up to the start.     

I have an '82. I know these are somewhat different bikes so some of of what I say may not be relevant to you. I had a dead rear shock and at the advice of guys in my local VMX club took it to a local suspension guru. He looked it over and said it could be re-built so I went that rout. He said gold valving the shock was not money well spent in my case. I weigh 190 and am an intermediate rider who likes slower technical single track rather than blasting through high speed whoops and such. He re-valves the shock and set the spring to it's stiffest setting and it works way, way better. He told me that there are very few springs out there that are appropriate for this bike and in my case there was no point spending the dough. As it turns out, he was spot on. I put new seals and wipers in the front forks and farted around with the air/oil until they work for me. I contacted Racetech and they do make a gold valve kit and springs for my bike and they look simple enough to install so I will do that in the future. I got a set of slotted brake shoes from EBS that work well. Cheap and easy to install. New standard, non-o-ring chain and new standard sprockets. While the shock was out I serviced all of suspension linkages. I installed new Maxxis intermediate tires and tubes. I love the way they feel and they work well on gravel, slick roots and sand. They are holding up brilliantly. I installed a set of used Renthal bars purchased off Kijiji up here in Alberta for 1/4 the price of new ones. They are an inch wider and an inch taller than stock and they made a big difference in how my "office" feels. Perfect for my 6'1" frame. I installed a new stock OEM foam filter but removed the snorkel from the filter box. I will eventually get an aftermarket exhaust when I can afford it but there is nothing available as a bolt on. From years of restoring vintage motocross and Enduro bikes I have learned that it is realatively easy to make almost anything fit if you know a good welder. My welding skills should not be applied to ANY project worth anything! All of my plastic has been restored by progressively wet sanding form 400, 600, 1500 papers, then finishing off with a heat gun, automobile fine cutting/polishing compound then synthetic wax as protection. New decals applied BEFORE the wax. The only decals to get for your tank are from Wicked Tough. Trust me I know from experience. I spot painted my frame by removing select components like the rear fender assembly and carefully masking offbolts, etc. I used Duplicolor's Chevrolet engine orange. It is almost a perfect match for the odd Honda orange/red being only a hair oranger (is that a word?) than what came from the factory. Honestly, it's hard to tell from 2 feet away. I used gloss black VHT caliper paint to freshen up my black bits. So in the end this bike is a re-fresher rider, not a show bike. A bike that looks good on the trailer and roughing it in the bush but won't make me cry when I dump it and put a ding in her. I think that is about it. My bike performs like a champ on the trails. I regularly hang with my buddies WR250R and due to my bikes lower weight and mildly tuned, super smooth engine, I actually have an easier time of it than him. 

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Edited by Bruce1

I compete in Vintage Class enduros on a modified 1984 XL200R Honda.  I opted for the XL model because I needed the street legal VIN plate that the XL offers.  I'm now replacing the original drum brake front end (forks, tree and wheelset) if you are interested in acquiring an tested, upgraded suspension package.  OEM Forks have served me well and include new seals, progressive springs and Race Tech emulators!  Note:  33mm front end works light years better that OEM. 

Give me a shout if interested.

Thanks for looking, Scott in New Jersey

There are guys on here that have much more knowledge than me, and will probably add to what I say. 

After '91, the suspension has less travel and I believe sits lower. The rear shock after '91 isn't able to be rebuilt. 

So if you have the money and can find the parts, swap out to '91 or older suspension. 

Not sure if you're wanting to keep the from brakes, and I don't know how the classes are set up for harescrambles or enduros, I think I've heard that some classes you're required you keep the drum? 

However, if you want disk brake, and a bigger diameter fork, you can buy an XR250R front end and swap it out, it's a direct swap. I have a set of XR250R forks from an '84 that have been rebuilt, revalved, and new springs set up for my weight that are about to go on my '90 XR200R. The rear shock has also had the same treatment, all done by Mark Atterberry (sp?) at Cannon RaceCraft here in OKC 

As for engine upgrades, I'm still learning about that stuff and there are plenty of guys on here that can help better. 

There are also several threads on here that give in detail most all of the big upgrades you can do to these bikes.

Hope this helps some, good luck with the refresh

On 12/8/2017 at 10:54 AM, N5494 said:

I compete in Vintage Class enduros on a modified 1984 XL200R Honda.  I opted for the XL model because I needed the street legal VIN plate that the XL offers.  I'm now replacing the original drum brake front end (forks, tree and wheelset) if you are interested in acquiring an tested, upgraded suspension package.  OEM Forks have served me well and include new seals, progressive springs and Race Tech emulators!  Note:  33mm front end works light years better that OEM. 

Give me a shout if interested.

Thanks for looking, Scott in New Jersey

PM sent regarding forks. Direct bolt on to my '98? I want to replace the stock rear shock and spring with an OEM. That was until I discovered they are over $300 from Honda Parts Warehouse. Ouch.

Lots of forks to chose from, some drum and some disc brake.  Some bolt on, some have different stem and bearings.
Most of the XR200-600 stuff bolts on, most other early off road Hondas use the same bearings but the stem is usually longer than the XR.
XL forks typically have less travel and smaller diameter fork tubes.
Some 80-90 vintage CR and XRs had early versions  of cartridge forks, some not as good as others.

I used a 84 XR250R front end on a 90 XR200R and it was a big improvement over stock, same travel but larger fork tubes, + disc brake.
Race Tech emulators really help damper rod forks, some say 80-90% of cardtridge.
Almost all will need springs and revalving. 

 

Started into the project. Started with checking valve clearances. Have never done it before, and they were within spec after nearly twenty years. Almost seems unbelievable. I did notice, however, while looking at top of piston through spark plug hole that there's black carbon on top of it. Any thoughts?

WoodsRERider,

Well given your 98 has the shorter suspension, I would start there, see if you can track down a donor bike with all the bits you can transfer over

and transfer over a taller suspension, both front and rear. Probably the easiest to find would be a 84, or 85 XR200R, or XR250R RFVC, as those

particular bikes had issues and spares are almost non existent, so many find there way into motorcycle bone yards, Ebay, CL, etc. There are so

many variables of what can be transferred over and it can be quite intimidating. 

Case in point, my bike is a 87 XR200R and I have a 99 XR400R front end on mine & a 86 XR250R aluminum swing arm and I kept my stock

"rebuildable" rear shock, which I changed the rear shock oil to a PC2 shock oil, nice improvement. Read a lot of Chuck's threads, it is filled with

excellent information to help you decide. 

As far as engine improvements, for me the best bang for the buck was the XR's only header, which I mated to an S Pipe and 3" steel Supertrapp.

With that setup, I could actually "feel" the torque of the little motor going up steep hills. 

As I got more into the riding the lil XR, I felt the suspension was way to start, as I thought even the motor in stock condition, could outperform the

suspension and I had the hot setup 87 suspension.

I don't know what the class rules are for you riding, so that should be your first consideration before heading down the research road. 

Michael

 

 

  For pics of an 84-85 XR 250 disc front brake front end set-up reference the "88 XR200R" thread and you'll see what I've done. As Chuck said......

On 12/8/2017 at 9:22 AM, WoodsRERider said:

I have a 1998 XR200R that I bought basically brand new from a guy in 1999.  It was my first bike and I still have it today.  I even rode it in a few harescrambles years ago and finished in the top ten every time, even against "big modern" race bikes and the like.  The bike isn't very fast, but as you know, it's a tractor and the worse the terrain gets, the better the bike is.  Now I'm a bit older (32) and decided recently that I want to give the bike a little overhaul and run it in a few harescrambles in 2018.  I have a KDX200 as a second bike and love it, but I've always felt more comfortable on the XR and like the power delivery better.  I will never get rid of the XR.  It is, however, in need of a little overhaul.  The bike is stock except for a Supertrapp silencer.  It was taken to a shop in the early 2000s for a tune up and the valves were "checked" and were in spec then.  It still has a stock front tire today haha.  The bike starts in four or less kicks, but I want to freshen the motor up, new plastics, tires, brake shoes and do something with the suspension.  It still has stock everything internal.  As far as the motor goes, I plan on just a piston, rings, and adjusting valves and replacing timing chain for safe measure.  I was also planning on possibly either just adding heavier fork oil, or sending the forks to Race Tech.  Has anyone ever dealt with Race Tech?  The rear spring seems "ok" still, but could be a tad stiffer.  Compared to the KDX, the suspension is the biggest downfall to the XR, but the lower height and light weight and power delivery are better IMO.  Thanks for any replies.  I can't wait to see the look on their faces when the ol' trail bike with drum brakes shows up to the start.     

I highly suggest you contact vintage tuner expert Bruce Triplett.  He does many of our CRF230s and he is the best in the business.  His DR forks are nothing short of amazing and many, like me, have switched from Race Tech Cartridge Emulators to Bruce's custom damper rods.  He can also do the shock if the body is still in good condition.

Bruce's Suspension Service
350 Skysail Road
Salisbury, NC 28146
(704) 637-3675

brucetriplett@bellsouth.net
http://www.brucessuspension.net

For engine work contact Terry Miller at Miller Vintage Cycle (TeamRude in here).  He is Pete Fisher (Powroll) and then some!

Edited by VortecCPI

Although VortecCPI is on the right track, you still have to get taller suspension if you are serious about getting more performance out of your 98.

The 98's are approximately 1.5" shorter in the front & rear compared to to 81-91's, so if you end up with dampener rods with a potential new suspension

then you may want to go the Bruce's suspension route.  If you are totally inseam challenged, then perhaps getting the stock suspension would be a better route to go.

 

I really like the 10" suspension on all (3) of my 87-90 XR200R bikes, however I am inseam challenged at 29", but have a long torso, which puts me at 5'10". 

Even my KTM 520EXC has a low seat height of 36.4" and it has 11.5" front 12" rear suspension, hence why I kept the old girl. The reason I sold the 04 YZ250F

was the seat height, great running little bike, lot's of fun, but to tall for me, it wasn't worth the huge expense to have suspension shortened. 

 

Michael 

 

13 hours ago, KTM520EXC said:

Although VortecCPI is on the right track, you still have to get taller suspension if you are serious about getting more performance out of your 98.

The 98's are approximately 1.5" shorter in the front & rear compared to to 81-91's, so if you end up with dampener rods with a potential new suspension

then you may want to go the Bruce's suspension route.  If you are totally inseam challenged, then perhaps getting the stock suspension would be a better route to go.

 

I really like the 10" suspension on all (3) of my 87-90 XR200R bikes, however I am inseam challenged at 29", but have a long torso, which puts me at 5'10". 

Even my KTM 520EXC has a low seat height of 36.4" and it has 11.5" front 12" rear suspension, hence why I kept the old girl. The reason I sold the 04 YZ250F

was the seat height, great running little bike, lot's of fun, but to tall for me, it wasn't worth the huge expense to have suspension shortened. 

 

Michael 

Agreed.  Short-travel bikes require high spring rates and are difficult to tune because you have less to work with.  However...  I have ridden one of Bruce Triplett's vintage bikes and the short-travel suspension was awesome.  The older long-travel XR200s (1986-1990) were really the best in my opinion.

CRF230 with 9" out back can be made pretty good with John Hlebo or Bruce Triplett shock but to get it really good you need Hagon or Fox.  Then the 9" feels more like 11".

XR200 and CRF230 can be very good bikes for slow short tight work because they are low and have short travel but for fast long open not too good.

No matter what you do proper working suspension and tires is a must to enjoy your ride.

I was just looking for fork boots for the XR250R front end I'm about to put on my '90 XR200R,

And I came across a complete front end with axel from a '91 XR250R, minus the front wheel and brakes, if anybody is looking for a disk brake 250 front end. 

The Buy it Now price is $143 and free shipping 

I appreciate all the input and feedback thus far.  Well today I started in on replacing the leaking fork seals. All was good until I was unable to get the fork bolt on the bottom off. Actually I could not even get it to turn lose at all. I actually ended up rounding one off slightly. Is it necessary to remove this to change fork seals, or can I just remove circlip on fork Seal and get it off somehow? Then I see that an impact wrench may be the way to go, however I do not have one currently. I'm slightly frustrated that something this simple turns out not. Haha

Try using an impact driver.

Unfortunately I don't have access to one currently. Think an actual drill would work? 

2 hours ago, WoodsRERider said:

Unfortunately I don't have access to one currently. Think an actual drill would work? 

If the drill has a clutch sometimes it will act as sort of an impact driver.  I have done this in the past.

If no joy then get an Easy-Out or other similar extractor.

You should at least invest in a manual type impact driver. You can get all types and sizes of bits for it, even use sockets. Mine is Craftsman, all the big brands make em, or I'm sure you can get one cheap at Harbor Freight. 

 

20180107_121737.jpg

20180107_122555.jpg

Welp, I just manned up and purchased a Milwaukee impact driver. Stay tuned.

1 minute ago, WoodsRERider said:

Welp, I just manned up and purchased a Milwaukee impact driver. Stay tuned.

3/8 or 1/2" drive?

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