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Honda XL500R Build and Advice

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Hello all, 

I really wasn’t sure where this post would be best located so I chose XR250R/400.

I traded a mountain bike for a 1982 Honda XL500R yesterday. Prior to my trade, it has been sitting for roughly two years. The engine was rebuilt professionally with a 10.5:1 wiseco piston in Colorado, but to my knowledge hasn’t run since the rebuild. Replacing the 6V battery and locating a short in the positive connection have given me full electrical functions. In addition, I changed oil and drained the tank of foul gasoline, with 93 back in. No sediment was visible. Petcock is functional and has great flow. Tonight I will be cleaning the carb and replacing jets with factory size. Though the electrical is an absolute rats nest, I have solved enough to receive spark when testing on the cylinder head. Brainstorming has lead me to a few different possible problems: 

1) now in TN, the jets are too lean to provide adequate fuel in a lower elevation 

2) fouled carburetor from old fuel

3) This is my first kickstart bike, and I just don’t know how to kick it. 

4) inaccurate valve adjustment or timing? 

In regards to kickstarting, I am following factory procedure to the best of my abilities, but it is difficult to discern when top dead center is reached. My process for kicking has consisted of turning the engine over once with the decompression lever activated. From there, I’m usually getting 1 1/2 cycles of the Kickstarter before I feel the tension against the my foot. Once I reach this point, I allow the kicker arm to return 1 click before using full strength to complete the cycle, and getting my foot off it to avoid unnecessary pain. Even at 180 pounds and fit, the process seems sluggish and incorrect. Are there any errors noted from my above starting procedure? While I understand the XL is difficult to start, and I do have a higher compression piston, the amount of resistance present seems excessive. 

Following the necessary repairs, my end goal is to simplify this motorcycle as much as feasible, while still maintaining a budget.  Firstly, this bike will see minimal Offroad usage. With that in mind, a 19” front wheel with a wider tire would be convenient. If changing the wheel size, it seems logical to upgrade the safety of this motorcycle with the addition of a disc brake up front. In order to achieve this goal, I understand a new front forkset will be necessary. From my research, there seems to be no hard consensus on the go-to swap, but the XR400 model seems preferable, and bolt on. 

Regarding carburetors, the stock unit will suffice for now, and allow me to get the bike running, but I’m interested in upgrading to a larger unit to fully utilize the power of the high compression engine. Mikuni 38mm’s seem to be choice for this build. I’m also not a fan of the handlebar mounted choke, my choke cable might be in need of replacement, as the choke rarely stays open while attempting to start. In the short term, is this choke pull assembly removable with the implementation of a lever located directly on the carb? It seems unlikely that I will often be riding in conditions that require the bulky factory airbox, and the air box itself has seen better days. I would prefer the aesthetic and performance gain(?) of a cone filter.

I realize that removing the factory airbox also will require battery relocation. To be frank, I don’t want to have to fabricate another battery box, and I would prefer to eliminate it from the electrical system completely. This is the point where I’ve seen very little information on, and I’m sure many will suggest to leave it alone. My wiring is absolutely haywire. Though everything is functional, seeing the schematic for the XR models makes me yearn to simplify, and minimize the electrical necessary to operate. I would like to eliminate horn, turn indicators, speedometer, neutral indicator. Leaving only headlight and tail light.

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