Suspension help on a 1997 XR 600

I just bought a 87 xr,and the prviuos ower was a lot smaller and lighter. I ride in the desert and on some rought trails, nothing really tight. I feel like the back end bottoms after a mild jump,and the front feels too soft. I am 6'2", about 220, which is 50 lbs more than the previous owner.I have not noticed any handling issues,except the front end seems to dive down on downhills and when doing hard braking.Here are my questions:

Can I change the fork oil to 15 and will this help?

The top caps on the forks have schrader valves, is to relieve pressure or charge the shocks with some air?(I had an old XL 500 that took low press air in the front tubes,an aftermarket thing i think)

The rear shock has a threaded collar adjustment,looks like if I adjust that that will adjust the height with my fat a** on the bike, or sag?

Any other tricks/adjustments/hints for me? I want to do this on the cheap, and I an not a real fast/agressive rider, so the higher dollar mods may go unnoticed by me, and i xcan not afford them at the moment anyway....Thanks for any help you may be able to offer....Tom

Yes, 15~20wt fluid will help some but, will be harder on your wrists on the small stuff. The schrader valves is for nitrogen. 15psi some just use air, never use air in the shock only nitrogen. The correct springs for your weight would be .46kg/mm fork and 11kg/mm shock spring.

My 650L did the same things on downhills as your 600 did the dove and was very squirley and hard to control. I had stiffer springs put in the forks and also had gold valves installed also. The cheapest thing to do is drain the forks of the old oil and add 30wt which is the heaviest oil you can get for your forks i think. Then make sure all the air is bled out of your forks this will actually make them harsh which you do not want. If you have the money I would get heavier springs for the front and back I know the front springs are under a $100 which aint bad. I dont know how much adjustment you have with your suspension since ive neverowned a 600 but you can try moving the clickers to make the suspension harder also. I hope this helps. :cry:

Do you own a '97 or an '87?

Oops, it is a 97

lol thats what i thought :cry:

start by turning the clickers on the bottom of the forks all the way in and change the fork oil, just so you know what your starting with.

Okay,new fork oil goes in tonight(15w),and then adjust the clickers(are these under the plastic caps on the end of the tubes?),do they go cw or ccw?


Okay, I took the little bottom plastic caps off the tubes(very bottom of fork tubes) and there is a 19?mm nut and a slotted adjustment in the middle of it. I thought if I undid the large nut with a socket, I could drain the fluid...The nut did not want to moved a little ccw, then tightened up. Okay, maybe? reverse threads, a little cw then it tightened up...Sh*t, I gave up and adjusted the clickers all the way in and will forget for now about changing the fluid. I saw no where on the side to drain them, what is the deal? :cry:

the drain is on the rear of the slider at the bottom, but on the side. If the next question is where does the fork oil go in take your fork legs to a shop.

Thanx for the thoughtful reply Don.....I an not an idiot and I am quite capable,actually. I find a lot of discrepancy between stuff I read online,stuff experts tell me,and stuff the srevice guys have passed on. I am just trying to weed through it all...I do not have a manual and I am afraid to get too far into the forks, especially if some special tools etc... are required. I looked and looked for a place to drain from, and this is what I see....







I still don't see a place where to drain the fluid from,do you? Does anyone know if the bolts on the bottom with the clickers actually come all the way out to drain, and if so, should I be feeling that much resistance on removal?

Thanks for anymore help you can offer, I do appreciate it...Tom

what year are those? your missing a bolt should be in pic 3

It's a 97....There is no bolt there....just a spot where there could be one(in the casting). See my dilemna? The forks are original, all stock.

The right way to change the fork oil is to remove the fork legs from the triples. Earlier XRs had a drain screw where that cast boss on the side of the leg is, but Honda stopped putting the screw there for some reason.

I am rebuilding my XR650L forks today (new seals & bushings and 15W oil). Take the legs out of the triples (loosen the fork cap with the lower triple clamp bolts still tight but the upper ones loose).

Then you have to pull down the spring and loosen the locknut that goes to the underside of the fork cap, and then screw the cap off (careful, it will be under spring pressure).

After removing the fork caps, withdraw the spring and any spacers, making note of the order of the parts and if there is a progressively wound spring which end goes down.

Turn the leg upside down and drain it while working the damper up and down. Let the leg sit upside down to drain thoroughly for a while.

Put some fresh fork oil in it and work the damper up and down, then drain the oil out again. The best thing to clean it out with is some fresh fork oil, that's why I recommend this step.

Then you want to collapse the fork without the spring in it and fill it to the proper level with your new fork oil. I don't recall the proper level, the spec is in the manual.

Work the damper up and down until it moves smoothly through the whole stroke and stops burping air out... that's "bleeding" the air out.

Recheck the level with the fork leg collapsed. If it's low now, top it off to the right level.

Extend the fork, put the spring back in the right way and whatever spacers there are, put the fork cap back on and tighten the jam nut, and put the forks back in the triples.

Tighten the lower triple bolts and compress and screw the fork caps back in (be careful not to cross thread the fine threads). Torque the caps down to the proper tightness, then tighten the top clamp bolts to the right torque.

That's it, IIRC. You don't remove the 19mm at the bottom of the fork at all unless you are disassembling the forks to put in new seals and / or bushings, and if you do remove the 19, Honda recommends replacing the sealing washer under it with a new one.

The best way to drain the oil from your forks is to pull them right out of the clamps (remove front wheel etc) and flush them out. 9 times out of ten, the fluid has been in there for years and has gone pretty dirty. The XR would have a drain bolt on the bottom of each fork whether its a '87 or '97. I wouldn't run any heavier than 15 weight fork oil, any heavier will give you a very harsh action. You can get a stiffer action by filling it up a little more and raising the level to where it was- say 20mm higher than standard. I would also go for stiffer springs in the forks and shock say one step stiffer than stock. This will make a huge diffference to your suspension action.

If I remember correctly the oil is supposed to be 7wt. I once put in 10 on my 92 600R and it made the ride really harsh over rocks/roots even after backing off the compression clickers. I'd think 15 would suck and 30 would be like have two solid steel rods for forks. Maybe not so bad on the street, but a rocky trail would be painful.

My opinion, get new springs. You're originals may just be sacked out or you might need to get a little heavier spring for your weight. I did (240#) and it helped a lot.

I think you problem is brain STICTION from listening to fast freddy. the best way too change fork oil is to remove the fork tubes, take a part, turn upside down and pump the forks. this gets out alot of really black stuff that draining using the side hole leaves in. buy some beer and I will come over and help you and maybe bring suspension expert CP.


CP says the bosses are where thr drain holes used to be on earlier models. So that answers "what hoppend" to the drains. I told you he was an expert.

Old Man Ron:busted:

I adjusted the back, with the adjustment collar. I moved it down about 1/4", which changed my sag (if i measured right) from 4 7/8 to about 3 7/8. I also adjusted the rear a few clicks toward hard...The front clickers were bottomed out and then backed off 4, whereas they were originally about half. I also added about 1 oz of fluid to each side. It seemed a lot better,maybe a bit rough up front. I am going to order some springs, maybe next week. Thanks for all the help...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now