First Ride Impressions - Troy Meadows

I actually bailed out of work and rode my 98 WZ for the first time with Clark Mason up near Kennedy Meadows (7-14-00). The WR is THE BEST motorcycle I have ever ridden bar none! That may not be saying much for some of you since I’ve always ridden 6 to 15 year old two-smokes. I got introduced to dual sport riding a couple of years ago. I picked up an 86 XR250 for next to nothing, dual sported it and made it a 280. I got by pretty well on it for a while. Been lusting after a WR 400 since they first came out. I was just too cheap to spend 5 grand on a dirt bike. I finally decided to liquidate all my bikes (except the flat tracker) and picked up a 98 WR from Mark at 2 Dads Racing.

I performed a complete tear down and inspection to establish a known baseline for the bike and to make sure all the maintenance is up to snuff. I also installed a Baja Designs dual sport kit. After researching the forum archives, I decided to YZ time my bike and make some jetting changes.

The bike ran great all day. We put in just under 80 miles. As far as the engine performance goes, I found that it is not that eye watering fast, rather it just has a lot of power, and whenever you need it, it is ALWAYS available to you. I never had a problem with throttle control all day long. No out of control wheelies. No obtuse amounts of wheel spin. No overshooting turns. The bike just makes plenty of power and lets you control it very precisely. We rode a lot of single track, some jeep roads, and some pavement too. I really liked the acceleration right off idle. For example, when running though tight switchbacks in first-second gear and low rpm, I had no problems dialing up the exact speed I needed to carry the bike up the hill or over an obstacle immediately following the turn and having the bike pointed in the right direction. Whenever I would want to wheelie over something I could simply roll the throttle on to loft the wheel over the obstacle. Third gear would require a light pull on the bars to get the front wheel up. The action was always smooth and I never came close to looping out all day, even on some fairly steep hill climbs. All this power makes the WR a lot easier to ride than the XR in more technical situations.

The other thing that struck me with this bike is the steering is great. I didn’t really ever have to make much effort to point the bike where I wanted it. What’s really impressive about this, in my mind, is I was running a really crummy Perrelli front tire the bike came with (I meant to change it, but just ran out of time). Traction on the front was a problem off and on throughout the day. With a good quality knobby installed, the handling will only get even better.

On the downside, the suspension is setup for a motocross track! Very stiff and harsh. This was a problem anytime the trail turned real rocky (softball size or larger). I would feel like a Ping-Pong ball just bouncing from rock to rock. Clark and I backed off the compression damping about four clicks in each end. This seemed to help some but was not drastically different. I’ll be doing some suspension work to it dialed in here in the near future. Also, my right fork seal developed a small leak.

One last thing that surprised me was how easily the bike started all day. It never required more than two kicks and 90% of the time would fire on the first kick with the engine hot or cold. This was also true after I laid it down. This happened in the first 5 minutes of the ride at very low speed following the front wheel bouncing off a rock. I attribute most of this to me just not being used to the bike yet. There were a couple of times I kicked it 3-4 times before I realized I forgot to turn the ignition switch (part of the dual sport kit).

I did have a bit of an overheating problem after some long stretches of hill climbing. At one point the coolant reservoir was spitting out antifreeze. Clark recommended removing the paint from my radiators to improve the heat transfer (which I have done) and switching out my radiator guards with Devol units. The guards I have are fairly stout, however, they have closely spaced 1/4 inch holes drilled in them which severely impedes the airflow. My jetting was only slightly lean, I will raise the clip one notch the next time I ride up there (~8000 ft). My jetting specs were: MJ 178, PJ 45, pilot screw 1 3/4 turns, DVP needle with clip 3rd from top. I am running the stock air box with a Big Gun exhaust.

One other problem experienced during the ride was fuel running out of my carb overflow lines. This was caused by the fuel heating up in the tank resulting in a pressure rise in the tank and thus pressurizing the float bowl (I have an IMS tank which tends to aggravate this situation). I removed the check valve from the gas cap vent hose and the problem went away. I meant to do this before the ride based on some of the posts I read concerning this problem, but forgot to do it. I would highly recommend this if you are running the IMS tank with a pipe that runs higher than the stock unit like the Big Gun does.

If any one out there is considering getting one of these bikes, you should! I firmly believe I will get my moneys worth (ever last penny!) out of this bike within one year. It is that much fun to ride! Also, with all the bolt-on after market doo-dads available for it, and the near unlimited on-line technical support from hundreds of enthusiastic WR 400 owners, it is unimaginable that whatever short coming/problem the bike may develop will be quickly understood and a fix readily available. It is also foreseeable there will be a lot of dirt cheap used parts/parts bikes becoming available on the market over the next three or so years for these things.

If I was to do anything different, I wish I had bought a 99 instead of the 98. There are enough small reliability improvements that make the 99 a significantly better bike overall.

I have 2 or 3 photos of this ride I would like to post, but I'm not sure how to do this. If anyone can help I would appreciate it.

Happy trails,


Welcome to the world of blue. They are great arent they? Ive owned many many different four strokes and two strokes over the years but absolutely nothing compares to the type of power this bike puts out. I was grinning ear to ear the first time I took mine out too. Heck, I still grin every time I ride it!!


So Scott can't you scan those pictures in and include them in your post?? Might be the last pictures of some of that area before the recent fire.


Scott sounds like you had a great time and your WR ran great.

I was up there for the first time the July 21,22 and 23. I sent some photos to Bryan so he should put them up soon.

My freind had a red sticker only so we stayed on single track only. It was somewhat disconcerting to see smoke from the "Fire" when we were way up on Jackass Peak trail. We thought it best to head back to Troy campground and find out what the deal was. While there I asked a ranger what was up with the fire and he said it wasn't headed in our direction. That was on Saturday, we rode a little Sunday morning and then packed up and headed home. Within a couple of days maybe sooner the whole area was closed due to the fire.

Im hoping that the fire gets put out and the riding area is spared from the worst of it. I cant stop thinking about how much fun I had and how beautiful it is up there.


Nathan Apelbaum

99 WR400F IMS Tank/seat,Scotts full suspension mods,Fastlines front line w/CR routing,Scotts Tripletree,Dampner and Protapers,Scotts shark fin,Big Gun tapered header and muffler,W.R.D. 7.5oz flywheel weight, de-octopussed, Ricky Stator rewind, Air box lid off,UNI Air filter,14/52 gearing,DSC legalizer kit,Work connection frame guards & throttle tube,WB skid plate, Devol Rad guards,Dunlop K139 Frt D606 rear and a couple of other little bits

I've got the photos scanned in, but can't figure out how to attach them to the post. Sounds like I need to send them to Bryan and have him post them for me. Is this right?

Let me know how this is done.

Hey Scott, thanks for the posting, I was recently up there for a dual-sport event, been riding up there for 33 years, still as beautiful as ever. My '99 WR suspension also beat me up badly at first, so I backed the compression damping all the way off on both the front and rear, about 13 clicks each as I remember. Now it feels as cushy as my old XR4, but of course this bike goes right where I point it :)

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