XR200 CR250 Fork Swap

I've fitted a '90 rear shock to my sons 2002 XR200 and have now come across a CR250 front end (1990) and was wondering how this would go, all posts I can find only recommend the '86 to '89 CR forks so would this '90 set be able to be fitted and would the improvement be worthwhile?

I wouldn't do it , personally. I would consider putting a emulator kit in though.


Use 86-89 front end. 'nutcase

The 90 CR250 has USD forks and they got very bad reviews. The 86-88 CR250s and the 87-89 CR125s used conventional cartridge forks. In 89 and 90 they both switched to USDs. The earlier models used damper rod forks. Notice the 125 was one year later going to cartridge forks and one year later going to USD.

The XR200 forks and earlier CR forks use a damper rod. Although cartridge forks may be better than damper rod forks they are more complex and harder to service. To add to what Dwight said; using a RaceTech emulator kit in damper rod forks provides the biggest bang for a buck.

The damper rods from the 1986-91 models can be used to greatly increase your front wheel travel. Use with emulator kit and Progressive suspension fork springs.


Ok thanks guys, we'll wait and keep a look out for the 86-89 type, not that easy to find out here but he'll live with the stock ones for a while. I tried to find an emulator kit you mentioned but can't find one to fit the XR200 forks.

Thanks again guys,I'll no doubt have more questions as we play around with this bike, may even have to get one myself.:busted:

Ok thanks guys, we'll wait and keep a look out for the 86-89 type, not that easy to find out here but he'll live with the stock ones for a while. I tried to find an emulator kit you mentioned but can't find one to fit the XR200 forks.

Thanks again guys,I'll no doubt have more questions as we play around with this bike, may even have to get one myself.:busted:

See your Dealer. Parts Unlimited has the Race Tech Emulators in stock for the XR200R. Same one that fits the CRF230F.



I've come across a set of forks from an '88 CR125, do I also need the triple clamps etc to fit it to our 2002 xr200 and do you know if our wheel/brakes etc will bolt right up to these forks?

If you buy forks get the complete front end because it will make life much easier!!!!!!!!

88 CR125 forks are 43mm cartridge forks with a disk brake front wheel, your 200 has a drum front brake so you need to buy the complete front end including the triples, front wheel, axle, caliper and master cylinder because they are all different than the 200. Front wheels and axles are used for several years so othe years wheels/brake may fit those forks. Installation is basically adapting the new steering stem to your steering head using mods posted on this forum (probably just some washers). These forks are harder to tune than the older damper rod forks but may be acceptable for trail riding if still stock.

Thanks Chuck, so I'm better really to look for damper rod type forks? I can only get the forks for the '88 CR so best to wait. What would be your recommendation for the ultimate front end, the '90 rear shock has made a world of difference to the back end but unfortunately this shows the inadequecies of the front, gave away the idea of the emulators because of cost and I really want to increase the travel/height of the front end anyway.

The cartridge forks are better than the damper rod forks.

All modern forks are cartridge type forks - whether they are USD or conventional, some just get more complex about it.

It is not a big deal to work with the cartridge forks.... the biggest difference is bleeding them. Look around here to find out how to do that.

USD forks are a lot harder to deal with than the cartridge issue - you have to separate them to install seals and use a driver that splits.

Those '88 forks will help you ALOT - but get the whole front end. The only mod you will have to do is put a 3/4" long spacer on top of the top bearing and under the bearing nut. You'll see when you put them on your bike.....

The emulators are better than damper rods, but not as good as cartridges with gold valves or properly tuned.

Ultimate front end? Depends... if you want it short - KX85 front end - KYB36USD, if you want it longer - '96CR125 - KYB43USD, all either revalved or Gold Valve

Dwight is right in that if you want to race it in vintage classes (your bike is too new anyways) you can't change the front end and the emulators is the way to go.... if you are just going to ride it and want it to work better, there are better ways to go - that '88 CR front end is one of them.

Well I agree with most of what the previous posted listed but as I said in a previous post "the biggest bang for the buck is an raceTech emulator kit in damperrod forks" because these solve most of the problems with damper rod forks. The best dampening is digressive and you can only get that with cartridge forks, but you pay a big price in that they are much more difficult to tune. Most folks will agree that conventional cartidge forks are the best, and there are better and best among those.

I upgraded a set of KYB damper rod forks to a set of 46mm KYB cartridge forks (both 12.2" of travel), very big improvement. I have a set of Showa 49mm conventional I may try on my next project because of their very high rating. USD forks have a bad rep for harshness so I would try to avoid them.

Havening said all of that my next project is to mount a pair of Showa mini bike forks on a XR200 which will increase travel to 10.8" and reduce front end weight by about 5lbs. These will be cartridge forks and will increase front travel, depending on year, by 0.8" to 3.5". Also get a disc brake in the deal.

The reputation for harshness really came into play in 1995 when KYB started using a mid valve to keep the forks up in the stroke.

This 'mid valve' is on the top side of the piston in the cartridge and it is another compression stack... so the compression duties are split between the mid stack and the main stack which is on the bottom of the fork.

The Gold Valve kits include a spring to replace the mid valve stack with just a check valve - which is what they used prior to having mid valves.

Mid valves were introduced to help keep the forks up in the stroke while cornering - primarily for motocrossers. Unfortunately they also make the forks less compliant for stutter bumps such as wash boarded roads or braking bumps coming into a corner. So the off road crowd generally don't want mid valves.

You can also buy these mid valve replacement springs from Parts Unlimited for about $10... putting them in takes some time, but once it's done that part is over.

Once you've done that, it's easy to change out the valving on cartridge forks... remove the fork, invert it, pull out the valving from the bottom of the leg, change it, put it back in, reinstall. You don't have to remove the spring, change the oil level or anything else UNLESS you want to.

I usually prefer to use Kawasaki forks as they we generally well regarded for their stock suspensions throughout the '90s. So you are close to start with.

I bought a set of '98 KX125 46mm KYB USD forks last month for $44 with shipping off eBay. Great deal, but they can be had with patience... you just have to be able to do the modifications needed to make them fit. Usually expect to pay closer to $100.... for a XR200 I wouldn't recommend 46mm forks - too big and heavy - 43mm might be OK.... and I'm going to try some 36mm USD KYBs off a KX85 when I get home in a couple of months. Those should have the right stem if you use Kawi bearings.

I am going to revive this older thread.

I am in the process of getting the forks ready for my wifes XR200 swap.

So here is what i have. Stock 2002 XR200. I have two complete front ends that I got on craigslist. I got both for $10 so I may do some mix and match between wheels, axles, brakes, and triple clamps.

I was told the front ends are from an 86 CR250. I did notice that the two sets of forks are different however. Mainly I noticed the differences in the bottom area where the clickers are. One set has a SHOWA sticker. I might try taking some pictures to explain but does anyone know what came stock on the 86 CR250s? I am going to take a picture of each of the two forks with their internals this weekend when I start to pull things apart.

Go back are reread this thread. The best deal is to put on a 1986-91 XR200R front end with Progressive Suspension fork springs and a Race Tech Emulator kit. Also use the 1986-91 XR200R Shock. I like the Works Performance internals transplant for a better shock. You must use a longer travel shock to balance the bike. The stock shock is trash and too short for longer travel forks.

Go back are reread this thread. The best deal is to put on a 1986-91 XR200R front end with Progressive Suspension fork springs and a Race Tech Emulator kit. Also use the 1986-91 XR200R Shock. I like the Works Performance internals transplant for a better shock. You must use a longer travel shock to balance the bike. The stock shock is trash and too short for longer travel forks.

+1, or 2, or 3!

This thread suddenly got legs!! You can't make a purse out of a sow's ear or something like that.

I suggest, and I think Dwight and others will agree that you should define what performance you are after, your riding skills, what terrain you will ride, and your expectations. A couple of points:

XR200s changed thru the years to appeal to other market segments as the watercooled bikes gained popularity. First off the best XR200s have at least 2" less suspension travel than a MX bike, but a lower seat height by 2". But things went downhill from there: Two major suspension changes; in 93, and again in 2000. These changes lowered the bike and reduced suspension travel. All MX bikes switched to cartridge forks during the late eighties but the XR200s and air cooled CRFs still have damper rod forks.

Any height change at one end of the bike will change the fork rake by 1 degree for each inch of height change. Most MX forks are at least 2" longer than the longest XR200 forks, for later model XR200s the difference is greater. Bad handling will result unless you also change the rear suspension height (longer shock).

Best and cheapest suspension upgrade is to use the 86-91 rear shock and forks with a Gold Valves Emulators. After that your spending a lot of money and time for incremental improvements that may not be justified by answers to the five questions in the first paragraph. The stock front drum brake is a good drum brake so unless you need water resistance there is not a lot of justification for switching to a disc. Some additional thoughts:

I don't expect my XR to perform like a modern water cooled bike, not even after mods. Lack of horsepower, suspension, and chassis; but I think I have a very good technical trail bike for the PNW. If I were to consider a newer bike it would probably be a KTM 250/300, or a new Husky 250F.

A XR will never be a competitive MX bike, but it can be a very good learning bike. (lack of horsepower will allow learning cornering and tactics)

XRs make very good trail bikes and with mods can be competitive in off road events. (Dwight, old school Jeff, Yogi Bear, and others.)

XRs have a short wheelbase so they will not have the high speed stability of a MX chassis, but the short wheel base enhances turning in tight trails.

Sorry I should have clarified further. This is my wifes bike. She is a C level rider and is about 5'8" with long legs so she has been feeling cramped on the XR bike now that she started riding after 4 years.

She sticks to the easier trails. Basically my goal is to raise the bike and gain a little bit firmer suspension because the current forks bottom out really easy. Because I got this steal of a deal I can't pass it up.

I should have everything apart tonight or tomorrow and hopefully get new parts ordered next week so I can get this bike going.

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