Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

1991 XR200 extreme makeover

Recommended Posts

The XR200 has always been one of my favorite bikes. Capable (for what it is), reliable (I think it only has three moving parts) and more fun than a barrel of crack monkeys. It was a sad day in 1993 when it got sissified and re-introduced, and sadder still when one of the greatest little trail bikes of all time ceased production. I had a brand new 1988 model that I sacrificed for this conversion project … https://thumpertalk.com/forum/thread/746518/ultimate-xr200-cr125-conversion … and I’ve second-guessed myself many times - especially recently when my daughter finally outgrew her little XR100. She’s not strong enough or skilled enough for a 4T 250 or a 2T 125 and being a Honda-phile, I never gave much serious consideration to Honda’s 150F or 230F – the e-start is nice, but they’re both over-priced porkers IMHO.

XR200left.jpg

That brought me back again to the trusty-but-sadly-out-of-production XR200. I started watching the local Craigslist ads. There were plenty to choose from, but most were either pricey short-travel later models or really thrashed older units. I specifically wanted a pre-1992 long travel model, because if my little moto-princess moves on to something else or loses interest, I’m definitely keeping the XR200 this time!

Finally, a 1991 popped up. An older gentleman had kept it at his mountain cabin just for running down the road to get the mail. It still had the original front tire, original plastic, original chain and sprockets and original control cables. It had been registered and non-working aftermarket lights had been added. The oil looked good and smelled good. He had to spray starting fluid on the dirty air filter to get it running. It wouldn’t idle, but the motor was smooth and quiet – no valve noise, no cam chain noise, no bottom end noise and smooth shifting. He was asking $850, but after I pointed out that it wasn’t running right and really did need tires, chain and sprockets and a shock rebuild, we agreed on $650 and I loaded her up.

XR200oldright.jpg

XR200oldleft.jpg

I got her home, cleaned the air filter and unclogged the pilot jet that I had correctly diagnosed as the starting and idling problem and she ran like a champ. Jackpot! Now the real work began.

My moto-princess was not at all thrilled with the cosmetics. She’s all about the look, of course. She insisted on a black frame, and since I was planning to completely disassemble, clean and inspect everything anyway, I complied. I made the parts list and got to work.

This site has been a gold mine for little-known info. Thanks to guys like Yogi and Chuck4788, I had other great plans… Still looking ahead to the day when I will “re-inherit” this particular XR200, I went for some other mods while it was stripped down. Off to eBay … got the ’89 XR250 aluminum swingarm for $40. Got the aluminum linkage with grease fittings from the ’85 XR200 for $10. All the seals, bushings and bearings were just fine. Picked up the aluminum brush guard from an earlier model, too.

XR200aluminumswingarm.jpg

XR200linkage.jpg

Let’s see … what else? Changed the fork oil, rebuilt the shock (still like new inside), added a chain roller instead of the lower slider by the countershaft, new tires, chain and sprockets, handlebars, grips, levers, red plastic, seat cover and tank cover. The front fender and number plate are CRF150R parts. The bolt holes match up perfectly and I think it looks a lot sleeker and trimmer than the original OEM-shaped stuff. XR600 lower fork protectors fit great with only very minor trimming. I had a leftover SuperTrapp silencer, but no mid-pipe. Using the mounts from the original pipe, the local muffler shop made me a nice bolt-on piece for $40, and I hogged out the inside header weld while it was apart. It works well with the new K&N and fatter jetting. The motor itself needed nothing. I changed the oil, double-checked the valve clearances and cam chain tension and threw in a new spark plug just because. I also simplified and re-plumbed the crankcase ventilation spaghetti bowl. Now just a single hose runs up to the air box with an automotive PCV filter/breather on the end.

XR200breathersetup.jpg

XR200exhaust.jpg

XR200chainroller.jpg

Every single piece was cleaned, inspected and painted before reassembly. She started on the second kick, even without the missing compression release, and first or second kick every time since. She runs great and rides smooth, but could stop a little better. I sanded the original shoes and drum surfaces, but might go ahead and throw in new shoes. I have a spare 1985 CR125 front end with Race Tech-modified forks and disc brake set-up, but I won’t mess with that until it’s mine...

XR200right.jpg

XR200left.jpg

XR200front.jpg

XR200rear.jpg

Out of curiosity, I threw it on the digital scales. Ready to go but without gas, she weighs in at 218 – that aluminum swingarm and linkage really does make a measurable difference.

So for a fraction of the cost of a new 150F or 230F, my junior moto-princess has a cool-looking and totally capable bike that she is proud of – and I have my ideal “retired old man trail/fun bike” waiting in the wings (but don’t tell her that ...)

JuniorMoto-Princess.jpg

Edited by mcdirtclod
add photo
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice job Dirtclod. You do good work. You have a nice looking daughter as well. Mine just graduated from college so I've shelved the shotgun and am not too much the paranoid parent scaring off the boys anymore. If you need a shotgun, just let me know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice looking bike and by the looks of your daughter you've got trouble on your hands.

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, guys. I know what you mean about the shotgun. Any other reasonable mod ideas I can implement at this time? Thought I woulda heard from Chuck4788 by now ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can put a XR250R 18" rear wheel on it for better tire selection.

Steve

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want to make the front end look more modern may I suggest a set of seal savers or equivalent... I added them to my bike and found it really cleaned the look of it up, plus I found they work well.

I bought the 1 1/2" long ones and cut them in half to make two sets. They are easy as pie to put on a conventional fork. (unhook brake lever, remove number plate, remove the four bolts from the triples and slide the forks out. Remove the accordion mud holders and slide the seal savers down the tube. Reassemble, have a beer and check out how much easier it is to clean the front fender)

Here's my bike with the seal savers installed... sadly I have my friend here up for sale to free up money for my new wr450.

DSC_0454.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can put a XR250R 18" rear wheel on it for better tire selection.

Steve

Yeah, I've heard that. Keeping my eyes open ... '86-'89 I believe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you want to make the front end look more modern may I suggest a set of seal savers or equivalent... I added them to my bike and found it really cleaned the look of it up, plus I found they work well.

I bought the 1 1/2" long ones and cut them in half to make two sets. They are easy as pie to put on a conventional fork. (unhook brake lever, remove number plate, remove the four bolts from the triples and slide the forks out. Remove the accordion mud holders and slide the seal savers down the tube. Reassemble, have a beer and check out how much easier it is to clean the front fender)

Here's my bike with the seal savers installed... sadly I have my friend here up for sale to free up money for my new wr450.

DSC_0454.jpg

Yup. Did exactly that on my XR400 SM conversion. I think the fork boots on the 200 kinda cover up the spindly fork tubes - which IMHO is a good thing.

sumoatthetrack.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the fork boots on the 200 kinda cover up the spindly fork tubes - which IMHO is a good thing.

That's very true too

And your conversion is one bad ass looking bike 👍:thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've looked at those pictures and read the description at least a dozen times. Time and time again I'm thinking "great work!", and even more so when I read about modifications I didn't pick out in the photos.

as for mods, have you considered bark busters?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is the advantage of using a 1989 XR250 swingarm ? Won't it make the wheelbase too long ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the fact that you kept the drum brakes which keeps the bike legal for AHRMA Post vintage racing.

With the swingarm change did you have to change shock ? Linkage ? Did you put XR250 forks on or just used stock 86-91 forks (modified with springs and emulators) ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What is the advantage of using a 1989 XR250 swingarm ? Won't it make the wheelbase too long ?

The 86-89 XR250R SA is aluminum and is only 1" longer than the XR200 SA, I keep the chain short so the axle is near the front of the slot resulting in a wheel base that is very close to a XR200 with a stretched chain. The SA just bolts in and the linkage attach point is in the same location but the gap between the lugs is greater, but a few washers and the XR200 linkage fits. I'm currently running a 89 XR250 SA on my 90 XR200.

The advantage is a 3 1/4 lb weight saving.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What he said ... plus a little bling factor. The 86-89 XR250 SA is a bolt-in with a skosh of minor grinding for that bolt head on the back of the lower crankcase (and a little for the compression release cable I've heard - but I'm not running one.) Since Honda used the same hub, the wheel slides right in, too. The XR250 shock runs a little off-center, so that's why a couple washers are needed to take up the slack - you can see it clearly in this photo ...

XR200linkage.jpg

The earlier aluminum linkage saves additional poundage, and I believe it was Chuck4788's experiments that indicated a slight travel increase as well.

I used the rebuildable XR200 shock and the forks are also stock. Since the princess only weighs 98 pounds, I used the lightest oil I could find for the forks with no pre-load and backed off pre-load and compression as much as I could on the rear. When I "re-inherit" the bike, I'll most likely perform some type of front suspension surgery.

Thanks for all the great info, guys. It was a fun project.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks, guys. I know what you mean about the shotgun. Any other reasonable mod ideas I can implement at this time? Thought I woulda heard from Chuck4788 by now ...

Our daughter is happily married with children so I no longer have a shotgun.

Nice job, it looks like you spent a lot of time attending to the details.

One comment on the early linkage; a bonus is the KF0 link also lowers the bike 1/2".

Personal opinion, and I may be preaching to the choir, but these bikes just work good in the woods. These bikes will get from point A to B in tight woods so easily that I don't understand why they are not more popular. Plus they are easily modified to suit special, or more aggressive, riding situations. Oh, I forgot they do not have the cache of water cooled with 35+ horsepower. 👍

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is so nice. As my second bike when i was 14, I got a 96' XR200 as a step up from my TTR125. I loved that bike. I do remember the complaints were about the lack of mods, drum brakes, and soft suspension but it seems you got some of that covered. They were much lighter than the 250s but stock verses stock the 250s were not much faster.

I did ride a 230 and wasn't impressed at all. It had a little more low end power but to me it was just a better looking version of the XR200. I also hated that the 230 didn't have a backup kickstart. But the TTR230 was even worse. We got one dirt cheap and it sucked. The thing was heavy and slow. It had a pipe on it but it wasn't any faster than my 200.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Where did you get your plastics and decals? Im guessing you reupholstered the seat?

Campbell45, the rear fender is stock Honda part. Maier makes them, but OEM still fits better and material is superior. I wanted red side covers, so I had to go with Maier for those. The front fender and number plate are UFO CRF150R parts - I think they just look more modern than the XR200 stuff. The fender was a bolt-on, and the number plate bolt hole lines up, too, but I also added zip-ties behind.

The seat cover is an eBay item - it's a guy in New Zealand that will make any combination of colors with you choice of silk-screened logo. The tank actually has one of those eBay tank covers from BoliviaXport. He, too, has a bunch of different colors and designs and will make you whatever you want. The fit is OK, but it's still far superior (ande cheaper) than new graphics that will bubble off in a few weeks.

Good luck! Let me know if you need more info.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

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

Reply with:

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...