XL to XR conversion

Hey folks,

So I have completely restored a 1994 XR250L and really like it. Now I've gone out and gotten a 1990 XR250R that's basically a basket case (paid $120). I have a completely rebuilt motor in my L and I'm not sure how to go with this. I ride trails only and I'm wondering, is the 1990 R suspension that much better than the 94 L? Also, the 90 has an oil cooler where the 94 does not not and there are no brackets on the 94 frame to mount it. I would like to cannibalize the R by taking the front and rear suspension, carb, aftermarket exhaust/header and oil cooler. I'd like to use the RH motor cover from the R in order to use the oil cooler. Basically interested in two things;

1. Is the R suspension that much better and worth using? I know the forks are the same dimensions, but the swingarm is bigger. Is there a difference in the rear shocks between the two?

2. Has anyone upgraded to an oil cooler by switching engine covers and if so, what did you do to fab brackets for the oil cooler on the stem?


1- the internals are different between the forks, im pretty sure that there completely different forks- The swingarm is different and the shock has a longer travel

2- the oil cooler swap is a good one. just need the rh engine case, oil lines and the cooler. you can either JB weld nuts to the frame, or have them welded in place


Thanks Coopz! I'm definitely going to do the oil cooler. I noticed the difference in the forks and the swinger. I may rebuild the forks and the rear shock, clean up the swinger and see if it'll all mount up. Thanks again for the info.

Front forks are the same design. Probably wont notice any difference there. If you want to upgrade, get the 96+ forks that have the cartridge design.

Rear, shocks are different lengths. From other post, the L shock is preferred over the R shock. Revalve it if you want to improve things.

swingarms will swap, need the linkage. That will change the wheelbase and you lose the footpegs. Be easier to remove the pegs and revalve the shock.

Oil cooler will mount up. Either weld nuts on the frame or drill the frame and use spacers for it.

I have heard a few different stories that differ from the posts above. Here is what I know from my L.

The L shock is preferred over the R for revalving. I sent Les at LTR a R shock and my L and he said the L was better for rebuilding/ revalving.

The L swingarm uses the L cush drive hub which is better in the long run on your drive train if you do true dual sporting.

A spare cush drive/ sprocket makes sprocket changes a 3 minute job.

The L forks are straight damper rod forks, for all years ('91-'96)

The R forks started as straight damper rod forks but improved somewhere around '90-'91

The L cam is "tamer" than the R.

You can use the R carb on the L. You will loose the accel. pump but gain better adjustability.

The R headers can be used on the L but I had to use an R tailpipe. The transition from header to tailpipe was in a different position (fore and aft)

You can swap the R oil cooler to the L. I did it and the hardest thing was tracking down all of the parts. I don't think a typical L would benefit but my L was built up a bit and spent most of it's time in 1-2 gear trails. The Oil Cooler makes it difficult to route all of the L wires/ cables behind the stock headlight.

The R and L share gears 1,2 and 3. The L has a higher ratio for 4, 5 and 6.

Thanks for all the help folks! The L forks are definitely different than the R forks. Here's a newbe question. The R forks have a rod attached to the fork cap (must be detached to get the fork cap off) and the L does not. Both have an allen bolt at the very bottom of the fork. Are the XR forks better because of this? What does the allen bolt at the bottom adjust? I'm hoping it adjusts rebound because my L's rebound feels way to fast. If not, is there anything I can do to slow the rebound?

the rod attatched to the cap is the cartridge setup. the bottom bolt holds the other end of the cartridge. the XR-R forks are better as they are cartridge.

to change the dampening change your oil weights

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