4Strokes.com Honda Technical: Modifying the XR250L By Rick Ramsey - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Page Jump Links: Speedometer | Suspension | Tires | Handlebars | Clutch Lever Perch | Protection | Spark Plug & Resistor | Big Red - The Ultimate | Weight Reduction | Esthetics | Unfinished Areas | Summary
I have always liked the ICO odometer/speedometer and magnetic pickup in lieu of the Honda mechanical speedometer and cable.
Remove the speedometer cable from the speedometer assembly and remove the speedometer assembly. Remove the bulb sockets from the base of the speedometer assembly. Remove all bulbs. Slide the sockets into a rubber tube and zip-tie the tube to the headlight mounting bracket. Remount the headlight bracket using two bolts (6x25 mm), nuts, and collars. The collars can be taken from the rear turn signal assemblies, if the turn signals are not used. Mount an ICO or similar unit on or near the crossbar.
Carefully cut and remove part of the plastic protective layer from a metal braided brake line ('86 XR250R). Cut and remove from just above the lower brake line mounting clamp to about 1" above the upper brake line guide. Make sure the forks are fully extended by putting the bike on a stand. Cover the brake line and the ICO pickup wires in their protective sheath with a brake line protector that has been trimmed to fit. Tape or zip-tie each end of the brake line protector. Tape the remaining exposed ICO pickup wires to the brake line, all the way to the brake reservoir. See the ICO installation instructions for more information.
Make a mount for the ICO pickup unit and clamp it to the lower fork leg. Mount the ICO magnet on the plastic wheel hub cover. Remove the Honda mechanical sending unit from the front axle and replace it with an aftermarket unit.
Gregg and I have experimented with the front forks. We left the stock oil in and tried for an easy solution to the softness and brake diving. We removed the upper 3 3/8" spring from each fork and replaced it with a 3" PVC tube, which gives a firm ride with very little diving (me) and a 1.5" ATK spring and 1.5" PVC tube, which gives a medium ride and some diving (Gregg).
In the rear, we stuck with the stock spring with 85-95 mm of sag, 6-9 clicks clockwise from full soft for the compression damping, and the number 1 setting for the rebound damping. We each weigh about 180 pounds naked. Neither of us rides our XR250L's too aggressively; we have other bikes for that. For more aggressive riders, Race Tech and other companies sell straight rate fork and shock springs.
I wanted some tires that were better in the dirt than the stock Yokohama's. Everyone I talked to raved about the Gran Sport GS-10 6-ply tires. I installed a 3.25-21 and a 4.60-18 with heavy-duty Metzeler tubes and Honda rim locks. I liked the Gran Sports much better than the stock tires. Later, I switched to a DOT legal Pirelli MT-17 Gara Enduro 110/90-18 rear tire with more aggressive knobs, which I like even better. Gordo opted for full knobbies and installed Pirelli Sand Cross 3.00-21 and 4.25-18 tires and heavy duty tubes.
I like handlebars that are a little taller than most bars these days because I have short arms, and I like to sit up a little straighter while riding on the street. I also don't like the stock white XR250L bars. I mounted a set of K&N YZ bars. The higher bars have a longer cross bar, allowing me to mount my mirror, Enduro Jug, and ICO speedo/odo all on the crossbar. I cut the bars to 30.5" wide. Gordo kept his stock XR250L bars.
Clutch Lever Perch
The standard clutch perch is not a split perch. I replaced the entire assembly with an '89 XR250R clutch perch and lever assembly. You can't use the stock mirror with the new perch. I removed both mirrors and mounted a very small bicycle mirror on the crossbar. I have to twist a little to see everything behind me, but I really like the small mirror.
I don't plan to ride in the rocks very much with my XR250L (I'll use my XR for that). I mounted a blue plastic Maier skid plate over the stock aluminum brush guard. Gordo plans to ride everything with his XR250L, so he's holding out for an MS red anodized aluminum skid plate. It completely replaces the aluminum brush guard and is the hot setup for rough riding.
We both removed the stock plastic hand guards and replaced them with aluminum hand guards.
Spark Plug & Resistor
Use an NGK DPR9Z spark plug, the same as the XR250R plug, if you do any of the intake, carb, or exhaust system mods. Remove the resistor in the spark plug cap and replace it with a piece of stainless steel. I cut the head off of a #10-24 stainless steel bolt and cut the bolt to the right length.
As a side note, the September '83 issue of Cycle World had an article that advised using a brass or copper rod as a replacement for the resistor. I did just that in my '86 XR250R. Just out of curiosity, I checked the brass rod to see what it looked like after five years of use. It was black and had a very high surface resistance. An engineer buddy told me that brass and copper oxidize at high temperatures. The new advice from my engineer buddy is to use stainless steel.
Big Red - The Ultimate
In early '92, Gordo, of the NASA budget, had Powroll do a 330cc bore and stroke job on the XR250L. After a dyno run, he put in a main jet three sizes larger but otherwise made no other changes. Gordo says the bike isn't appreciably faster. However, on steep, gnarly hills, it never runs out of bottom end, and pulls and pulls.
In the interest of reducing weight, Gordo and I scoured every inch of the bike, looking for extraneous parts to remove.
Someday when I have the right-side engine cover off, I'll take off the extra junk on the kick start shaft that activates the lower compression release pivot arm, as I did on my '86 XR250R.
I removed the small brake-light switch mounted on the front brake lever assembly because I use the front brake a lot and don't want to distract people riding behind me (ha, ha).
Altogether, I removed 23 pounds as follows:
My XR250L weighs only 4 pounds more than my similarly stripped '86 XR250R!
I like my Hondas to be red and blue; Gordo likes them all red. There is something out there for both of us.
We both installed stock Honda red fenders, front and rear. I kept my blue fork boots; Gordo opted for red ones. Someday I'll paint the frame red, but for now I use PJ-1 Honda white paint to touch up the places on the frame where I broke off all the clips and mounts as I removed parts. I painted my headlight nacelle red and retained the blue number decal. Gordo left his headlight nacelle white and peeled off the number decal. I removed the side number plates because I didn't think they did anything functional, and they are expensive to replace. I made an air box cover out of blue plastic and stock Honda fasteners. I discarded the inner air box seal.
If you removed your battery, and like Gordo, want to keep your number plates, you can replace the left-side number plate with a standard XR250R number plate that doesn't stick out so much. You can also change the colors of the number plates, fork boots, and tool bag by using standard XR250R parts as shown in the following table:
How did the bikes turn out? In a word, great. Both Gordo and I find our XR250L/R's to be great fun. Did we miss anything? No doubt. Now you can have fun trying to find your own things to change and/or remove.
Credits: Article written by Rick Ramsey, submitted by Jeremy Hansen, and edited by 4Strokes.com.
Modifying the XR250L By Rick Ramsey - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
4Strokes.com Technical: Honda Related