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Old 10-04-2007, 01:02 AM   #1
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: costa mesa, ca., usa, earth, sector-28
Oddometer: 444
Thumb Honda XR400 [1997] The DirtDawg Chronicles - GCRad1

Hello - I'm GCRad1 and this is my Honda "DirtDawg" XR400

The GC is short for Gravel Crew.
The Rad is short for Radical as in Radical Rick, the BMX cartoon from the early 80's.
The numeral one... has a nice ring to it with the "Rad"...
The "DirtDawg" for the XR, cuase it's a getter'done kinda of bike!!

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Post#01 - Story
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My Honda XR400 story

There are a few reasons for me getting back on the bikes...
1: Went out to the desert with friends and I rode their XR400 back in 2005.
2: Back to my roots of growing up!!!
3: Rally cars are expensive!

November 26, 2005:

This is the weekend that changed everything!!! The photo was taken by my wife. On the blue quad is my step-son and now riding partner - Anthony. He later got a CRF250X. I'm on a friends XR400 and my oldest daughter, Roxy on the little red quad.

This single day out riding reminded me of my past and made me wonder why I have been away from bikes for so long as I remembered how much fun it was for relitavly cheap...

WAY CHEAP compaired say to the rally car that consumed my life from 1998 to 2003.

The Escort at it finest at the 2003 Ramada Express International Rally in Laughlin Nevada.

Back on topic...
So, a family outing would have us with friends camping out in the desert as their son was getting into dirt bikes and there is sat, a Honda XR400 and the owner asked if I knew how to ride. That was an easy answer and one ride was all it took. I laughed while I rode. I had to stop becuase I was laughing so hard or maybe I was crying with all the wind coming into the helmet with no goggles... so I pondered just why I had been away from the bikes for so long! Time to make up for lost time on two wheels! I made some good laps around Johnson Valley that day!

A month later - December 22, 2005

After recently reacquainting myself with two wheels I purchased this 1997 Honda XR400!!!

Funny how a month later I would find my own XR400! My first offroad bike in many years and back to having fun and very inexpensively compared to the rally car and actually more time driving/riding vs working and planning for rallies. The XR400 is plated [I call it the "ghetto pass"] but I need to make it a bit more legit as I live in Orange County, California and this bike came from the high desert – mountain area’s where the police are a bit more relaxed about the details. Yea, no turn signals, no speed-O, no battery for brake light… need I say more? But it is sooo fun!

This was originally Rick Gero's personal bike that he had sold to a friend. I had a friend who was friends with both Rick and friend. The "friend" had a nice off while on a Baja trip so he parked it and had it sitting up for a while so it needed a good service.

With the purchase made, I took the XR400 back to Rick for the initial service. Rick [pictured on the left] is the owner of Vance&Hines Motorcycle Center and does some excelent work and also has a dyno. That is his son Phil [pictured on the right] who also works there and also races some desert action and rumored to be very fast.

December 24, 2005

Two days later I take the bike out for my first outting and to give the bike a test run.
I went to Hungry Valley in Gormin, Ca. I figure I would go here as my riding buddy for the day flaked and there are ususally alot of people out riding here, so If I broke down, I figured I should be OK. Four and a half hours later I gave the bike the seal of approval-hug and then loaded it up and came home with a sore butt and a big smile!

For my rally enthusiast friends, you may recognize this location where we pit for the Gorman Rally. For my first leg of riding the XR400, I ran our regular rally stage route.

While rally is great fun, rally is ten times more work, 10-times more time consuming, 10X-manpower-effort and 10X more money! I expired my budget in 2003, but I did take home the 1st place title for the Western States Championships! I wanted to take it to the next level, but the wallet did not allow, nor was there a resonable investment on return via sponsorship of a rally car [pre XGames and mainstream TV]. XGames exposure is still not enough to fully offset the expense...

At this point, the XR400 gives me all the frills and fredoms I wish for and for way less expense and I can actully keep the bike in MY GARAGE!!!

GCRad1 screwed with this post 01-04-2009 at 06:32 PM
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:30 PM   #2
Clem Kevin
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Joined: Aug 2007
Location: San Clemente, CA
Oddometer: 854
if you ever want a fellow xr400 riding partner, im always willing to find a day to go riding, i just got my first bike last month and im looking to do some fun stuff on this bike, im just down in south orange county
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Old 10-04-2007, 12:57 PM   #3
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: costa mesa, ca., usa, earth, sector-28
Oddometer: 444
are you plated or green stickered? We do load'em up and hit Johnson Valley and various other surrounding areas!
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Old 10-04-2007, 02:45 PM   #4
Clem Kevin
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Joined: Aug 2007
Location: San Clemente, CA
Oddometer: 854
i am plated and green stickered yes sir, went riding down at trabuco last week, definitely wasnt enough for me, i want more
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:08 PM   #5
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Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Kennewick, WA
Oddometer: 1,997
+1 for the XR400.

When mine wore out I needed 2 bikes to replace it!
Tiger 800
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Old 10-08-2007, 10:28 PM   #6
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: costa mesa, ca., usa, earth, sector-28
Oddometer: 444
Seat Lowering vs. Wheel Travel - no contest!

While the bike was a steal on price, it had endured hardship from the previous owner. After his big-off, he parked it, in the sun, for the daily beat down. The seat took the toll, and later I would find the same with the IMS tank.

The old busted seat cover. The previous owner had let this poor XR400 sit out in the sun every day for almost a year or so and it had gotten a little crispy on the right side. Crispy like James Browns hair after bring pent up for a week with no relaxer!

Every time I rode it just cracked open a little more and all I wanted to do is ride! But it finally came to the point that I would ruin the seat foam.
Then I got this idea!!!

Let's face it, the XR400 is tall! My pants have a 30-inch inseam and something has to give and I am not giving up wheel travel and I can't streach my legs, and NO, i'm not going to make my mx boots look like Gene Simons KISS boots! No way, but it would be funny!

So it's time to lower the seat!

Did some ThumperTalk and 4strokes reading and got some ideas and finally it was just time to start...

There is this soft top foam, so i remove this layer first as I intend to reuse it.

Then I started drawing measuring and just trying to figure it all out.

Looked at it from every angle to make sure it was level and even.

And then I went to town! Just started hacking with the hack saw blade and tried my best to keep it even across the cut of the foam.

Hey honey! Where is that electric kitchen carving knife and those pumpkin carving tools!?!?!?!


I sand the edges to round it a bit for shape, to take the edge off.

Wrapped up the seat with an all-black N-Style seat cover and I am good to go!!

Painted my front fender black too! Thought I was going to be doing some night riding with the stock light - YEA! RIGHT! I could not get to second gear as the light source was just too weak! More on that later.

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