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Old 03-05-2005, 05:59 PM   #1
cap OP
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Joined: Nov 2003
Location: Fort Collins, CO
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My Winter Project

I bought a used Honda XR650R before Christmas. At the time, I owned a R1150GS. The big GS has some fine features, but it is simply too heavy for me to handle comfortably off-road. So, I decided to sell the GS, and buy two bikes – one for purely off-road, and the other for sport-touring. Just for fun, I put a minimum of dual-sport equipment on the XR and got tags for it. I took it down to Tucson over the first of the year and rode around with some friends on the local highways. I learned a few things about the XR, and came to really respect its abilities.

About the same time, my partner in a Cessna T210 had an “incident” which has resulted in a major expenditure. Can you say $60k? Some of that is covered by insurance, but I’m responsible for half of the remainder. So, my plans to buy that FJR1300 have been put on the back burner. Suddenly, the XR became my only bike, and its mission became dual.

While riding the XR on the streets in AZ, I learned that I needed to make some changes:

1. a softer seat
2. a speedometer
3. better brakes
4. a brake light
5. a larger gas tank
6. heated grips
7. a power outlet for a heated vest, or a GPS
8. a luggage rack

And, oh by the way, the rear spring was designed for people a fraction of my size, and checking the oil was a real pain in the rear. This thread documents the process by which I modified my XR to fit my needs. Many of these mods are documented elsewhere on the web – I’ve been helped along by several people, including the owner of Southwest Moto Tires, who happens to use a XR650R as his personal bike. I stopped into his shop in Tucson and mounted a set of Metzeler Karoos on his recommendation. While there, I carefully inspected the mods on his bike, and made some mental notes. Thanks, Bliane.

First things first. I stripped the bike down to the frame.



At this point, removing the rear shock and spring takes an additional 2 minutes. Installing the new spring is quite simple. Just unscrew the preload adjuster and the lock ring, and remove the spring. Before you do, measure the compressed length of the OEM spring. Then, measure the free length when it is removed. Measure the free length of your new spring, and then install the new spring and tighten it down until you get the same amount of pre-load. In my case it was four-tenths of an inch. I found that I could spin the new spring by hand to set the pre-load with very little effort. The whole job took about 20 minutes. Cost: about $80.

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Old 03-05-2005, 06:03 PM   #2
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Checking the oil is a lot easier if one installs an oil sight tube. The process is to drill a couple of large holes in the forward frame downtube. Then, tap threads into the holes, install tube fittings, and connect the fittings with clear Teflon tubing.

I needed to buy a ¼” NPT tap. I found a source on Ebay for about $8. Also, the Teflon tubing was available on Ebay. I had to buy 50ft of it for $25. If anyone needs some Teflon tubing, drop me an e, I’ll send you as much as you need. Finally, I used mailorder for some Swagelok “male elbow” fittings. They are about $2 each. You can buy the whole kit from Baja Designs for $80, but that’s no fun. If I had to do it again, I’d be sure to buy some extra ferrules for the Swagelok fittings, and to buy stainless steel fittings rather than brass (I think they look nicer).

Remove the right-side radiator. Say a prayer to your personal dog, and drill some holes. Here’s what it looks like when you drill holes into your frame:







Be careful when tapping the threads to ensure that the fittings will snug up in the proper orientation. I tapped a little, and then tested the orientation, and then tapped a little more. When I got the fittings to screw in for 3 full threads, then I started to tap just a fraction of another turn to yield the final orientation. There is a direct correspondence to the amount that you turn the tap, and the resulting additional rotation for the fitting. When you are done tapping, put some Teflon tape on the threads, and install the fitting snug by hand. It should be in the proper orientation. Then, apply one full additional turn using a wrench. It will look like this:



Shaping the Teflon tubing into the “S” shape was problematic. It turns out that Teflon will kink easily. I went through about 4 feet of tubing before I found a technique that worked. I used a heat gun on medium setting to soften the tubing enough to slowly work it into the correct shape. The high setting on the heat gun melted the tubing walls. I didn’t discover the kink tendency until I had tightened one of the Swagelok fittings – thus the need for additional ferrules. You are warned.

When I had the tubing installed, I dumped a bunch of BMW motorcycle oil into the fill spout (don’t need that stuff anymore). And then I immediately drained it out from the bottom. I also removed the screen, and washed it out. The XR has a screen at the base of the downtube. I found several small flakes of aluminum trapped in the screen, residue from the tapping process. I refilled with fresh Honda oil, and here’s what it looks like:

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Old 03-05-2005, 06:04 PM   #3
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I’ve read that one of the goofy things about the XR650R is that the thermostat locks open. I didn’t really believe it, but I figured it was easy enough to check while the bike was dismantled for the oil-tube installation. Guess what? The stories are true:



I replaced the thermostat with a unit from Summers Racing Components, and also installed the 1.6 bar radiator cap from the same source. For coolant, I used a product called Engine Ice, which is based on propylene glycol. Engine Ice comes premixed, and costs about $17 per half-gallon. I later discovered that one can buy propylene glycol-based coolant for about $8 per gallon. Add some Water-Wetter and the appropriate amount of water, and you get the equivalent of Engine Ice.

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Old 03-05-2005, 06:05 PM   #4
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I took the seat to a local upholstery guy. He works on all sorts of stuff out of his home workshop. I asked for a gel insert, and some memory foam. Here’s what the stock seat looked like:



When the foam and gel had been roughly shaped, I was invited to try it out:



And, here’s what the final work looked like:

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Old 03-05-2005, 06:08 PM   #5
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Much of the rest of the project would be electrical in nature. I needed to increase the electrical power output from the stator. Again, I was helped along by several people who have posted “how-to” pages on the net. I debated just buying a rewound stator from one of several suppliers. However, the cost is significant: anywhere from $120 to $200+. And usually, the professionally re-wound stators will produce more than 150 watts. I didn’t need that much power, and I was concerned that the after-market voltage regulators were typically rated at 150 watts max. So, I chose to rewind my own stator, using some instructions that claimed a 125 watt result.

It was actually quite easy, and I’m glad I did it. Here’s what the stator looks like on the way out of the engine:



Removing the left side-cover is supposed to result in oil dripping out. But, my side cover was dry, with no evidence of ever seeing any oil. I took the picture above before removing the stator completely, and I’m glad I did because later I couldn’t remember how to reassemble it. Here’s a close up of before-rewinding:



Rewinding goes fast if you have a helper. I marked the direction of winding on the top of each lug using a sharpie. My girlfriend, Tina, helped out. One of us would wind the magnet wire around the lugs while the other would hold the spool of wire, and carefully turn the spool one revolution for each winding of the lug. Turning the spool at the same rate as the winding allows the wire to stay untwisted, and places less strain in the wire. We put 32 wraps of #18 wire on each of 10 lugs. After winding, I used Devcon 2-ton epoxy to seal the wraps. It goes on nicely if you use a small-diameter wood dowel rod as an applicator. Later, the magnet wire is soldered onto the OEM harness. I tried stripping the magnet wire with a pocket torch – but that was only marginally successful… Careful scraping with a razor blade will expose the copper sufficiently to allow soldering. Total time to remove, rewind, epoxy and solder: about 90 minutes. Cost: $9. Here’s what you get:

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Old 03-05-2005, 06:10 PM   #6
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I wanted a speedometer, and a control for heated grips, and a key to lock the bike in the “off” position, and a power outlet like the one on the BMW. There’s a fella on Ebay selling speedometers with a bracket and an hour-meter. I emailed him, and asked him to sell me only the speedometer and the bracket – I told him that I wanted to use the space occupied by his hour-meter to place a key-switch. He thought that was a great idea, and now offers exactly that product. The catch is that he is charging more than I wanted to pay: about $135. So, I elected to build my own bracket, and buy the parts separately. The speedometer costs $40 from JC Whitney. The key switch was $3. I decided to make the bracket also hold a switch for the heated grips, and a Powerlet power outlet. I got the heated grips for $29 from Dual-Star, and the outlet for $15 from Powerlet Products. Here is the bracket fabrication in progress (I am installing a doubler with flush rivets to the mounting point.)



More pics of the bracket in progress:





And here is what it looks like installed on the bike… But that is jumping ahead of the story.

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Old 03-05-2005, 06:35 PM   #7
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The wiring had been troubling me. I needed to install the new voltage regulator/rectifier. I bought one from TrailTech for $30. It seems to be identical in shape, size, and function with the Tympanium unit which typically sells for $50 or more.



After many consultations with TrailTech tech support, and some of my savvy double-E buddies, I decided to disconnect the ground circuits for my two stator windings.

The XR650R has two stator windings: one for the ignition circuit and one for the lights. I rewound the lighting circuit. Both circuits are grounded to the frame, but not at the stator itself. I left the ignition circuit grounded to the frame. But, I routed the windings from the lighting circuit directly to the new regulator, without allowing them to contact the frame (this is called “floating” the ground). By doing this, I could then ground the negative 12V lead coming out of the regulator if I chose. Instead, I elected to route two new wires from the output of the regulator. I used 16-gauge wire throughout.

Next question: how to mount the regulator? I solved this problem by purchasing a “Bud” box from Mouser Electronics. I chose a box that would hold the regulator snugly, and then mounted the box under the rear fender.







The regulator produces full-wave DC voltage. It needs a battery or a capacitor to smooth out the full-wave ripple. Since I don’t have an electric start, I went with a capacitor. I got mine from TrailTech, and it is BIG… a BFC for the BRP.

I had purchased a subframe extension from Summers Racing Components, and used that as the mounting point for the BFC. Before mounting, I dipped it in Plastidip.



I used Adel clamps to mount the BFC, purchased from Aircraft Spruce for $.99 each.



The resulting installation is pretty sanitary:



Finally, the wires are routed under the seat, and then toward the front of the bike following the path of the OEM harness. I used spriral wrap to protect the wiring, and bind it to the OEM harness as I routed the DC forward to the headlight module.
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Old 03-05-2005, 06:53 PM   #8
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Cap, rockin' posts.
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Old 03-05-2005, 06:53 PM   #9
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I mentioned the sub-frame extension by SRC. I also purchased my luggage rack from them. The SRC luggage rack requires the use of the SRC sub-frame. Together they are more expensive than the popular billet aluminum Rack-It product that many XR owners use. I chose the SRC product for two reasons.

First, it is made from hollow tubing, and should be lighter. Second, the luggage holding surface is not cantilevered. I like to avoid cantilever mounts in applications having high shock loading. When I was looking at one well-used XR650R having the Rack-It mount, I noticed that the owner had installed an expedient stand-off to help prop the rear of the rack from the top of the fender. The SRC rack support the luggage rack in a way that should prevent bending.



Initally, I had tried to use the SRC brake light kit, but had no luck. This kit uses a resistor to reduce to intensity of the light coming from the OEM tail light. The idea is to have a low-intensity light as a tail light, and increase the intensity when the brake is used. It didn’t work. SRC was kind enough to issue a credit on the resistor, and let me keep the banjo-bolt switch for the brake. For my second attempt, I chose to use a Baja Designs LED tail and brake light. These are a bit spendy, $50+, but they work very well. I had installed one on Tina’s CRF250X, and I really liked it. It works great on the XR650R as well.

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Old 03-05-2005, 07:02 PM   #10
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Old 03-05-2005, 07:04 PM   #11
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Speaking of brakes… I was tempted to get a 320mm oversize brake kit from White Bros. But the cost is high. I’m a cheap bastige. So, I found a 280mm kit from Rocky Mountain ATV that was being discontinued. It ic made by a company in the Czech republic called Titax. The cost was right: $99 for the new disk and the adapter for the OEM caliper.

You need to remove the OEM disk, and replace it with the new disk. Pretty straight forward: use the OEM hardware, and install the new disk. I flipped the plastic dust guard – it seemed to fit better that way.

The OEM caliper must be removed. Three parts from the OEM caliper are swapped to the new adapter. Here’s what it looks like before the swap:



After the swap:



And, after the final install:



The Titax parts look first-rate. The fit and finish are excellent. A best-buy!
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Old 03-05-2005, 07:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch
Cap, rockin' posts.
Thanks. More to come.
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Old 03-05-2005, 07:17 PM   #13
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Time to put it all back together. I’ll start with the new Edelbrock Quicksilver carb that I got on Ebay. Boy, I sure saved a lot of money, and that American flag decal adds at least 4 horsepower.

Installing the carb before re-installing the sub-frame is trivial. Be sure to use the racing version of the rubber plenum between the carb and the engine. It has a larger opening inside, and permits more airflow.



It turns out that one can remove the carb with the sub-frame installed. DAMHIK. In fact, one can even dismantle the float bowl of an Edlebrock QS carb, while the carb is still installed on the bike.

Let me suggest that before you install your shiny new QS carb on your XR650R, you first dismantle the entire carb, and verify that it has been properly set-up at the factory. Trust, but verify. It works a lot better after you set the float level, adjust the accelerator pump, and dial-in the mixture.

Final tip: I used a few drops of 90w gear oil on the tip of my finger to lubricate the rubber on the intake plenum and the airbox. And I completely removed the clamp on the airbox side. This allows one to remove and install the carb fairly easily while the sub-frame is attached.
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Old 03-05-2005, 07:26 PM   #14
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The gas tank is a 4.3 gallon unit from Clarke. Cost $160. I purchased some aluminum tape from Home Depot, and lined the inside surface to facilitate heat rejection.

Installation is pretty easy, but be careful to route your throttle cables correctly. When I first placed the new tank on the bike, I had this sinking feeling that it must be the wrong model because the mounting points were not even close to lining up. However, with some gentle persuasion, the tank fits perfectly.



In the process of removing and reinstalling the tank several times since the first use, I managed to strip out the aluminum threads on the left side. I found that Helicoil sells a M6x1 thread repair kit for about $25 through Amazon, or $40 from NAPA. Takes about 10 minutes to repair the threads, and the Helicoils work better anyway.
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Old 03-05-2005, 07:45 PM   #15
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The grips come from Dual-Star with solid ends that must be bored out to allow installation of the Cycra system. I found that a copper plumbing T fitting could be sharpened to make a handy boring tool.



The Dual-Star grip heaters are designed to apply different levels of heat to the throttle side and the clutch side. Also, they are designed to eliminate the dropping resistor used by other manufacturers. Installation of the grip heaters is simple: peel the paper backing, and apply the sticky side to the bar or throttle housing. Installation of the grips is easy on the clutch side: apply glue, and slide the grip on. BUT, the installation of the throttle-side grip is tricky. You don’t want to apply too much glue to avoid gumming up the throttle action. The glue acts somewhat like a lubricant, assisting the grip to slide over the plastic throttle housing. In my case, the grip stuck hard when half-on. I used high-pressure air from a compressor to float the grip the remainder of the way on. Without the air gun, I would not have been successful.



The Cycra guards needed some persuading on the throttle side. I had to remove the bash-bar, and place it in a vise to open up the bend just a bit. Also, I shimmed the plug that pinches to the inside of the handlebar so that it would not interfere with the rubber grip and impair the throttle return action. Finally, the OEM handguards must be replaced, and their attaching bolts do double-duty as pivots for the control levers. I found that I could re-use the throttle-side bolt, but that I needed to replace the clutch-side bolt with one leftover from another project. Unfortunately, the clutch-side bolt is a special bolt having a somewhat thicker shank, and a conventional replacement leaves a little slop in the controls. If anyone can suggest a fix, I am all ears.

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