Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400



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    DaveS's Avatar
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    Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    As the mods that Gordon did get referred to almost constantly for an XR I've copied them here for posterity and stickied them.
    The source was the XR400 Yahoo group.
    http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/...s%20%21%21%21/

    So let's use this thread for discussion on these.

    MY MODIFICATIONS TO A 2000 MODEL HONDA XR400R (Revised: Nov 25, 2000)

    -----------------
    Stock Carb Specs
    -----------------
    Main 142, Pilot #52, Needle Clip in 3rd groove. Right off the showroom floor, mine ran fine, but definitely on the rich side. Removing the airbox snorkel without re-jetting, however, made it run lean and overheat.

    -----------------------------------------------
    RELIEVING THE 2000 HONDA XR400R MUFFLER BAFFLE
    -----------------------------------------------
    (This is a very simple procedure, and one that can be almost as easily reversed. Best of all, though... it works.) After carefully examining the stock baffle/spark arrestor, and running some flow numbers for the different areas involved with the numerous plates and baffles (both in the muffler and on the baffle insert), I've come to the conclusion that the primary restriction to exhaust flow is the small final outlet, which has an i.d. (inner diameter) of only 20mm. Without removing the baffle insert from the muffler, examine the exhaust tip. Notice the actual outlet, which measures 20mm i.d. (approx. 0.787"). Around this is a larger 'bright finish' ring which appears to have no real function, but may be to help prevent the rider from coming into contact with the actual outlet, which probably runs hotter. Down in between the 20mm outlet and the bright-finish outer ring, there is room to drill 1/4" holes into the baffle to provide additional exhaust flow area. Holes drilled in this area will be 'inside' the spark arrestor screen, by the way, so the spark arrestor function is maintained. On my baffle insert, the area to be drilled is large enough to accept a 1/4" drill, but there's a benefit to using a #2 drill bit (0.21") (or maybe a 7/32" bit) which I'll explain a little later on. Since the stock 20mm (0.787") outlet provides a flow area of only 0.4862 sq.in., and a 0.21" hole has a flow area of 0.0346 sq. in., each 0.21' hole adds 7.1% more flow area. Just three such holes will increase the exhaust flow area by over 21%, and four will increase it by over 28%. First I ran the engine with the undrilled baffle, to get an up-close feel for the sound level at idle, and while revving the engine. After drilling one hole, I could barely hear any difference. After drilling a second hole, I could hear the difference, but it was slight. The third hole made a bigger difference, but still not objectionaably loud. The fourth hole made it just a little louder than I was willing to accept, adding a definite bark to the exhaust note. Since I had use a #2 drill bit, which is approx 0.21" in diameter (it's supposed to be 0.221"), I was able to plug the 4th hole very simply by screwing in a 1/4x28 set screw, which I woudn't be able to do had I drilled the holes with a 1/4" bit. This effectively reverted back to having just three holes, and it also indicates that I can plug them all with 1/4x28 set screws, to return to the stock sound level if necessary. Come to think of it, I guess you could say that this modification is "tunable" by inserting or removing set-screws from numerous holes. A brief test ride with stock jetting showed that the added three holes gave the bike a cleaner and stronger throttle response, probably because it runs rich when totally stock. It was now running cleaner, so the added 21.3% flow area was beneficial, and it had cost me nothing but a little time. It's also totally reversible by plugging the holes with set-screws. It is NOT necessary to remove the insert when drilling each hole. The metal chips will fall either outside the muffler, or into the screened area of the spark arrestor. Once you have drilled the desired number of holes, you can then remove the insert and shake out the tiny pieces if you so desire. If you don't, they will eventually fly out the exhaust outlet anyway, since the spark arrestor screen prevents them from falling down inside the main muffler.

    ---------------------------------
    GRINDING THE WELDED HEADER INLET
    ---------------------------------
    I'd read about the header inlets being partially shut off by the welding that builds up when welding the 1" i.d. header pipes to the clamping flanges, so I examined mine. Simply loosen the clamp bolt where the header pipes assembly slides into the muffler, and then loosen and remove the four nuts (two per pipe) where the headers are clamped to the head. The muffler bolt and all four clamp nuts accept a 12mm socket. Then the header pipes assembly slides forward and into your hands. On mine, a 2000 model, the built-up welded area in each pipe was terrible! The remaining opening measured a rough 0.75", leaving a flow area of only 0.44 sq.in. A 1" i.d. pipe has a flow area of 0.78 sq.in, so the welding left only 58% of that! I started grinding down the built-up welds using small grinding stones in my Dremel Moto-tool, but that was too slow. I went to the hardware store and bought some inexpensive coarse grinding stones to fit my 3/8" drill, and one 1" ball stone for finishing. I spent over two hours grinding away. As a "size guide", I chose an 18mm socket that has an outer diameter of 0.944" (different brands will vary in size, of course). Once the 18mm socket would slide into the header pipe, I quit, not wanting to remove too much of the weld, and weaken the joint. I then used the 1" ball grinding stone to finish up. Since the stone itself wears away faster than the weld material, I ground a little on each pipe, going back and forth between the two, until enough of the stone wore away to fit into the opening. This final touch didn't really make either opening larger, but it did make them both about the same size and shape. Since I started with a 0.75" opening, which had a flow area of only 0.44 sq.in., and finished with a 0.944" opening, which has a flow area of 0.670 sq.in., I achieved a gain of more than 52.5%. In one afternoon I significantly improved the flow characteristics of the stock exhaust system, and my total investment was under $10 (for some cheap grinding stones and one 1/4x28 set screw). I already had the 3/8" electric drill and #2 drill bit.

    ------------------
    AIR INTAKE SYSTEM
    ------------------
    I removed the air box snorkel, and then used a scrap of aluminum window screen to cover the opening to keep out trash and clumps of mud. I then removed the stock air filter and support, the latter of which includes the backfire screen. Noting that the backfire screen consists of two layers of screen, between which are trapped two more layers (actually a flattened screen 'tube'), I carefully cut away only the outer layer of screen, and removed the trapped inner piece, leaving only one, the inner layer, of the original four-layers of screen. I happen to like foam air filters, so I'm sticking with the stock filter for now. (I later bought a TwinAir filter, but with the backfire screen modified, I see no performance difference between the TwinAir and the stock air filter. If I were using a louder and more free-flowing exhaust, perhaps the TwinAir filter would make a difference.) NOTE: Cutting the metal screen is a chore, and it's difficult to get rid of every tiny little piece of wire (from the screen) you cut, so I no longer recommend cutting the stock backfire screen. Intsead, buy a UniFilter air filter for the XR400R. It comes with a screenless air filter support, and a less restrictive air filter. Despite what I read elsewhere, it is NOT necessary to move or remove the subframe to remove the carburetor! After removing the seat and gas tank, I simply loosened the two clamps holding the carb to the airbox duct and intake manifold, then loosened and removed the three bolts holding the intake manifold to the head. By turning the intake manifold a little CCW first, the carb and intake manifold then slide easily out the left side. After removing the carb from the intake manifold, I examined the composite rubber & plastic intake manifold. I do not think it was necessary, nor do I think I gained anything from it, but I used my Dremel Moto-tool with a medium size sanding drum to clean up the few ridges found inside. Just couldn't resist!

    -------------------------
    JETTING CHANGES REQUIRED
    -------------------------
    After two days of trial and error jetting (and a few hours more since then), I came to find that the exact same jetting recommended by CYCLE NEWS (several years ago) worked best. I'm using a 160 main jet, a #60 pilot jet, and the triple-tapered carb needle that comes standard in the 1998 and later XR400R's, with the needle clip in the stock (3rd groove) position. My altitude is approx 700' above sea level, and I ride regularly up to 3200', where it still seems to work just fine. I've also replaced the 15t drive sprocket with a 14t. For the terrain where I ride, the stock gearing is a bit too high. Depending on your particular machine, you might prefer a 158 main jet is using a stock or modified stock exhaust. If using a louder and nmore free flowing exhaust pipe, or the 1996-97 spark arrestor without the muffler insert, you'll want to use either a 160 or 162 main jet.

    --------
    RESULTS
    --------
    How my XR400R might compare to a differently modified version, I don't know. All I do know is that it easily pulls away from an unmodified 1999 model, and that I am able to pull up the front wheel at will in any of the first 3 gears. It is a little louder than stock, but not as loud as a KLX300 with its muffler tip removed, and it is nowhere near as loud as an XR or WR 400 with the muffler insert removed altogether. It's more than I need for woods riding, but without being 'difficult' to ride.

    -----------------------------------
    XR400R Spark Arrestor/Muffler Note
    -----------------------------------
    The 1996/97 XR400R has a two-piece exhaust pipe insert. The removable spark arrestor has a removable muffler insert. With the muffler insert in place, the exhaust is very quiet and very restricted. With the muffler insert removed, the spark arrestor alone has an open outlet nearly 1.5" in diameter, so it makes really good power, but is also pretty loud. The 1998/01 spark arrestor insert has the small 0.787" outlet which serves as the combined spark arrestor and muffler, all in one piece. It has more restriction than the 1996/97 spark arrestor alone, but more restriction than the 1996/97 spark arrestor with the muffler insert. Both of the two different spark arrestors fit all years of the XR400R's exhaust pipe (three small bolts).

    Gordon Banks Huntsville, AL
    glbanks@b...
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    2014 Honda CB500X

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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    I think all of this is missing the point a little bit. On These kind of bikes figures mean nothing, and changing for a few Hp isn't going to make any difference in my experience. The jetting he recommends changing to is standard on the XR400r according to my honda manual. Torque is far more important than power on these machines. When my bike had it's 440 kit on it it was only about 4-5 Hp more than standard but the torque was nearly double ( it was higher than last years gsxr1000's peak torque), hence it could out accelerate a fireblade to about 80mph ( i put all figures in a previous thread). As for all the other work recommended i think it's a lot of work and with out putting it on a dyno you wouldn't know if you've gained or lost any power, as the power gain would be so small

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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    I just posted on this topic without realising this sticky was here. I am going to have a crack at some of these. The only ones I'm ging to try are the header and end can conversions and, possibly, the airbox work.

    I have an Edelbrock Flatslide, so carb work is N/A. I have a K&N so this should help somewhat, too.

    Header welds and endcan exhaust bore should help the engine breath to match the filter and carb, but I don't want to up the MPG too much.

    Eitherway, in esponse to JasonBC's post above, if responsiveness and pulling power increase, I think this suggests torque is improved, no?
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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    Quote Originally Posted by Warthog View Post
    I just posted on this topic without realising this sticky was here. I am going to have a crack at some of these. The only ones I'm ging to try are the header and end can conversions and, possibly, the airbox work.

    I have an Edelbrock Flatslide, so carb work is N/A. I have a K&N so this should help somewhat, too.

    Header welds and endcan exhaust bore should help the engine breath to match the filter and carb, but I don't want to up the MPG too much.

    Eitherway, in esponse to JasonBC's post above, if responsiveness and pulling power increase, I think this suggests torque is improved, no?
    correct, the torque was almost doubled with the 440 kit on bike and the bike setup properly the horsepower was only a very small gain. I wouldn't bother doing any of it again. The bike has plenty of character, power and torque in standard form. Just another thought improve power and you decrease reliability

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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    I've put an aftermarket foam filter on mine, a tenner from MD Racing products, fast delivery and friendly service and used by world champions, oiled with gear oil from Wilkinsons (under three quid) and I will get the plastic cage for the air filter from MD Racing when I can afford it.

    I noticed an immediate diference.

    I've ordered the VW exhaust tip too.
    I will see how it sounds and if it's okay i'm going to remove the spark arrestor.

    Great work guys, well done, this is what owning an XR4 is all about, and just remember we own an appreciating modern classic that by far is the best off road motorcycle in the world.

    HONDA,THE POWER OF DREAMS.
    Last edited by waynebabes; 29-07-09 at 08:40 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    ive done the airbox trick (was done for me for some reason?) and ive got the 135 and 48 jets, only problem is, where is the fuel screw??!! and how do i get to it??? also i have a pretty unrestricted muffler (stock but the baffles rooted) do i need to drill holes in it? any help would be appreciated..

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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    I dont know about fuel screws, I think the carb remains standard when you derestrict the airbox and baffle, you need the volkswagen beetle baffle insert, about six quid, then fit that.
    I will try and post the pics tonight of how to do it, but the total cost is under a tenner, if you send me your email I will send you the pics, it's an easy mod, I was well pleased.
    I'm changinng my plug for an iridium one this week and doing the resistor mod too so as soon as I see my plug colour I will know if the carb needs tweeking.

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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    When I first bought my '97 XR400 back in 1999 it had aleady been modified as it was a model from Canada.The mod was......the baffle insert was removed.

    Now that i've had a chance to dig out my info I shall type on...

    Baja Designs suggested Vortip Exhaust insert,K&N airfilter (HA1312),158-160 main jet,60 pilot jet,#408 slide and 3 turns out on the air screw.

    A-Loop suggested K&N airfilter,55 pilot jet (p/n 9913-437-0550) and 155 main jet (p/n 99113-GHB-1550).

    TBMs John Rushworth suggested #408 slide and a A16A HRC dual taper needle (p/n 16012-NKK-000).

    I found out that the #408 slide is the later version of the '97 slide except 50 thou has been ground off the bottom of the slide. The chroming on the slide means that it would be difficult to cut on a lathe,so I had a friend grind it on a milling machine for accuracy.

    I ground out the excessive weld on the header pipe and fitted the Vortip insert,together with the K&N,A16A needle (circlip on the 3rd groove with a shim underneath) and 162 main with 62 pilot and the airscrew 2 turns out.

    Unfortunately I did all of these modifications at the same time so I don't know which one made the biggest change,but put all together it does make for a worthwhile time spent.
    Last edited by 416cc; 09-11-09 at 10:03 AM.

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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    Have these fitted...



    They help to protect the sprocket guard and the disc guard.
    After many miles greenlaning they sure have paid for themselves.

    But also fitted this bashplate...




    The bigger IMS tank made a big differance on fun mileage...
    Last edited by 416cc; 13-11-09 at 10:23 PM.

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    Re: Gordon's Mods - Improve your XR 250 or 400

    Another mod that I have done is to relocate the ECU away from the mounting above the gearbox sprocket to a new location on top of the airbox.There is sufficient wiring length for this move without having to resort to cutting.

    My XR400 ended up being a Canadian Enduro model.This had the much smaller headlight as standard.This comes with only a small 35w bulb,with no dipped or high beam ability.This was ok for racing,but no use to me when it came to MoT time.So a suitable unit was easily wired into place,using a left hand switchgear from Pro-Racing,who advertise in TBM.This was ok,except the wiring colours that came with the instructions were incorrect.No big problem for me as I do electronics for a living.But for somebody else with no experience...

    The standard tail-light came with a twin filament bulb but only the wiring to actuate the tail indicator.I had to wire in the right wiring for the stop light side of the bulb.I did this using hydraulic pressure switches that I also got from Pro-Racing.

    The horn was another item that was required for the MoT.As the bike has no battery,rectifier or even sufficient AC potput from the alternator, I have purchased from a company called 'Electrex' an updated set of stator windings that utilise the wiring for the ignition side, that bolt onto the new stator.This new output is said to be 200w worth,but I have yet to measure it.Now when I press the horn button, the AC horn that I got from Pro-Racing does not cause the lights to dim,being on the same wiring as the headlight,tailight and both brake light circuits.

    The standard clock was just a trip meter that reset itself to 00.0 when it got to 99.9 so was not of much use to me.I visited my local breakers and asked to buy the smallest speedo that they had.Luckily I knew the owner so he just let me rummage around until I found what I wanted.The unit is cable driven and was mounted into an ally plate that I made up from some stock that I had lying around.I am not too sure of the accuracy of this unit but it indicates a speed and mileage for MoT purposes so that is all that matters.

    Whenever I removed the wheels for whatever purpose I found it annoying to have to try and catch the wheel spacers.So I made up some replacements with a slip lip on the edge so that the spacers stay captive when the spindle is removed.They were anodised red for the full effect.

    When I get a chance I will put down any other mods that come to mind.


    Photo showing the Vortip insert.

    Photo showing,amongst other things,the small headlight cowl as standard.

    Photo showing the red anodised engine mount plates,amongst other things.Ohlins shock works a treat.
    Last edited by 416cc; 16-11-09 at 12:45 PM.

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