Before I even get started with this information, I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to scare anyone from purchasing this wonderful bike. The problems I list do not effect EVERY bike, but do afflict enough of them to make it worth mentioning. I do this database only to help save you money, whether it be you have to replace the kick starter that fell off because you didn’t know they came loose, or you have to replace the engine because you over filled the oil and blew the countershaft seal.
All machines, planes, trains, automobiles, or bikes, all have their particular quirks. I’m just trying to point them out for you ahead of time. The XR650R is the absolute best bike on the market for anything from winning Baja to playing in the back 40.
Now that that’s out of the way, lets get to the BRP technical issues. Just click on any of the titles above to see the symptom, who needs to look for it, and the cure. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions for the XR650R
#1 Q: What does BRP stand for?
#2 Q: What is the *real* weight of the bike? (wet, no fuel)
#3 Q: What is the difference between model years?
#4 Q: How do the Euro/ED bikes differ from NA bikes?
#5 Q: What horsepower can I expect? (stock, uncorked, HRC)
#6 Q: How fast can it go?
#7 Q: What is the stock gearing?
#8 Q: What gearing do people run for trail or dual-sport?
#9 Q: What sort of fuel mileage can I expect? (corked, uncorked, pumper…)
#10 Q: How do California bikes differ from the other NA bikes?
#11 Q: What are the part numbers for….
#1 Q: What’s the difference between “break in“, “uncorking“, and “HRC Kit“?
#2 Q: What is the difference between uncorked and HRC kit?
#3 Q: How much louder is the uncorked exhaust?
#4 Q: What can I do with the stock exhaust?
#1 Q: Where can I get a manual (owners/service)?
#2 Q: Are the cheaper non-Honda manuals of good value?
#3 Q: What is the service interval for a new BRP?
#4 Q: What is the torque value for some of the major components?
#5 Q: What is this nonsense about greasing a new bike?
#1 Q: How big is the carb?
#2 Q: Why is there fuel coming from my vent tubes?
#3 Q: What is the stock jetting for Euro/ED, NA, Aus/SA bikes?
#4 Q: What do I do with the smog pump?
#5 Q: What is the recommended uncorked jetting?
#6 Q: How do I properly adjust the pilot screw?
#7 Q: What’s so special about the “S” in a 68s pilot jet?
#8 Q: Why doesn’t my new bike idle down right away?
#9 Q: I have an extra vent tube, where does it go?
#1 Q: What’s this about novices typically over filling the oil?
#2 Q: What do I use for oil filters ?
#3 Q: Why is there oil dripping from my airbox?
#4 Q: How do I change or check my oil?
#5 Q: Why is my countershaft seal leaking?
#6 Q: Why is my crankshaft seal leaking?
#7 Q: Can I use synthetic oil in my piggy?
#8 Q: How much oil does my BRP take?
#9 Q: Where is the downtube screen?
#10 Q: Is there a neater way to add oil?
#11 Q: What’s the trick to putting in the oil dipstick?
#1 Q: How do I tell if my BRP is boiling?
#2 Q: What’s wrong with my thermostat?
#3 Q: What does a different radiator cap do?
#4 Q: What are my options for coolant?
#5 Q: How do I drain my coolant?
#1 Q: What do you mean my kickstarter has kicked the bucket?
#2 Q: What is wrong with my clutch bushing?
#3 Q: Where is the master link in the chain?
#1 Q: Why doesn’t my suspension have grease fittings?
#2 Q: What are the common suspension mods?
#3 Q: Which adjuster is what on the shock and forks?
#4 Q: What’s wrong with my linkage?
#5 Q: Can my piggy be jumped?
#6 Q: What’s this about having “whale snot” in my forks?
#7 Q: What about those rusty fork parts?
#8 Q: I’ve crashed and now my forks and triple clamps are twisted!
#9 Q: What’s the trick to getting out the wheel bearings?
#10 Q: Will XR600 wheels fit my pig?
#11 Q: What’s up with the index marks for the rear axle?
#12 Q: What’s this about seized and broken chain adjusters?
#13 Q: What’s the proper way to adjust my chain?
#14 Q: What’s the trick to getting out the linkage & swingarm bearings?
#1 Q: Is my footpeg really going to fall off?
#2 Q: What bolts and nuts do I need to keep an eye on?
#3 Q: Why is the subframe of my bike bent before I even crash?
#4 Q: Why do my subframe bolts strip?
#1 Q: Why is my headlight so lame as to not even draw moths?
#1 Q: What does “BRP” stand for? Big Red Pig! Lovingly stated of course, and rolls of the tongue much easier than Honda XR650R!
#2 Q: What is the *real* weight of the bike? (wet, no fuel) Honda CLAIMS the bike weighs 276lbs (125.5kg), but real world with fluids is more like 300 to 304lbs (137kg). Yes it’s heavy, but it feels much more nimble on the trail. It feels lighter than it’s father, the XR600, though they are the same.
#3 Q: What is the difference between model years? Bold New Graphics and a couple hundred bucks, other than that, nada, zilch, zippo. If you can get a leftover at a 1k savings, buy it. Somewhere around ’02 they started putting in the updated clutch bushing and updated countershaft seal. Nothing is changed but those items, and I can’t say for sure when they started changing them, if at all.
#4 Q: How do the Euro/ED bikes differ from NA bikes? It seems that the BRP comes in four Common flavors. North American (NA), European (ED),a a general export version (D, DK, and DM), and Australian(U). Some people in the UK have reported getting grey market import Aussie models. There are several more model designations listed but I have no data to provide descriptions. Basically, they are all the same bike. Differences are pretty much limited to electrics, lighting, and jetting. Us guys and gals in NA get the short end of the stick with the EPA “corking”. Here’s a table to clear things up.
|#5 Q: How do California bikes differ from the other NA bikes? They are identical except for the addition of a smog pump. It is located on the RH radiator (thus the empty mounting tabs there for the rest of the world) and is easily removed. Just unbolt the pump, and block the holes where it’s lines mount to the cylinder. You can homebrew this by cutting the lines 1/2″ or so from the cylinder and crimping them up on themselves, screw self tapping screws covered with RTV silicone into them, or using a kit such as that offered by Applied Racing. See also my redundant answer below.
#6 Q: What horsepower can I expect? (stock, uncorked, HRC) Because of the fact that all dynos read different, I’ll give you some rough figures. They’d be 40,50 (27% inc.), and 60hp (15% inc.) in that order. These are from Honda, taken at the CS, not rear wheel. Subtract 10 from each for what you are getting to the ground. The stock XR is kinda boring, but the uncorking turns it into a rip- snorting beast that will keep you in debt buying rear tires. The HRC kit will put you into debt trying to keep up. You also have to remember this is a 650cc thumper, and that the torque is enough to let the bike double as a farm implement.
#7 Q: What is the stock gearing? It appears that NA and ED version bikes come with 14/48 gearing. Australian (and South African?) bikes have been reported to come with 15/41. Thanks to Alec and Stuart for confirming the AU gearing.
#8 Q: How fast can it go? Best I can describe it is in the famous words of Johnny Campbell….. “Too fast, too quick!” With North American gearing, you get a good solid pull from 0 to 98mph, gps proven. The HRC kit and other mods enable taller gearing and higher speeds. More than enough to make bumble bees as lethal as 30/30 slugs.
#9 Q: What gearing do people run for trail or dual-sport? I still run the 14/48, learning to live with it here in the tight Northeastern woods. Some have dropped to a 13 tooth front to enable more use of 2nd and 3rd gear in the woods, while a 15 front makes highway less “buzzy”. I won’t ask how fast these guys drive, as the bike is very comfortable at a steady 65mph, with plenty of nut left for passing. Gearing is a preference and riding type issue.
#10 Q: What sort of fuel mileage can I expect? (corked, uncorked, pumper…)That’s a tougher question. Bikes, especially off road, will vary greatly rider to rider, and even with different terrains. With the stock tank (2.64 US gal. including 1.19gal reserve) I run around 65 miles to reserve on fire roads(45mpg), 55 miles on single track (38mpg), and as low as 20 miles pit riding (14mpg). So, if you want to ride 80 miles across the desert, you may want a larger tank! (or carry comfy walking shoes)
Real world stats on the tank are more like 2.6 US Gal, with a .5 gal reserve. Keep that in mind, or you really MAY want to carry those shoes. Keep in mind also that there is a separation between the lower halves, between the left and right, formed by the frame that traps a lot of usable fuel on the left side. Stopping and tilting the bike to get those last bits of reserve will be needed. Thanks to Jim Cesari for pointing that out.
#11 Q: What are the part numbers for????? Here’s a few that come up often. If you have any to donate, please send them to me!
This is only a short list of some commonly needed numbers. A full fiche of mine is available here on the XR650R group. You have to be a member to access it. Shame on you if you haven’t joined!
|Restrictor Removal (“Uncorking”)
|#5 Q: What is this nonsense about greasing a new bike? Honda is pretty skimpy in the grease department. They use it, but very sparingly. Take some time to get personal with your new baby and grease her before beating her. You’ll save money down the road in bearing replacement costs. Both axles, suspension, and steering head need attention. For the swingarm, use my tool plans to get the job done. The beauty of greasing a new bike before riding is that you don’t have to clean anything. Just dismantle it and add more fresh grease.
Some add grease fittings at this point, but I prefer to tear down and clean before re-lubing. Adding fittings will add fresh grease, but not remove water and other contaminates. There’s enough differing opinions here for me to say “the choice is yours”.
#1 Q: What is the stock jetting for Euro/ED, NA, Aus/SA bikes? Stock jetting for the NA bikes are a 125 main, 65s pilot and lean needle. (Note that XR250’s come with a main jet bigger than a #125!!!) Most of the rest of the world gets a 175 main and 65s pilot.
#2 Q: What do I do with the smog pump? To fully tick off the Tree Huggers and disable every Spotted Owl you can, remove it and discard. This things only duty is to feed exhaust gases back into the air intake. That’s about as appealing to your bike as you sniffing your own underwear. Just pull it off and block off the tubes with one of a few different methods. You can spend money for a block off kit (Baja Designs, White Brothers), cut the tubes 1/2″ from the plate, roll them back and braze, insert screws covered with silicone, or whatever your little heart desires. Big thing is to make sure they don’t leak. See also my redundant answer above.
#3 Q: What is the recommended uncorked jetting? Altitude and choice of exhaust tip is going to make a difference here, but ballpark is a 170 to 175 main and a 68S pilot for below 1000′. The richer pilot is a must have to keep things cooler at low speeds. Also, throw in a B53E needle, Honda PN 16012-MBN-641. It comes as a set with a new seat and has a richer grind at the tip, allowing more fuel at the lower throttle ranges. This info comes direct from a Honda service bulletin. (The Wrench 2/00)
Here’s a couple variations that pop up. Some run as high as a 180 jet with stronger midrange results than the 175. They are easy to change, so grab a few extras and fiddle. Just remember to change only ONE THING AT A TIME when doing carb adjustments. It makes trouble shooting easier. Also, some have had bad luck with the B53E needle, getting funky throttle results with it. I run the stocker with no problems and have not yet tried the HRC one. I will asap for a comparison here.
#4 Q: How do I properly adjust the pilot screw? First, a quick definition to clear up a common misconception I see. The BRP has a pilot screw that can also be called a fuel screw because it is located on the outlet side of the carb. That means that screwing it in meters less fuel to the pilot circuit, while screwing it out meters more fuel to the circuit. If the screw were on the inlet side of the carb, it would be called an air screw and do just the opposite. Screwing it in would supply less air, screwing it out would supply more. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, or if you have a better, more understandable, definition.
Anyway, here’s the adjustment procedure for a fuel screw per Gary, our local group Einstein on stuff like this:
Make sure your engine is fully warmed up and set the pilot screw to 1.5 turns out. Then with the 68s installed, turn the pilot screw clockwise until the idle slows. Then turn the pilot screw counterclockwise until the idle slows again. Make a mental note of how many turns you made in between the low idle points. Then turn the pilot screw half way between the low idle points to finish the adjustment. If you turn the adjuster counterclockwise and the idle doesn’t drop down, then you need a larger pilot jet. If you turn the pilot screw clockwise and the idle doesn’t drop down, then you need a smaller pilot jet. After adjusting your pilot circuit, re-adjust your idle speed if necessary.
#5 Q: What’s so special about the “S” in a 68s pilot jet? The 68s has smaller holes than a standard pilot. It will change the flow characteristics and atomization of the fuel. You can run a regular jet in there if you want, but then you won’t be on the same playing field as the rest of us, meaning that we can’t help you! The PN for the 68S is 99105-MBN-0680. If you need larger, just substitute the size you need where the “68” is.
#6 Q: How big is the carb? Keihin non-pumper 40mm. Many say replace it with the Edelbrock Quicksilver. Coined as a miracle cure for all that ails the BRP, plus athletes foot. Generally speaking, those who were recent converts from two stroke bikes find that an accelerator pump (“pumper carb”) help cure the hesitation when the throttle is opened rapidly at low engine RPMs. The rest of us apply the “Doctor, it hurts when I do this” rule and live with the stocker.
#7 Q: Why doesn’t my new bike idle down right away? As much as I’d like to again quote Mr. Owl, I won’t. Some, maybe most, BRPs have a hanging idle that seems to disappear after time. Part of it may be lean jetting, and the other part, I believe, is badly adjusted cables. After you adjust the free play, pull off the covers and seat and check for a tiny bit of slack on BOTH of the throttle cables. Since I discovered these were taught, even though I had the correct free play at the grip, the problem has not made an appearance. It would explain why the problem “magically” disappears after the bike is used. The cables stretch and eliminate it.
Another theoretical answer that makes quite a bit of sense is valve adjustment. Several of the guys have cited this as the issue and done a simple adjustment procedure to get ‘er done. Learn the procedure here.
#8 Q: Why is there fuel coming from my vent tubes? To a point, that is normal. The vents allow excess fuel in the bowl to be bled off instead of being forced up through the jets and into the intake charge. You will always see this with the stock, or most others, carb.
If you are leaking fuel on a modest incline or even when the bike is on it’s stand, chances are that your float level is too high. Another sign of this is a “burble” or stall of the bike when crossing whoops or landing from a jump. It’s easily fixed by following the step by step in your service manual. You HAVE bought one, right?
#9 Q: I have an extra vent tube, where does it go? Chances are, you’re looking at a tube around 6 or 8 inches long with a very short crook at the end, and it’s coming from the barb by the cutoff valve.
Directly above this point on the frame backbone, on the rubber isolater the tank sits on, there is a square cutout just rearward of the ziptie. Tuck the vent up through that so the crook on the end keeps it from sliding back out. Didn’t think it’d be that simple, did you?
#1 Q: What’s this about newbies typically over filling the oil? Why would you spend so much money for a nice bike and not read the manual first? The BRP utilizes a dry-sump engine, meaning that when it is running, the oil is stored in the frame. The dipstick is located in the highest point in the system, so if you check the bike cold,all the oil has seeped back into the cases and you will get a low reading. If you add the 1/2 qt needed to show on the stick, you are now 1/2qt over on a 2qt system.
You MUST run the bike a few minutes before checking the oil! If you don’t, you will end up with oil blown out the crank vent and leaking out the airbox (FAQ #27)and risk blowing out the CS seal (FAQ #28).
#2 Q: What do I use for oil filters? Obviously you want to use a good quality filter, but other than that, the pig takes the same as all the other XRs, TRX250X, TRX400EX, and many others. A Fram CH6015 is a start.
#3 Q: Why is there oil dripping from my airbox? See FAQ #26! Oil dripping from your airbox is a sure sign that you have over filled your oil. It is forced out the crankvent and blown into the airbox. Read your manual!
Another big reason for oil drip would be overoiling of the filter. Not only is this messy, but it results in clogged jets (lean) and excessive oil (rich) making it in with the fuel charge. The difference between filter oil and motor oil should be pretty easy to spot. You AREN’T using motor or gear oil in your filter are you?
#4 Q: How do I change or check my oil? Pay attention here Grasshoppah! If you’ve read this far you’ll notice that the previous three FAQs and the following one have some association with oil changing or checking procedures. Do you get the hint? Make sure you do it right!
To check your oil, the bike MUST be run first. If you don’t, you’ll end up with 1/2qt too much oil in the system. Do the math and you’ll see why this can cause problems. The excess oil has no place to go except through the seals and out the vent. I’m not talking about just starting the bike and running it for a minute, run it for five minutes and maybe even take a quick rip across the neighbors lawn, preferably on a sunday morning at 6, when the magnetic poles have no effect on oil level. Shut off the bike and immediately check the oil level.
To change the oil, start by letting the bike get good and hot first. Go for a ride, maybe even go back and finish excavating the neighbors lawn. Cold oil will not drain properly. After you’ve got her smoking hot, steal a lobster pot from moms kitchen for a drain tub and place it under the drain that is located on the frame downtube. Sure, I know there’s two, but ignore the other for a minute. Stuff paper towels in the front of the skidplate if you care about cleanliness, (if you don’t, then why bother reading my stuff, as you obviously don’t love your BRP) and try to shape the towl so it directs any oil that drips towards the plate out and away. Remove the dipstick and then the downtube drain bolt, and then frantically wipe off the hot oil that just squirted up to your armpit.
After the oil has stopped flowing and is merely a drip, remove the lobsterpot and throw a stack of towels in it’s place. (cleanliness!) Now go over and remove the case drain bolt located on the lefthand side under the CS sprocket. You will want to make a chute for the oil from an old beer can or whatever you have on hand. Cut a stip of aluminum 3 or 4 inches long and 1.25 inches wide, then fold it lengthwise into a “V” shape. About 5/8 of an inch from one end, fold a 90 degree bend down, you may have to cut this part a bit to get the bend needed. Shove this high tech tool between the frame and drain to guide the oil out away from the frame and skid. When the oil quits flowing, rock the bike back and forth to get that extra little bit of lube out.
To change the filter, you’ll need an 8mm socket. Stuff rags below the housing between the skidplate and cases, the more the merrier. It’ll make cleanup (cleanliness!!!!!!) much easier. Remove the cover and discard the old filter, preferably over the fence and onto the neghbors lawn. Wipe any debris from the filter cavity, be sure the spring is still hidden in the back, and reinstall the new filter, rubber side out. Carefully reinstall the cover, being absolutely sure that the oring thingy stays in it’s grooves. If it has swollen and keeps popping out, throw the oring and cover into the freezer for a bit. This will make it behave long enough to reinstall. (this trick also works on the clutch cover oring and carb top oring)Torque the bolts down in a criss-cross pattern, being careful not to go beyond 8 or 9ft-lbs on them. Be especially careful of the longest bolt, it is known to snap easily.
Reinstall the drain bolts, making sure that the copper washers are still in place. Don’t over torque these, the oiled threads will strip easily. DON”T FORGET TO TIGHTEN THEM!!!!!!!!
Leaving the bike on the kickstand, (the angle helps the next step) turn the bars to the left. Stuff paper towels (Cleanliness!!!!!!!!!!!) under the front of the tank and a little down the frame sides. Carefully pour in your first quart of oil. You can use a funnel, but I prefer to stay in practice of this technique because I don’t have a funnel at trailside if I need to add any. Stop after the first quart, the 2nd won’t fit yet and you’ll end up making a mess. Throw on the cap and fire up the bike for a minute. No revving or anything here, just let her idle. Shut her down and add the remainder of the oil.
Here’s a rough reference for you, what you end up with may vary a bit. if you’ve changed the filter, the bike will take two quarts. If you didn’t, start with 1.75 quarts. These amounts work for me, but others have stated differently, so I’ll just give you this ballpark and you can do what you want.
Start the pig and take her for a quick spin, finally driving the neighbor into nervous breakdown (insert mental images of groundskeeper from “Caddyshack” here) and then come back. Shut her down, check the oil level one more time, look for leaks around the filter housing, check the drain bolts, and then go rip!
You’re welcome Grasshoppah.
#5 Q: Why is my countershaft seal leaking? You’ve more than likely overfilled your oil. If the oil level gets up to the height of the crankcase vent, then the air pumped by the underside of the piston can’t escape, thus resulting in higher pressures against that seal. BUT, another cause is the crank vent getting pinched up underneath your seat, on top of the airbox. Honda also offers an updated CS seal with a thicker lip on it. PN 91205-MBN-672.
#6 Q: Why is my crankshaft seal leaking? Most of the time, the magneto cover on the BRP is VERY airtight. Things get hot and expand, then when you are done riding, the air in the area contracts again, sucking oil through the crankshaft seal and into the bottom of the magneto area. A tablespoon of oil or so there is pretty much normal in my book.
A fix for this is to add a vent to the cavity. SRC sells a kit to do this. It’s a simple small diameter teflon tube the size of the one on your can of chain lube that runs up to the airbox. If I was that worried about it, I’d make my own and save several bucks. For me, the little bit of oil is a corrosion inhibitor.
#7 Q: Can I use synthetic oil in my piggy? Why not? There’s a lot of differing opinions and myths out there about oil. Just avoid oils that have the words “Energy Conserving” in the little circular API rating on the label, just like your owners manual tells you. Some of these have extra slippery additives that can cause problems with a wet plate clutch like your motorcycle has. Other people recommend running conventional oil for the first couple of oil changes just to ensure a faster break in period, and then switching to synthetic oil. I’ve run Mobil 1 red cap (15w50) for 3 seasons now in the woods. I haven’t toasted my clutch, the planets have not altered their orbits, and Elvis is still missing. The key here is to keep the oil changed and clean.
#8 Q: How much oil does my BRP take? The books says 1.65USqt at change, 1.75USqt with filter. I find it to be more like 1.75 at change and just shy of 2 with a filter.
#9 Q: Where is the downtube screen? The downtube screen is located just below the downtube drain bolt. Remove the banjo bolt at the end of the oil supply line, without loosing the compression washers, then remove the large hex fitting. The screen is attached to that. Do it after the break in period, then maybe once a season after that.
The second screen that is mentioned in the book is located in the lowest part of the crankcase. You have to remove the right side cover to inspect it. General consensous is that it’s a waste of time. Only time you should find debris there is after you’ve exploded an engine part, clutch, or tranny.
#10 Q: Is there a neater way to add oil? Here’s Dayles’ take on it. “Try this. Take a small (1/4″ or smaller) stick like implement. It only needs to be about 8″long. Hold said “implement” across the hole in the oil bottle. When the oil starts to come out, make sure the oil touches said “implement.” Surface Tension makes the oil “stick” to the, well, stick. OOOOOOOW, science and stuff. Oh, by the way, make sure the other end of the “stick” is pointed in the desired area. It works equally well in the garage and in the field. Science does not discriminate. WOW.”
I just stuff rags between the frame and tank, then pour carefully. But I do need to try out his neat idea!
#11 Q: What’s the trick to putting in the oil dipstick? I should’ve put this one in here sooner. It seems to hit most of the newbies, and even some of us guys who have been pig breeders for some time.
Many have found that if you just insert the dipstick in the hole and start screwing (Ohhh behave!), the stick fetches up some some unseen object. Number one thing is, when this happens, DON’T FORCE IT! All you’ll accomplish is ending up with a dipstick that looks like a cork screw.
The procedure to get around this is pretty simple. When you insert the stick, lean it so the tip (the end marked “low” is towards the right side of the bike. Stick her in and screw. The top of the stick only needs to be a couple inches right of center, and the tip will scrape the inner wall of the reservoir. That’s it! Be sure that the stick is not twisted or bent, and it leaves the cap at a perfect 90 degree angle.
#1 Q: How do I tell if my BRP is boiling? Another easy one. When you shut the bike down, you’ll hear what sounds like a kid trying to suck the last bit of chocolate milk from a glass with a straw. I run my coolant in the reservoir at the upper mark. If I’m in a very slow section and I get the bike hot enough for the coolant to come within 1″ of the top, I can be sure that it will boil if I shut the bike down.
A word of caution. You are better off to get the bike moving and provide air to the radiators than to shut the bike down if it is that hot. By shutting down, you eliminate the supply of coolant to the head, creating damaging hot spots. Even though the bike is liquid cooled, you still need air!
#2 Q: What’s wrong with my thermostat? Here’s a flaw that Honda doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge. The center guide pin of the thermostat slips from it’s holder, causing the valve to stick in an almost open position. Most bikes seem to do it sooner or later. Mine made it 2 seasons before finally failing.
Here’s a couple places to start looking. The Motorad brand found at Canadian Tire and under the AutoZone name seems to be the one that fits best and even has a dongle already in the bleed hole, making it easier to drill than nothing at all. Either way you go, you want a unit meant for the 1990 Suzuki Swift or some smaller GM cars. The Napa units will fit, but you’ll have to compress the cage a tiny bit to make it fit in the housing. Some say they just throw it in and squish it with the housing bolts, but I’m not that brave.
Be sure to drill a small bleed hole on the rim like the stocker to allow coolant to flow before the valve gets hot, eliminating hot spots in the engine.
Tip: The thermostat can be easily checked, as it uses a rubber o-ring instead of a gasket in the manifold. Just remove the LH shroud to get at it. Fluid can be drained via the 10mm bolt on the water pump.
#3 Q: What does a different radiator cap do? The stock bike comes with a 1.1 cap. Raising the cap to a higher pressure allows the bike to run a bit hotter before it begins boiling. It will also help you high altitude guys even more, as your lower atmospheric pressure aggravates the issue. A KX500 1.6 (Kawi pn 49085-1059) cap will work in this app.
#4 Q:What are my options for coolant? First tip here is to stick with a non-silicate (red or orange tint) coolant.
Just a little sidenote: The BRP is shipped with a green coolant. When swap time comes, don’t be fooled. It is a non-silicate coolant, so don’t pour just any old green stuff back in. Use the recommended Honda, or a red over the counter non-silicate. Thanks to Jim Cesari for pointing out I needed to clear this up.
Running green non-silicate in your piggy will have two ill effects. First, red and green are not compatible and the additives used to prevent corrosion in the system will cease to work. Green coolant also uses fine silica to “sandblast” any scale buildup in the system. It will erode away soft components and grind down seals.
Some add a “water wetter”, such as Red Line, but my vote is still out on that. I can’t even get a straight answer as to wether or not you run it with coolant or straight water. There is also a straight glycol (Evans), but that too seems gimmicky to me. It will not boil and does not expand, both of which are very good traits. the drawback there is a 15 degree higher average temperature, according to some thermodynamic calculations done by Rich.
I cannot stand behind either of the coolant options, as I do not have the boiling problems that many have. I’m a firm believer that proper jetting will cure 99.9% of the BRP boiling incidents.
#5 Q: How do I drain my coolant? That’s an easy one. The bolt on the water pump that has a 10mm head, a copper sealing washer under it, and is located at the most forward point is the drain. Just remove the radiator cap and pull the bolt. Be prepared, it will squirt farther than that time you pee’d on farmer Goodwins electric fence!
One catch though, the oem skid plate is in the way to do this. John Roberts drilled a 1.5 inch hole in his to allow draining. I believe the ever popular Moose allows access already.
Engine and Transmission
#1 Q: What do you mean my kickstarter has kicked the bucket? Remember what I said about checking bolts? This is one of them. Pull it, clean it, threadlock it, and check it often. If you haven’t, I can almost guarantee it’s loose. See FAQ #25. Some riders have actually lost their kickstart on the trail, never to be seen again because the bolt fell out. An expensive lesson!
#2 Q: What is wrong with my clutch bushing? The ’00 to ?? bikes have a clutch bushing that doesn’t get enough oil. It’s prone to fail on low mileage ( tighter tolerances) bikes if you are setting at a stop light or revving the bike in gear with the clutch pulled in more than what normal riding calls for. The bushing only is used when the clutch is pulled with the bike in gear. Signs that it failed are when you are parallel parked in the rear window of the car in front of you at the light, or the bike is lodged in the neighbors garage wall after you were revving it in gear. If it hasn’t happened yet, or you fear it will, inspect it and install Honda PN 22116-MBN-671. The 1st version has two oil holes in the central groove, while the revised part has holes in the groove and the raised wear surfaces. I have no solid data as to if the newer bikes are coming with them.
#3 Q: Where is the master link in the chain? Between the beginning and end of the chain! Actually, Honda and Mr. Ogilvie recommend against using a master link on the BRP. They call for a staked link, which is what comes stock. I have run masterlinks without any issues, other than you have to periodically replace the clip as it wears on the chain blocks. You do know the correct way to install the clip, right?
#1 Q: Why doesn’t my suspension have grease fittings? I have no idea! My personal opinion is that on a dirtbike they are a waste anyway. You can pump as much super-duper-lithium into your bearings as you want, yet it still will not remove water and dirt. The fresh grease will simply follow the path of least resistance and come out in just one or two spots. Take it apart, clean it and regrease it and you know it is done right.
A word to the wise on greasing. Don’t use a lithium base grease. No matter what others tell you, all greases are not waterproof just because they have oil in them. A lithium (plus others) based grease will actually absorb water, even the moisture in the air. It will take on a whitish tint, almost waxy looking, when this happens. Use an aluminum complex grease. It’s a bit harder to find than your garden variety wheel bearing grease that all the parts guys sell, but it’s worth it. BelRay waterproof is aluminum based.
Aluminum complex is compatible with all others but bentone, but still be sure to clean the old stuff out thoroughly. Tons of info can be found on the net. One good informative site is here.
#2 Q: What are the common suspension mods? The bike is sprung for a 170lb rider. Most of you gorillas will have to buy heavier springs for the forks and the rear shock. Be sure to set the rear shock sag to match your weight with gear. Many change the oil in the forks to a 2.5wt (stock is 5) and crank the clickers in for a plusher ride off road. Of course myself, at 145lbs, need to locate lighter springs!
#3 Q: Which adjuster is what on the shock and forks? For the forks, the one at the bottom is compression, top is rebound. The shock is just the opposite. Here’s and easy slogan to remember how the clickers work from some guy named “G” (Glenn B?). “Lefty Loosey, Righty Rigid”. Refer to the owners manual for the starting point on these.
#4 Q: What’s wrong with my linkage? This a recently found stumbling block that will not rear it’s ugly head until you have ridden for a while. It is random in which bikes it attacks, leading me to believe it is a production line error. All years are included. The linkage rides to one side, causing excessive wear to the bellcrank and swingarm tabs. Shims would probably fix it, but I haven’t tried it yet.
#5 Q: Can my piggy be jumped? If you’re talking whatever obstacle is thrown at you off road, yeah, it can do that. If you plan on trying to race motocross or try to out jump Seth Enslow, you may want to call 911 and have a new set of kidneys waiting on the landing pad.
The big XR is very adept in it’s natural environment in stock form. Before you start trashing the poor girl about how you just broke both your ankles trying to make that pass on the triples, show me what Honda brochure told you that the BRP was a motocross bike.
#6 Q: What’s this about having “whale snot” in my forks? Because that’s what Honda puts in them from the factory. After you have ridden a bit, the forks become harsh and sluggish. Flush them to remove a dark, lumpy, stringy, mess that used to be oil. Don’t ask, you don’t want to know what they really use. See the next FAQ #30 also.
#7 Q: What about those rusty fork parts? Many BRPs are afflicted with rust on the steel internals of the forks. Check them soon after getting home and get it warranted. If you’ve got mileage on the bike and find this, you’ve probably toasted the bushings. See also FAQ #29.
#8 Q: I’ve crashed and now my forks and triple clamps are twisted! Piece of cake! Usually you can hold the front wheel between your knees and wrench the bars back to where they belong. most of the time, I just find a convenient trailside tree and whack the stuff back into shape. It’s not a BRP defect, most bikes do it. Shoulda seen the forks on my XT350!
|#9 Q: What’s the trick to getting out the wheel bearings?There’s a couple tricks to doing this. Easiest (and most expensive!) is to invest in a puller that is designed for this task. It uses a clamshell deal that expands into the inner race and then utilizes a weight (like a dent puller) to jolt things apart. Next method is the redneck way. Use a punch with good edges to snag the inner race of the bearing opposite you (the bearings have to come out and cannot be pushed through) and drive away, working around to keep things coming squarely. If the bearing goes cockeyed it’ll bind and put the hole out of round. Problem is, you may not be able to snag the inner race with the punch. Here’s how you do it. You have to shove the spacer between the bearings out of the way with a punch, as shown in the diagram at left. Notice that the hub is slightly cone|
|shaped. You want to drive out the big end side first. Doing it in this order allows you more room to shove it aside and get a better bite on the bearing race.Also, there are four raised surfaces inside the hub, so you’ll have to fiddle a bit until you find a spot between the edges that will give you the most room.|
#10 Q: Will XR600 wheels fit my pig? Yes. Though I have not done it myself, here’s an answer from a group member.
The front (’92 on) 600 wheel is almost identical to the 650 & will bolt straight in with no modification, If you look closely the casting is slightly thicker on the 650 hub, that’s the only difference. The rear 600 wheel is also able to be used on the 650, the disc & sprocket alignment is identical (must use 650 disc tho’ – 220 vs 240mm dia.) You need to change the bearings to ones with 20mm I.D. & use a 20mm I.D. internal spacer tube, also you can’t use the 600 screw in seal on the drive side but you can buy a seal of the right O.D. to use instead & tap it in like the 650 setup.
#11 Q: What’s this about seized and broken chain adjusters? This is another case of aluminum in contact with steel that results in a festering mess of corrosion when damp. If you don’t log a whole lot of miles, it is possible to go a whole season without having to adjust the chain. That is enough time for the corrosion to seize the bolts into the swingarm to the point where they will twist off rather than undo. Several people have already fallen victim to this, requiring a time consuming and possibly expensive repair. So be smart, remove them while you still can and coat them with an anti-seize compound, or even a layer of grease if that is all you have. This tip is handy ANYWHERE that you have bolts of one material being threaded into an object of dissimilar material. ie: case bolts and the kickstand bolts are both very good places to apply this.
Here’s you free brain enlargement therapy for today. The following definition of “Galavanic reaction” will be handy in many ways if you pay attention and apply it to your BRP:
Galvanic corrosion (also called ‘ dissimilar metal corrosion’ or wrongly ‘electrolysis’) refers to corrosion damage induced when two dissimilar materials are coupled in a corrosive electrolyte. It occurs when two (or more) dissimilar metals (usually steel and aluminum in our case) are brought into electrical contact under water. When a galvanic couple forms, one of the metals in the couple becomes the anode and corrodes faster than it would all by itself, while the other becomes the cathode and corrodes slower than it would alone. Either (or both) metal in the couple may or may not corrode by itself (themselves) in sea water (mud/water/muck, in our app.). When contact with a dissimilar metal is made, however, the self corrosion rates will accelerate or decelerate.
#12 Q: What’s up with the index marks for the rear axle? They seem to be off on most of the bikes. A poorly aligned rear axle is detrimental to the dental health of your rear sprocket, but makes it much easier to parrallel park. There are several ways to get it right. You can measure from axle to pivot on both sides, use a long stick laid against the side of the tire to line up with the front, or use something like Motion Pros’ tool. I’m not fussy. I eyeball it and call it good!
#13 Q: What’s the proper way to adjust my chain? Easy! Here’s the preferred method, explained word for word by Geoff down in sunny Cape Town.
Ask one of the following to sit on the bike so that the 3 above mentioned points are in line:
- Your biggest girlfriend.
- 3 of your girlfriends.
adjust the chain to be almost tight. End of garage procedure, continue inside, upstairs or whatever…..In definition, you need to get the front sprocket, swingarm pivot, and axle all in line so that the rear sprocket is at it’s point farthest away from the front sprocket in the suspension travel. This way, if you have free play in the chain at this point, you know the chain will never bind. Then you return the bike to whatever position you normally adjust the chain, wether on a stand on on the kick, measure the chain play, and voila! You now know the proper amount of play needed!
#14 Q: What’s the trick to getting out the linkage & swingarm bearings? I use a press and spacers made just for this purpose. Defined? Any socket that is the right size and has a lifetime warranty! But, here’s a great tip if you haven’t got a press beside the workbench, given by Mike Parker of the group:
I was working on the XR 400 when it came to me. There was a bright light and I looked up and………no not really. I took a piece of 3/8″ all thread, a few fender washer, a few standard washers and a few nuts. I have a few pieces of steel tubing (left over from the swing arm tools). Using a 9/16″ ratchet wrench and a box wrench I pulled the bearings and reinstalled amazingly easy. Nut, washer, fender washer and larger od tubing on one side (to receive the bearing being extracted) and small tube (bearing size), fender washer washer and nut on the other side and wrench away. It was a hell of a lot easier than going to my buddies house to use his press.
To reinstall, I set the bearings on the rod with the washer and nuts on either end (no tubing yet) and ratcheted them into place and then used the small od tubing on the bearing end, and the fender washer on the other end backed against the swingarm or dog bone or whatever part I was installing the bearing in. It worked out really well to set both bearings in at the same time on the swing arm. It took about half the time this way over using a press!
#1 Q: Why is the subframe of my bike bent before I even crash? Proper term is “Honda Side mileage”. That’s a free service that Honda does to eliminate first crash sorrow! It effects 99.9% of the BRP’s of every year. It is easily fixed with the use of an adjustment tool, aka a 5′ prybar.
#2 Q: Why do my subframe bolts strip? Actually, they don’t “strip”. The threaded inserts are squashed into the frame, and sometimes do not get totally “squashed”. They work loose and spin in the frame. BEFORE they do this, get a long bolt of high grade (8.8-9.8) that fits. Screw a nut about 3/4″ onto this bolt, then add a washer and then thread it fully into the fitting. Screw the nut and washer down to the insert and crank it down while holding the bolt from turning with another wrench. This will clamp the fitting down on the aluminum subframe thoroughly.
DO NOT USE THREADLOCKER on any bolt that uses an insert, including the shroud bolts up front. Grease and proper torque are the proper way to address these bolts. A lost .65 bolt is cheaper than a 200 dollar tank or subframe.
Here’s a trick on how to remove these stripped inserts, as given by Gene Lane, Ironman from the 2006 Baja 1000:
I just replaced 2 fenders and most of mine were stuck. I drill a hole right into the sub frame just off to the side of the insert and drive a sheet metal screw up against it as tight as possible. If this doesn’t work use a bigger screw. If that don’t work drill a second hole on the other side of the insert and wedge a 2nd screw against it. It will usually come off with one screw. Then when you put the new one on don;t put it to tight. Use some silicone around the top of the screw to keep it from loosening. Its worked everytime for me
#3 Q: What bolts and nuts do I need to keep an eye on? All of them! Check you bike before or after every ride! But, pay particular attention to the kickstarter bolt (FAQ #32), rh footpeg bolts (FAQ #31), top subframe bolt, and fender bolts. Use a threadlocker on all but the fender bolts. Put a dab of RTV over the heads of those. See the FAQ #22 as to why.
#4 Q: Is my footpeg really going to fall off? If you don’t check the bolts often, yes. The RH bolts stretch and loosen, allowing the peg to flex and weaken the bolts, eventually causing them to break. If the peg works, it will also damage the soft aluminum frame. Replace them with a higher grade bolt and use a thread-locker. I’d almost go so far to say use Heli-coils or Thread-serts. See also FAQ #25
#1i Q: Why is my headlight so lame as to not even draw moths? In the words of Mr. Owl, “The World, may never know.” They all use a 35W bulb, which simply isn’t good enough. The plastic lens on the cheese ass sorry excuse for a headlight on the NA bikes makes matters even worse. For off road use, NA bikes can upgrade to an identical sized glass lens with a 55W Halogen H3 bulb and socket (PN 33120-MG3-003, or 33120-MK2-671; the MG3 has a better upper pivot mount). For on-road dual-sport use, something like the Baja-Designs light with a H4 55/60W bulb in a DOT approved lens is a better choice.
ED bikes can apparently use a H4 socket and/or lens from an earlier XL to get a 55/60W hi-lo bulb in use.
With only 40% of the stator being used for the headlight, it will be dull at lower RPM when using a 55W bulb. You might be willing to accept that. If not, then use my instructions on rewinding the stator to pump adequate electrons for a REAL light, or send it away to get rewound.