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  1. Many of today's dirt motorcycles have electric starting, and this is a very good idea for the contemporary ultra-high compression four-stroke singles! For these operators, unless the starter fails to work, manual kicking has become a thing of the past... Despite this trend, there are still many kick-start Honda four-stroke motorcycle engines that have an "auto-decompressor" start mechanism. This device, typically mounted at one end of the overhead camshaft, unseats an exhaust valves during crankshaft rotation. The aim is to relieve compression as the piston approaches TDC (top dead cente
  2. I've written six 4x4 Jeep® and truck books plus a Harley-Davidson book. Most know me as a 4WD Jeep, light 4x4 truck and automotive guy, some as a Harley-Davidson author, and few are aware that motorcycling has played a role in my life. My earliest on-highway vehicle operators license, at age 14, was a Nevada Scooter License. Unique to that era, without the sanctions of insurance and high registration fees, scooters were a recognized means for getting to high school. Nevada was the fifth largest state in the U.S.—with the smallest population at the time... I rode a Cushman on the highw
  3. The magazine's Honda XR650R began as a potent desert enduro bike with a Baja Designs dual-sport conversion kit. The bike has power to spare, especially after the rebuild of the engine top end and installation of a Hot Cams Stage 1 camshaft. Machine work by L.A. Sleeve enhanced the performance and reliability of the motorcycle. Now street legal and plated, the platform serves our video filming in the field. This purpose built motorcycle has the inherent agility and chassis engineering to get the job done in the desert and mountainous terrain. Here, tires are a crucial consideration for a m
  4. Hi Moses, I have a question about the dual-sport lighting conversion that was done on your Honda XR650R. I'm wondering what type of flasher relay was used for the turn signals. I'm trying to (re)install the turn signals on mine and, being ignorant about things electric, I am concerned that a bike with no battery may need a flasher that is different from bikes (or cars) that have batteries. The original flasher (OEM for this world-market ED/DK model) was cut out of the harness and thrown away at some point (can't figure out why though...). I went out today to find a replacement - thinking
  5. The Triumph Tiger 800 is no slouch as a showroom stock adventure-touring motorcycle. I thought the model quite cool with my ongoing affinity for British motorcycles. Last week, a visit to Freedom Cycle at Reno, Nevada, revealed what the Triumph Tiger can really do while looking like a genuine Paris-Dakar machine from the day! The dealership did the R&D on several prototype parts and modifications that make this machine not only more functional and nimble but also a magnet for attracting true adventure-touring enthusiasts. Check this out: Bucket List with "Long Way
  6. Dear Mr. Moses Ludel! First of all, thank you for making these awesome videos, I really liked them! In the one, where you one-kick start the xr, if only there would have been some explanation too, I hear lots of people are strugling with that. Yesterday I subscribed to some of you videos on vimeo, because I would like to learn to be my own mechanic. I am about to buy a Honda xr650r bike on this monday, for this I am traveling 1300 kilometers to Italy and back home. I wish if only I have found your videos on Vimeo and these forums earlier! I am very excited about the trip. I do not wan
  7. With Nevada's now enforceable OHV registration and permitting process, many dirt motorcycle owners are at a crossroad in the Silver State. Nevada law now requires registration of a dirt bike, ATV and other OHVs for use off-highway. There is an annual renewal of the use permit, similar to a "Green Sticker" at California and other states. Owners of dirt motorcycles built since 1976 must register the motorcycle and have the option of purchasing a title. Until recent years, Nevada did not require mandatory title issuance on the sale or resale of an off-highway motorcycle. As a result, most c
  8. Snow drifts blocking your favorite dirt bike riding venues? Rainy season drenching the ground and making knee-deep mud? Does the down time in the off-season have you itching for a good ride? While you're going to the gym and anticipating the next riding season, check out this well done motorcycle enduro and trials technique instructional video depicting pro riders at South Africa! A hearty thanks to these professionals for sharing...
  9. Every once in a while we stumble onto some down to earth humor and genuine entertainment. All dirt bike riders who are now 50-or-older or will someday be that age will appreciate this 8-minute time out. Congratulations to these Down Under riders who know how to have a good time—and obviously have their priorities in order! Enjoy! Moses
  10. Given the opportunity to test the Pulstar® PlasmaCore spark plugs, we targeted the magazine's Honda XR350R and XR650R motorcycles. The XR350R is air cooled, the XR650R has liquid cooling. Both cycles use fixed jet, slide type carburetors. The XR350R has twin Keihin carburetors, the XR650R uses a single, large Keihin carburetor. We rode the bikes extensively. The XR350R is OHV permitted for dirt only use, and that testing took place in high desert and mountainous terrain, both dirt roads and single track. The XR650R with its dual-sport conversion received a full test at both dirt and a
  11. When I pondered buying a Honda XR650R motorcycle, my BRP research spanned the web. Repeatedly, I unearthed references and horror stories about how tough it is to start these engines. Forums were rife with starting and kicking rituals, choking methods and decompression lever habits. Add the mention of stock and aftermarket carburetors, suggestions on how to use the manual decompressor, descriptions of how best to use auto-decompression, you name it. Eventually, one could get leery of approaching one of these critters or maybe buy a newer electric start KTM EXC. Common sense prevailed, after a
  12. Hi, Moses! I fell across this website recently while researching some pieces of aftermarket hardware that are on the 2002 plated BRP I purchased here in Bend, OR recently. Saw the bike on Craigslist and thought it looked like fun on the road! I also have a 2001 BRP that I purchased in 2002 which has been lovingly flogged for 12 years now. Reading your blog and many others, It appears the XR650R is a cult classic...Guess I was not aware how good of a bike I had! I too am a graduate from the Univ. of Oregon, 1985. In 1983 I bought a new XR500R for commuting Eugene to home in Florence on the w
  13. Well, I rode the Honda XR650R motorcycle this morning, not unusual in itself, as I've been trying to rack up miles on the top-end engine rebuild in time for Fall riding. One thing was unusual, though. At 204 miles since the rebuild that included L.A. Sleeve machine work, the bike has reached a whole new performance level! The magazine's Honda XR650R top-engine teardown and inspection. My morning riding venue is typically rural highways, both two-way traffic two lanes and divided highway four-lane. I've been on dirt with the Michelin T63 tire tests and have much more planned, thi
  14. The magazine's Honda XR650R performs remote field work as an HD video filming platform. Reliability is essential. After purchasing the bike in non-running condition, I ran a compression test when the engine refused to start. I moved from the simple compression test to a full-fledged cylinder leak down test, the pinpoint diagnostic tool of choice. Want to know more about a leak down test? Click here for the 4WD Mechanix HD Video Network feature and details on the leak down test! High cylinder leakage called for a top end inspection and repairs. That tear down for inspection can be foun
  15. It all began with a passion for desert enduro bikes. After a dozen viewings of "Dust to Glory!", my bike of choice was the Honda XR650R liquid cooled thumper. Finding the right used machine, rebuilding the engine top-end with machine work by L.A. Sleeve, dialing the tune, after months of waiting, I finally mounted the beast and headed into the desert. An hour of dirt riding validated my choice, for my kind of riding, this is the perfect motorcycle. Fresh top-end rebuild with a Hot Cams Stage 1 camshaft, the magazine's XR650R is ready for the desert! With an estimated 55 horsepower a
  16. So, I have this Euro model XR650R project, and I acquired the bike right. As the upper engine rebuild and other restorative measures unfold, I'm starting to wonder what is a reasonable amount to invest here? The engine work and all the other parts I've bought are pushing things pretty close to $2k - and this bike can't be worth much more than that! Furthermore, I dropped nearly as much on new gear (helmet, boots, gloves, etc...) DON'T TELL MY WIFE! Cheers, David
  17. The Hot Cams Stage 1 cam for our Honda XR650R motorcycles sounds to be exactly what I'm after in power. In the past more power equaled more fun. That still holds true today, but to a lesser extent for me. I definitely will have to put in the Stage 1 cam if the bike shows wear in the top end anything near what yours had. It's good to know there is still more good power to be had even if I don't really need it. As far as that auto-decompressor, I only use it because that is all there is on my xr500r. It is a real pain trying to use to bump start the 500 even when it is on top of a good hill.
  18. At the forums Garage Photo Gallery, member "FullChoke" (Greg) responded to my photo of the magazine's 1984 Honda XR350R motorcycle. We have identical '84 XR350R motorcycles. Greg's cycle has engine heat-up problems, and this raises the issue of how to keep any air-cooled dirt or dual-sport motorcycle engine running cool enough. I'll begin with sharing our exchange at the Garage (below), followed by pointers on how to keep an air-cooled dirt or dual-sport engine from overheating. ************************************************** My comments at the Garage Photo Gallery: Moses L
  19. The burgeoning interest in overland motorcycle travel and dual-sport conversions has many incentives. Aside from the relatively inexpensive nature of motorcycling when compared to four-wheeled travel, there is also the unique sensation of open-air, two-wheeled adventure, traveling overland to far away, dirt road places...Every dual-sport enthusiast has his or her idea of the ideal motorcycle adventure. Mine happens to be twofold: the Himalayas (specifically Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet) or Mongolia! Oh, then there's also the Silk Road... To even consider such a grand scale trip would require so
  20. There's a loyal following for many of the "adventure-touring" motorcycles, cycles like the KTM 990 Adventure or BMW F800GS and 1200GS. On the other hand, many dirt bike riders are now turning to "plated" dirt bikes, bridging the gap between asphalt and a desert enduro bike. Do we need to draw a literal "line in the sand" about what makes a legitimate off-pavement motorcycle? I have ridden this '84 XR350R for nearly two decades and also own an '84 XR500R. Despite growing parts availability issues, these bikes are failsafe mounts for open desert riding. For the magazine's 2012 King of the Ha
  21. Building a motorcycle engine for reliable performance begins with careful assembly work. The Honda XR650R project came under the close scrutiny of an HD video camera, and the result is the 49:37-minute streaming video rental at Vimeo On Demand. Following the build, proper break-in of the engine is crucial. During assembly of the XR650R top-engine, care was taken to lubricate critical parts for the initial engine startup. This included lube on the piston pin, rings, valve stems, camshaft, valve tips and timing chain—as illustrated and detailed in the video. Lubeguard Assembly Lube, Perm
  22. The magazine's Honda XR650R motorcycle came to life this week! After months of sublet machine work, parts delays and time management challenges, the HD video series on rebuilding the engine top end has now finished. The camshaft choice, Hot Cams' Stage 1 type, and sublet machine work to L.A. Sleeve Company was followed by my "blueprint" assembly job and precision tune-up to match the engine changes. Learn more about the uncorking and Honda "Power Up Kit" guidelines, plus the ways to compensate for our 4,400-foot base altitude. How did this turn out?...Well, judge for yourselves fello
  23. I pulled the oil filter and passed a large magnet over it but I did not pick up any ferrous metal. The close up photo of the filter reveals many small chips of aluminum. Well all I have to do is open up the motor and start looking for a bright shiny spot! This is the filter out of the 2006 salvage bike.
  24. I bought this 2002 KLR engine from a listing in craigslist for $100. The previous owner stripped out the oil drain plug threads then attempted to use a tapered bolt that spread the stripped threads and cracked the engine case. I have another set of engine halves. I could transfer parts from this damaged engine into the good case halves, but I was wondering if this case could be repaired as it sits? I'm pretty sure that the case is made of cast aluminum.
  25. Demand for more off-pavement motorcycle coverage has led to the launch of 'The Off-Road Motorcycle Channel' at the 4WD Mechanix Magazine's HD Video Network! The new channel covers dirt, off-road and dual-sport motorcycles, including tech how-to, step-by-step tuning and repairs, troubleshooting, backcountry riding and survival tips—everything related to off-road and dual purpose/dual-sport motorcycling! Inspired by the needs of the magazine's 2000 Honda XR650R motorcycle, the channel launched with HD video tech how-to coverage in Vimeo Pro 1080P full-screen detail. Whether you own an iconi
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