Front end squirrely on XR400

Merry Christmas one and all.

Here's my problem: I was out riding yesterday on my 98 XR400 on fire roads (sand mostly) in South Jersey. My son and I traded bikes (KTM 400EXC) and I found that the KTM was much less squirrely than the XR. You could lose the front end on the XR, and I did a couple of times, though it wasn't bad enough to cause a crash. The KTM felt fully planted, and much more stable. The XR wasn't bad - just not as stable in cornering or over bumps as the KTM.

The KTM has fairly new rubber, Kenda trackmaster rear, Kenda 777 enduro front. The XR has D606 Dunlops front and rear, with about 600 miles of mostly offroad on them. The XR also has a Clarke 3.8 gallon tank, which was full at the time. It also has a racetech front suspension, with springs rated for my weight.

Anyone got any idea why the XR front end didn't feel as good as the KTM? Front tire pressures were 9 psi in the KTM, 11 psi in the XR, so maybe that had something to do with it? Gas tank? Riding position? Worn tires? Crappy D606s?

Thanks in advance.

Just my own observations. I have an '02 XR400 and an '00 WR400 and have ridden most of the newer KTM four strokes owned by my black and orange fixated riding buddies. The XR has a steeper steering head angle than most of the other bikes and thus has quicker steering and feels less stable at speed or in soft riding conditions than most bikes. You can alleviate this somewhat by lowering the fork tubes in the clamps and lowering the rear a little to effectively give the XR a little more rake, I have a lowering link on my XR 400. The downside is that it will not turn as quickly, but for me, it's not that much of a giveaway. I have tried quite a few soft terrain tires on XR 250s, 400s, & 600s and and Michelin S-12s work the best for me. Right behind the Michelins are Pirelli MT-16s for all-around use.

A Scotts steering stabilizer will cure this condition but once you switch bikes again you he will have to have one also.

The XR 400 has less rake than other 400s which make it great for singletrack and turning response in the corners. The problem is that less rake hurts it's performance in sand and high speed stability. Lower the fork tubes in the triple clamps as much as possible as what creeky said. It will make a difference. Wider aftermarket bars will also help make the bike more stable. A few months ago a ktm 400 exc rider and I traded bikes on a ride. To me the ktm 400 felt really dicy compared to the XR. The ktm rider loved my bikes handling and said it was a lot more stable and easier to go fast. He was also jealous of my bikes power (my engine mods have actually make my XR 426 more powerful everywhere in the powerband than his 400 exc :devil::smirk: )

If lowering the fork tubes and wider bars don't solve the problem for you then get a steering stabilizer. :thumbsup:

Merry Christmas one and all.

Here's my problem: I was out riding yesterday on my 98 XR400 on fire roads (sand mostly) in South Jersey. My son and I traded bikes (KTM 400EXC) and I found that the KTM was much less squirrely than the XR. You could lose the front end on the XR, and I did a couple of times, though it wasn't bad enough to cause a crash. The KTM felt fully planted, and much more stable. The XR wasn't bad - just not as stable in cornering or over bumps as the KTM.

The KTM has fairly new rubber, Kenda trackmaster rear, Kenda 777 enduro front. The XR has D606 Dunlops front and rear, with about 600 miles of mostly offroad on them. The XR also has a Clarke 3.8 gallon tank, which was full at the time. It also has a racetech front suspension, with springs rated for my weight.

Anyone got any idea why the XR front end didn't feel as good as the KTM? Front tire pressures were 9 psi in the KTM, 11 psi in the XR, so maybe that had something to do with it? Gas tank? Riding position? Worn tires? Crappy D606s?

Thanks in advance.

Old 606's vs new tires would make a big difference as will the air pressure.

XR400's excell in tight trails, not faster tracks.

My XR400's front end washed out until I put I put in stiffer fork springs. 0.43 kg.

The KTM is a more modern design. That's just a fact of life.

I have a Scotts dampener waiting to be mounted.

Free fixes.

You can drop the forks in the triple clamps.

Adjust the sag in the rear shock. (This makes a big difference)

Play with the tire pressure.

Play with the fork and shock compression and rebound settings.

Good point by others about tire pressure. I never go over 12 front, 10 rear when riding in sand or mud, sometimes drop to 10 and 8 when conditions get really ugly.

I had some of the same problems. I dropped the forks in the tripple clamp and that seemed to really help.

welcome to the demise of the XR, the forks suffer flex, as they are conventional and dont have a brace. you can add a brace which helps keep it a bit more solid, though it dont help that much. alot of people switch to a cr125 front end, with USD forks, aparently it totally tranforms the bike into a track eating monster.....

Thanks guys. I'll drop the front end some and see what happens. I should do that anyway, since I'm a short little guy with a big tall dirtbike.:thumbsup:

Thanks guys. I'll drop the front end some and see what happens. I should do that anyway, since I'm a short little guy with a big tall dirtbike.:thumbsup:

We might be having a semantics problem here. In order to increase rake, you don't want to drop the front end, you want to raise it by lowering the fork tubes in the clamps.

We might be having a semantics problem here. In order to increase rake, you don't want to drop the front end, you want to raise it by lowering the fork tubes in the clamps.

If you drop the fork tubes down in the tripple clamp/raise the tripple clamp on the fork tubes, you end up raking the bike out. Raising the tripple clamp height and sagging the back end is going to help the front end washing out problem. But, Blackadder may need elevator boots to help with the little guy/big bike issue.

Cheers

Chris.:thumbsup:

We might be having a semantics problem here. In order to increase rake, you don't want to drop the front end, you want to raise it by lowering the fork tubes in the clamps.

Ah yes, now I got it. Won't help with the short little guy/big old dirt bike problem though.

Hi Blackadder,

Maybe you can try what I did to my XR250R. I am 5'7" and 170. I removed my stock seat and remove the Honda skin. Then I used a small Carpenters trim saw(very small teeth) and trimmed my seat down about 1" at the main point right above the airbox cover. This way I get to touch the ground with both feet planted and keep the suspension at its full travel. Also make sure you have the proper sag(about 3-4 inches) on the rear suspension. This will help greatly when going thru the rough stuff. Remember to go over the basic stuff like the others have mentioned. When going out for a ride always ask your riding buddied what kind of terrain you will be travelling(adjust air pressure before every ride) I usually start Hard on the front tire and lower as the day goes by(If need be). You can also bleed the air out of the front fork( if the fork is too tall). Are your FRONT spokes good and tight. (I rode my buddies WR450 that had loose spoke) and man it was a scary ride.

But for me, a properly adjusted suspension was the best and overall the seat trimming was DA Bomb.

Cheers,

Marc R.

One thing no one mentioned that could be the cause of your problem is your steering stem.With the bike on a stand with the front end off the ground, give the handlebar a tap to one side or the other. If the bars move on their own to the steering stop, it's too loose. the bars should stop and take slight pressure to get them to move. if they just fall to the stop on their own, you need to re-tighten the steering stem. You wouldn't believe the difference. and it's a helluva lot cheaper than a steering stabilizer.

I used to have big problems with squirrels on the front end of my XR but i cured this by not carrying bags of nuts on my handlebars!:lol:

I used to have big problems with squirrels on the front end of my XR but i cured this by not carrying bags of nuts on my handlebars!:lol:

Use grade 8 stainless nuts, the squirrels don't like them.

One thing no one mentioned that could be the cause of your problem is your steering stem.With the bike on a stand with the front end off the ground, give the handlebar a tap to one side or the other. If the bars move on their own to the steering stop, it's too loose. the bars should stop and take slight pressure to get them to move. if they just fall to the stop on their own, you need to re-tighten the steering stem. You wouldn't believe the difference. and it's a helluva lot cheaper than a steering stabilizer.

This works well, though, it decreases the life of your bearings.

Riding in soft sand is difficult, especially on a heavier bike, Tire pressures can have

some effect for sure but shifting your body weight further over the back wheel when approaching a soft section

to lighten the front end has helped me.

Dropping the forks in clamps a bit helps steer on tighter tracks but I think it will add rider weight to the front end

which starts the wanders happening :banghead:

I hope my first post can help someone Cheers

Welcome to the forum, Scott! You're first post revived a thread dead for 7 years, but that's ok :thumbsup:

What jvh025 said (7 years ago) about how to tighten the steering stem got me thinking:

With the bike on a stand with the front end off the ground, give the handlebar a tap to one side or the other. If the bars move on their own to the steering stop, it's too loose. the bars should stop and take slight pressure to get them to move. if they just fall to the stop on their own, you need to re-tighten the steering stem. You wouldn't believe the difference. and it's a helluva lot cheaper than a steering stabilizer.

Guys, what's your opinion on that?

Thanks for the welcome Wallander

I owned a Ducati 900 in the eighties that came fitted with a steering damper ( mabye to stop the tank slappers ? I dont know0

but the stem bearings dont want to be slightly overtightened do they ?

Surely someone was some other Idea's ,,

MMM 7 years eh

Mabye I slept in? :rolleyes:

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