Tag Archives: Hyperpro suspension

Yamaha WR250R Project – Stage 1

WR250R 4000-km review
WR Introduction
WR250R Stage 1
WRing about in Wales
WR250R ready for the desert
Morocco 4000-km trip report, 1–9
Fuel log

wrs11First up for the WR, an 18-litre IMS fuel tank that’s wider than it is long. And at the 31kpl I got on the way back from Holland, that should mean well over 500km, though 400 may be more realistic.
On the forums you read various horror stories about the IMS tank: misalignment, poor fittings, plugs falling out and so on. I was expecting aggro but it all went without a hitch or too much head scratching. The fuel line unclips from the pump, the OE tank lifts off, once unscrewed the pump lifts out of that and the wrs1-8chunky Yamaha tank mounts swap onto the IMS just fine. At the back though, no amount of jiggling could line up the mounts (below right) with the frame if using the locating washers. Without washers it crammed in OK. I didn’t bother with the screw-in stud on the back of the tank to locate wrs1-6the seat front either. It stays on well enough with the seat tongue going under the frame tab.
The IMS comes with a small low-pressure lift pump inside (the grey metal unit, above) to get to the fuel at the bottom. It’s powered by vacuum off some intake hose which you cut and tee into. Once all was plumbed up and bolted down, the bike started first press and ran normally. Hallelujah.
The tank splays out quite widely and the outer edges will get knocked about on falls, but they also protect the radiator better than the OE shrouds so it’s a good use of volume. On the road full up, I can’t say I noticed any unbaffled sloshing as some sensitive riders have reported. Looks like a good, solid unit. The pic at the bottom of the page shows it with 3 litres in and room for 15 more at the servo.


yamaha3d71390710WR250Rs are known for having dodgy fuel pumps (more here) which can behave erratically in hot weather after a few thousand kms, failing to prime (no buzzing on key turn). They might recover once cooled down but eventually will pack up for good. No one really knows what the problem is. One suggestion is fuel varnish coating the inside seizes the turbine when hot.
Early 2008s were very prone, although later WRs pack up too after a few thousand kms. It seems not living in Phoenix, AZ helps, and you do wonder if ropey US fuel has something to do with it or if it’s a case of the squeaky hinge getting all the oil? Don’t know but in the Sahara WR bike will get hot for sure.

A complete Yamaha pump with housing goes discounted for about $300 on amazon, and although the part number changed (from 3D7-13907-00 for 2008-12, to 3D7-13907-10 from 2013-onwards) suggesting an updated pump, some people still report failures on the newer pumps. wrfuelpump
Being a popular bike in US and Au, there are various aftermarket pumps from just £20 cheapies on ebay to £105 for a California Cycleworks unit (left, also made in China). They all require carefully dismantling the white plastic housing as above, to replace the actual fuel pump unit. Not really a trailside job.  Aftermarket ones fail too, especially the cheaper ones, which makes you think it’s modern fuel or an over-pressurised system, as I also read somewhere. I’ve not heard of other efi bikes having hot weather fuel pump issues, but anyway I cracked and bought a Cycleworks. I’ll will get round to fitting it and carry the OE unit as a spare.

wr250-rax

wrs1-11Next job: pannier racks. Long story short, choosing from the above selection, at $170 from Rocky Mtn Adv the US-made Tusk racks (a Rocky Mtn sub-brand, afaik) looked by far the best value for money, and when they turned up I was even more impressed – nice to see chunky ¾”  and the all-important back brace to stop them folding in when heavily loaded on rough terrain. The unbraced Moto and Barrett may rely on heavier gauge tubing to not cave in. That looks neater but I found with the Rally Raid racks on the CB500X it didn’t really work out like that, to be bend-proof and light you need a back brace. Once I removed the unwanted bracketry for mounting Tusk hard boxes, the weight was < 4kg.
The wrs1-10fitting video on Rocky Mtn is especially helpful, but mounting the back underplate (right) could only be solved by cutting away with a red-hot knife. It’s possible my bike’s non-original plastic numberplate holder mount plate thing complicated things. That apart, the rack lined up just right elsewhere and will give something to grab when hauling the WR across a dune. There’s plenty of space behind the non-pipe side too, to stash stuff or mount a container.

wrs1-9I splashed out on some Rox bar risers giving a 2-inch lift and a bit of fore and aft adjustment. Fat bar sized plus with adapters for ⅞s, they can carry over to later bikes, like my old Barkbuster Storms. Talking of which, they can stay in the  box as the handguards that came with the WR look OK. There’s just enough room left on the bars to add my xco-shieldSpitfire screen mounts (right).
I have a nice shiny Flatland bashplate waiting to clamp on, but the old hex bolts on the OE bashplate were not playing ball. Instead they wanted a game of rounders, and so rounded out they now are. One for the shop when they MoT it next week.

wrs1-18I put on my old round Double Take mirror; it helps where I park the bike. But a run to the Overland Event near Oxford proved it vibrates on the WR just like it blurred on other bikes I’ve tried them on. screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-14-37-06The new asymmetric Double Take Adventure model (right) has done away with the stalk to reduce vibration, but now means you have to buy a hefty 6-inch RAM arm for another 20 quid (plus a bar-ball mount for another tenner). As I have those bits I may give the new one a try as it is handy to have one bombproof mirror.
82-cassisPicture left: my original desert bike, the ally-tanked ’76 XT500 I rode to Algeria in 1982. The WR is bike #57. For the first time since the 80s I’ve again had more bikes than birthdays.

wrsi-drdOther jobs include re-fitting my Trail Tech Vapor to give accurate speeds because, according to my GPS the WR speedo reads 12% fast and odo some 4% over. But I’ve also just fitted a Speedo DRD chip (left) from Totally TTRs. I was hoping the WR’s OE kph digital speedo could be reset to show mph, like my XT660ZE from the same era. But annoyingly, it seems WRs sold in kmh markets can’t flip their speedos to mph, while Brit and American mph WRs can changed to kph. WTF WR?
wrs1-spdLike those nifty fuel controllers, the DRD is very easy to programme and can also flip to mph to make the bike UK legit, as well as correct the large speed error, even though the Vapor technically does that job too. As a reminder the Trail Tech Vapor can also display ambient and engine temps – the latter a vital reading on any bike, IMO – as well as a GPS compass and altitude, rpm and, yes even the time of day.

vizxAs for lighting, I’m assuming the standard little headlight will not wake the badgers. Some say you can fit a super-bright $60 HiD bulb and fry burgers with it; other find the cut off is unsuited for road riding. I must say on a travel bike I prefer the idea of a secondary light; a back up should the main one fail.
I’ve had a Vision X 5″ Xmitter narrow beam (left) sitting around for ages. They say this is the best model to get for travel bikes, so now will be a good opportunity it fit it to the WR.

wrs1-tyresWakey wakey! A mate gave me a rear Sava MC23 Rockrider which he reckons are the new black (and round). At 140-80 it didn’t fit his TTR250 and I don’t think oversized tyres work on a WR (120/80-18) any more than noisy pipes make more power. More weight; more drag and over-stiff tyres on light bikes can be counterproductive in deep, soft sand. They’re just too stiff to sag usefully, even at very low pressures, to give better traction, as AMH-Tread-Chooser-Dirt
I found years ago running a Mich Desert on a Tenere right down to 5psi. The MC23 is 4 plies tread and 3 in the sides – sounds stiff. I won’t be that loaded up nor riding hard, and the WR will lack a Tenere’s grunt to hook up, for sure.
In the US they all rate the Dunlop 606 on WRs, but they don’t sell it in the UK. Either way, something from the list on the right will do the job or here. The Mitas E09/10s I’ve been wanting to try don’t come in WR rear sizes. With Sava/Mitas it’s the MC23 or nothing and in the end I succumbed to online tyre fatigue and clicked on a 120/90 Rockrider for £56. It may not hook up in the sands of the Erg Amatlich, but it won’t puncture up on the plateau, either.
To keep it company I also bought a front MC23 Rockrider – £42 from Oponeo, so that’s £98 all shod. This came branded as a Czech Mitas as Mitas have lately bought out Slovenian Sava. Just as well because as tyre names go, ‘Sava’ is even worse than Golden Tyre. I hope to at least mount the rear tubelessly, doing a better job than I did last time on the Tenere. Enough tyre talk.

wrs1-papsUnfortunately, delays in receiving paperwork to complete UK registration (added by my own confusion in how to set about the task efficiently) mean it’s unlikely I’ll have a UK plate and logbook in time for my Morocco tours in a few weeks. I’ll have to rent something down there. Can’t say I’m bitterly disappointed at missing the chance to cross Spain and back in early winter on an untried 250. Last couple of years I’ve been lucky with the rain in Spain. It can’t last and it all gives me a chance to get the WR in good shape for the proper desert trip we have lined up in the new year. It also means those rally tyres won’t get wasted running mostly roads.
wrs1-12hpwrI do wonder if it has been worth the faff and expense of buying a bike from Holland just to get some top-grade Hyperpro suspension (this is the first WR250R to have HP). All I know is if it works as well as my HP X-Country, then the answer will eventually be yes. You just wonder how many trees have given up promising futures to certify the re-registering process of this motorcycle.

wrs1-17Have to say, after having a close look, so far I’m impressed by the WR. The easy disassembly and access to things, nifty hinged air filter door, minimal-sized components where possible and solid parts elsewhere, like triple clamp and subframe. It’s like a Jap KTM, and grails don’t come much holier than that.

One thing I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing is meddling with the airbox flap, EXUP valve, silencer or other stuff to squeeze 3% more power out of it and save a few ounces. Like most things, the WR-R already is what it is: lighter and more powerful than any other Jap trail bike, with a travel workable oil-change interval and excellent mpg. That should do nicely for the next desert ride or two I have in mind.

wr-hpa
On the way to the Overland Event I had a pile of heavy books I was hoping not to bring back. Once loaded up it was great to just crank up the Hyperpro Hydraulic Preload Adjuster (HPA) knob which still fits nicely alongside the new rack. At a pinch you can almost do it on the move, though probably not while texting.
I haven’t yet had the heart to run the WR at the revs it’s supposed to handle. What’s probably a true 55-60mph seems fine for now, but unlike a CRF-L or KLX, you do have a bit of spare oomph when you need it. For the first time in years I’m very much looking forward to getting my latest project bike on the dirt.

wrs1-16

BMW Xcountry – Hyperpro suspension

Xcountry index page

smacbikeWhen I imagine a good handling bike I often visualise Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Not the famous barbed wire jump which was actually done by a mate of his, but the riding he does beforehand while trying to outrun the jerries along the lanes and across the fields. The way he chucks that 170-kilo TR6 around on ordinary tyres and suspension, skid-turning with the back brake and sliding around but in control, always struck me as optimal moto/rider interaction. With a hefty old dog like the Triumph it must be down to skilful riding too, as well as a low slung machine, but if a bike can bring out that sort of confidence I’d be pleased with it.

My 650X wasn’t in such good shape when I rocked up at Hyperpro’s workshop, halfway between Erik’s Hot Rod Bar and the Hook van Holland ferry port. It felt like the head bearings were notching, and in the last 1000 miles the shock felt shot too. I didn’t feel like the Cooler King throwing it into roundabouts while in fact heading for the kerb. I thought oh well, I’ve finally lost much touch but at least the Xco is jolly economical and the switches fall easily to hand.
Bas at Hyperpro suggested I came over for a custom suspension fitment. In his experience, being there with your bike makes all the difference. Everyone told me I’d spend the whole day at his workshop watching him work and they weren’t wrong.

P1150346For weeks I’d suspected the head bearings were gone, something most noticeable at low speed. But lifting the front wheel I couldn’t detect anything and thought it might just be tension from the brake hose arrangement. Erik suggested cupping from the Tourance which was down to 2-3mm. With the bike yanked over, it took Bas a couple of seconds to diagnose the notch in the bars’  arc and which now felt obvious.
During suspension transplants he told me they get through a lot of headsets at the HP workshop. The Xco’s relatively elastic alloy stem doesn’t help in this regard, though Bas admitted his hard running BMW G/S (see below) eats a set every 5000km or so.

xhypertopcapI wasn’t expecting it, but Bas got stuck in and replaced my worn bearings. I still don’t get how this notching occurs; fork impact + wear + lack of care and grease I guess. Once fitted, he pointed out the noticeable change in resistance when tightening the 10mm hex headstock adjustment nut (left) by just a couple of degrees. That’ll need doing in 1000 miles as the bearings bed in.

P1150376He then got to work on my forks, identifying barely visible scratches on the chrome sliders which he buffed out with a strop and a file (right).
I’ve always doubted the genuine advantage of USD forks. The best explanation I recall reading is that the heavy steel slider element sits lower for lower CoG, but then the alloy needs to be thicker to withstand the triple clamps and the steel is undesirable unsprung weight. I’ve also since been told it was a way to get more travel. To me they just look ‘upside down’ with a vulnerable slider out in the stone-strewn breeze.
It’s well know that telescopic forks are a regretable compromise on a bike: neat and cheap to make but with drawbacks that we all learn to ride around. In fact I’m convinced a huge part of a GS12’s appeal is the poise it gains from its Telelever front end. To paraphrase something I read recently on adv ‘For a two-story building a GS handles pretty well’.

P1150379drzThere’s only so much you can do to Xforks unless you replace them with something else. It doesn’t have to be anything flash either, Bas recommends a 48mm right-way-up 48mm DRZ400 forks (right) which are easily found on ebay for around 100 quid plus clamps. I bought a set and plan to get them Hyperpro’d and fitted to the X. [In the end kept them for another project].

Once the sliders were as clean as they could be, Bas renewed the seals and cleaned up the bushes which run between the telescoping sections. He then slotted in the appropriate Hyperpro forks springs (left) and slipped in a lesser quantity of lighter oil (heavy oil is used to disguise soft forks). Bas explained why fork oil should be changed; not so much because it breaks down like motor oil but because it collects contaminants and humidity so needs flushing if you’re to avoid tedious seal failure. To stop that happening too soon, before remounting the forks Bas slipped on a pair of neoprene socks to protect the sliders.

xhyper-springsA quick word on progressive springs. Most bike springs are linear; wound at a consistent rate end to end. While some riding applications are said to benefit from linear springs (road racing on smooth tracks, for example), the main reason we get linear is cost, as with so much in bike suspension. Up to a point, the pivot on a mono rear ends adds a progressive element, and in the 70s twin-shock era it was thought laid over shocks had a similar effect.

xhyoper2springsAlso from the twin shock era, you may recall dual rate springs which at a glance look progressive, but merely have a more dense section at one end. Only progressive springs have a constantly variable spring rate right across their length. Because of this the spring can react to small surface irregularities, full-on hits and everything in between.
Linear springs can be factory wound by the mile and then chopped up like salami, but each progressive spring has to be made individually; it’s a more sophisticated and higher end solution and Bas had a good trick to demonstrate their efficacy: two little finger springs (above), one linear, one progressive. The purple progressive spring is easier to compress initially but, unlike the yellow linear one, is impossible to compress fully. Progressive compression in a nutshell.
Looking into suspension earlier I noticed the ‘P’ word bandied around disingenuously. Hagon’s aftermarket monoshocks claim ‘fully progressive spring pre-load adjustment’. Examine that phrase closely and you’ll see it means not much at all, but I bet a few have been caught out.

According to Bas, stiction is the nemesis of smooth suspension response and the reason many riders misdiagnose ‘harshness’. Of course ensuring friction-free operation while hammering your telescoping tubes over corrugations or flexing them under hard braking is all asking a bit much, but with careful assembly and maintenance, stiction can be minimised. Only then can the full effects of a finely tuned shock be appreciated.

P1150341Now for the shock. I’d felt the Sachs unit go on a recent ride up to Scotland. Perhaps the bike’s early life at the BMW Off Road School had included more than the usual amount of play jumping. It certainly had when I’d visited. The headlight beam now shone higher than it used to, but when I tried to adjust the shock, the preload was maxed out and I didn’t even notice the rebound damping which was ineffective anyway. I’d originally planned to just whack on a Hyperpro spring on the shock body, but that would have been a mistake. It’s not the spring that wears out (though the original may be too soft for your needs, especially when loaded), it’s the seals and gas and ill-specified valving inside.

P1150409Most bikes run what they now call emulsion shocks, as that’s what happens to the oil and gas once it all froths up following a series of bumps. Once the oil is aerated much of the damping effect gets the lost until it all settles down and the gas and oil separate. An emulsion shock will be fine for regular road riding, but soon reaches its limits when you add heavy and variable loads and rough terrain.

dr-borderlands-mcAll these years I managed fine on my Teneres and whatnot, just jacking them up at the back and stuffing a bit of sawn off bar end under the fork caps for some pre-load. The one bike I had with good OE suspension – the XRL650 for Desert Riders – was notably better than the previous XTs. Many times I’d get out of shape and expect to be going over the bars, only to have the superior front forks save the day. On that trip we all fitted K-Tech progressive springs.

hyperpro461The problem had always been on the back where nothing short of several hundred quid’s worth of WP or Ohlins seemed a lot of money for an uncertain result. As long as it didn’t bottom out, that was fine with me. The fatigue and boat-like handling just came with territory when riding heavily laden travel bikes in the desert.

Bas doesn’t just invite you to lounge by the coffee machine while he whips a shock off the shelf and pops it on your bike. He builds the unit up from scratch, adding in shims across the damping apertures to suit your bike, weight, riding style and anticipated loads. I was getting Hyperpro’s top end 461 model (similar to left) with hydraulically adjusted preload (like the OE Sachs unit), 45 clicks of rebound damping at the base, and two settings covering low-speed plus high-speed compression damping on the remote reservoir. This latter feature is what’s missing from most average shocks but adds to the spring’s downward resistance and is what makes a big difference to fine tuning with changing loads.

P1150413

The hydraulic preload adjuster at the top

Once the insides were assembled, the unit was charged with oil and the remote reservoir attached. In here there’s a bladder of nitrogen gas separated from the shock’s oil which feeds into the reservoir via the hose. A separate gas bladder can just as easily be located in the body of the shock if there’s room, though it runs cooler outside. Nitrogen is used as it’s dense and so less prone to leaking away, compared to regular air (which is 78% nitrogen anyway).
Once a location was fixed for the remote reservoir with its high/low-speed comp damping dials, the static sag was assessed; about 3cm felt at the tail rack. Sag is important as it sits you midway (more or less) in the shock’s stroke so it can extend fully before settling down. The whole point of suspension is to allow the wheels to move up and down as much and as responsively as necessary while the sprung weight (bike and rider) remains isolated and level.

hypershockAfter at least ten hours of methodical work, my Xco had been resprung. It sat maybe half an inch higher, though I could still get both feet flat on the floor. A quick blast round the block wasn’t night and day but revealed improved steering on the first bend; it went where I wanted in a predictable manner. Then a few dried mud bumps along the edge of a field got both ends pumping smoothly. All well there.
A 461 shock for the Xco costs about €950 with the optional hydraulic preload adjuster (miles better than using the supplied C spanner). A set of fork springs is €150 plus €50 for a pair of fork seals. Custom fitment is well under €200 for both ends (not including head bearings). If you’re planning a day visit to Hyperpro you may like to know that the overnight ferry from Harwich arrives around 8am local time and returns at 10.30pm, so you can get Hyperpro’d in a day. I paid £220 for the boat with cabin.

Having no less than four adjustments on the shock is going to take some experimentation to see the best results, and they’ll vary with load and terrain. That will be something I’ll get to grips with in North Africa later in the year.

Read 10,000-mile report

XCountry in Morocco. Hyperpro made all the difference. More details soon.

XCountry in Morocco. Hyperpro made all the difference.

In return for the work and suspension Hyperpro have been offered an advert in the future 6.2 reprint of AMH.

Other stuff I saw at the Hyperpro workshop
P1150354Though he’s a big fan of the early 90s R80 Monolever (the post 7 series Boxers), one of Bas’ bikes is a cool 800 G/S from the previous decade. Alongside a parked up GS12 you can see the different paths that ‘adventure motorcycling’ has taken over the intervening years. Actual GSbikesalesadventure and the other type. Where did BMW go so wrong? Well, look at the table on the right and you’ll see that perhaps they’ve got it very right. The 12 is by far the most popular big bike in Germany and many other places too, including the UK. But the Kawa ER-6 third? Perhaps they were on special in 2013.

505018991_jtcea-xlBas’ 180-kilo G/S reminded me of those ISDT enduro racers from the 1970s (left) from which the Dakar desert racers took their lead. His G/S has a longer swing arm, possibly a one-litre motor, forks from baswatera dirt bike, Excel rims and a mini tank behind the battery in the space opened out by the longer swing arm. Best of all, it just looked like you could take it anywhere you can manage with an XChallenge. In 2012 he did just that, riding with Walter in Mongolia and Far Eastern Russia for five weeks. Walter’s pics and report start here. Bas is currently rebuilding Walter’s tired old Xch around an Xco donor bike.

P1150369Bas’ g-friend Linda was also on that Russian ride with her Xco and when she turned up at the shop I took a close look at her set up. All the Xs in the shop seem to be running lowered footrest plates, (left), either DIY jobbies or made by Erik. Seems to improve comfort despite the greater chance of rut bashing. I may look into a set myself, as it’s easy to do.

P1150387Both their bikes were also running a 5-inch VisionX Xtreme 3 x 5w LED light bar as sold by Adv Spec. Narrow beam is the one to go for according to Bas; it still puts out plenty of light to the sides and is what I feel my bike needs. I haven’t been so inspired to refit the Rigid SR-M light from my GS-R, bright though it was.

P1150213One thing Erik mentioned the day earlier was that the flat upper face of the OE paper air filter tends to shake and sieve desert dust in desert areas. So even though paper works well, oiled foam cleaned regularly is a better way to go on this bike.

P1150368Though my screw on side stand foot plate was just a temporary measure added to a Wunderlich order, Bas was not such a fan of these as they come loose and fall off. I noticed one of the bikes had done a clever DIY job (right) giving the stand extra height to cope with the taller suspension, but it seems welding, just like I did in the old days, is the best way to do it. I now need to position a new plate carefully so as not to foul the shock’s reservoir.

P1150385All the chain bikes in the shop were running chain oil drippers and I finally concede this is a way to go and plan to fit one in the near future. For a job that needs doing daily on the road, a can of Wurth Dry lube is just too bulky to carry around and anyway, without a centre stand, hand oiling is a pain.
P1150348Among the array of fine tools in the Hyperpro shop was this Knipex adjustable spanner that uses grooves and a push button location to eliminate play, unlike those old knurled screw types. It looks like a very nifty general purpose too; I just ordered me the 86 05 180mm model off amazon for £34.

P1150335P1150380Talking tools, nice case on this XCh’s bash plate (right), though now I’m not putting a tank there my tool pouches are as good I’ve decided. And I had a closer look at a Mitas E07 tyre which is what I’ll try for the next trip, at least for the back. Same properties as the Heidi K60, but possibly better.

triscramFinally, talking of Steve McQueen, a customer turned up on a Triumph Scrambler 900 similar to the McQueen Special produced last year to commemorate the film’s half-centenary. Great looking machine, like most Triumph twins, but heavy and when I briefly sat on it it didn’t steve-mcqueenfeel right; seat way too wide. Couldn’t see me sliding confidentially around alpine meadows on that one. I’ll take a regular Bonneville or Bas’ elongated G/S.