Tag Archives: xsr scrambler

XSR 700: fork springs; pipe; screen

• XSR 700 Scrambler index page

My XSR came with a great-sounding Akrapovic twin-pipe system (right). OK, it was pretty scratched, but so was the rest of the bike. For Morocco last year I was expecting the engine’s low sump to be vulnerable so figured better to let a bulkier stock pipe take the beating than the tasty-sounding but skinnier Akrapovic. Used stock XSR pipes go for £100.


Turns out, thanks to the one-inch lift and the modest speeds I rode in Morocco, the XSR barely scratched the sump. Most of the damage was from flying stones on the front plate of a SW Motech spoiler I fitted (right). The flimsy spoiler doesn’t claim to be a proper bash plate, and as it didn’t do that much I’ve since flogged that too.
Now I’ve decided to keep the XScrambleR for the Sahara Road Trip I figured it might be fun to unleash some of the engine’s characterful sound with a rorty pipe. Maybe I should have kept that Akra, but actually I prefer a stubby stock-style pipe which keeps the back sides slim for baggage.


On the XSR forum a guy shows how to extract a fruity noise from a stock system by cutting open the box, excising a section of tube as shown left, adding a bigger bore out-pipe and closing it all up with weld. I like the compactness and partial protection of the under-engine system, but this was all too much work for me with a junior hacksaw and some Chemical Metal.


TEC’s XSR system is possibly made in the UK and cost just £260 – the cheapest aftermarket pipe for an XSR as far as I can tell. As I learned with my TDM900, aftermarket pipes are pretty much the same [range of] silencers added to bespoke headers with an O2 sensor to fit your bike. There’s no science or research in finely tuning the entire system to fit your particular machine, but as long as the bike runs much like it did before, most are happy enough with the better sound.
TEC’s silencer is straight-through, like an old Conti, and I worried it might be too loud. Turned out it’s just right to my ears; louder than the Akra but loads better sounding than the stocker. It fitted easily enough; one supplied mounting bolt was way too long and the whole thing sits fairly close to the  swing arm. The pipe weighs just over 2.5kg; 4.5kg less than the stock unit which is worth keeping for an MoT.


Running through town I didn’t feel it was anti-social, and at 70 on the motorway you can hear the rumble without being worn-down by the racket (compared to the wind noise and all the rest at that speed). Some talk of getting an ECU re-flash; not even sure what that means but no warning lights came on. Others talk of running it without the baffle; I wouldn’t consider that for a second. There’s a difference between a good, deep sound and an outright, wince-inducing din. Of course the offset beat on any 270-degree parallel twin like the XSR produces one of the best sounds in biking, so you get a free pass from Neighbours Watch, anyway.


Just before going away I rode my now fruity-sounding XSR up to Simon’s who helped do up and then rebuild my XR400 after riding with us in Algeria and more recently in Morocco on the G310GS. Simon (right; more below) likes to engineer and is currently completing an electric-start XR400 as well as a ‘350’ barrel and piston kit’ for a TTR250, his trail bike de choix.


Equipped with a lavish, well-lit workshop and not a humble kerb, he worked out a way to attach the original ABS ring from the XSR front wheel onto my 19-inch XVS950 so the XSR-specific slots communicate via the adjacent sensor and the ECU to make the mildly annoying ‘Warning! ABS-not-working’ light go out. Can’t say I missed ABS, certainly not on the dirt in Morocco, but overall it’s a benefit.


The much reused Spitfire screen I fitted to get to Morocco (right) was too low for long road days and got removed. For the moment Simon mounted a cheapo Puig headlight cowling to cover the wiring exposed by my non-standard LED headlamp. It actually fits pretty well, even if it’ll provide even less protection for the ride down to Algeria this winter. I’ll probably fit something taller or may even Motorail to Marseille, like we used to do.

Those inexpensive fork preloaders worked surprisingly well on the stock springs in Morocco and seeing as the bike was OK on the dirt, I also decided to invest in a set of firmer fork springs. They say MT-07s and maybe XSRs too originally came with springs rated too soft at ‘7.8’ Newton somethings. Later they went up to 88 (on MTs only?) but you’ll also read that 90 or even 95 is best.


TEC sell XSR progressives for about £110 but flog them with fork preloaders which I don’t need. instead, long-established suspension specialists  K-Tech (who we used to fork-up our XR650Ls back in 2003) sell linear-wound coils rated at 9 or 9.5 for £85. For my 93kg I chose the heavier ones.
Fyi and to the best of my knowledge the debate over linear vs progressive springs goes like this: linear easier to reliably fine tune for set conditions (good for road racers); progressive better all round but may be hard to get just right. But all this only matters on rough trails or at high speeds. The humble XScrambleR isn’t really native to those categories.
Other jobs Simon did was hardwire my GPS bracket back in and replace last year’s Formica front indicator brackets with neat, all-in-one headlamp mount brackets (above left) from a new wonder material called m-e-t-a-l. Oh, and he properly fitted the trials fender over the front wheel. Well done Simon. I could now sell this bike knowing there are no bodged up loose ends.


With all this done I got him to reweigh the bike. 186kg is the claimed wet weight which I seem to recall was on the money.
I now have lighter front brakes, a lighter pipe, less weight around the headlight, a heavier front wheel, side stand and probably tyres, plus a tail rack, flyscreen, hot grips and a GPS mount. All that comes in at… 189kg.


Need some work done?
If it’s your bike, not your teeth we’re talking about then Simon’s you man. Born under a combine harvester (the machine, not the pub chain), 10 years overlanding with Bedfords and Mercs and a now a part-time Land Rover mechanic and metal-bending hobbyist. So anything you offer him will be like a cup of warm unpasteurised milk. I’ve found him meticulous, unflustered and inexpensive; finally someone to implement or finish off odd jobs on my odd bikes.
He’s based near Bromsgrove, a mere 31 miles from the geographic centre of England, with space and a farm workshop with all the welding, cutting and tooling gear needed to transform your bike into a galactic battleship or just a street-scrambling hack.
Email him with your needs.


Can’t wait to test out all these mods in June when I ride the XSR from Simon’s over to #HUBBUK18 in Wales, then hook up with my self-styled Marine Highway back to northwest Scotland (right). That, unless I’m very much mistaken, is going to be a great midsummer’s ride.

XSR 700 Scrambler – ready for Morocco

• XSR 700 Scrambler index page

Just flown back from a quick tour in Morocco and setting up the XSR for departure in a couple of days. It was handy pre-running my routes last week; despite recent heavy rains which has seen some places re-mudding their adobe roofs, all my tracks with the exception of Jebel Sarhro were in pretty good nick, including MH19 Trans Atlas which we managed to cram in on the last day.

Getting back on my XSR after riding XR250s with 70,000kms on the clock, the Yamaha feels amazingly taut. On the weekend I nipped down to Surrey to buy an XR400 for Algeria (more about that later).

All that needed doing to the XScrambleR was fitting an elongated and bigfooted sidestand adapted from an MT-07 stick (£20 used on ebay + £25 labour). A seamless job by my weldy mate, Jon. That took 10 minutes and a wall to lean on.
Next, see how the Kriega Duo 36 Saddlebags fit over the back. My pillion-to-rack spars are better than nothing but aren’t brilliant at limiting swing into the wheel; they’re too high and forward. A proper rack is best, but a bit of stick and zip tie from pillion-to-indicator may do the job.


And so here it is, another AMH projectile ready for three laps of Morocco and a dash home. Looking forward to it, just as long as it handles OK on the dirt. I’m pretty sure it won’t be much worse than the heavier CB500X Rally Raider from 2015 (right).

XSR 700 Scrambler – final mods

XSR 700 Scrambler front page

My XScrambleR sets off in a month for Morocco and, bar some luggage, is ready to go. Don’t think I’ve ever had a bike ready so far in advance.

Using some left-over or unused components, I fitted a Tuturo Chain oiler which I still think is the simplest and most effective way of getting this messy but necessary job done. It is, of course, especially handy on bikes without a centre stand where hand oiling the chain is a particular faff.


For luggage I’m going to use some simple Kriega Duo 36 Throwovers again, as I did last year on the KLX in Baja. The great thing with the XSR’s underpipe is that it’s right out of the way of luggage but bags still need something to stop them swinging into the wheel and chain. In the spirit of the Chouinard RURP, I’ve come up with RURTS (Realised Ultimate Reality Throwover Stay) an ultra-minimal side rack. The weight is taken over the saddle; the slim stays help locate the bags. If their reality ultimately turns out to be too realised, another stay from pillion pegs to the rear flashers will fix that. I’m sure they sell broomsticks in Morocco.

Once the holes were drilled the RURTS were another 10-minute roadside job, but lacking anywhere better than the kerb to work, I weakened and got my LBS to do the rest of the heavy jobs.


The new wheel on the front has raised the bike 30mm, and the fork preloaders may help it stay that way. I was looking for a way to achieve a bit less than that on the back – partly with a taller tyre and partly with a longer shock.
The OE shock is basic; it’s fine for very normal riding but only has preload rings. They are found used on ebay in their zillions. I preloaded it on the first run, but found it lacked any rebound damping to control it.

The OE shock is 310mm long. I was looking for a shock with rebound damping that started at that length but had extendability. Looking at the usual suspects, only the Wilbers 640 Blueline could be specified with that feature for a reasonable £512. All it is is a chunky thread and nut at the bottom of the shock below the red rebound knob, and which can be unscrewed (lengthened) to a pre-set point then locked out. Rocket science it is not, but you need to remember that 10mm on the near-horizontal shock adds up to more in actual seat height. Pythagoras will know exactly how much, but when my Wilbers arrived I maxed it out and sent it to the shop.


Doing it this way makes the shock/bike more sellable later, as it can be wound back down to the standard 310mm XSR height. In fact this whole XSR build, including front wheel swap, is fully reversible. No one need every know.
For once in my suspension history, I’m going to endeavour to set the static sag before I leave. It’s a bit tricky alone, but there are instructions on how to do it all over the web. I dare say it will need some tweaking on the road as it beds in, and I’ll sure miss the Hydraulic Preload Adjuster of my previous Hyperpros, but there we are. As it is, C-spanners keep Elastoplast in business and come free with the shock.

I could have tried something new from my do-it-all category, like a Mefo Super Explorer, but only Heidenau K60 Scouts came in a range of sizes which sort of included the XSR; a still ridiculously fat 170/60 17 72T was delivered for £97 from Germany, and a 100/90H-19 Catspaw (not Scout) from the UK for £61. Looking at it now, the rear looks a bit lower profile than I’d prefer, but there was no 170/80 in 17.

The nearest K60 was 150/70 17, but as I was dropping from OE 180 width, 150 (over an inch slimmer) looked too much of a change for the rim size. Best of all, these retain the tubelessness (which reminds me, need to get some Slime in).


Actually, I think I need to address that stunted sidestand now the bike sits at least an inch higher. I could drill a hole through the foot and bolt on a block of wood or HPDE. How shit would that look? Good news is used MT-07 stands go on ebay from 20 quid. Weldy-mate Jon might be persuaded to hypnotise it and make it grow an inch, and while it’s out slap on an 5mm sandplate underneath; it will look like it was made that way and ought to have the strength to take a lifted wheel if I have tyre troubles.

Other than that, my LBS fitted some Oxford Hot Grips for me (£50 ebay). This is the first time I’ve actually bought a set; usually they’ve come with the bikes I’ve bought. and for UK commuters are a no-brainer. Along with my screen, my Barks and my Powerlet jacket, I simply cannot wait for the December ride back across Spain.

XSR 700 Scrambler – XVS 950 front wheel

XSR 700 Scrambler index page

This whole project kicked off by taking a chance on the front wheel of an XV950 V-Star Bolt (left). It’s what Americans call a ‘compatability swap-out’ and the wheel had been sitting on ebay for months; £130 with tyre and one bearing.


No wonder there were no takers; a V-Bolt is a mock-Sportster – something which proper Brit bikers would probably scoff at (while secretly fancying). They are of course very popular in the US and the recently released, 250-kilo wire-wheeled SCR 950 Scrambler (right) is virtually the same thing, but about as ‘scrambler’ as Triumph’s effort (or mine), and I suspect doomed to low UK sales. The recent Ducatis and BMWs are much cooler.

Boredom alert: I learned things the hard way doing all this so go into unusual detail to save others on similar projects from making the same mistakes.

An XV runs one, 298mm disc on six bolts. I needed a 282mm-rotor if I was to try and reuse my calipers. Many internet hours passed – distant stars exploded; babies were born; a celebrity sneezed. I discovered that FJ1300 and V-Max rear rotors, and good old XT660Z fronts come in 282mm/6 bolt. Cheapest was a V-Max for 40 quid; new OE bolts were another £10.


Notice I say ‘disc’ not discs. The XSR and many other bikes get unnecessarily fitted with twin discs. It must be some sort of marketing cue which goes over my head and is certainly not related to outright performance. Discontinued XT660Z: twin front rotors; forthcoming T7 with 50% more power: single front rotor; HP2 Enduro/GS12 is another example. No denying it; XSR brakes are great; Bike mag (right) recently logged a Tracer 700 pulling up just as well as high-end sports bikes. On my XSR I believe they’re overkill and add unsprung weight. With a single braided line and 3-4kg saved, the suspension will like it.
In fact (and annoyingly), the XV wheel is nearly a kilo heavier, even with one disc. Oh well, I’ll save by ditching the second caliper.

Getting to the point of removing one wheel to offer up the other had taken quite a while. I live on a hill and have nowhere to work but the street. Luckily a neighbour let me use her back garden if I didn’t mind removing and replacing the alleyway fence. A scan on Gumtree brought up an new trolley jack down the road for 20 quid and at last I was in business.

I’ve long known OE bearing prices are an easily dodged scam (see this vid). Down the Yamaha dealer that’ll be 21 quid for the missing wheel bearing, but this commonly sized bearing is classified as a 6303. Seven quid for a top-of-the-range Timken jobby (right) from a bearing shop in Croydon, or about the same posted online. These places might have done dust seals too, but I didn’t want to push my luck; they must match the wheel spacer ø, so that’s a tenner for a pair posted from Wemoto.

I also needed the in-hub collar/spacer that goes between the bearings. I tried used online but couldn’t find the exact width (fyi: 70mm x 24mm out ø x 17mm in ø) so succumbed to new for £13 posted from Fowlers – the Partzilla of the UK, but without competition-driven discounts. Another ten days pass by.

Good video below on wheel bearing removal and installation. With one bearing already installed, I was able to use the spindle as an alignment guide, gently tapping the frozen and greased bearing round the outer edges with a 22mm socket for the final push into the frame heated hub.

The XSR’s calipers are so fat that you have to remove both to get the fat OE wheel out – never seen that before. But offer up the XSR rotors with the new wheel loosely in place and – CLANG! – the 90-mm wide four-pot XSR caliper fouled the XV spokes.

Stars exploded, babies were born… and many hours and Photoshop alignment estimates later (right), I decided an XV950 caliper (below right) would probably fit my fork mounts. I tracked one down in Texas for just $25 + the same again in post and tax. Stars… babies… celebrities… Another ten days pass.

For a while I’d got hung up trying to track down a used Blue Spot caliper like my TDM900 had. R1s had them too; best brakes I ever did use. But it slowly dawned on me there are two (maybe more?) types of Yamaha disc brakes. Your cruisin’ XVs run slimmer, sliding twin-piston calipers (above left). An XSR’s opposed 4-pot unit is Blue Spot in all but name; very powerful but bulky. The less powerful sliding-caliper hydraulics are mildly compensated by the larger, 298-mm XV rotor (more retardation). My 284-mil vented V-Max (right) disc is smaller, but my bike is at least 60-kg lighter.

All lined up well on the same-diametre 17-mm XSR spindle by adding three and a bit 3mm washers to centre the wheel. The XSR’s spacers are 20mm ø x 17mm long (with a 17mm bore). What’s needed here is 28 x 28 on 17. Such wheel spacers are probably the same as XV items (see below left for pn) but the only way to find out was buying and waiting another ten days. Luckily, Desert Rider Jon is a mate with a lathe who likes this kind of challenge and made them almost overnight.


All this requires a 7.6mm rotor spacer to move the V-Max rotor out to line up with the XV950 caliper bolted to the XSR forks while avoiding caliper-spacing washers. Don’t know if the vented V-Max rotor is thicker or undished unlike an XV, but you only have a mm or two to play with for clearance in the caliper’s jaws.

Jon is milling one out in alloy for me. So this 7.6mm rotor spacer (right) is just about the only custom part needed to marry up an XVS wheel, spacers and caliper with an XSR fork and a 286mm rotor. You could use nuts as rotor spacers but I figured a fully surfaced spacer would be better at transferring the heat.

Sorting the caliper and spacing was the main challenge in this 19er swap-out. The brace now has only 5mm tyre clearance (left). Mounting the trials guard on top will be easy,but I may get the brace re-done too – also an easy job.

Or, with a bit of a nick, I may just bend it in to give it more lift and more curvature to take the rear fender; a plastic universal trials rear for £28 from In Motion.
I estimated the tyre to radiator lower edge clearance was 180mm; the forks are said to have 150mm of travel which leaves 30mm; just enough for the slim, plastic  mudguard. This trials guard will be way wider than the new tyre so won’t look that great but will sure keep the muck off. Skimpy front fenders are for the beard & tatts brigade.

I was now ready to unbolt the XSR brake lines and calipers, feed in and bolt up a single 850-mm braided Venhill brake hose (£30), top up with DOT 4 (£2.99) and bleed.


By chance the ABS sensor fitted by reusing a sawn-down reflector bracket (left). Only one washer and no bending required. The XV’s ABS ring (£40 new; £20 used from Germany) is on the disc side and a bit larger than the XSRs (originally on the other side) and in the 400-m ride back to my place it seems the XSR’s ABS computer didn’t like it and the light stayed on. That may take some sorting, but at least I have brakes.

Other stuff. I bought a SW Motech ‘spoiler’ (£120) to double up as a sump guard. It’s pretty flimsy in 3mm alloy, and I think after Morocco will be wrecked, but that’s all there is and better a bashed bashplate than an unguarded sump. I may rivet on some more plate. As you can see, I sprayed the front unpainted bit with a few coats of plastic paint (and did the radiator covers while I was it it).


As expected, the Motech spoiler didn’t fit around my Akra pipe, but months ago in anticipation I’d bought a ‘sacrificial’ OE pipe off a new bike for just £100. There are heaps on ebay right now (same with shocks) and the under-motor mass makes a good sump guard. Better a bashed cat than an unguarded sump. Interestingly, the OE pipe is the same weight (7kg) as the £1100 Akra which is now on ebay. My neighbour’s got her garden back now.

Final jobs: fit the rotor spacer and mudguard (maybe a taller fork brace?); try and sort the ABS light, if needed. Then take the brakes for a test run and consider a rear shock with a bit of lift, and extend the sidestand to suit. If it all goes or feels wrong it’s all easily reversible.

XSR 700 Scrambler – tail rack and fork preload caps

XSR 700 Scrambler front page

Two quick jobs while I’m waiting on wheel parts. Got a used Givi tail rack off ebay (£50 posted). At 3.2kg, it’s a heavy steel thing and a bit over-built, but mounts easily and solidly and, best of all, offers solid grab handles on the side. I find these useful for moving a stationary bike around, lashing it down, or lashing things to it.The actual rack is tiny, but would easily be widened if need be. A simple bar from this rack to the pillion footrests ought to hopefully be enough to keep some throwovers out of the wheels
Fitting  took 10-15 mins.

My fork pre-loaders turned up from Hong Kong. Basically, a pair of fork caps with an external screw pushing a plate down on the spring. In the old days we used to stick coin stacks under the fork caps to do the same thing, but with these you can do that plus easily tune in about an inch of preload. They look as well made as the OE caps, with o-rings and a good finish, but weigh at least twice as much. Better skip lunch then.

I’m not expecting any improvement in the fork action, just the option to firm up the front on the dirt. Front or rear, preloading does not make the spring stiffer (even if it feels like it), it raises the ride height. Fitting 5 mins per side. Cost £25.


Next step would be spending ~£100 on an aftermarket springs (right) – I did that and fitted some 95NM K-Techs when I got back from Morocco and reset the pre-loaders to zero. Feels the same if not better; a much better front fork.