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BC PROJECT BIKE : THE STREET/DIRT TRACKER CONVERSION | BUILDING OUR XR400R 2015
Before we got our hands on it, the bike was a weathered '05 XR400R converted for supermoto. Having been previously used as a super commuter, it donned a swollen gas tank & a tired plastic shell, worn & faded from the grip of time. It had all the perks of being previously owned by a performance junkie & between the 450cc piston kit, the high lift cams, the Talon supermoto hubs, Excel wheels, & Akrapovic muffler, we certainly had a lot to tinker with. We always wanted to build a small displacement dirt tracker that could ride just as well in the streets so it was easy deciding to take on a bulletproof & totally street legal XR400R as our next project bike.
A lot of thought goes into building a project bike. Even before you choose the bike you have to consider your budget, you have to determine how much time you're willing to invest, & you have to envision the design that called you to build your bike in the first place. Then comes the breakdown & analysis of parts followed by rebuilding & assembly. Eventually the project reaches its testing phase & because testing requires riding, it's this phase that we find ourselves thinking about the most. Much like any meaningful project bike, this Honda XR400R was built primarily with riding in mind.
Starting the build we decided to switch to a lighter front end design based on the standard design of early CBR 600s - effectively lowering the front end. In case we wanted to return the bike to its pre-build former glory, all parts made for the street/dirt tracker conversion were built to bolt into the existing factory tabs & brackets. A custom steering stem then had to be machined for the trees to work with the bike's steering neck as well as a new front axle to work with the Talon hubs. Then, to allow us to reuse the stock front caliper we milled our own brake plate caliper adapter.
Reworking the front end brought the rear higher than we prefer to ride so we leveled the seat with a bolt-in rear sub frame & adjusted the rear shocks to a higher pre-load setting. After leveling the rear, we placed a tracker seat that we made with 3/4" tubing wrapped around the bottom. The seat itself is carbon fiber & is accentuated with a simple gold pinstripe. The upholstery was designed in black suede Alcantra to offer a more modern look & is double-stitched in gold to complement the seat's pinstripe. We topped off the rear with an LED tail light housed in a brushed aluminum plate & then switched our focus to the tank.
As with our other builds, we really wanted the XR400R to shine a little bit differently to the observer so instead of using a gas tank from some other bike, we decided to make ours from scratch. We wanted the tank to be simple so we handmade a teardrop style tank out of aluminum & machined the gas cap in house. We polished everything to a mirror finish & gave the tank a subtle scalloped paint design. The tank was then fitted with a golden pinstripe, pulling together the color theme set by the seat & upholstery.
After building the tank we bent the bars in house out of 7/8" stainless tubing & built the front number plate which is handmade from aluminum & contains slots that were milled to bring air to the oil cooler. With riding always in mind, we then added lights to make the bike street legal, allowing us to take the XR400R from the dirt to the streets.
We loved the look of the Akrapovic muffler so we kept it, but we made our own headers out of oversized stainless tubing. We brushed the headers but left them unpolished & with exposed welds to play with the imperfect, impermanent, & incomplete nature of the Japanese Wabi-sabi aesthetic.
After the build, there was a noticeable amount of weight shaved off of an already light moto enduro & we were left with a refreshing take on the Honda XR400R. We succeeded in building a bike that stood out, but more importantly we built a bike we could ride. Whether it's on the city streets or the unpaved back roads, this build is sure to reel in the fun & is guaranteed to turn a few heads while doing so.