​© 2019 by John L. Painter

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I started riding motorcycles in the late 70's after my father agreed to help me buy a new Indian MX100R.  Growing up on the coast of Maine, I'd been lobstering with my Uncle all summer and making good money for a kid. That bike set me back $400, had a very narrow power band, hated cold starts, had crappy suspension, rubber coated foot pegs which fell off in one day - and I LOVED that friggin bike!  Motorcycles have been a part of my life ever since.

In 1984 and '85 Honda tried a new design for it's very popular XR line introducing a four valve RFVC engine with two carburetors. Though the new design was considered by many to be too heavy, and with an engine prone to overheating, I've always found these two years to be reflective of the intense development of off-highway bikes in the 1980's and with slight modification, very reliable trail bikes.

 

Over the years I've owned a number motorcycles.  For off-highway four strokes I've owned an XR70, XR80, XR250L, XR600R, KLR650 and now an XR200R that I've been restoring to a riding bike.  This page is about my restoration efforts and a bit of history and resources for others interested in old Honda XR200R's affectionately known as Little Red Pig's (LRP) a smaller version of their big brother of the same years, the XR600R nick named..... you guessed it Big Red Pig.

I picked the bike up from Craigslist for $200, after pointing out to the seller that if I needed parts they'd be hard to find.  As predicted, though the bike had virtually all the parts, though the crankcase had a 10" crack in it, the rockers were trashed as is common in these bikes and sure looked like a lost cause.

Anyone who has one of these bikes knows the real issue with them is poor oil flow to the top end especially when the engine is run hard.  The fix, which I'm surprised Honda never did, is to either fabricate a new oil passage pipe with new banjo or use a dremmel tool with diamond bit to carve a channel inside the stock banjos and in addition slightly enlarge the oil flow passages on the camshaft and run synthetic oil. 

 

But unfortunately, it was not clear for most people the cause of over heating.  At this point used rockers are hard to find undamaged, and when you do find them they will probably cost more than your new "bargain".  For the unaware, a NOS "Rocker Arm-A" will set you back several hundred bones.  So what did I do? 

I got in touch with Hector at Rocker Arms Unlimited who did a great job resurfacing my rockers and returning them to good serviceable condition.  So how bad were my rocker arms? 

 

Look at that photo, totally concaved.

The bike actually cleaned up fairly well with a little engine degreaser and power wash.  Of course the carbs were predictably full of crud and the plastics needed to be descaled from sun fade, etc, etc, so for a basket case (note the entire top end was actually in a plastic basket) it was in pretty good shape.

Along the restoration way there were several things which needed my attention; a clutch basket - there was spring sag in all the springs, so I found a used one with almost no sag, right side plastics, clutch cable, etc.  Not surprisingly for a 30 year old bike, in pieces, most of the parts were rock solid. It is, after all, a Honda! 

So what do I have into the bike? On top of the initial $200 I have an additional $600 into it and will need new tires before it can really be ridden.  But for $800 I got a summer of fun rebuilding a piece of history and getting a new best friend for mild trail riding.  As a bonus, when I was hooking up the lights and scratching my head why all the bulbs kept blowing, 6v bulbs aren't as easy to get as they used to be. I realized my bike had the optional 12v system installed!! Yes, now I'm able to run regular 12v headlight and tail light.  Here's a quick video of when I realized my bike had the 12v system.  In the spring I'll be installing blinkers, brake light and horn and convert to a dual sport.

Though my interest in any particular bike is often passing, my belief in the sport and motorcyclist lifestyle led me to being involved several motorcyclist organizations and currently serve as the state coordinator in Maine for the American Motorcyclist Association.

If you are not a member of the AMA I invite you to join me and many others in advocating for and enjoying the motorcyclist lifestyle.  Click the logo below.

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