The XR250R front and rear suspension is adequate for trail riding, but for serious racing or agressive riding it needs some help. Here are some answers regarding the most common modifications.....
Q: What is the situation with the stock suspension for agressive riding or racing?A: The general consensus is that the stock suspension bottoms a little too easy, especially on big jumps, is a little too soft in general, and has a vague feeling with regards to steering response. Most later XR's have modern cartridge forks, and so front damping adjustments are easily made. The rear shocks now have separate compression and rebound damping adjustments, for good adjustments in the rear.
1. Front Forks
Q: How can I modify the front forks for better performance?
A: First, some companies like Thumper Racing or XR's Only will modify your forks for you to give you better resistance to bottoming and greater ground clearance by lengthening the forks, revalving, and with spring alterations. Second, you can substitute Progressive brand springs for the OEM springs, which will stiffen up the front and also help fight bottoming. For non cartridge forks, the damper rods can be revalved or aftermarket damper rods installed.
Q: How can I make the forks steer better?
Most XR owners have noticed that it can be difficult for the front end to climb up out of ruts or track well in heavy sand or rocks. A great fix for this is to install a fork brace from Summers Racing Components. This modification includes a CNC machined fork brace, a set of rubber seals/brace mounts, and two fork slider protectors. Installation of this brace is relatively easy, but it requires making two small cutouts on the sides of the front fender for adequate clearance, and a template for this is included in the brace kit.
Q: What else can be done to improve the front suspension?
A: Fork oil weight can be adjusted to speed up or slow down the fork action, and fork oil level can also be adjusted. Also, be aware that after riding for a while the screws on the top of the cartridge fork units should be loosened for a few seconds to bleed off excess air as the air will expand as it heats up, making the forks a little harsh.
2. Rear Shock
Q: How can I modify the rear shock for better performance?
A: As with the front forks, the rear shock can be modified by XR's Only or by Thumper Racing for better performance. This usually includes revalving and a different spring. Progressive brand also makes replacement springs for the XR shock, and offer a progressive action which also fights bottoming.
Q: Is there anything else to be done with the rear suspension?
A: Progressive also offers their 420 series shock for the XR250R, which replaces the stock shock. The stock shock generally seems to be adequate however, with just the spring replacement.
Summary: If you want the plush suspension but don't like the vague steering, then try just the fork brace. For serious riding or racing, you should at least consider replacing the springs, with the ultimate modifications being complete reworking of the forks.
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