First Thoughts: WR426 Suspension Upgrades

SpringsI picked up the WR426 from Santa Cruz Suspension this last Wednesday and was able to take it our for a ride Thursday morning. Not related to the suspension at all, I’m still struggling with the carb issues. The bike will only start when it’s cold. The choke and the Hot Start must be pulled out, and then the Hot Start has to quickly be pushed in, or it will die.

No amount of warmup will allow it to idle with the choke off. Also any, but the tiniest, throttle movement kills it instantly.

So, the routine is to crank up the idle speed enough that I can get it to move in first gear. As it rolls, very very slowly ease the throttle open. Once it gets to 1/4-1/2 throttle, out the choke in and hit the trail, and pray I don’t stall it. If it dies hot, aside from bump starting on a long downhill, there is no “routine” that will get that thing fired again. On the plus side, mid to full throttle, it is a rocket!

But enough of that. I only got in about 20 miles of a mix of trails and track laps. The suspension is pretty amazing. It still needs a little dialing in. Both the front and rear felt harsh in the small stutter/breaking bumps. I called Rich, afterwards, and he suggested that I dial out the rebound about 2 clicks and try again.

Other than that it was also a little harsh on the lower speed bumps, but the bike begs to be ridden aggressively and really doesn’t behave at low speed regardless.

The combination of the work on the forks and the new Dunlop front tire was amazing. The bike went everywhere I aimed it. Unlike my XR600, that requires a lot of body english to get it to go where I want, the WR is now point-and-shoot.

The rear-end is another story. I have an old, hard/stiff, and worn rear tire still. I took every opportunity to try to pass me up. Even under compression braking on the downhills, I was riding sideways. I don’t blame the suspension for this though.

On the other hand, I don’t think I have ever ridden through whoops with so much confidence. Also, despite there still being a fair amount of vibration coming through the bars, my wrists survived without any pain. What I noticed most of all was the the bike is simply much more forgiving. I used to scare the hell out of myself, somewhat frequently. Now it seems entirely predictable. When I found myself choosing a poor line, the suspension sucked it up, the bike remained stable, and I simply rode through it.

Most importantly, I had enough fun riding it that, I feel like it is worth continuing with “Project Restoration.”


What was done you ask? Springs were replaced, revavling was done, sag was set, blown seals were replaced, and the front tire was replaced. Rich said my bushings were still in good shape, so they stayed.

What’s next? Pull the carb again and give it a good long soaking. If it doesn’t run ofter that, I’ll probably send it out to Zip-Ty Racing for their carb mod and tuning. After the bike is running well, and I get a new rear tire on it, I will probably switch over to the newer exhaust cam, with the integrated compression release…


Author: Ev'mon

Experience: Riding since '81. Hardware: '94 RMX250; '97 XR600; '95 NightHawk 750; '01 WR426 Ranking: Adventurist Favorite Riding: Tight Woods & Desert Favorite Places: Hungry Valley, CA; Baja Mexico

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