And now, a message from the owner
I am the owner of this particular bike, CJDL-650R. Let me start out by saying that I really liked my stock DL. Iíve owned it since new in 09, putting on about 18,000 miles and a lot of fond memories.
The DL was never advertised as an off road capable machine which is obvious when looking at suspension travel, ground clearance, wheels, etc. The DL also doesnít like road surfaces that are anything short of hard pack. Combination of 19Ē front wheel and excessive front end weight make the bike want to plow into soft surface making for an often unsettling riding experience. It wasnít until I started travelling with a group of KTM Adventure riders and doing real adventure rides that I realized I either had to buy a new bike or do something with mine or it would end up a smoking wreck on some back woods trail (thinking of specific portions of the Wisconsin Dead Horse trail) . When I approached CJ my idea was to build something capable and unique, CJís idea was to work toward creating a low cost adventure bike ďupgrade kitĒ for people who couldnít afford or donít want to spend the money on a big name adventure bike. We were never out to create a ďbetterĒ adventure bike, just a better Offroad kit that would make the DL more capable. What I ended up with is a competent, reliable, flexible, and most importantly, an affordable adventure capable bike that retains all of the great aspects of the DL; bullet proof reliability, beautifully smooth motor/clutch interface, and, itís inexpensive on the secondary market.
I spent many hours looking through forums at bikes others had built but never found anything close to what I was looking for. Thinking that the build would be fairly straight forward I starting to collect the parts I thought would be needed. The main focus at that time was making sure the headset bearings were same dimensions which is what drove me to the DRZ400 forks and triple clamp tree. When I installed the DRZ OEM clamps I soon discovered that steering was very limited from lock to lock. I would have had the turning radius of a city bus, maybe. i could not find any other OEM clamps or a vendor that offered a ďbolt onĒ kit that would accept DRZ forks, or any other non OEM dimension forks. Thatís when I realized this was going to be a fairly complicated project and I really needed CJ to take a look at this and develop something.
With CJ involved things really began to take off and I/we had to think about many other issues other than front suspension. One of the main issues was braking. We used a stock DRZ 400S front brake assembly clamping on a Warp 9 320mm rotor. This setup is not grabby, offers good feel and plenty of breaking power on dirt or pavement. You can lock up the front wheel if you feel the need. In all the offroad riding Iíve done with it I never over cooked the brakes. I am every bit as confident with this brake setup as I was with the stock dual rotor setup.
The acid test was a recent trip to Colorado to run the Back Country Discovery Route from Four Corners to Steamboat Springs along with many side trips. We took roads out and back from Wisconsin a total of about 5000 miles. The bike worked great, never had a mechanical issue and, was able to go everywhere the KTM big bikes I was with went. Fully loaded! The bike was nimble, responsive and able to absorb the big blows that are inevitable when ascending and descending talus strewn mountain passes, gnarly 2 track, and the inevitable off. Plus, I got about 40 -45 MPG. Essentially I knocked the hell out of it for about 2000 trail miles without so much as a hiccup. Plus, I can now service my air filter start to finish in less than 20 minutes. Try that on a stock DL. There is no comparison with the stock DL, itís a different bike. Itís not better or worse than a stock DL, but different, a purpose built adventure bike that can take you just about anywhere you want to go.
Over the winter I will probably make a few changes to the setup. I will look at lowering the bike. Right now it is very tall, with more ground clearance and suspension travel than a KTM Adventure bike. Fully geared up I weigh about 165 pounds and maybe 5í9Ē tall so in reality I donít need as much suspension travel as I have and getting on and off the bike can sometimes be a challenge . I think having a little less ground clearance (lowering the bike) will make me more capable on the really tough stuff because I can get my feet on the ground helping to stabilize me at low speed. So, wth that said, Iím thinking about lowering the bike, how much I havenít yet determined, and putting a flatter seat on it. Iíll be talking to Renazco about building a seat more in the dirt bike style so I donít feel like Iím sitting inside the bike.
Then Iím heading out west for another Back Country Discovery Route.
See you on the trail.