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Old 11-30-2013, 09:10 AM   #1
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Ka-ma-zuki?......Ya-wa-zuki?....Su-wa-ha?....a V649HP clone!

About three years ago, while living on a sail boat in Key West and trying to figure out what I wanted out of life and where I wanted to go, I came across a ride report that captured my attention. Well to be perfectly honest, a picture of the bike that the rider used for his ride is what caught my attention. I refer you to said bike....

Another look at it:

At this point some of you may recognize this as the handy work of one JDrocks. This was his first ADV Versys/Ninja build. If you're interested in reading his ride report from his 2009 ride up to Alaska with the above pictured bike, follow THIS LINK. Needless to say I was hooked by this ride report; while living on a boat in Key West is pretty cool, it did not give me many motorcycling options, and for all practical purposes no off road riding available. So in the summer of 2011, I myself outfitted a 2009 Versys and left from Key West on June 8th and rode all over north western Canada and Alaska, trying to hit all the major dirt/gravel highways. You can check out this and all my other ride reports by way of the link at the bottom any of my posts in my signature line.

Here is a picture of that bike:

Another picture of my '09 Versys, once I got to Watson Lake and swapped out to knobby tires:

Being that I was living on a sail boat and did not have access to much tooling or a work space (other than the marina parking lot), I did mostly cosmetic work to that bike (kept stock suspension). The bike performed well, and I fell in love with the power plant in that frame. After that adventure I ended back up in Virginia, more specifically northern VA, and was working in and around the great DC area. At that point in time (December 2011), my plan was to continue feeding my wanderlust. I decided to work for the next year and a half, save up as much money as possible, and then take a year or more off for a round the world trip. All was going along swimingly until winter of 2012/2013, when I was contacted by a former employer from a job I had left almost four years prior. The basic gist of the story is that he wanted me to come back and work for him again. At that time I found myself torn; on the one hand I was in good shape to take off in 8/9 months for the trip of a life time, but on the other hand I was being offered a job that was better than my current job, payed more, better benefits, and still gave me almost 4 months vacation time a year! Yeah, I hear you now.....4 months!?!?!? Well the job is working at a school, so when you add up Christmas break, spring break, and summer vacations, that almost makes 4 months. Midway through spring of this year, I was offered the job, and the adult in me decided to take it; after all, I'm not 20 something any more, and things life health insurance and retirement plans are important. That and I could still do my RTW trip; the only difference being that I would have to do it in stages as opposed to all at once! Up until then, my plan had been to use a KLR650 for the RTW trip, primarily due to budget constraints and because the bike is a proven bike (even though it's not a particularly exciting machine to me). However, with my new found job, and small pay increase, my mind wandered back to the Versys, and in particular the Gen 2 version of JDrocks' ADV Versys/Ninja. Allow me to refer you to a picture of his Gen 2 bike:

And another:

The changes that Dave had implemented between the Gen1 and Gen2 bikes were amazing, and his craftsmanship just got better and better. I had also run into Dave in person at a few ADV get togethers and seeing the bike in person just made me want one more and more. That and having been back on a KLR for the almost a year reminded me of just how much more I enjoyed the Versys (I had lost my Versys that I took to Alaska due to some dude in an F250 not understand that a red traffic light means stop, and so after being drug down the road about 25 yards or so, enough damage was done to that bike for the insurance company to consider it totaled). So I decided to buy another Versys and build it up in the same style as Dave's builds, and use it for my RTW trip. And this is how we end up to where we are now. Around August of this year I picked up a 2012 Versys with 14K miles for a good deal. I'd stayed in touch with Dave over the years, and had been on and off pestering him with all sorts of questions regarding what he did to his bike and what parts he'd used, and how he'd put it together. I've got to say at this point that Dave is some kind of incredible; extreemly patient with me and incredibly generous in sharing his knowledge and experiences. I then spent all this fall gathering and sourcing all the parts I needed for my build. Here is a short list of what I had in mind (a more off road oriented suspension was the goal, so as to turn this bike into more of a dual sport).

- Front wheel swap to a 19"
- Front fork swap for ones that have more travel, conventional as opposed to upside down forks, and fully adjustable
- Rear shock swap for one that is fully adjustable

Fast forward to about a week and a half ago, and here's what I had in a corner of my spare bedroom:

I'd also printed out all of Dave's posts from his build thread (which you can find HERE) and the PMs that we exchanged back and forth to help with my assembly:

And then I'd also secured the help and assistance of two good friends who would provide me with shop space, lot of technical know how, and access to a milling machine and metal lathe for fabricating the few parts that may be needed along the way. Our plan was to meet up on Thanksgiving day, work on the bike, enjoy the Thanksgiving meal together with family and friends, and work on the bike some more.

Well, this gives you most of the necessary background info. Next posts will be of the actual build that occured over Thanksgiving day and yesterday. I will do my best to explain what I did, what I used, and how I made it work. There will be lots of pictures to help explain the process, but in all fairness, Dave (JDrocks) really deserves all the credit as I am simply copying what he has done. He's the one who took the time to do all the research to figure out what would and what would not work. He also helped me out with machining a few custom pieces that were necessary for the build. The fact that the actual assembly of this bike occured over Thanksgiving is so fitting to me because THIS SIMPLY COULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THE HELP OF SO MANY GOOD FRIENDS AND FAMILY! And for that I am so thankful and feel so blessed; words can not express my gratitude and love for you all.

I hope you all enjoy!
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:16 AM   #2
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Subbed, I'd like to do all this stuff to mine!
Get fit. Stay safe. Enjoy life. Learn something to help someone in need.
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:17 AM   #3
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COOL DENIS.......BUT take it easy with the KLR remarks
If it stops raining now, i'll be pissed!(BEANTOP)

It's mostly Dan........I knew he couldn't keep a secret(SCOTTY P)
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:38 AM   #4
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Alright here we go. First order, a before picture; here is the bike when I bought it earlier this year.

Like I said in the previous post, it's a 2012, and had 14K miles on it when I bought it in August of this year.

Here's what it looked like at the begining of this week prior to do the big suspension overhaul/change over.

You can already see some of the mods/add-ons that I addressed over the course of the fall.

- larger Givi windscreen (this particular Givi windscreen is one of the best windscreens I've ever had on any bike!)
- SW-Motech crash bars and skid plate
- Zeta handguards
- Givi racks to mount panniers and luggage rack behind the seat. These were racks that I had on my previous versys and were made to support the Givi E21 cases that I used to own. A bit of modification was required to mount them on the '12 vs the '09 Versys, and obviously to mount a set of custom made aluminum panniers made by a guy out in Washington state as opposed to the plastic Givi cases. I then fabbed up the top rack plate out of a piece of aluminum that I had lying around and coated it Plasti-Dip in a spray can.
- Relocated the rear blinkers because of the cases
- Put on a set of Hyper-Lites to be more visible
- More agressive footpegs that transferred over from my KLR
- A radiator guard

All this stuff was super easy, and pretty much just bolted on.

The last piece required for my build to arrive was the new front wheel. The required wheel is the front wheel from a Suzuki DL1000. This is a 19" wheel as opposed to the stock Versys front wheel which is 17". The big difference between the two is that you can hardly find any dual sport front tires in 17"; TKC does now make one, but that was not the case 2 years ago, and still, the variety is extreemly slim when compared to what you can find in the 19" size. The other reason to swap out to a 19" front is that this now gives my bike the same tire combo as the BMW GS. This is important to me as I plan on taking this bike all over the world in the next several years and will need to source tires in various parts of the world as different points in my travels. Whether we want to admit it or not, the BMW GS is a very popular bike that has been all over the world, and therefor it should be easier to source those size of tires regardless of where I am.

Now when the wheel came in, the previous owner had painted it silver; my bike has a predominately black and yellow color scheme, so I painted it black. I once again used this Plasti-Dip stuff that a friend has been using on his Jeep with good results.

We'll just have to see how it holds up over time. Here's the end result.

Next step was to mount up some rotors and a tire. Now technically I only needed one rotor, as the fork swap that I was doing only had a caliper mount on one fork as opposed to the stock Versys set up of twin brakes up front. You do still need to at a minimum put a block off plate of the opposite side of the rim to prevent crap from easily filling up the hollow hub. I decided to go ahead and mount a second rotor; in this manner I'll not only be closing off the side of the hub like I want/need to, but the wheel will be more balanced and I'll be carrying a spare rotor. I know, what are the chances that I'll need a spare rotor, but then again, what does it hurt?

Lunch time now; more build posts to follow later.
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:47 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by AustinJake View Post
Subbed, I'd like to do all this stuff to mine!
Welcome; all I can say is ....... DO IT!!!

Once again I can't thank JDrocks enough; he let me take his Gen2 bike for a spin because this conversion DOES CHANGE how the bike rides a lot, and he wanted me to be sure that it was what I wanted. And let me tell you, WOW!!! For me, it's the perfect combination of a great power plant with off road capable suspension. Now it's not a trail bike for technical single track stuff, but that is NOT what I want. I want a bike that can run pavement and twisties, dirt/gravel roads similar to forest service roads, and rougher when required, but I'm not looking for a trail bike.

Feel free to post up any questions you might have as they come up and I'll do my best to answer them.

Originally Posted by eddie bolted View Post
COOL DENIS.......BUT take it easy with the KLR remarks
Eddie! Love you brother, and the KLRs too! Like I always tell people, you shouldn't be worried if I give you a little shit, that means that I actually like you. If I didn't like you, I'd just ignore you and not mention you! This obviously applies to bikes as well.

The KLRs are good bikes in their own regard; hell, I've owned two of them myself and they have taken me to incredible places all over the lower 48. But the power that the Versys motor produces in comparison....well....

Welcome aboard my friend, and be warned, you may be converted if you hang around!
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:48 AM   #6
louder, louder, louder!
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You'd think Kawasaki would get the message by now....
When they say Harleys are for 1%ers, I don't think they mean guys who sell crank and get in bar fights any more.
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Old 11-30-2013, 10:11 AM   #7
Jax Off again.
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Alright Denis!!!!
Homage to the master, JDrocks!!! Can't wait.
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Old 11-30-2013, 10:56 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Roadracer_Al View Post

You'd think Kawasaki would get the message by now....
You'd think so, wouldn't you. With a few minor changes this bike could give many of the ADV bikes some serious competition.

Originally Posted by JaxObsessed View Post
Alright Denis!!!!
Homage to the master, JDrocks!!! Can't wait.
Hey Jack!
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Old 11-30-2013, 11:10 AM   #9
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Alright, so I'd left off with having prepped the new front wheel. I ended up putting a used Heidenau K60 front tire on the rim that I got for free of an ADVrider inmate buddy of mine (thanks Gastone!). I've always wanted to try this tire and am looking forward to what it can do. With that being done, I loaded up my truck with all the parts I'd aquired, and the bike on the trailer, and headed to my buddy Clarence's house on Thanksgiving morning. Another friend Warren would meet us there, and between the three of us we'd get the bike together. My father was supposed to join us, but he was unfortunately feeling under the weather and had to drop out at the last minute.

Here is the bike on the lift, ready for it's operation!

First order of business, the rear shock. I'm swapping out the rear shock for that off of a Yamaha R1. Now you've got to be careful and make sure that you get a shock from a 2007 or 2008 model year, otherwise you'll have fitment issues. The only work that needs to be done to the shock to mount it is to bore out the bushings at either end of the R1 shock as the bolts that the Versys uses to mount the rear shock are 12mm. Now one end of the R1 shock has a hardened SS steel bushing that is not so easy to bore out. I was very lucky in that my secret benefactor provided me with this piece in advance; in return I would send him the stock SS steel bushing out of the R1 shock once I replaced it. The other end we bored out ourselves very carefully on a drill press, going slowly and using lubricant so as not to create too much heat. Once that was done, it was time to swap out the spring on the shock. If I'm not mistaken the stock spring on the R1 shock is an 8lbs per mm rate spring and I needed a 16lbs per mm rate. I took JDrocks advice and contacted Cannon Racecraft to fabricate me a custom spring. What a beauty! Custom spring on the right, R1 stock spring on the left.

Now to swap out the spring. Having never done this before, I was very hesitant and a bit fearful about what might happen if one of the spring compressor tools came loose in the process! In the end all worked out well, but I was glad to have friends with me to double check what I was doing and offer their advice and help.

Compressing the stock spring to remove it.

New spring on the shock, just needs to be compressed in order to replace the retaining clip.


What we realized after having pulled off the stock spring and what we did before putting on the new spring is that it's easier if you set the preload back down to the lowest setting before you start compressing the spring!

With the rear shock ready for install, we put it aside and next turned our attention to the front end and the whole fork swap part of the job.
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Old 11-30-2013, 11:15 AM   #10
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JD's builds have inspired a lot of folks. Now we get to see one in yellow! Looking forward to see how this turns out.
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Old 11-30-2013, 11:28 AM   #11
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Ride On

Subscribed! I've got to see what would take someone from a sail boat in the Keys! Keep the reports and good pics coming. Proud for you...
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Old 11-30-2013, 12:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by eddie bolted View Post
COOL DENIS.......BUT take it easy with the KLR remarks


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Old 11-30-2013, 12:19 PM   #13
you can call me slip
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Uhhmmm...I meant to do that
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Old 11-30-2013, 12:56 PM   #14
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Looking good so far.

Most tire shops that do suspension work will have a wall or pedestal mounted manual spring compressor that makes quick work of a spring swap job. If you get someone that understands it's no more difficult than a normal coil over strut or shock. Cost can be $5 or $40, more or less. The $40 was a half hour of their normal labor rate, (kinda sucked, but it was done while I waited), a 10 minute job because they didn't know what they were doing. I used to have a spring compressor on my garage wall and would do these for free, (5 minute job).

I look forward to seeing the next installment.
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Old 11-30-2013, 01:15 PM   #15
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