Another V649HP Gravel Runner...

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by BigChuck, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
    212
    Location:
    Gloucester, Va
    Like the man said.. "You can't buy one, Ya have to build it."

    [​IMG]20170908_123350

    After the better part of two seasons following JDRocks around on his red framed gravel runner and pushing my 2015 Versys "Bug" about as hard and as far as it is capable of going, I decided I would need my own gravel runner. Gravel runner chaser? Gravel runner runner?
    Whatever... it was time to go big or eventually get left behind.

    [​IMG]20171006_115437

    I already had a Versys, and it is a great bike, so why not go bigger on the suspension on Bug? It would not be too hard to switch to a 19" front with a DL1000 wheel, a very straight forward and relatively easy swap. This would make an instant improvement off road, but would it be enough? And how to retain the ABS? I could pull the ABS completely off the bike, but that seems like a real waste (the ABS is very good on these bikes, I even like it off in the dirt and rocks). If I was going to pull the ABS, why not go all the way and swap the swingarm (which is funny, because recently I did just that), an R1 shock, DRZ400 forks, and a Suzuki rear rim to match the front? Go big or go home?
    But... that 2015 bike is such a good bike... I hate to mess with it too much.
    With a set of TKC and Shinko tires, it really does well.

    So... what I need is another bike! Yeah! One streety bike, and one Dirty bike! That's the ticket!
    Build myself a gravel runner!
    I'm not without a little bit of talent and ingenuity when it comes to building and fabricating... I should be able to do this. Plus, I have JD leading the way... just have to pay close attention, follow along all the details as he puts his next bike together.

    But... where to start? and with what?
    I really had no idea. Until a deal popped up, literally right in my face. Someone I had spoken to a few times at work about bikes (he had a Ninja 650, and noticed mine was similar) asked me if I knew someone who needed "parts". Specifically, an engine, wiring harness, tank, seat, wheels... literally everything to a 2014 EX650R.. except a frame or an exhaust. The price was about what the wheels that came with it all would bring on ebay too. Done deal.

    [​IMG]20170913_220406
    [​IMG]20170916_102150

    Now I had the heart of the project, and a bunch of crap to sell off as well.
    Time to start looking for a frame... 2007 to at least 2010 EX650 would do in a pinch, Versys would be better, but harder to get.
    #1
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  2. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Gloucester, Va
    That frame would come along, and after some convoluted horse trading, wouldn't cost very much at all.
    Hello 2009 EX650R .... naked to the extreme.

    [​IMG]20171020_144056

    The parts from the 2014 engine deal came with a very nice tubular swingarm, so I had that piece of the puzzle. It's funny, but I actually put that swingarm on my 2015 (Looks awesome on there!) and got another identical piece from a local bike salvage place in Richmond. Too cheap not to, and the original from the Versys is sought after by the ex650 guys building track bikes because of its light weight, so it will return double the money or better on the 'bay.

    New swingarm
    [​IMG]20180304_170033

    I did a little bit of machining on a part for JD, and in return he donated a seat from an older ex650.
    That, and I managed a stupid cheap (sub $20) deal on a very nice Ninja tank that fits that seat profile like a glove!
    [​IMG]20180304_164923

    It's not an option JD would vote for. He always sings the praises of the extra gallon of gas in a Versys tank, and well he should. But, beggars can't be choosers, and with my budget I could live with the choice. Might have to carry a bit more extra fuel or make an extra stop or two, but that tank looks pretty good!
    Slap a couple of stock side pieces on there and call it done. It can always be changed out later if it doesn't work out.

    I had a long list of parts to look for. No telling when something would come up, just needed to keep a look out and be ready.
    That's how the question of using DRZ 400 forks (like earlier 'runner builds) or some USD monsters like JD is sporting on the newest build would be answered.
    I was helping a friend from work replace the carb on an '06 CRF450 Honda. He wanted it running decently to put it up for sell. When I asked about the extra set of forks in the corner of the garage?
    "Oh those? An extra set. Rebuilt and re-sprung, but too stiff for me... you want 'em? You can have 'em"

    Ta Daaaa... Forks!
    [​IMG]20180208_163345

    And that's how Big Chuck's "Runner" got started...
    #2
  3. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

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    Well, off to a good start, aren't we?
    Lots of things still on the list, but we'll just knock them out one at a time. No particular order, just keep looking, know exactly what we want, and be ready to pounce if it shows up.

    Don't forget to search "Versys" on craigslist and whatnot, never know what might turn up...

    I was on craigslist when I first noticed a 2011 Versys, owner must have been hot to sell, price kept going down on a regular basis... $3400...$3200...$2700...
    Wait a minute...$2700? Ad said "Firm", but how firm would that be with money on the spot?
    Do a little math... add up all the parts on there that I could use for the build... subtract all the parts that would definitely sell... we are close to breaking even. Maybe close enough to forgive the extra I would have in it to end up with so much of the build all at once and right now.
    Maybe... just maybe. So, we go look at it.

    The chain needs a lot of love and a lot of tensioning, probably needs a new one and new sprockets. Muffler is a cheap aftermarket one, and is too loud. Clutch cable is sticky and needs to be adjusted, but the clutch holds fast. Starts right up, purrs like a kitty (one great big pissed off kitty... man is that a neighbor pissing off muffler!) goes like stink.
    But, the guy is stuck hard on $2700. No dice, and I am just not ready to cough that much up yet.
    It's Saturday, and he is waiting on a few other interested parties to look it over. Ok, if it's not to be, then so be it.
    Late Saturday I get a message, "No one else is ready to buy, one even seemed to be trying to steal away with it... I'll take $2500". I tell him I'll think it over... knowing I would go get it at that price, just not ready to admit it to myself.

    Monday morning... a call this time... " Remember I said there was still a lien on the bike? Well the Repo man has figured out where its at, and won't go away. I'm trapped here at work."
    Turns out, the lien was with the same Credit Union I use. Now the asking price is the pay off amount, today, right now..... and it is a WHOLE LOT less than his last asking price.

    So, after some few hours trying to confuse the crap out of the people at the Credit Union...
    This happens.
    [​IMG]20180304_152426

    So, I guess we have to back up and rewrite some of the story, because now we will be starting with a whole bike.
    #3
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  4. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    6,764
    ^^^^^apparently, this whole V649HP thing is contagious.

    Charles has skills, this is a thread to follow, see what he does.
    #4
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  5. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

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    Gloucester, Va
    Like a bad case of head lice in kindergarten...


    A plan... we need a plan... not much of one, I really don't like to plan too much of what I do, it just gets in the way of ingenuity and inspiration.
    Yeah, right. That's just fancy speak for " I found this in the trash bin... I bet I could cut it here and maybe there and it would work."
    Besides, as some wise ass once said "no plan survives contact with the enemy."
    (I personally don't think this was actually anyone in the military making that statement... the Army I served in would continue with a plan once it was set in motion despite anything anyone did, much less the enemy.)

    So, lets have a goal, a bit of inspiration...
    The donor bike is a 2011, a "second generation" Versys, and has what I personally think is a much better front end than the previous model. I sort of like the headlight on this one. I think I will keep as much of the original bodywork as I can, trimming and reinforcing it as needed or able.
    It does seem a bit "unfinished" if you look at it too long. It needs something... google "Versys beak". Ok, there is something. Some of those beaks are "interesting" to say the least, but some of them aren't that bad.
    I do like the shorter "GS" style beak, especially with the changes to the silly plastic side panels to look more like some kind of scoop.

    Like this...
    [​IMG]

    Now that reminds me of something? An F800 Bimmer maybe?
    [​IMG]

    With those USD forks, spoked 19" front 17" rear, just the right accents... yeah, maybe.
    The idea isn't to try and copy the BMW, just imitate the styling enough that most people will mistake it or not recognize it at first glance.
    Kind of like all those "Nice KTM" or "Is that an Aprilia?" comments JD's red framed bike would get.

    Do it in mostly black and white, some of the frame and crash bars in bright red, swingarm in black...
    Might look something like this...(with some squinting of course)
    [​IMG]

    And there are those rear saddle gas tanks... wouldn't those make interesting auxiliary tanks?
    We do have a very nice Tig machine here at work that I really need to learn to use...

    Upside to this plan? Keeping the biggest part of the bike intact means it will be a much faster process.
    Downside? By not "customizing" my own rear undertray area and rear fender, like JD is doing, I am going to limit the amount of rear travel before the rear tire hits. And probably other things I have not thought of yet.
    Another small upside? I can use that bare ex650 frame as a "model" for adapting a set of triples to work and to mock up everything for the bike, leaving the donor together and working until everything is ready.
    And... don't tell the XO, but this plan will also leave me with that frame, smaller tank, and what not to play with later on.
    Do I smell a stripped down, bare bones, 21/18 inch tired speed buggy V649HP dirt monster in the air?
    Lots of problems to solve for one of those to be really successful, but it can't hurt to have it on a back burner... something to keep the mind busy on long winter nights.
    #5
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  6. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

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    Dec 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
    212
    Location:
    Gloucester, Va
    Well, thanks to member Tripletreat, I scored a couple of UNI filter pods for the project!

    [​IMG]

    Something that was on the to do list, just not in any particular order, so why not slap those puppies in?
    A few minuets with a dremel tool and the pods fit right on the velocity stacks in the airbox.
    Directions and pictures can be found in JD's original V649HP thread for anyone who was paying attention.

    [​IMG]

    They sure look sweet in there!

    Carefully squeeze the lid back on and she will be ready for the dirt!
    [​IMG]
    Well... at least the air intake will be ready. Long way still to go.

    Did get the bugger all legalized and tagged, since the plan is to keep it together and running right up to the last minute.
    Went for a little buzz the other day. lots of sunshine, but still damn cold.
    [​IMG]

    She runs pretty sweet, but even with my numb "butt-o-meter" I can tell that there is a difference in the suspension between this generation and my 2015. Not a lot, but it is there.
    That or this one is just particularly bad. I'm glad it will all be gone after the build.
    #6
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  7. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

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    Dec 28, 2014
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    Location:
    Gloucester, Va
    Parts are slowly arriving...

    One CRF450R Triple tree.
    [​IMG]
    Now to figure out a bearing swap or adapter to fit it to a Versys frame.

    Versys uses a 35x55x11 bearing, the CRF a 30x51x15.
    Should be room for a shouldered sleeve to fit the CRF stem into Versys bearings... Or..
    There is such a thing as a 30x55x17 bearing.
    Seems like a solid idea, but we will have to see how the increase in height of 6mm works out.
    #7
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  8. LocuL

    LocuL Gnarly Infantry

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    Location:
    Denmark - Jutland
    Looks great. No 21" or is there no room.
    #8
  9. sanjoh

    sanjoh Purveyor of Light

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2007
    Oddometer:
    6,532
    Location:
    Mountains of Central Florida:)
    Welcome to the ninja/versys/kwak 650ptwin universe.

    A heads up on the triples/forks you plan on using. There will be very little lock to lock steering available, due to the lack of offset and the width of frame. One reason JD stuck with the stock triples.

    Plenty of room for a 21" wheel, however it is not needed for a gravel/dust eater.
    #9
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  10. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Gloucester, Va
    If you look, you'll see that JD is using a similar triple, from a KLX450 I believe, and 48mm USD forks from the same bike.
    I'm not sure how his loss of steering range turned out, but I think it's less than you might think. The triples I am using from the pre '09 450r honda have a generous 24mm offset. A lot of riders of those bikes will use aftermarket triples with less offset, and newer bikes come with less from the factory since '09.
    Just using the old "eyeball o meter" and some straight edges, I can say the Versys triples are real close, within a mm or two of these clamps. The real holdup will come from the shear size of the 47mm USD showas. Looking at how far the Versys clamps turn, it looks like they stop a decent distance from the frame. I may be able to close that space a bit tighter with my own stops.
    Aside from that, I don't think I have ever turned the steering all the way to a lock while on the bike, and probably wouldn't except in a parking space, a u-turn on a trail, or maneuvering around the garage .
    If there is a little loss of range, I can live with it.

    I'll have a better idea once I have a work around for the bearings . We'll see how it works out .
    #10
  11. joe5322

    joe5322 Adventurer

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    Jan 9, 2017
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    Location:
    the netherlands
    Hi,think we the same year of the motor 2011.Make her as naked as I can. IMG_1200.JPG IMG_1200.JPG IMG_1202.JPG
    #11
  12. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    6,764
    looks good. i predict the fender will hit the underside of the bottom clamp when you stuff the forks. it doesn't happen often if you're staying on pavement, but you'll know it when it does.

    add wings to your custom fender raising brackets to protect the stanchions.

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

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    Dec 28, 2014
    Oddometer:
    212
    Location:
    Gloucester, Va
    Nothing to see here... nothing at all...

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. Moparman

    Moparman Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2016
    Oddometer:
    67
    Location:
    WV
    Hey BigChuck! I too will be following along closely; both in the thread as well as in my own build. In truth I ought to be way further along than I am, but between getting sidetracked on a couple of other projects, work taking up way too much of my time, and most recently an unruly dirt bike that decided to buck me off into a tree resulting in a broken left forearm, I've sort of stalled on my bike for the moment. I'm committed to have her up and running before riding season is out this year though. I still hope to come over and meet you and JD on the eastern side of Almost Heaven for some gravel riding sometime this summer. You being able to generally keep up with the ol' V649HP on your stock Versys last year convinced me I probably could on mine as well until my own runner is finished.

    In case you might be looking at other options on the triple clamps, one to consider that you might not have expected is mid-2000's Hayabusa trees. That's what I am using, although I think I am going to machine my own upper to incorporate a Scotts damper. They are nice and wide, and have very similar geometry to the stock Versys clamps. AllBalls has bearings that make them fit right up. I had them on my project bike using sleeves for the DRZ forks (e.g. JD's solution) for a test ride before I started the tear-down and they worked great. Plenty of lock to lock clearance.

    Good luck with the build! Of course JD is the guru on these, but I've had my hands on a wrench (or a welder, paint gun, lathe, mill, etc.) a time or two as well so if you ever want another set of eyes on a design concept or another brain to storm an idea with hit me up!

    Moparman (aka Evan Dailey)
    #14
  15. mentolio

    mentolio Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2016
    Oddometer:
    82
    Subscribed...I love watching a good Versys build!

    Mannnnnn, you guys are killin' me! I have a long list of likes involving VA and WVA, and this seeming over abundance of cheap motorcycle parts is pushing me over the edge! Here in "Dirty Jersey," it seems like everything cheap is stolen, and everything legit people want a mint for it! "I gotta git outta this place, if it's the last thing I ever do..."
    #15
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  16. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    6,764
    My current project bike came from your neighborhood, very cheap and clear title. It’s all about the shopping as I’ve said more than once.
    #16
  17. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    6,764
    3 riders with 3 unfinished bikes, i guess we better get movin'.

    as far as keeping up with a V649 swap-ola style bike with a stock suspended Versys, forget it. Charles kept up because we didn't go anywhere you would need big, and i didn't want him to break the poor thing, we still had to ride home. i'm ready for you guys to get your bikes done, then you can sample all the hard stuff, plus water crossings, first.

    as soon as we're all running, as is road legal, we'll get a ride set up.
    #17
  18. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Gloucester, Va
    One set of tapered roller bearings and dust shields.. (steering kit for a 99-01 R1)
    And we have Honda tripples on a Versys style frame .
    20180505_100049.jpg

    Top nut sits flush, but nothing is torqued down yet, so should end up just right.
    20180505_100040.jpg

    Looks a bit impressive with the forks in there...
    20180505_100833.jpg
    #18
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  19. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    that bike is going to be too small for you, better get it up in the air a little.
    #19
  20. BigChuck

    BigChuck Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Gloucester, Va
    Shock is in...

    20180507_155930.jpg

    Spent some quality time smashing my fingers... I mean swapping the end bushings for the larger Kawi ones.
    The needle bearings and bushing swapped right over on the small end, easy as pie.
    The other end the bushing is mounted in rubber, but.. if you try to drill it out it gets hot and slips out of the rubber.
    Makes it easy to bore the rubber out a little, heat the replacement bushing up and slip it in.
    Almost like I planned it that way.

    20180509_022748.jpg

    Now I need to get the spring ready.
    #20
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