DR350 supermoto project on a KLR budget

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by dbarale, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    So I’ve had motard envy for a while now, going on 15 years. The fact that the roads around here are perfect for them and that a bunch of local inmates ride them didn’t help a bit…
    But I’m also broke so buying one was not an option. I thought about converting my little XR250R but I like it too much the way it is.
    A friend of mine offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse on his old DR350S. So I ended up with this, meet Number 6:

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    The good: it has some aftermarket goodies like Vortex airbox, FMF exhaust, zombie proof skidplate, and the suspension feels like it has been reworked at some point and the stickers on the fork are not just there for show.

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    The bad: the bike is an absolute bitch to start and it has been thoroughly abused by a gang of drunken rednecks. It looks like hell, the wiring is a mess, etc. Also the top end is making lots of scary noises (like marbles in a tin can).
    So the plan is to turn this into a low cost supermotard using a lot of elbow grease and not a lot of $$$$$. I first intended to lace another 18” rim on the front hub and run 18” street tires front and rear but I found out that Katana/GS500 rims will be cheaper and allow me to run 17” rubber and a bigger front brake. So that’s the new plan but we’re not there yet…
    First I wanted to check the engine and make sure that the project was viable. Step one was checking the cam chain tensioner. Sure enough it was completely extended, so the chain is stretched and needs to be replaced. I’m actually quite happy about that as it could be the reason for the top end noise and partially responsible for the hard starting.


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    Step two: off with the valve cover to take a look at the cam and journals. I was really scared at this point because a trashed head would mean the end of the project. Let’s see…

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    Well, looks great!


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    So the rockers are a little marked, probably form the valves being overly tight at some point. But it doesn’t look too bad. It will have to do. So now the plan for the engine is: valve lap, valve stem seals, take a peak at the bore and maybe a light hone and rings if needed (best case scenario). Next step will be to take the clutch cover off to look at the other side of the timing chain, clutch basket and shift fork bolt…
    I had a few hours left so I started the disassembly:

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    Bike in a box and end of day one.

    Feedback, comments, and "WTF are you doing" are welcomed...
    #1
  2. Lambo

    Lambo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    608
    Location:
    Seattle
    This is gong to be interesting, good on ya.
    #2
  3. tim007

    tim007 Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    470
    Location:
    portland///vancouver
    nice find .. im going to be doing the same to mine soon so i will be watching this thread like a hawk.......... sweet vortex airbox i want one so bad
    #3
  4. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    Shopping list so far (no doubt that it will grow). :deal

    Needed:
    - full gasket set
    - timing chain
    - GS500 wheels and appropriate tires
    - mirror

    Wanted:
    - XR style tailight
    - SM front fender
    - factory clutch perch and lever (the ratio on this one seems to be all wrong)
    - maybe a lighter skidplate (any suggestions?)
    - SS front brake line
    - fork brace
    #4
  5. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,485
    Location:
    SW Florida / Western NC
    Bike looks familiar, was it Allen's?

    Can't beat a DR350 or a DRZ as a 'tard
    Good luck, I'll be watching the conversion.

    PMR
    #5
  6. rubberband

    rubberband Will ride for tacos

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    441
    Location:
    Michigan
    #6
  7. rockjunkie

    rockjunkie ...lost

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    Desert Hot Springs, CA
    "WTF are you doing!?" <obligatory></obligatory>
    #7
  8. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    Technicaly, it still is... I hope he doesn't change his mind as it would suck to have to put it all back together. :D

    Obviously I have no clue, otherwise I wouldn't have started this project.
    #8
  9. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    I only had a couple of hours to work on the bike today so I didn't get much done. I drained the oil, removed the in-frame oil screen and took out the clutch cover. I thought it would be easier to break the clutch basket nut loose with the engine in the frame. Turns out I didn't need to worry as the nut was only finger tight and the only thing holding it was the bent lockwasher...

    The shifter fork bolt had not backed out but was definitely not torqued to spec. It will be done later with Loctite and a torque wrench.

    The cam chain is even worse than I thought. In the following pic the tensioner is back in and fully extended. The chain is completely slack!

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    I need to push the guide at least another 1/4" to get the chain to tighten up.

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    And in this one you can see what appears to be the only damage, a little rubb spot where the botom of the guide has been rattling against the case.

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    Could someone tell me if the kickstart spring look OK? It looks weird to me but I do not know what it's supposed to look like.

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    And then I did a little more disassembly. Next step, carb and head come off...

    [​IMG]
    #9
  10. Strombony

    Strombony Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    443
    Location:
    parma oHIo
    good luck with the project, dr's are great bikes.
    make sure to replace the timing chain guides.
    i've had a few dr's and i've seen the front one break,
    so while yer in there at least replace the front one.

    matt
    #10
  11. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    Yep, you were right... Update coming.
    #11
  12. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    So I found another three hours to work on this project today. I did more teardown which resulted in this:

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    .... and this:

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    I had a few surprises during teardown. Found out the suspension linkage had some major play (1/2" or so). Mostly because of this:

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    The needle bearing has never been grased and gave up. This cause the hem joint to get beat up. There is a good 1/8" of play in it now, you can kinda see it in this close up:

    [​IMG]

    The swingarm bushings also seemed to have a little play but I had already loosened up the axle at that point so I'll have to take a better look at it before I order any parts.
    Another surprise was that the steering head bearings were a little dry but otherwise fine. They will be cleaned, repacked, tightened up and should last for a good while longer. I was prepared to replace them...

    So now back to the engine. I had a little scare with one of the head bolts. Would not come out even with an impact wrench. It eventually came out with the big breaker bar but I was really expecting it to snap. Turns out the threads were really dry and had a little bit of corrosion. I may use a dab of anti-seize on reassembly.
    In the end:

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    Not too bad, definitely burning some oil. I'm guessing valve stem seals as the piston looks good. Didn't get a chance to take the valves out yet. I'm still hoping that the seats are not completely worn out. Wishful thinking...

    The cylinder looks OK, no scoring but I see some glazing. Might be ovalized too. Again, still hoping that a light hone and rings will be enough:

    [​IMG]

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    Finally, I took a look at the cam chain guides. The rear one (tensioner side) is fine but the front one has started to break down and will have to be replaced. Bad pic sorry, damage is about half way up:

    [​IMG]

    That's it for today. Shopping list is growing...
    #12
  13. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    Updated shopping list:

    Needed:
    - full gasket set
    - timing chain
    - GS500 front wheel
    - tires
    - mirror
    - front cam chain guide
    - suspension linkage needle bearing and hem joint
    - seat cover

    Wanted:
    - XR style tailight
    - SM front fender
    - factory clutch perch and lever (the ratio on this one seems to be all wrong)
    - maybe a lighter skidplate (any suggestions?)
    - SS front brake line
    - fork brace
    #13
  14. boardrider247

    boardrider247 Weekend Anarchist

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    761
    Location:
    Forest Lake, mn

    I've got a set of GS 500 wheels with brand new tires I would be willing to let go. I bought them for a similar project but I could use the cash at the moment.

    Tires are 110/70/17 and 140/70/17 bridgestone BT 003's

    PM me if you would be interested.

    Good luck
    #14
  15. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    Scored a rear wheel on Ebay. $27 shipped with sprocket, cush hub, and rotor! :clap

    Also removed the valves yesterday, not much carbon deposits but lots of soft oil burn residue. Looks like one of the exhaust valves maybe bent too.
    Piston also came out and looks good but I will take everything to a friend to get it measured and see what is out of spec. I'll update with some pics soon...
    #15
  16. jplum1556

    jplum1556 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    102
    Location:
    Platteville, Wi
    Nice deal on that rear wheel. I was looking at using the GS 500 wheels on my dr350 also but thought that the brake calipers needed to relocated or was I wrong?
    #16
  17. TheOtherBart

    TheOtherBart Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,055
    Location:
    DeKalb County, Illinois
    I did a GS500 wheel conversion on my XR250L and it worked great. Something to consider, I actually ended up using the GS rear brake caliper and bracket instead of trying to adapt the XR one. Because of differences in design that swap made it much easier to make sure the chain was aligned. It makes it tougher to switch back to the dirt setup, so that may be a consideration depending on how you plan to use the thing.
    #17
  18. dbarale

    dbarale Squiddly slow

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,338
    Location:
    Western NC
    This one will be street only (I've got a plated XR250R for the trails). But I still would like to be able to swap back to 18/21 if needed. From what I read it should be possible but requires some machining. Mainly milling down the rotor side to be able to center the wheel and line up the rotor.
    #18
  19. BUGSMAK

    BUGSMAK BUGSMAK

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    Asheville NC
    Couldn't feel better about who got the bike! Awesome job documenting the process too!!
    My guess is that kick start spring is beat... Felt weak ya know!?!?:nod::clap
    #19
  20. TheOtherBart

    TheOtherBart Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,055
    Location:
    DeKalb County, Illinois
    If you do use the GS rear caliper and bracket the only extra work involved with the switchover is really just the time it takes to remove, replace, and bleed the caliper. To me "machining" and "low budget" don't go together because I'm not equipped to do that stuff myself, but obviously your situation may be different.
    #20