DRZ Cartridge Fork Upgrade On My 05 DR650

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by DRinda505, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. DRinda505

    DRinda505 I'm right behind you.

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    407
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    Here is a summary of my front fork/triple tree upgrade to my 05 DR650. Comments, and suggestions welcome. I've had a number of people ask me to write it up so here I go.

    All opinions are My Opinions.

    So, I've had my 05 DR for 1 year now. I loved the bike from the first ride, but I wanted more offroad capability than the stock suspension could give me. I ride the bike daily to work (my ride to work is 50% dirt 50% street).

    I seriously considered racetech cartridge emulators, and new fork springs. This would have cost ~$300 in parts and my labor. I still would have been left with small 43 mm tubes, and emulators for adjustments.

    Next I've read about and seen some RM250 (mid 90s) USD fork swaps to the DR. Sexy inverted forks, but the forks are designed for much lighter bikes. (lighter springs & smaller tubes) The swap is simple and I've heard of people buying complete mid 90s RM front ends with wheel cheap <$200 on fleabay. (lunatic speak up here)

    I read somewhere that the steering head bearings and lengths of the 01 through 05 (verify those years before buying) DRZ400 forks were the same as the DR650 triple tree. The DRZ400 uses Showa traditional design 49mm diameter tubes, 11.5" travel, full compression and rebound adjustment, and are designed for the heavier DRZ with respect to an RM. The disadvantage is that DRZ front ends are more expensive than the RM. They seem to be popular with the Super Motard people, so lots of wrecked DRZ owners looking for forks?

    I decided on the DRZ400S option. I pulled the trigger on a 2002 DRZ400 triple tree and forks from fleabay. I payed $180 for them. The upper tree turned out, was an aftermarket beefy billet aluminum job with multi-mounting points for the handlebar risers.:evil My intention was to use the stock front wheel and order bearings and make wheel spacers.:huh

    So here we go.
    1st I stripped the plastic from the stock front end.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Here are a couple of pictures comparing the DRZ and stock DR triple trees. Notice the additional width, and beefier clamps of the DRZ, while the DRZ tree is lighter in weight. Yes, the bearings seemed to fit fine. On a side note, it still amazes me that I started spending money based on something I read in Joe rider's write up on a bulletin board without first getting absolute verification of the information. God Bless the WWW stuff.:lol3
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Next I tried fitting the new DRZ steering head the lower half fit great. I screwed the 1st upper nut on, and of course a little problem.:becca It seems the 1st nut when appropriately tightened did not clear the shoulder (or taper) enough to allow the bottom of the upper tree to seat against the taper in the steering stem. The picture below (although blurry) shows my problem. The upper tree is designed to ride on the radius in the steering stem and the 1st nut is too thick or the DRZ steering stem is to short. I'm not sure if this problem is an artifact of the aftermarket upper tree, but that is what I suspect.:confused
    [​IMG]

    Looking at the problem, I decided on a two pronged solution. I decided the 1st upper nut did not need to be that thick. most loading on the steering stem is upwards through the steering stem, and this nut is backed by the upper tree and a second nut. The clamped forks also distribute this loading. So, using a file, and (get this) belt sander clamped in my bench vise, I shaved the nut about 60 mils (1.5 mm) thinner. Watch out the nut gets warm on the belt sander.:kboom Here is a picture of the stock and shaved nuts (did I really just say that)???
    [​IMG]

    As you may be able to see in the picture the steering stem shoulder is now clear of the nut. My next prong of this solution.... The upper tree clamp had the mating shoulder machined relatively deep such that it still did not make full contact with the stem radius before bottoming against the nut face. Fortunately the upper clamp had a raised shoulder where it sat down on the nut. So I again pulled out the file and belt sander and shaved the shoulder down about 40 mils (1 mm). Sorry for the bad pictures, I'm a cheap DR rider and can't afford a decent camera (you thought KLR riders were cheap).
    [​IMG]

    So, now the upper tree clamp fits correctly, life is good.
    [​IMG]


    As I previosly mentioned, I intended to use the original DR front wheel. Two problems; 1st the brake disk is not the same size so the caliper mount is in the wrong location. The DR uses a larger diameter full floating front disk. My solution... buy a DRZ brake disk from fleabay and mount it on the DR wheel. 2nd, the axle diameter for the DRZ is 20 mm while the DR uses a 17 mm axle. My simple solution was to but a DRZ brake disk and front axle ($20 + $10) and mount the disk on the DR wheel, and buy new wheel bearings.
    Of course this didn't work once I got the parts.:deal
    The DRZ rigid disk will not bolt to the DR hub.:eek1
    I went to the local bearing supplier and the bearing size to match the DR hub to the DRZ axle does not exist. :1drink I started drinking at this point, so I bit the bullet, pulled out my charge card, and bought a DRZ front wheel from fleabay for $220 (expensive, :baldy everyone wants two sets of wheels for their DRZ).

    At this point I now have a set of DRZ forks, and wheel mounted on my DR. :clap
    Did I fail to mention I also had to order the DRZ speedo drive ($60) new, and while I was at it the DRZ left side wheel spacer, cheap for $6 and would have taken me 30 minutes to machine on a lathe I have access to.

    So I was getting hungry by this point so MRSinda505 brought me out a chef salad.
    [​IMG]

    My right index finger is getting bloody, so I'll finish this up tomorrow. I really did get this to work, 1.5 weeks before WFest07, and have been riding it since..........................................................
    ........................................................
    .........................................
    .......................
    more to come.
    #1
  2. dirtypumpkin

    dirtypumpkin "Monster Truck Bike"

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    14,001
    Location:
    Northern California
    Nice write up on a good upgrade.:thumb:freaky
    #2
  3. El Toad Man

    El Toad Man Offroad adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    637
    Location:
    Cairns, Australia
    Sweet.....
    :lurk

    I am curious as to whether your "nut shaving" (lol) was necessary? I would expect the taper on the top tree is simply for clearance so it doesn't touch on the shaft taper. As you tighten the nut to take up the slack in the bearings (not much, but a few thou), the taper on the shaft would protrude further, so you would need clearance, not a neat fit. Or am I just misinterpreting what you did?
    #3
  4. RBrider

    RBrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    347
    I like it. Good job on the swap & the post.
    Thanks
    RB
    #4
  5. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
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    11,260
    Location:
    Tampa
    Great work, when did they switched to cartridge forks on the DRZ? 2002?
    #5
  6. texsurfer

    texsurfer Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2005
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    258
    Location:
    Los Fresnos
    more pics man! nice work...
    #6
  7. DRinda505

    DRinda505 I'm right behind you.

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    407
    Location:
    Land Of Enchantment
    All right,
    So I have the triple tree mounted. Next up steering stops....
    The wider triple tree along with my IMS tank gave me trouble. The forward portion of the IMS tank happened to fall right where the lower triple tree clamp interfeared. My 1st thought was oh sh*t, trouble turning around in the parking lot! So to keep the lower clamp from punching a hole in the fuel tank I decided to drill and tap (1/4-20) the lower clamp steering stops and put in a screw which I could adjust to prevent punching a hole in my fuel tank when I went down. Of course I never do that!:lol3
    Here is a picture.
    [​IMG]
    The steering stop screw gave me the adjustment I was looking for, but I still wanted less parking lot turn radius. The wider IMS tank has the seam at the worst possible location. I thought about plastic welding and even emailed IMS about the material, and researched plastic welders.

    FYI very cool, on my I need this list; http://www.urethanesupply.com/?r=adwords&gclid=CKSE0YKd9YwCFQqgYgod-Bp5DQ
    I'd love to here comments about plastic welding/welders. I've done a little but know less.

    Then I started looking and it seems the IMS tank does not sit on the DR backbone. Also read somewhere on ADVrider about KLR, KTM, or TE610 riders changing the tank elevation on their bike to alleviate drooping of the radiator shrouds (couldn't find the link). So with the tank mounted, and to my delight I lifted on the mounted IMS tank, and raised the fuel tank interfearence point well above the lower triple tree clamp. Here is a pic looking down the backbone with the stock fuel tank mounting.
    [​IMG]

    So my solution was to increase the height of the tank raising the IMS interference line above the lower clamp bolts. I used a 1" (25 mm) thick piece of rubber, tapered it to ease installation, and tie wrapped it to the frame backbone at the front of the fuel tank.
    [​IMG]

    I know, this looks like it is trouble. I thought so at first, but with ~600mi of trail riding on it, I think it will work fine. It doesn't take raising the stock IMS location much to clear the triple tree lower clamp bolts. I also thought about widening the frame steering stop, and decided against that. I suspect this would not be an issue with the stock tank (I sold mine so I can't compare).
    Here are pictures of the new tank location and steering stop clearance. As you may or may not be able to see, with the new tank loaction I now have about 1/4-1/2" (6-12 mm) clearance before the clamp bolt hits the tank after contacting the modified steering stop.
    [​IMG]

    Next, I have to mount the headlight.
    The stock headlight mounts would not work. The best price I could find on DRZ S model headlight mounts was $118 for the pair so being cheap and already spent more than I wanted, I decided to make some.

    I bought some 1/2" (6 mm) square steel mechanical tubing from the local hardware store. Next I drilled and tapped (6mm -1) the upper and lower triple tree clamps. Here is the base for my headlight mount, the two square tubes in the face of the triple tree.
    [​IMG]

    I decided I would cut and mount the original DR headlight/fairing brackets and adapt them to the above base brackets. I cut them as shown at the green line.
    [​IMG]

    Next, the stock headlight mounts needed to be straightened, so I put a relief cut in the rolled edge and straightend them with a big hammer:evil on my anvil. Stock bottom, flattened on top.
    [​IMG]

    Now it was a matter of getting the distance between the new brackets correct, so I bolted them to the headlight bracket, and measured the distance between them. My base brackets were a little wide, so I added an additional piece of square tube to widen the spacing.
    [​IMG]

    When widening I took into account the mounting of the stock shroud center screw on the lower clamp to get the height correct for the widened base brackets. Next I mounted the stock headlight and fairing on the stock cut brackets and C-clamped them to my base brackets.
    [​IMG]

    Notice the lower center screw for the fairing. I used a longer screw, and 1" (25mm) spacer underneath it, so the fairing actually is ~1" farther forward than the stock location. I then removed the headlight brackets still clamped together and tack welded them, removed all the stuff that burns and fully welded them.

    MRSinda505 would not let me tack weld in place next to the fuel tank!:huh
    Don't they do that on of those chopper build shows?

    Here are the new brackets. Sorry, my welding is not perfect, I have a oxy/acetelene, and stick box. Anyone want to sell a TIG/MIG?
    [​IMG]

    Gotta take the kids swimming now,

    more later.
    #7
  8. Zapp22

    Zapp22 ZAPP - Tejas

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13,818
    Location:
    Tejas Hill Country
    Having had a DRZ, I'm thinking of following the transalp & AT guys and finding a set of XR600R tubes .... :evil
    i need to do some more homework on it.

    I head this direction because of having had an XR650R, and just imagining transplanting that frontend onto the venerable DR... wow. but not wanting to work that hard, xr600r, cause same size tube
    #8
  9. DRinda505

    DRinda505 I'm right behind you.

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    407
    Location:
    Land Of Enchantment
    Here is a picture of the new headlight brackets without the plastic. To mount the turn signals I flattened the stock brackets, and attacthed them to the bottom two upper clamp bolts with a little bit of filing and drilling on the brackets. I did the same to the upper and lower front brake line sliding brackets. Suzuki wants too much money for any of these brackets.
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, I am still using the stock speedometer. I decided to put it on the right side because of the ~1.5" longer DRZ forks, and I was concerned about the DR650 speedo cable reaching it at the original mounting location. To mount the speedometer I cut a short piece of the 1/2" square tube, drilled and tapped it to accept the DR650 speedometer mounting plate. I then welded it across the left side headlight bracket I fabricated. The stock speedometer cable easily reaches this location. I think the DRZ S model and DR share the same part number for the speedometer.

    I haven't mentioned the ignition setup yet, up to this point I was planning on using a lighter smaller aftermarket ignition switch. The stock DR switch with the steering lock is heavy, and is a 3 pole single throw setup. I purchased a double pole single throw keyed ignition, and a single throw switch I was planning to use in place of the stock ignition. Unfortunately I didn't ohm out the new switch correctly, and long story short could not make it work correctly:baldy .

    So instead I used a piece of aluminum right angle, cut a new hole for the stock switch, drilled an tapped two mounting holes in the upper clamp to bolt it on, and used the stock ignition for now. I also had to make two tubular aluminum spacers to bolt it to the new bracket. The steering lock does not function in this location.
    [​IMG]

    While on the subject of electrics. I'm a bit old school, I could have mounted the stock indicator lights in the cockpit, but I decided to minimize weight, and save power for future upgrades, so I simply disconnected the indicators (high beam, neutral, and turn signal) at the stock connector and left them off. I have previously disabled the clutch and kick stand start switches.

    The original bar mounts were for 7/8" handlebars. I had the room, so I bored them out to fit my protapers. I also fabricated some 1 inch risers to bolt underneath the handlebar mounts.
    [​IMG]


    I wanted to keep the stock front fairing which bolts to the new headlight brackets. The lower triple tree clamp was already drilled and tapped at the correct location for the lower fairing bolt. I did have to fabricate an aluminum spacer since the entire fairing/headlight with the new brackets is about 1 inch (25 mm) forward of the stock DR setup. The stock front fender also bolts right up to the DRZ location. (Can anyone recommend a fender brace for the DRZ which can fit a tire tube repair kit?)

    After bolting everything together, I had cearance issues between the IMS tank, and the turn signal stems. I could replace the turn signals with some smaller LCD signals, but I like the visibility the larger stock lights give to the cage drivers (I ride to work nearly year round). I used some 1/8" (3 mm) thick aluminum sheet and with some cutting, drilling, and filing made some brackets which bolt to the upper tree clamp bolts, and move the turn signals forward about 1.5" (40 mm). The brake hose slider attaches between the new turn signal bracket and the upper tree clamp.
    [​IMG]


    So this completes the modifications. Note, all stock cables reach fine with 1" risers, and Windham bend Protaper bars which have more rise than stock bars.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    A number of people have been asking me for ride impressions, "was it worth it?"

    In a single word, YES:clap
    IMO this is the front end Suzuki should be putting on the DR650. It is incredible the difference. I was a low amateur, or high novice club class desert racer. For dirt riding this upgrade is huge in terms of capability, and after spending close to a year on the stock front end, I would recommend this upgrade to anyone who rides their DR for fun (other than commuting).
    The longer forks rake the front out slightly, but unless your doing lots of slow tight stuff I don't notice it.

    The only dissadvantage is the smaller front brake rotor, which requires more lever pressure. You can still lock the front wheel up, it is just the difference between the very good DR front brakes, and the so-so DRZ front brake. They both use the same dual piston caliper, just the difference of the much larger DR floating rotor. This can (and I will in the future) be fixed with some of the supermotard front brake upgrades available for the DRZ.
    Also this upgrade cost me more than I intended.

    So, I'm very happy so far with my DR after one year of riding. Here are my upgrades to date.

    DOT knobbies (D606s, love'em)
    Opened airbox
    FMF silencer
    Ground out the weld inside the header.
    14 tooth CS sprocket for dirt, 15 tooth for road.
    Homemade saddlebags and frames.
    Custom (myself) seat reupholstery ~1" wider, ~3/4" taller
    IMS tank
    removed rear mud fender
    Protaper bars with 1" risers
    DRZ front forks with custom billet Al upper clamp.
    Removed clutch and kickstand switch.
    Removed idiot light indicators

    My next upgrade, (I'm looking for suggestions) is to shorten the rear suspension dogbones to raise the rear ~1-1.5 inches and replace the rear shock for full comp and rebound adjustment (maybe remote reservoir), and bring back stock steering geometry.

    ANYONE WANT TO BUY A STOCK DR FRONT END BILLET BAR RISERS FOR PROTAPER BARS?
    #9
  10. DRinda505

    DRinda505 I'm right behind you.

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    407
    Location:
    Land Of Enchantment
    I compared it to the stock setup, and It appeared to me that the stock upper clamp rode down on the shaft taper. Why else would they go to the trouble of machining a matching radius inside the upper clamp. I agree this may not have been necessary, but I did it. No problems so far.
    #10
  11. BDKW1

    BDKW1 KL"X" not "R"

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    915
    Location:
    Easton, KS
    Shhhhh, don't tell anybody but I just did the same swap on My KLR :wink:

    They have even crappier forks than the DR.

    Side note, 97-98 RM250 front wheel will interchange. Just no speedo. Got mine on FLEABAY for 60$ with axle, spacers and rotor.
    #11
  12. FatChance

    FatChance Road Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2003
    Oddometer:
    11,694
    Location:
    Durango, Colorado, USA
    So, is the fully packaged conversion kit available for the rest of us yet? :evil
    #12
  13. DRinda505

    DRinda505 I'm right behind you.

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    407
    Location:
    Land Of Enchantment
    Good post, I'm jealous. Anything to save money, I think DR riders are (shhhh) cheaper than the KLR riders, don't tell the WestFest awards guy (Dale?). Those DRZ guys want money for their parts.
    #13
  14. Durangoman

    Durangoman Yeah its me!

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2006
    Oddometer:
    773
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    Durango
    What did raising the tank height do to the seat/tank alignment?
    #14
  15. TAPnTX

    TAPnTX Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    399
    Location:
    Elkins, AR
    Never mind I will PM

    Todd
    #15
  16. LostAussie

    LostAussie Growing Old, Not Up!

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    568
    Location:
    Johnstown, Colorado


    Another option: The 01 to 03 RM250 Front Wheel and Spacers fit perfectly and use the same front axle as the DRZ. The caliper is the same from the DR650, DRZ and RM. Literally everything is plug and play! You loose the speedometer drive but for the difference in price (I just bought a wheel for $24 on flea bay) you can buy a Trailtech Vapor and have a better gauge set-up than Suzuki ever offered.:clap If you contact Trailtech, they will send you the directions to make the odometer read the actual miles of the bike so you don't lose track of the bikes mileage.:1drink
    #16