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!:eek1 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!