Suzuki DR650 Build - Transformation to an Adventure Bike

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by motodavid2000, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. motodavid2000

    motodavid2000 MotoDavid

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    tdrrally -

    You're right of course, but then that wouldn't be much of a project. If I can get the Ohlins to work for me then I will go that route, if not, I will fall back and punt to the original WPs, or go with the RM fork conversion. I am not doing anything on the front end that can't be reversed and started over.

    I did test ride the DR650 this afternoon now that I have the front end back together. It is a huge improvement from before - no weaving or scary handling. I rode it a little in my woods and used the front brake very hard from full throttle in 3rd gear - sitting and standing on the pegs. No adverse reactions.

    With the moto on the lift, I have 11.75" between the top of the tire and lowest point inside the front fender - bolt head. With knobbies, it would be less. I will take a static sag measurement and see what the clearance is unloaded and then loaded.

    I do not yet know what the full stroke length of the fork is, so I will be working to bottom the fork - or get some stroke data from Ohlins to ensure that the forks will bottom before tire contact with the fender fasteners. I will then need to do some mods on the Ohlins for fully loaded touring weight.

    Thanks for looking & for your input - Dave
    #81
  2. Phreaky Phil

    Phreaky Phil Long timer

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    I think the DR650 steering geometry is a bit "fussy". On my first DR I experimented with some KX 125 clamps I had laying around. These had less offset than the DR clamps. I was hoping to get a more positive / planted feel with the steering but it introduced a waggle in the bars over 100kmh. It never progressed passed a waggle but it was unnerving. My current DR has a DRZ400 front end. No worries at all with this setup.
    Keep up the god work. :lurk
    #82
  3. tdrrally

    tdrrally Long timer

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    don't get me wrong
    i do enjoy a good project
    even more if its done right

    keep up the good work:clap
    #83
  4. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Sounds like major progress! :rayof I hope you get a chance to test ride on a twisty paved road to test out the balance and handling while turning sharp corners. Quick left to right transitions will let you know if the balance and rake & trail are in the ball park.

    Most single dual sports I've ridden begin to weave at about 80 or 90 mph. DR's are pretty good in this regard ... but my KTM 640, XR-L, KLR and older XL600 Hondas all had some sort of mild high speed weave. All kinds of things can affect this. I never worried about it as long as handling was correct and bike responded normally to input on a twisty road.

    The ultimate test will be to do the same twisty roads with your full travel load on the bike. It took me a day or two to adapt to my DR carrying 100 lbs. of stuff. (Givi, racks, gear, spare tire, tools) I weighed everything. Biggest problem was brakes ... I have stock brakes. With weight you really need more braking IMO. I think you've upgraded you rotor?

    When I went from the Givi hard bags to soft bags I reduced weight by nearly 40 lbs.

    I'm envious of all the travel you've got up front. Those Ohlins shocks will surly pay dividends once dialed in. :deal
    The best way to test to see if the tire is hitting the fender is do that same hard braking test you did ... but hit a few pot holes while hard on the brakes. This is when bottoming typically will happen, especially on a steep downhill run ... but sounds to me like you've got it very close to perfect!

    [​IMG]
    Great Mojave brake and suspension testing downhill. The lead bike is my buddies 68 year old dad, riding his CRF230 ... former enduro rider. You can see he's bottomed the suspension ... once that happens the tire will lock and ... away you go! :lol3 The old guy made it down fine but he was pissed at me for taking him down that hill. :D
    #84
  5. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer

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    Looking great David!

    I am not familiar with USD forks but can't you just take the fork caps off and remove the springs to let the forks drop to their maximum travel? That is easy on conventional forks to determine max travel. Of course, if the bike won't roll with the springs out because the tire is rubbing on the fender, you will want to make the internal limiter/bump stops longer. :eek1

    With conventional forks the springs don't even need to be removed if you don't mind some oil dripping off the springs that are sticking out the top. :rofl A bit messy that way though.
    #85
  6. TRAVELGUY

    TRAVELGUY Old Traveler

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    Dave have I been operating under a miss assumption? I have always thought that atmospheric pressure pushed the fuel out of the tank ( Tank Vent ) and with your loop in your fuel line you would only have a very small amount of fuel left in the line after the tank runs dry. Am I missing something?

    Great bike build. Was worth the two year wait to see.

    Tom


    #86
  7. motodavid2000

    motodavid2000 MotoDavid

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    Tom -

    Good to hear from you. Hope that you are enjoying Costa Rica.

    No, you are not under any misconception. From my classes back at Purdue University so many years ago, the head pressure of the fuel is the delta in fluid levels. The issue becomes flow rates to the carb from the tank, combined with dropping fluid (fuel) levels and reduced head pressure.

    Without spending time calculating some theoretical point, I am sure that the carb can be "starved" of fuel when a combination of low head pressure (low fuel levels) and high flow rate (fuel draw) causes insufficient fuel delivery to the carb based upon engine needs. I think that this would be experienced at very low fuel levels and higher loads & revs on the engine; perhaps exagerated with high altitude operation.

    My general take is that the carb should not be starved of fuel when it is at least 25% or more full of fuel, operating at any reasonable engine load.

    My fuel line loop below the carb inlet would cause a loss of a small amount of fuel not being available for the engine, and possibly an air bubble to form. This would be an extreme case, and the engine would / may be starved of fuel before that time with low head pressure and higher engine loads.

    I don't think that the engine would starve at idle until the fuel reached the level of the fuel tank petcock intake.

    Getting ready to make a few more mods to the windscreen and instrument panel supports. Will post some pics when the work is done.

    Also, still resolving fork stroke / tire bottoming probabilities - have not disassembled the forks yet and want to ride it first. If I need to change springs, I will check fork stroke / bottoming stroke and also change springs at the same time.

    Take care - Dave
    #87
  8. TRAVELGUY

    TRAVELGUY Old Traveler

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    Dave thanks for taking the bait. I thought of writing more in my question but wanted to leave enough for your grand explanation. Every time I try to inform the troops I get flamed. BTW with the stock IMS tank and IMS supplied petcock, cap and a loop in fuel line my DR would run to the last once or two in the tank running full throttle down the highway, experienced. I would expect yours to do the same but you do have a different petcock.

    Ride safe and have fun!


    #88
  9. dirtyrod

    dirtyrod Adventurer

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    Been watchin this thread for a while and just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration and details.
    #89
  10. motodavid2000

    motodavid2000 MotoDavid

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    dirtyrod -

    Hey, thanks for looking and following along. Not sure if this build is inspirational or not. It might be inspirational if the contraption actually works as intended and survives long distances, loaded down and "put up wet".

    Until then, just keep your fingers crossed -- mine are.....:rofl

    take care - Dave
    #90
  11. NuckaMan

    NuckaMan Space Available

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    For what it's worth, this has been really inspirational for me.

    I too am a engineer (mechanical design for medical devices) and got my walking papers for next May. As long as they don't extend me (cause I will welcome the work) the pink-slip is actually an invitation for either Alaska or South America. If I head north, I will be taking my GS, if I head south, I narrowed my bike choice down to the DR 650. And my choice was based on exactly how you detailed it on Page 2.

    I won't have the budget for a build-up even remotely closely as yours...but I will certainly take your frame reinforcement section to heart... I do hope you keep the photos up for awhile for everyone's future reference.

    Please keep us updated on your progress and trip!!!!
    #91
  12. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Inspiration indeed. I hope we get some updates soon. This is a beautiful build indeed.

    As far as frame reinforcement goes ... David's is very nicely done ... but honestly it's just not required on the DR650. How many broken rear sub frames or broken frames can be sighted? I think David found ONE. (Jammin' Jay) .

    I've ridden DR's since 1997 (off and on), owned three. In my 60 member riding group we have six DR650's. We've ridden 10's of thousands of miles in the last 8 years. I've not ever seen or even heard of a broken sub frame of frame. I'm sure it's happened from time to time ... but it's rare. Ask on the BIG DR650 thread. I don't think there is even one reported there among the 50,000 plus posts and 8 million views.

    The DR650 is not a KLR 650 or a BMW F650GS ... or a Honda XR650L. All of which commonly break (or bend) frames and sub frames. I've owned the Honda and KLR.
    The Suzuki was partly designed by American race team members, Rodney Smith being a key player. In '95 the Suzuki guys were flown to Japan to test the new DR650 and give input. These same guys also helped design the DRZ400 which came a few years later.

    Early DR650 prototypes were tested in the Mojave desert and sent back to Japan with notes. I know Rodney Smith (5 time GNCC champion). I asked him about the DR650. His response? "Tough". If you saw him ride a DR650 ... well, you wouldn't believe your eyes :eek1 I've ridden with Rodney at Fouts Springs ... one of Rodney's hangouts. Can't keep him in sight for long. He passed me with his wife on the bike :D (me on WR250F, he on RMZ450)

    If you are a professional racer and plan to ride your fully loaded DR650 (carrying say ... 100 lbs. of gear on board?) and are good enough to ride dangerous, rocky rutted Baja like terrain at full speed (over 70 mph) then it's possible you may break something in a year or so of doing this. :D

    I've ridden my DR650 through Baja twice ... at a moderate pace mostly and not taking the roughest routes out there. Fast enough to plow through deep desert sand but through rocks and whoop de doos ... I take a more moderate pace with luggage on board. Survival.

    Many others have toured S. America on the DR650 and most have done pretty well ... with most problems coming from owners lack of proper basic maintenance or ignoring service. Some riders ignore chain and sprockets, don't take care of batteries.

    Others overload their bikes terribly ... they need to go back to the Austin Vince school of World travel and take a refresher course. :lol3 Austin is my Hero! (See Mondo Enduro and Terra Circa)

    Unless you plan to do more radical exploring in the interiors of Peru' and Bolivia ... a mostly stock DR650 will do just fine. With a decent rider on board the bike will go about anywhere even loaded up.

    David's suspension mods are wonderful ... but not strictly required to Adv Tour the DR650. I did splurge for an Ohlins on my bike and did add Race Tech Emulators for a plusher feel in the forks. IMHO, suspension is where your prep money should go. Save the rest for your trip. The basic DR is way better than 90% of owners will ever know.
    #92
  13. motodavid2000

    motodavid2000 MotoDavid

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    NuckaMan -

    Really sorry to hear of your receiving your pink-slip. Seems to be a nasty affliction of so many for the last two years or so. Biomedical engineering should be a solid field given the aging baby-boomers, but I am not that familiar with the specifics of the market. Good luck with securing new employment - and with whatever moto trip you elect to take. Keep the faith - at least you have a good education.

    Thanks for the comments on the DR650 moto, sincerely appreciated. I took my GS/A to Deadhorse, Alaska in 2009 and it was a great moto for that trip. The DR650 build is a mix of pure experimentation, just to have a project and also build something that is somewhat different and hopefully works well in the end for the purpose intended.

    Still working on resolving the new setup for the windscreen frame and instrument panel - regular work just keeps interfering with my DR650 build time though :rofl !!

    Take care & best of luck - Dave
    #93
  14. motodavid2000

    motodavid2000 MotoDavid

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    AdvGrifter -

    Thank you for the thorough response; and I agree with you on 98% of your points, opinions and commentary. The reason that I selected the DR650 vs. so many other moto options is for its simplicity, its ruggedness and its fundamental goodness.

    I look at the frame, subframe and pannier frame gussets & reinforcements as an inexpensive insurance policy against an unlikely failure or crack.

    Here is another set of rather ugly DR650 frame cracking at the swingarm pivot: http://www.advrider.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=103479&stc=1&d=1171607036

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v663/matzlu92/framerepair.jpg

    [​IMG]

    Granted - frame issues on the DR650 are very rare occurrences, but I do plan to travel to remote parts of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. I have ridden to remote villages high in the Andes Mountains in Peru and there is NO help available there.

    If I had a very bad failure of some type there or the boondocks in Bolivia, I would probably have to disassemble my moto and then pack it out of the mountains on horses :lol3 !

    I agree with you comments on the suspension - use the budget for suspension mods. I had two major gripes with the front end on the stock DR650 - the first was dive & travel issues, but the showstopper for me was the wimpy little pinch bolts that use studs in the fork leg !! I think that the spec is 7 lbs-ft of torque. Many examples of snapped off pinch bolt studs due to overtorque.

    This was just not an option for me as I did not want snapped off pinch-bolt studs in some remote area - and I can gurantee you I will be changing / repairing tubes at altitude, in the cold and during a rainstorm --- and then I would snap off a pinch-bolt stud by not paying attention to torque.

    Flats NEVER happen on nice weather days or in convenient locations. The innertube Gods hate motorcyclists :ddog !

    Anyway, thank you for the input and opinions. I will be posting up more photos soon. Just loaded down with work now but will get back to the build when I am able.

    Dave
    #94
  15. vintagespeed

    vintagespeed fNg

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    i love this build and am inspired to continue with my own modifications.

    i'm concerned though that raising the top clamp as you have done will cause extra side loading on the upper bearing?

    i'm no fork expert, but does it really matter that the new fork tube is longer than the stock tube? couldn't the tube be 10 feet without it affecting the bike's handling if the distance from the top clamp to the axle center is set to the same as the DR forks?

    when i did my USD KX fork conversion i just lowered the top clamp down as close to DR spec as possible and i have more stability than before the conversion.
    #95
  16. TRAVELGUY

    TRAVELGUY Old Traveler

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    [​IMG]


    Dave I find it interesting that you posted this photo. It is one place that I was concerned about in your frame preparation. Knowing that you and I both overload our bikes ( and ride hard ) and knowing the conditions of roads "down south". The potholes that get me are the ones that surprise me during passing trucks and busses. Especially in the rain. " Not much avoidence opportunities then". I have thought more than once I was going to rip my swingarm off on the far side of a pothole in Central America. I don't see anything in your photos about adding strenght in the swingarm pevit area. Did you do anything there?

    The bolts on the front forks concern me also. When I build the new DR650. After my return to the states, hopefully far in the future. I'm planning on changing those studs to removealbe allen head bolts, as I did on my last DR. To me less chance of breaking them with a small allen wrench, use soft mild steel so if they do break they can be removed without stripping the treads in the aluminum. Also I changed all bolts possible on the bike to allens for weight savings of carrying tools. If I remember correctly the hex head fasteners left on my last DR where for axle, swingarm, and head stock. No phillips heads at all.

    I do plan to stay with the stock suspension units but upgrade both with Ricor. Staying with these enables me to lower the bike since I don't see the need for me to have additional ground clearence and I'm tired of picking up bikes after not having a place to put my foot on the ground, those places alway find me south of the Rio Grande.

    I know from talking to you that you really enjoy your work but remember that in eleven years you will be my age and I remember that adventure travel was a lot easier when I was in my fifties than it is now in my middle sixties. I can still do the eighteen hour travel days but the sand gets deeper, the hills get steeper, and the bikes get heavier with age.

    I know your bike is going to do well!

    TravelGuy:clap
    #96
  17. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Hey Dave,
    Hope the build is going OK. Love to hear your feedback on the forks and other mods you've done. Very cool stuff!

    I've seen that Purple bike before ... somewhere?? ... I believe that bike was jumped on a Moto Cross track? Also, Purple frame means 1996!
    Who knows the kind of beating a 16 year old bike has had? Constant jumping WILL BREAK the frame ... even on the mighty DR650.

    Weird Purple, pink and green were very popular colors in late 80's early 90's! My Yamaha YZ race bike from then was pink and Blue! KLR's were pink, purple and green ... and Suzuki's had purple frames! Go figure!

    I wonder if your frame gussets could actually keep that sort of break from happening? I rather doubt it. Your Sub frame reinforcements look useful but hard to protect that swing arm pivot point. What do you think?

    Hundreds of motorcyclists have done extensive exploration in the interiors of Peru' and Bolivia ... especially in the last five years.
    See a recent thread by my buddy Vince (Crashmaster) on his KTM 990
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=501881&highlight=Fumar

    Misery Goat on his KTM SE.
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=582583

    Vinnie has tons of videos of the roads up there ... as do others. None of it is all that tough. Your main concern is going too fast and going off a cliff or meeting on coming traffic on a blind corner. Parts of Bolivia are rough and Uyuni can beat up the bike in some rocky sections.

    Several riders have broken down high in the Andes ... like the Canadian couple on NEW F800GS's. You do what everyone there does ... put your bike on a truck and head for Lima. Just not that hard. Getting it welded might be possible ... but shipping in a new frame would be better!

    As remote as it appears there is constant truck traffic and even buses go to most remote communities. I only spent 3 months in Peru' when working there in 1975 ... and another 3 months in Bolivia ... but I was able to get to a lot of places on buses or trucks. Things were a bit more remote back then ... little tourism then. Later, I inherited a Vespa 150 in Cuzco and rode it to Ayacucho and Huancayo. That Vespa was tough ... but it did end up on trucks a couple times

    Correct regards the Axle pinch bolts. Lots of DR guys have stripped/snapped those out. Bad system. I'm pretty careful with mine ... no problems so far. You can replace the studs ... and I use Nylock nuts and never over tighten them.

    Flat tires DO always happen at worst possible time. I would practice riding you fully loaded bike with a rear flat. I've done this many times ... sometimes up to 100 miles or more. YES ... it destroys the tube and if you go too fast the tire can heat up. Some tires the bead will break and come off the rim. Others ... like my Avon Distanzia, can be ridden flat at 40 mph for 50 miles ... or maybe more? (I've done it) Last time I rode it to our Motel where our intrepid DR650 gang was relaxing and drinking beer. I had lots of help with the flat repair! Worth a new tube for sure!
    #97
  18. Phreaky Phil

    Phreaky Phil Long timer

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    I had the frame crack in the same place as in the photo on my 98DR. Although it didnt start to separate like that one, i caught it just in time. The crack originated where the welds stopped and started on the underside of the round swingarm bolt area. There was a section in the corner that the robot missed. My current DR seems ok. A place to keep an eye on though. I remember seeing a Australian post on ADV Rider where the same thing happened. They got it welded up and plated at an outback garage.
    A few people have had problems with swingarms cracking too. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28519
    BergDonk did some plating on his. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=646076&page=7
    #98
  19. macrae85

    macrae85 Been here awhile

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    Three things;
    1.Fram do small cheap fuel filter,small enough to take a couple of spares with you (see pic.Fram G-3515).
    2.Forks.I've just fitted a Suzuki DR650SE stem to a set of ATK 605,'94 model clamps.Only needs 8 thou.,
    machined out,and a bit more depth.As i've an ATK in bits,it was the obvious answer,WP forks,Talon hub
    etc.On the top clamp,it needs a sleeve machined-hence no photos yet-will post later!
    3.Ohlins are available from Greece,importer went bust,the liquidator has put them all on eBay at $650 + freight(2 sets $560 i'd be interested in buying with someone to share freight too)!You can get radial brake mounts too!$650 for BRAND NEW Ohlins is a steal,they also fit my ATK clamps,53mm upper,58mm lower.......945mm length!Radial brake mount $160.

    Attached Files:

    #99
  20. motodavid2000

    motodavid2000 MotoDavid

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    Adv Grifter -

    I found the grouping of swingarm pivot / frame crack photos after I had planned and executed the frame reinforcements, unfortunately. The mods I have made will not address this type of frame cracking / failure. I think that a set of metal plate bands for the circumference would solve the problem to keep the swingarm pivot loads from "blowing out" the front of the frame.

    What do you think caused this failure ? I am wondering if chain tightness had anything to do with it. Too tight of a chain, in certain positions of the swingarm stroke arc would pull the front of the swingarm forward as well as stress the countershaft heavily.

    I do not know any of the circumstances of this frame break or how it happened. Pretty ugly mess though.

    Thanks again for the input !

    Dave

    Phreaky Phil -

    Thanks for looking. Yes, BergDonk has kindly provided me with input & suggestions on swingarm cracking and his plate additions. Not sure what I am going to do with that issue yet.

    Dave

    macrae85 -

    Thanks for the info on the Ohlins forks on E-Bay. I will take a look at those - specifically with an eye on your noted total fork length; and fork leg diameters.

    Thanks also for the suggestion on small fuel filters. I like my rebuildable / cleanable Pingel, but it is huge. Maybe just too big.

    Dave