Just how much bike abuse can you expect durng a rally?
After the three-day Dinaric Rally in Croatia, I have finally recovered well enough to evaluate what’s the damage on Lucy, my DR650. A rally is essentially a concentrated enduro ride on steroids, and because the Dinaric Alps terrain was the gnarliest I have ever ridden, I figured I’d share what got broken, lost, and bent on my bike. Which farkles held and which didn’t? Here’s a list.
I’ve had this same skid plate for three years now, and for the most part, it held together well… Until it encountered rocky Croatian terrain. Three bolts are missing, and some parts will need welding if I’m to use this skid plate again; for now, it’s zip ties all the way to Greece where I’m hoping to find a welder, but in the future, I’m thinking of replacing this plate with something more solid. Outback Motortek? Black Dog? What’s everyone recommend?
This poor thing has been bent in all sorts of unfortunate shapes so many times I’m not sure I remember what it originally looked like. Currently, it resembles a lopsided question mark, and I really need to replace it as it’s clearly on its last legs. Because Warp9 footpegs and brake lever has held incredibly well in comparison, I hope they make gear shifters, too, and I’ll order one ASAP. Greek terrain won’t be as rocky as the Dinaric Rally tracks, but it’s obvious this gear shifter has seen better days and I need something a lot more solid if I’m to survive the Hellas Rally next.
Side Panel and Airbox Cover
I lost my left side panel at the Hungarian Baja race, and ever since, I’ve been traveling with a makeshift side panel from Forger Moto in Hungary. Unfortunately, their solution was made out of hard plastic, so the side panel was gone with the first crash, and the next thing to go was the airbox cover. Since cleaning my air filter daily doesn’t sound like much fun, I’ll need to get a new side panel before I hit dirt again.
I know, I know. I should have taken the whole thing off, but I underestimated the Dinaric Rally and wasn’t expecting to crash much, certainly not in the rocky inferno that the organizers threw at us; besides, I wanted to keep my tools, tire repair kit, and tire pump with me, so I figured I’d just leave the luggage rack on. Big mistake – the right side support bracket broke in two, so now I’m in need of a welder, or else the whole thing will slowly crumble and fall apart.
I managed to bend the right handguard sideways, and I just can’t straighten it out myself. Making a note to ask the next mechanic I come across to fix that for me, as chances are, bike abuse is to continue in Greece.
Warp9 rims and spokes have been holding incredibly well throughout years of traveling and recently, racing, but the Dinaric Rally broke one lonely spoke on the rear wheel. No big deal – more zip ties for now, ordering new spokes as soon as I get to Greece.
This is a big one: the subframe on the right side is slightly bent and is now almost touching the exhaust. Not good, but I don’t have the strength to straighten it myself. Another note for when I find a mechanic.
So this is what got broken, lost, or bent; some of it is my fault (like not taking the luggage rack off), and some is simply wear, but I do want to upgrade my skid plate and gear shifter. At the same time, there were some mods I’m still insanely happy with, and these include:
Footpegs and Brake Lever
All the Warp9 parts including brake lever, footpegs, control levers, and rims have held together perfectly – this stuff is solid!
Custom TFX suspension has made a world of difference, especially as it’s fully adjustable. perfect for gnarly rocky terrain and liaison stages alike, as you can easily adjust it to softer or harder levels, and it hasn’t failed me since. The bike feels much more nimble and agile on off-road tracks and a lot more stable and balanced on pavement, especially when cornering and with all the luggage on.
LABA7 Roadbook Navigation Equipment
Another solid piece of hardware, LABA7 roadbook holder doesn’t even have a scratch on it despite being bashed on the rocks a couple of times. I’m really impressed because if you mangle your roadbook holder, your rally is done – and LABA7 seems to be indestructible.
This tank is bad news for off-road riding, especially when it comes to a rally setting or more technical terrain as I can’t get over it fully to put my body towards the front as much as I need to, so in the long run, the monster tank needs to go – but in the meantime, despite being thrown and bashed on boulders and rocks, it’s still holding together just fine, and the easily disconnectable fuel lines mean I can share my gas with riders who run out. Added bonus!
What would you set up differently on a bike that needs to take both ADV, pavement, and rally abuse? Let me know in the comments below.