Adventurizing a Suzuki DRZ400S

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by XC Rider, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    What the hell, I reallize that this thread probably wont be as exciting as some of the other threads in here, but I figured I'd go ahead because of the part that I'm working on at the moment. Truth be told I bought this bike April, 2014 and have been slowly doing a few things to it here and there. However over the course of Thanksgiving, while hanging with friends, we tentatively made plans to possibly do a little trip together in March. For me, the DRZ would be the bike that I use for this little trip. One of my buddies also has a DRZ, and together we both wanted to perform several upgrades to our bikes. While this little upcoming trip was the impetus for starting the work, in the bigger scheme of things, I potentially see myself using this bike to complete part of my RTW adventure travels, therefor it's worth my time to properly sort this bike; that and I just enjoy wrench on bikes in the garage too! :deal

    The plan, to turn this Suzuki DRZ400s into an adventure touring machine.
    Here is what the bike looked like to begin with:

    [​IMG]

    That's a relatively close to stock 2009 DRZ400S. It's got but a mere couple thousand miles on it, and the only work that's been done to it is: 1) Seat Concepts seat, 2) ProMoto Billet aluminum rear rack, and 3) a Pelican type case rigged onto the rear rack. I got it for a good deal from a guy I know and trust, so I know that the bike is solid! :deal While there's not much on the bike, the few things he did do are top notch. Having owned a DRZ before, I know exactly which direction I want to take with this bike; just for the sake of curiosity and to try new things, I go a slightly different route with the gas tank and radiator guards than I did on my first DRZ. After all, trying it out is the only way I'll know for sure which parts are better. So my first order of bits include the following: 1) IMS gas tank (I had a Clarke on my last DRZ and loved it, but I wanted to try out the IMS to see which I prefered), 2) TT case savers, 3) Cyra Probend hand guards (been wanting to try these out for a while because they look so bomber), 4) Devol radiator guards (I had the Unabiker on the last DRZ, but similar to the gas tank, I wanted to try these to see the difference), and 5) a true skid plate. I mount all these parts within 2 weeks of having bought the bike. The only issue I had was fitting the Cyra handguards; in order to get them to clear the front brake master cylinder and the dash, I had to add some bar risers (Rox 2") and I also swapped out the handle bars for the Renthal Hi-Bend. Yeah it's more $$$ to spend, but these are all top quality components and since I plan on using this bike thoroughly, I might as well prep it solidly. Once all the parts are in, the work is pretty easy to complete.

    I don't have any good picture of the bike at this point in the game, but I'll take one soon and post it up.

    So fast forward through the summer when I was playing around Europe on the XC Adventure, and up to Thanksgiving when I was talking with my buddies, and here are the couple of upgrades that we wanted to do: 1) kick starter kit, 2) heated grips, and 3) auxiliary lights. Parts were ordered, and during the Christmas holidays here we got together to perform the work. First order of business was the kick starter kit. Now you may as why!? Well, my response is.....why not!? We've got a funny little inside joke about kick starters on DRZs (ask me about it when you see me in person, it's a funny story in retrospect), but in truth it's just cheap insurance, and it looks BAD ASS! :evil The work was pretty easy and straight forward, especially with the help of THIS FANTASTIC HOW TO write up. The instructions that come with the kit are mediocre at best. The only "hard" part we encountered was with the "kick starter stopper"; this is a small tab that acts as a stop on the return of the kick starter lever, it positions the lever at it's resting position. We both found that we didn't perfectly like the position of the lever and wanted to adjust it a touch. As it turns out we had to about about 1/20000 of an inch; we did this with some bronze brazing I think it was. Good thing we've got access to a variety of tools and just enough know-how to get ourselves in trouble! Other than that, the only issue we ran into was in removing the screws that held on a small retaining bracket. On both bikes we stripped out one of the phillips head screws; in putting it back together again, we used machine screws with recessed hex heads! :deal

    With the kick starter kits done, we then moved on to installing the heated grips. Once again, pretty easy install work. However we didn't fully complete the install (i.e. we didn't wire them up) because in the process we started talking about how cool it would be to have a nice dash to mount switches such as the one for the heated grips; also how nice it would be to maybe mount the GPS on the dash. The impetus for this idea came from a pretty sweet DRZ BUILD that my buddy had come across. Here are two pictures from this guy's build, showing his sweet fairing & dash:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]




    And so was born the idea to fabricate our own rally style fairing with a good size dash.......

    ....to be continued.
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  2. Dread_lion

    Dread_lion Been here awhile

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    Subscribed :p. that dash is a thing of beaty! Bit too much for my taste, but i love the way it looks!
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  3. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    I agree; while I think those Trail Tech Vapor dashes are cool, there's no need to replace the stock unit so don't expect to see anything like that in the unit me and my buddies come up with. Primarily for us it's to support a GPS front and center, LED volt meter, and switches for things like the heated grips, etc...

    Just a few pictures before going to bed for the night....

    So we'd installed the heaters for the heated grips, but for the time being we'd simply zip-tied the wires to the mirrors, this way we could now concentrate on our fairing & dash build. After all, this would have an effect on the wiring for the bike. First order of business, fab a cardboard mock up.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some of the key factors in our decision making was to keep the stock headlight assembly and stock dash unit (even though we'll be talking more about the headlight later on....:D). After reaching a satisfactory position with the carboard mock up, we broke for the day. It would be my duty to fabricate a wood mold of our fairing design as we'd made the decision to make the fairing out of fiberglass. None on us have worked with fiberglass before, but we decided that this would be our best best. So I took the cardboard mock up home, and drew it out 3D in CAD; from this I then went into my wood shop and started to cut pieces and put it together....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Next up was to take measurement and cut out the headlight opening. Once this was done, liberal amounts of bondo were applied to all joints and gaps, light sanding, and then rounding over all corners and inner edges of the headlight opening. With this done, I put it up to my bike to take a look...

    (because the mold has thickiness, I could not get it to recess where it will sit when done in fiberglass, but you get the idea)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Next up, FIBERGLASS!
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  4. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    Alright....next step in the process, start laying fiberglass! Neither my buddy nor I had any real experience with this, but we decided to have a go at it. Bought some resin, bought some fiberglass matting, bought some cheap brushes, got some good 3M respirators, rubber gloves, etc.... We knew that we'd need some coat the mold with some kind of release agent in order to prevent "glueing" the whole thing to the mold, and as a first attempt, we went with parafin wax. So we got all our parts and pieces together and pre-cut some pieces of matting...

    [​IMG]

    Then we mixed up some resin and started to dab it on to wet the fiberglass matting. We ended up putting two layers of matting, with some extra bits on the return inside the headlight opening because after cutting the matting, there was no overlap to tie it together. We did not have a roller tool to smooth out the surface or "squeegee" out excess resin but what the hey! With two layers applied, there was nothing left to do put clean up and let it sit and cure.

    [​IMG]




    Next up, pop the fairing out of the mold or at least try to.....:norton
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  5. Dread_lion

    Dread_lion Been here awhile

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    I'm really liking this wooden mold idea! Seems like something i could also try! So how much material cost are we talking here, so far?
    Ps: wow you are'nt wasting any time are you? :D
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  6. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    The wood mold idea seemed like the easiest way to go, especially given my woodworking knowledge. Material cost so far include: 1 gallon of resin about $40, fiberglass matting = $6.50 per pack (1 pack is enough to do two layers on this size piece), then add in all the other items that you may or may not have like rubber gloves, respirator, disposable brushes, wood for the mold, etc...

    Well in all fairness we started this (the fairing project) about two weeks ago, just catching up now. It's amazing what you can do during vacation time! :deal The plan is to finish up this project by the end of February though.
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  7. Dread_lion

    Dread_lion Been here awhile

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    seems cheap to me ;) considering what they usually ask for dakar style fairings... Keep at it!
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  8. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    In materials, yes, but there's a lot of man hours in this project thus far and we've only partially completed our first fairing. When you see the price for those rally style fairings out there on the market, I'm certain that a good bit of the price is to cover all the R&D man hours that were put into developing the product. For me and my buddy it's worth our time because we also enjoying working in the shop.

    Thanks for the encouragement, another update coming up shortly....:D
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  9. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    So we last left off with having glassed the mold for the first time. We let it sit overnight, about 18 hours or so, and came back at it the next morning to try and pop it out of the mold. We had thoroughly coated the mold with parafin wax so we had no doubt that the fairing would not be stuck to the mold. Our one concern was in the shape of the fairing itself and the fact that we had some of what we called "positive lock" in the shape; in other words the fiberglassed was shaped back into itself a little at points. In some parts we figured we could flex it, and in others we'd have to pull the fairing off of the mold in a specific direction. After some careful trimming of excess fiberglass from the outer edges of the mold and the headlight opening return, some careful prying and wedging, the fairing popped free of the mold! :clap

    Of course we couldn't wait to slap it up on the bike!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]

    As we discovered, the opening for the headlight was a smidge too small in width and we had to trim off the entirety of the return in order to get the face of the fairing to sit flush with the headlight. Other things we looked at to modify was how the top end of the sides and face meet; this was one of the areas where we had that "positive lock" issue. So it was clear to us that we needed to modify the mold a little. On the flip side, we couldn't be happier with how nice our first attempt had come out!

    We played around a bit with it and put in a cardboard dash and held up the GPS and voltmeter to see how it would look...

    [​IMG]

    Looking at this we've decided to make our dash have a small tab come down to the left of the OEM dash and this is where we'll located the voltmeter. This will leave plenty of room for various switches and other things. We also started talking about how to mount the fairing and dash. Originally, we'd said that we'd mount the fairing to the bike and the dash to the fairing, but upon second thought, we decided to create a mounting hoop to mount the dash, off of this hoop we could then mount the fairing along with a 3rd mounting mount at the bottom where the OEM fairing mounts. This will allow us to remove the fairing while keeping the dash in place; this will come in handy when wanting to work on the electronics and wiring of those items mounted in the dash.

    So next up: 1) modify the wood mold, and 2) start mocking up mounting brackets.
    Stay tuned!
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  10. NVTS

    NVTS Arrivee Secteur Special Supporter

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    XC, I used a fork mounted fiberglass/gelcoat fairing on a DRZ a few years ago. It worked, but caused the bike to steer heavily and had a slight headshake above 55mph. FWIW

    if I were doing it again, I'd find a way to do a frame mount fairing.
    Highwaydirtbikes.com is doing some interesting things with their Rallye Lite. Several options; pricey but the R&D is done.
    NVTS
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  11. woodsrider-boyd

    woodsrider-boyd Wow, these guys are fast

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    Nice work.

    I wish the DRZ was a 6 speed, would make it a great (relatively) lightweight ADV bike overnight with that one single change.
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  12. JaxObsessed

    JaxObsessed Incredulous iconoclast 8:46. Woke SJW. Supporter

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    :lurk :wave
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  13. cheeseyboy

    cheeseyboy Long timer

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    Looks great! Wish I had the patience to do something like this. I went the cheap way out, and did the trashcan fairing on my DRZ. Like the looks of yours much more.
    #13
  14. Ed_in_miami

    Ed_in_miami Cubicle Traveler

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    Very nice.
    I love fiberglass...!
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  15. Starchamp

    Starchamp Rebel Scum

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    XC, have you thought at all about installing the ACT wide-ratio gearset?

    Good job on the glass work, though I have to say I've usually seen the wooden buck used to make the fiberglass mold for the fiberglass end item, rather than for the fiberglass item itself. That way you get the (in theory) nice smooth finished side on the outside. But it takes A LOT of patience and elbow grease with the wooden buck, as you have to get it as smooth and perfect as you want the end item to be.

    I'm torn between improving on my current DIY fork-mounted fairing (see pic below), and a head-tube-mounted nav tower like NVTS mentions. I've got a spare frame to play with and a Rally Raid fairing, so we'll see. I'm curious to see yours unfold, so keep up the good work!

    [​IMG]
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  16. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    No offense taken NVTS; on the contrary, thank you for your input. Something to think about while we brainstorm our mounting options.


    Couldn't agree more; if Suzuki made this bike a 6 speed, and added fuel injection, what a KILLER BIKE this would be!


    Hiya Jax! :wave


    Thank you for the kind words.


    Thought about it? Of course! But decided against it for the time being. Like with any bike, you can keep throwing money at it forever; while I'd love to have the wide-ratio gearset, I can deal with the factory gearing for the time being. I love the DRZ (2nd one I've owned) and I doubt that I'll be selling this bike any time soon and even if I do, I'll just strip off the custom parts, restore this bike to stock, and reinstall the custom parts onto another DRZ.

    Thanks also for the input on molding. Gonna keep going with this "outer" molding for the time being, but if it's a pain in the ass to finish smooth, I may look into making a reverse mold.
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  17. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    PS. Starchamp, I'd love to see pics of how you mounted your fairing. :D:ear
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  18. Starchamp

    Starchamp Rebel Scum

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    Lol, it's an embarrassing collection of rubber straps and zip ties, but it works! :D

    The headlight is a Trail Tech X2, not sure which model (def not the real expensive one, but it's many times better than the stock unit). The bottom rests on an adjustable plastic plate the mounts to the lower fork clamp (I've fabbed up a more durable aluminum plate after the plastic one failed), and the top has rubber straps that go around each fork tube, essentially making a nice three-point connection with a fair amount of aiming ability. The DIY fairing is then zip-tied the the TT headlight shield on each side, and additionally zip tied to the handlebars on each side. I wasn't looking to create a full fixed-in-place dash (because I too was worried about heavy steering), I just needed something to protect the electronics and maybe provide some wind deflection for me. Nothing really scientific about the design, but this way, I can clip the four zip ties and remove the fairing if I'm just tooling around in the woods.

    I have a fiberglass Rally Raid fairing from an XR that I'm making a winter project out of; I'll probably use the stock headlight mounting brackets to fit this on, once I figure out what to run for an actual headlight (considering two Rigid Dually/D-2s):
    [​IMG]
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  19. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    From my last post, we were at the point of: 1) modifying the mold and 2) start fabricating mounting brackets.

    Mold modification was easy. I needed to widen the opening for the headlight a touch, and then add some material to the top and sides to make that part of the piece flow better. A little bit of work in the shop and a little bit of bondo, and voila!

    (the little wing added to the top is new, along with some wedge pieces on the sides to flow it all together)

    [​IMG]

    That should do the trick.


    In the mean time, my buddy Clarence was starting to work up the mounting bracket. For the time being we're going with the fork mount option (it's the easiest); we'll just have to see how well it works and if it creates and "heavy steering" issues at speed. If so, we'll just head back to the drawing board and see what we can come up with. Here's a couple pictures of what he's come up with thus far; our plan is to mount on 3 points (either side mounting to the top of the triple trees where the turn signals are located and a 3rd point where the bottom of the OEM fairing is secured).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's a start; still needs a little more work, but "real" work (as in pays the bills type of work) is slowing progress now that the holidays are over. In the mean time I just glassed up a second fairing this weekend. I'll be popping it out of the mold this week and seeing if the modifications to the mold did what we needed them to do. :deal
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  20. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

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    Starchamp,

    That's a sweet looking XR; keep us posted on your fairing progress. I'd love to see what you come up with.
    #20