DR650 3rd gear blowups

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by NordieBoy, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. procycle

    procycle Long timer

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    Some of us have swapped out the third gear set with a Nova set as a preventative measure.
    I did when I built the DR900 big bore stroker.

    In all reports of failures there have not been any reports of warning symptoms.
  2. BergDonk

    BergDonk Old Enough to Know Better

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    I'd just ride it if it's all working OK.
  3. ER70S-2

    ER70S-2 Long timer

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    I feel at the DR's price point it's a 'consumable' motorcycle. Buy it, ride it, IF it breaks, buy another one if you liked the rest of the bike. :ricky Said by a day rider, rarely 100 miles from the safety of home. I'm in the 70k mile club. :-)
    NC Rick and 996DL like this.
  4. motahead70

    motahead70 Adventurer

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    Here's mine, it's had 3rd gear whine since i purchased the bike with 39000km on it. It's now done 70000km and was disassembled as the Bearing on the g/box input shaft behind the clutch shit itself. If Nova gears can lose their hard-facing too I may just play the Suzuki lottery and fit a genuine gear set.
    Do you use genuine or aftermarket bearings in your rebuilds @BergDonk ? I have a quote from CBC for NTN bearings for the crank and balance shaft bearings and g/box bearings for about $150.

    Attached Files:

  5. BergDonk

    BergDonk Old Enough to Know Better

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    Pitting looks about normal to me, and I've now seen it like that on a bike with 8,xxx kms on it.

    I've used generic SKF C3 bearings on my rebuilds, except for the pinned bearing behind the clutch. Some suggest C4 for the crank, but not that easy to get, and C3 have been fine so far on my 790 and the other 2 I did.

    Nova may or may not be more resistant to pitting than stock, hard to say, but they will pit if the oil film breaks down. Their manufacturing tolerances are better, so gear tooth alignment might be better. Note how the pitting biases to one side, which could be the result of slight misalignment and consequent increased pressure.

    I've no doubt the full Nova box is much stronger than the stocker, and nicer to operate, but right now there is only one of them, and I have it, and I'm not giving it back.

    Stock gears and good oil will do the job. The trick is knowing what is good oil, one that keeps it film strength/viscosity at high temps. The Lubealloy some of us are now using does that, supposedly only losing only 3% of its viscosity between 100 and 150C. Unless something breaks, and that's a lottery.

    Subjectively, I'm pretty sure the 15/40 Delo 400 I used until I was derailed onto Belray 15/50 holds its viscosity better than the Belray. Its a can of worms!
    motahead70 likes this.
  6. ER70S-2

    ER70S-2 Long timer

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    :2cry
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  7. motahead70

    motahead70 Adventurer

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    Thanks mate, I've been running Penrite Diesel HPR15, 15w50 as it made the whine bearable, when fresh anyway. When I was pulling the motor out I did find a possible culprit that would have lead to increase oil temp and potential premature oil degradation. I had my Staintune Header pipe wrapped with exhaust heat wrap and found the oil feed pipe that runs from the case up to the head had rubbed through the wrap and was touching the header pipe itself. Can't be good for the oil and something to keep an eye on in future.
  8. alfisto

    alfisto Been here awhile

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    To add to this pitty party, I've got a 2009 with 30k miles and a broken tooth from presumably 3rd gear. I'm in Guatemala now having traveled down from California, with about 10k miles that I've personally put on the bike. It's had a fair amount of off road adventure use, PO did a chuck of the transamerica trail, and now my route through Mexico and Guate. I'd say it's been well maintained and treated to good oil/intervals, but then again it's always had difficulty shifting into 1st at a stop/from neutral, and 2nd to 3rd was notchy for a while. Add to that the occasional false neutral/popping out of 5th/2nd, and you could say it's not a total surprise.

    A couple days ago at the start of a big countryside route, when I had taken off all the luggage and was just putting down a hill to view some ruins, a clickitty-clack type noise started up that I hoped was a loose drive chain or something slapping around. The bike was still running/shifting fine but then I realized it only made the noise in 3rd gear..

    Got a tow back to the city and upon draining the oil found the tip of a gear tooth sheared off and stuck to the magnetic plug. Thankfully I don't think there was any further damage to the motor. I'm trying to figure out the best course of action to continue traveling with this bike, so options are either rebuild using only OEM parts, or additionally substituting the Nova 3rd set for $$$, or finding a whole motor to swap.

    First I need to find a shop where I can do the work right, hard to find big space & good tools, but soon I'll get to tear it down and inspect the damage.

    Coupke questions for yall:
    I'm a little disappointed given that this bike should have the updated 3rd gear(s?), but I need to confirm that based on where my bike was in the production line. I've heard conflicting information about when they updated the gear design, or what exactly they did to improve it. If anyone could help clarify that would be great.

    If this was indeed a failure with the improved gear, I'm not sure how I feel about buying another set of the same and hoping for the best. Although I probably only need another 15k miles for this trip, and most failures seem to be past that mark. I might have other gears that are pitted and need replacing, so depending on how many replacement parts are needed I may not have funds for the nova gear set in addition. Finding a good motor is probably the least likely and most expensive option, and wouldn't give me much peace of mind not knowing how it is inside.

    I'll update when I've done some disassembly, but in the meantime any info on the supposed improved gear would be appreciated.

    Attached Files:

  9. procycle

    procycle Long timer

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    Nothing to do with the transmission.
    This is most likely due to wear on the clutch bushing and thrust washers.
    --> https://drriders.com/dragging-clutch-check-this-out-t6671.html

    The idea that the gears were ever updated is speculation based on a part number change that happened several years ago. There is no evidence that the OEM gears were actually improved in any way. The new part number could have been created for any of dozens of reasons. It seems that the same small fraction of bikes break 3rd gears now as did back before the part number change.

    You are one of the lucky ones. Just breaking a tooth off and getting the opportunity to fix it - you won the lottery :D
    alfisto likes this.
  10. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I think you were REAL lucky on that one!

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  11. HugoCentauro

    HugoCentauro n00b

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    Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum and soon I'll buy a suzuki dr 650 rs '91. If I write here it is because I have a great fear of the gearbox problem.
    The bike has 42,000 km, but the upper part of the engine (cylinder, piston and distribution) has been redone 2000 km ago.
    The use I will make of it will be more off-road, as my first bike is a 1200 gs.
    What I would like to know is:
    How many are the chances (in percentage) of the change breaking? are we talking about 20% of the bikes produced, 50% or 90%? obviously considering the km of mine.
    - Are there any products, such as anti-friction lubricants to put in the engine oil that can help? (as sintoflon protector, I know that many use it and find themselves well) Or it could make the situation worse?
    - In case it goes wrong, which motors are compatible in the dr's frame? others besides dr 600 and 650, like that of the dominator? of the KLR?

    Thank you very much!
  12. procycle

    procycle Long timer

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    My best estimate is that the third gear breakage affects somewhere between 1 out of 500 and 1 out of 2000 bikes.
    It looks like if it's going to happen it happens at lower mileage. High mileage blow-ups are rare or noon-existent.
  13. BergDonk

    BergDonk Old Enough to Know Better

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    Does the post 96 SE bikes issue relate in anyway to the older bikes? ie do the pre 96 bikes have gearbox issues? I've heard about balancer chains, but otherwise I no nothing about them.
  14. William Wolfen

    William Wolfen Long timer

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    That's pre-96, so it's a totally different bike and engine.
    Not that I've ever heard of, but I don't think the pre-96 bikes are common enough to have noticed an issue even if there is one. The only one I've ever seen was spotless sitting in a hanger at a local airport. I don't think it ever gets ridden.
    ER70S-2 and BergDonk like this.
  15. procycle

    procycle Long timer

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    Right. I missed the year. Never been an issue with the first generation bikes as far as I know.

    But the balancer system... That's another can of worms altogether. It needs to have regular maintenance to avoid trashing a bunch of the balancer parts. Those commonly worn out items have been discontinued long ago. For my money I would not buy a 90-95 DR with 42K on it.
    BergDonk likes this.
  16. HugoCentauro

    HugoCentauro n00b

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    I looked for information on many forums and facebook pages, and the problem of the third gear that broke was also common to all the models from the 90. the only gearboxes that did not give problems were the dr 600 models. practically from the models from 90 to 95 it was usual to break only one tooth, while from 96 it completely broke the gear destroying the engine.
    If I want to take this bike it is because I pay only 600 € with a new piston, cylinder and distribution of 2000 km and revised carburetor, all done by the previous owner who was a mechanic.
    from the statistics I found here in Italy (and I take this opportunity to apologize for my bad English), at the threshold of 70,000 km, 30% of the third break.
    Mr. Goodkat, ER70S-2 and BergDonk like this.
  17. Sideroadrod

    Sideroadrod Been here awhile

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    I have owned 2 DR 650's a 2001 with 80 000 trouble free km and a 1990 with a worn out balancer assembly. After a few pints one night I removed the balancer chain altogether. It ran great but vibrated like jack hammer. No joke!
    SRR
    BergDonk and procycle like this.
  18. rowie

    rowie Been here awhile

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    It did happen on the early models. This gear was in a 10/89 build 650RS

    3thedamage.jpg

    This is the upgraded gear. Which is exactly the same as the gear that was in my 4/90 build 650RS

    DSC_0629b.jpg DSC_0630b.jpg

    No idea when it was upgraded though. You wouldn't think there would have been any failures which would warrant an upgrade in only 6 months
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  19. HugoCentauro

    HugoCentauro n00b

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    Yet in the facebook group "Suzuki DR650 / DR 600 / DR BIG ITALIA" in the last few years there have been about twenty people who have broken third gear, only on 650 engines from the year 89 to 98
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  20. ChronicTinkerer

    ChronicTinkerer Adventurer

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    Hey guys, unfortunately I am another statistic for this thread. My 2002 DR650 has a little under 20k miles on it and this just happened a couple of days ago on the way home from work. No warning, just CRUNCH! and then a bunch of horrible grinding and popping sounds as I pulled in the clutch and coasted to a stop on the side of the road.

    There is clearly about 1/3 of a gear wedged in the crank/counter balance under the piston. Anybody seen one this bad before? The entire engine is trashed.

    Anybody have an engine they want to get rid of? Otherwise I have a whole bunch of parts to get rid of.

    Attached Files: