DRZ400 Simpson Desert Build

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by hellotimmutton, Mar 30, 2021.

  1. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    I've been putting off creating this thread as my DR350 build stalled out after I got in over my head, but now that I've done my first shakedown camping trip I'm confident it's progressed at the point I can share it. And I have a hard deadline for when this needs to be complete.

    WhatsApp Image 2021-03-31 at 10.19.11.jpeg

    This is my bike before the shakedown trip. The intention is to build a motorcycle that can cross the Simpson desert (500 km's featuring a lot of sand dunes) with a mate of mine who is also building up a DRZ400, but slightly differently, which means besides all the typical adventure and off-road changes, it will also need to hold lots of fuel & water. So far I've done the following mods:
    - Generic brand folding mirrors (ordered Doubletake mirrors after the shakedown ride as these ones folding in above 80kmph)
    - IMS 3.2 gallon tank
    - Generic case savers
    - Filed off the point on the shift lever
    - Carb vent mod
    - Dremelled out the slots in the sprocket cover
    - Sargent seat
    - Barrett side racks
    - Precision motorcycle racks top rack
    - Generic tail tidy & rear indicators
    - Nelson Rigg bags all round
    - SAE plug at back, used for air pump and could be used to jump start

    I'm sure theres things I'm forgetting, but thats all I can think of for now. The bikes handled the trip well, although we didn't make good progress in the sand and our practice was cut short by my mates bike springing an oil leak from one of the cylinder studs. Also, my bike would wobble above 90kmph, but my mates wouln't, not sure if it's because his wheels were balanced and mine arent, or because his barely street-legal tires were better at pavement than my barely street-legal tires. Before the second shakedown trip a week before the big one, I intend to do the following mods
    - Relocate ignition
    - Replace handlebars and grips
    - Add a USB charger & phone holder to handlebar
    - Add a steering damper (might help with wobles, will hopefully increase pace in the sand)
    - Better tires, wheel balance & new wheel bearings (if the damper doesnt fix the wobbles, this should)
    - Steel braided brake lines (I bought them anticipated brake fade in the dunes, however in the shakedown trip I barely touched the brakes. Will throw them on anyway since I already have them)
    - DIY windshield
    - Major service including replacing head stem bearings (final possible cause of wobbles)
    - Anything else I can think of
    #1
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  2. matchlessman

    matchlessman Adventurer

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    Wobbles could from loading. Is all the weight at the back? Maybe a bit more to the front would help. Some people carry their tools low down on the engine bash plate, low and forward. Full/empty tank of petrol?
    #2
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  3. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    With a full tank, fuel rotopax empty, water rotopax half full and me leaning forward the wobbles started 10kmph higher, so it probably did have an effect. I would have had less weight on the rear than my mate who started getting wobbles 20kmph higher than me, so it's probably more than one thing contributing to it
    #3
  4. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    fully service the forks with the max allowed oil level... maybe more. that makes a big difference on old style forks for speed wobble.

    maybe put on part of the load and go drive around, then add some more until it wobbles. then at least you'll know what to expect
    #4
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  5. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    > fully service the forks with the max allowed oil level... maybe more. that makes a big difference on old style forks for speed wobble.

    Yeah good idea

    Made some good progress on the cockpit, ignition has been relocated, replaced the handlebars and grips (should improve comfort considerably) and installed the pivots for the doubletakes (will put the actual mirrors on when im less likely to accidentally whack and break them)
    WhatsApp Image 2021-04-01 at 18.55.53 (2).jpeg WhatsApp Image 2021-04-01 at 18.55.53 (1).jpeg WhatsApp Image 2021-04-01 at 18.55.53.jpeg
    #5
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  6. 13.1

    13.1 Shaken not Stirred Supporter

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    I may have missed it, but I didn’t see anything concerning the suspension adjustment or re-springing for a heavier load.

    As equipped, your stock OEM DRZ isn’t sprung for anything like you are trying to do. In a perfect world, you probably should re-spring and have the damping changed to handle the load and your weight. An expensive task for just 1 ride.

    HOWEVER, you should mount up some heavier springs front and rear to at least get you back the recommended SAG level. This alone should help reduce the problem significantly plus make the bike much safer to ride.
    #6
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  7. Gedrog

    Gedrog 1000 mile stare a 1000 stories to tell

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    ^^^^^^
    Agree here if you don't set-up the suspension correctly the whole experience will be a horror
    #7
  8. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    I guess I'll just have to take it on more trips ;) It's a good suggestion though, I'll call around to a couple places after the easter break to get an idea of cost and turnaround time, or at least to try and get some advice before doing it myself
    #8
  9. Dino de Laurentiis

    Dino de Laurentiis Working on it

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    Changing the springs isn’t that difficult, at least not the fork springs. For the shock spring, you will need a spring compressor, but other than that’s it’s typically trivial too. If you do leave it to someone else, I would strongly suggest leaving it to a suspension expert, and just any shop. The potential extra cost will be worth it.

    The cheapest option is of course to go through your gear and take out everything that’s not absolutely strictly necessary, to lighten the load as much as possible.
    #9
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  10. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    ha ha... see, an I was thinkin' cheap (being an 'ol KLR guy). PVC pipe slugs to stiffen the springs... more oil... maybe some air pressure, etc. yeah... new springs is the right idea
    #10
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  11. Z50R

    Z50R Not lost yet

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    Speed wobble can be caused by notched or loose steering bearings too. If you haven’t already checked, do so for the opportunity to grease them.
    #11
  12. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    Yeah I'm planning on checking the wheel and head stem bearings before the next ride
    #12
  13. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    Finished replacing the brake lines and bleeding them, the front was a real pain to do. Drilled out the exhaust baffle a little to increase airflow without making it obnoxiously loud. Called around to a couple suspension places, most have a backlog that wont clear out until we leave, but calling one back tomorrow that said they might be able to squeeze me in

    WhatsApp Image 2021-04-07 at 19.44.30.jpeg

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    #13
  14. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    Couple of smaller tasks completed like a bigger side stand foot and a shorter tank breather hose, but more importantly, I now have balanced wheels and a steering damper! Between the two of those handling is already way better. The mounting instructions said to reverse the arm and install the damper with the narrow end facing the rider, but I found it interfered with the speedo even with the supplied spacers installed (and they in turn made the speedointerfere with the cowl, and moved around some wires into positions I didnt like). The last major change to the bike is have the suspension upgraded which Im dropping it off for in a couple days

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    #14
  15. Hay Ewe

    Hay Ewe Just a Wannabe

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    Good thread, thanks.
    Understand what you mean about not sharing till your ready.
    That’s ok.

    about the head wobble, Bert Monroe had similar problems, and plenty others have too!
    Yep, check your weight distribution and try to move some weight fwd.
    Good luck, will you do a ride write up?
    #15
  16. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    I figure with such knobby tires the wobble is unavoidable, but during the shakedown ride it was constant and took a heavy physical and mental toll I wouldnt be able to sustain for the entire trip, so all these methods of reducing it is money and time well spent in my opinion.

    Im intending to take a lot of notes as I go, and record what I can with my helmet cam, not sure what form I'll share that in, perhaps just a ride report, perhaps a vlog, ideally some combination of the two
    #16
  17. Hay Ewe

    Hay Ewe Just a Wannabe

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    if its too much work i.e. effort, you wont enjoy it, it is supposed to be a fun trip right!

    I use Google Keep, a tab for each day, put notes on it thru the day, before the day, at the end of the day.
    Put the day and date in the header.
    That way you dont need to put lots of detail.

    I also use smugmug and set up a folder and galleries in that folder for each day before I go, so when able, I can upload the photos and video to the correct day.
    Combined with the Keep notes, it all keeps it in some semblance of chronological order
    #17
  18. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer Supporter

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    wobble.. start with a full & competent fork service. if in doubt, use more fork oil rather then less. add fork brace. maybe consider a damper if heavy loads and sand
    #18
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  19. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    It's at the suspension shop currently getting heavier springs, service should be included as part of that. I've also added a damper, figured itd help in the sand anyway. I hadn't considered a fork brace, given how beefy the stock forks are (49mm if memory serves) I just assumed it wouldnt need it
    #19
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  20. hellotimmutton

    hellotimmutton Been here awhile

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    Got the bike back on Friday and spent the weekend reattaching the luggage racks, changing out the usb charger, changing the fluid, and other misc tasks.

    We set off for the trip this morning, the wobble is now gone below 100, and is very slight after that. Certainly a managable level.

    I will do a detailed breakdown and review of all the mods when/if we get back, for now though I'm going to enjoy the ride
    #20
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