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Let's Build a G650X Into An Adventure Bike!

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by gaspipe, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

    Joined:
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    It's been a long time since I wrote up one of these. Might be a long time before I write up another one! :lol3

    Let's start with why a G650X?

    I've been a longtime adventurer - running on KTM LC4 machines since 1996. My first LC4 was a 620 RXC, then a pile of 640 Adventures, and my last was a '99 LC4. I ran 'em for ten years, and finally pulled the plug after some crocodile tears. Time to move on.

    I built up an XR650R in 2006, and that bike has been excellent, albeit a bit more offroad/desert focused than my LC4s were.

    Somewhere in there, I had an F650 Dakar, and although I loved the motor, I really didn't care for the bike much. It had feeble suspension offroad, and weighed a ton. I put some miles on it, and sold it.

    I had my eye on a Husky TE610, but I wanted to do something a little different. I really like the TE610, but it would take quite a bit of work to get it where I want it. So I procrastinated.

    The X-Challenge didn't really catch on here in North America, and I wondered how many are really here. Then a brandy new G650X came along, and I got it for about a grand less than I could have gotten an injected TE610. That's a grand I can use to modify the bike. And a week later, it was in my garage.

    Testing it out on the banks of the Tennessee River last winter...

    [​IMG]

    I hadn't put 30 miles on the bike before an opportunity to ride in central Mexico came along, and as luck would have it, I got a loaner G650X to ride! I was going to learn the pros and cons of the bike out in some of the most fantastic riding I've ever done!
    #1
  2. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    The first thing that I noticed was that this motor has a bit more power than the F650 version had, and still has a nice wide powerband. It also weighs quite a bit less than the F650 did, and the suspension is better. Fuel mileage was quite good, about 65mpg at easy cruise, about 40mpg when you're beating it up.

    The motor ran cleanly at altitudes over 14,000 feet.

    [​IMG]

    The fuel range can be as low as about 85 miles (my personal worst), and as good as 150, but with not much more than a fart left in the fuel tank.

    We rode these bikes about 1000 miles across central Mexico over a week, and as we were riding, I noted a bunch of things I wanted to attempt to rectify.

    Climbing Pico de Orizaba - nearing 14,000 feet.

    [​IMG]

    Heading to the Gulf of Mexico, near Jalcomulco.

    [​IMG]

    Wow, the air filter element is not offroad friendly at all. Lots of dust made it past the paper into the airbox. Not good. :nono

    [​IMG]

    The stuff I liked:

    motor and fuel injection
    brakes
    low center of gravity
    slim
    reasonable weight
    Stuff I didn't much like:

    air filter
    nuclear reactor for a muffler
    small fuel tank
    butter soft wheels
    weird shaped seat
    goofy suspension
    lack of motor protection
    no provisions for luggage
    I decided it was worth it to work at making the bike into something I would run for a few years. Something to fit in the gap between where my XR650R leaves off, and a big touring rig would pick up.

    As I flew home from Mexico, a lot of ideas started.
    #2
    NahdarVebb likes this.
  3. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    This is gonna be good! :deal

    If the G650X turns out as good as your other builds there will be a lot of copies in the future.

    BTW, I'm still trying to complete my GPXR650R wannabee 2.0
    #3
  4. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    Lots of the modifications done are already well documented in the stickied G650X index in this forum, so I'm not going to rehash that stuff with pics and stuff.

    There will be potentially two phases to the project - a short range adventure bike, and a long range machine to take on continental traverses. The fuel capacity issue will be the item that kicks this from Phase one to Phase two.

    Onto Phase one.

    When I got home from Mexico, I installed a full Remus exhaust. I like the quietness of the OE catalytic convertor, but the SOB gets so friggin' hot, that it had to go, especially since I will have to stow some gear back there eventually. The Remus fits nice, uncorks the beast a bit, but is a little louder than I'd like. And the thin walled SOB glows in the dark when running...

    [​IMG]

    Next is one of BMW of Atlanta's foam air filter elements. It's a Unifilter pod element fitted into the airbox. I removed the lid and never reinstalled it. These two modifications definitely make the motor a bit snappier - but that's just a bonanza. The superior filtration is what I was after. I have a few panels of bulk Unifilter foam, and may just work at making a large panel filter. But for now, since this bike will be doing shorter haul duties, I'll just carry a spare foam filter.

    After having looked at the Mexico bikes, I removed the carbon cannister and eliminated some additional plumbing. This cleans up some bosses on the rear subframe for other things that I'll get to later.

    I gave a call to Gary Emig, the machining prowess behind Emig Racing's billet bling and cool bike stuff. We chatted a bit, and decided to use my bike as the model for making a set of billet clamps, bar risers, and integral steering damper. I've used Gary's stuff on several bikes, and it's *good* stuff. Gary is an offroad adventurer himself, and he knows what I'm looking for. I dropped the bike off at Gary's place outside Kansas City, for him to start his work.

    While the bike was away, I got busy on a couple other agenda items.

    We all put some ouchies on the front wheels of the G650's when we were in Mexico. We weren't even riding them hard - it's just not a very durable wheel for offroad use. I had a billet Rad hub for a KTM laced to an Excel wheel, using HD stainless spokes and nipples. The Rad hub had to be drilled to accept the OE BMW rotor. Wheel spacers were going to be an issue, because of some other changes I wanted to make.

    [​IMG]

    Wheel spacers....also cut from 6061T6 stock.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I did a fork swap on my '06 Husky WR250. The WR250 had a brand new set of 45mm Marzocchi Shiver forks, which are pretty darned good forks. But I got a set of full bore works Marzocchi 50mm Shivers and billet clamps for the WR250, so now I had a surplus set of new 45mm 'Zoke forks. These are 11.5+ inch travel units, and much, much nicer performing that the somewhat watered down 'Zokes that come on the G650.

    The big issues with the fork swap are totally different lower axle clamps and the brake hanger mount. The Husky axle is larger in diameter, but shorter in length. I wanted to go with the heavier duty Husky axle diameter, but we'd have had to make an axle from scratch. So we just used the BMW axle, and made spacers for it all to work - these were turned from 6061T6 aluminum stock.

    [​IMG]

    The brake calipers and discs are significantly different also, so to keep the BMW brake parts, a brake caliper hanger was made from 6061T6 plate.

    [​IMG]

    The Husky forks also don't work with the BMW fork guards. I had a set of blue fork protectors from my Husky 250, so I put those on for now. A tight walleted dude could use a heat gun and a drill and probably get something useable from the OE guards.

    [​IMG]

    The generic seal savers are not a substitute for not cleaning the fork scrapers regularly, but they do help keep them cleaner, and also can help minimize nicks and dings in the fork stanchion tubes.

    [​IMG]

    Also note the gray plastic thingies just above the seal savers. What these are for it to keep the fork guards from cutting into the aluminum fork sliders (and the seal savers). Good thinking, Husqvarna. KTM needs to do this from the factory - I've seen a lot of damaged fork sliders because of this omission.
    #4
  5. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    :thumb

    Thanks JN. Just trying to make a framework for folks to see why I'm doing what I'm doing to the bike.

    XR650R's are awesome machines. Durable as a machete, and more fun.
    #5
  6. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    An Ohlins shock showed up, thanks to Kyle Racing. Again, the Conti air shock is OK, but there are two things I am after.

    The first is failure. If the airbag fails, the bike is more or less unrideable. In the places I like to go, it would be totally unrideable. The second is the funky handling. When you're on really rugged stuff making fast time, it gets hotter than hell, and very inconsistant.

    So I decided to take a step to the side and go with a conventional hydraulic shock. If the damper fails, the bike is still rideable, but not very well controlled. Spring failures are very, very uncommon - at least for steel. That factor is good.

    [​IMG]

    Installation is very quick. The shock unbolts with a 10mm Allen wrench. The lower bolt can be tricky to get out - I used a magnet probe to pull it out.

    Rather than sell or throw away the air shock, I stashed it away. You never know.

    I went to Baja on my 450 and work more or less halted.

    When I got back, Gary Emig called me. About a month had passed since I dropped off my bike, and it was ready to pick up. Gary had generated the CAD data to make stock offset clamps, integral risers, and his own (very good) steering damper.

    I got the first set made - all carved from 6061T6 bar stock. :thumb The Husky forks, Emig clamps/damper/riser, and RAD/Excel wheel went together. The G650X was a roller once again.

    [​IMG]

    Note the installation of fork bleeders. These are from Motion Pro, and are the ones for a nonadjustable preload WP4860 or 4357 fork (4.0x0.7mm).

    These, IMHO, go a long way in helping you not blow seals, *if* you bleed them regularly. However, carry the tiny phillips screws with you, in case you damage a bleeder in a crash. If they're broken, you'd be surprised how much oil will pump out of the forks through that tiny little hole. :nod Two more tips - 1. *DO NOT* overtighten these. they are aluminum, and will shear off if you try to crank 'em down; 2. The chromed upper part tends to get loose, and it will manifest itself when you need to remove the bleeder. Remove it and rethreadlock the chrome part to the gold part with a permanent (red) Loctite. Do not threadlock the gold part to the fork. :nono

    [​IMG]

    The post is a clamp on design made from aluminum. I didn't want to have to weld a post on this bike.

    [​IMG]

    The 2006 Husky WR250 has springs which are .42kg/mm. These are too soft for a bike that weighs 60 or 70 lbs more than the 250. I swapped in a set of .48kg/mm springs and different preload spacers. The heavier springs are slightly different length than the OE .42's. These are genuine Marzocchi springs - not sure what bike they are from, but likely one of the TC motocrossers. They were $100 from Hall's. The sag numbers look good enough now, plus I'm looking for plush here, not jumping triples :lol3 I also changed the fork oil, and replaced it with Amsoil 5wt.

    Now we're getting somewhere. The front fork feels pretty nice, and I haven't even fiddled with the clickers yet!
    #6
  7. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    The jury is out on the Ohlins shock. It isn't what I hoped it to be. It jacks up the rear of the bike, making the steering head angle steeper, the seat height taller (over 40"!!), the sidestand almost unuseable, and the bike somewhat unhappy handling wise. Feels and measures to be oversprung and perhaps too long. I'm working with Ohlins on this now. Seems everyone else is happy, so maybe I got a frankenshock. :dunno More on this later on.

    The stock skid plate isn't really going to do much to help you in ugly stuff. The oil drain vulnerability is the scariest part.

    TT seems to be moving a lot of merchandise, yet also seems to be perpetually backordered. Plus the crappy performance of the US dollar in the world market makes many imported items somewhat unsavory to purchase.

    I've seen Hyde Racing stuff on other bikes, and the riders gave it the thumbs up for protection and durability. So I decided to give it a whirl. A couple days later, the polymer skidplate shows up. I couldn't tell if it should go over the OE aluminum plate, or replace it totally. So I tried it both ways.

    W/O the OE plate....

    [​IMG]

    Over the top of the OE plate....

    [​IMG]

    Fits better over the OE plate, so I left it that way. I found out later that this is the way it's supposed to be done. So far, it has held up to some significant beatings.

    The rear tail will get ripped off if I don't do something about it. The combination of wiggly plastic, knobbies, mud and offroad riding conspire to destroy such things.

    [​IMG]

    I put a thin cutoff wheel in the die grinder, and cut the plastic off just above the license plate light. For now, I'll keep the OE turn signals and not cut away any more plastic until I have a better location for some LED turn signals.

    The license plate went on vertically, and the tail light illuminates it nicely. Check your local LEO to make sure you won't get pinched for this mod. Local TN guys don't give it a second look.

    I made some aluminum standoffs for the license plate so it wouldn't get defromed wrapping around the vestigial remains of the fender.

    [​IMG]

    This is your best friend for most fasteners. It's not cheap, but having a fork guard get tangled in your spokes would also not be cheap. On the triple clamp pinch bolts and the handlebar clamps, I use moly antiseize, never threadlockers.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some 3M red and amber reflector tape replaced the OE reflectors. They'd just have gotten broken anyway.
    #7
  8. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    Now up, handlebars, handguards and the like.

    The OE bars are decent, but for some reason, BMW just has to be different. They spec'd the bar ends to be threaded, and this really doesn't work well with the heavy duty handguards out there without making an insert to bond into the bar.

    I had a set of Pastrana bend ProTaper bars on the pile o' parts. These are a little higher and with a different sweep that I like. You might not, so make sure you get the bend that is comfortable to to you.

    With the ProTaper bars on, I could now easily fit a set of Moose handguards. I cut down the brake and clutch levers - I don't like them long. Another little key mod to this is at the area where you cut the end off the throttle tube. I like to modify a washer to act as a 'fender' in tipovers. This keeps dirt and crud from getting forced into the area between the handlebar and the throttle tube, binding it all up. Not good out on the trail.

    [​IMG]

    I didn't like the OE grips at all, so these ones went on. I'm not even sure what they are. Grip glue *AND* safety wire hold them on. I *HATE* it when the grips slip on the bar in rainy weather. Pisses me off. I change grips fairly often - they do wear out. No heated grips for me, but that's just personal choice (and I have very warm hands)...

    Everything fits quite nicely, and does much to protect the levers and my hands now.

    The little bit of flex that comes from the rubber mounted bars sometimes make the steering a little vague. I always add one of these from Gary Emig to tie the risers together, and it also gives me a very nice surface to set up my GPS mount.

    [​IMG]

    The controls are shaping up nicely now. The cheesy clutch lever still bothers me, but BMW's wierd cables preclude me from changing out the perch - unless I get a custom cable made. When the OE cable has a few thousand miles on it and should be replaced, I'll revisit this.

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    Some riding and testing happens now.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The ergos are good - the bike fits me now, although I am not in love with the OE seat. I'm not ready to give Boejangles a call and talk about a seat until I figure out why I don't like the seat.

    The rear suspension is not making me happy. Fiddling with the preload and measuring the sags make me think I have to do something about this. The bike is also twitchy because of the steering head angle.

    Husky sells the black plastic fork guards to fit the 'Zoke Shivers for cheap, versus the blue. I bought a set of new black ones for about $28.

    GadgetBoy's thread creates an epiphony for me - and I ordered a X-Moto low seat from Hammersley. Eventually, I'll want a second pan anyway. $200 later, the seat shows, and Hall's delivers the black guards.

    [​IMG]

    I like the slightly different shape of the X-Moto seat better, and I'm now comfy on the bike for 100+ miles at a clip. I can run her out of gas before my butt screams for mercy.

    The blue X graphic on the front shrouds now looks ridiculous.

    [​IMG]

    The silly bubble level thingy is donated to Bob Vila, and the oil reservoir is now exposed.

    [​IMG]

    I clamped the shift lever into the mill, and cut two holes as breakaway points. I carry an XR650L steel shifter as a backup now. This is to help avoid the possibility of a sheared shift shaft. For what it's worth, I crashed the F650 a few times and absolutely mangled the shifter. A few times, I had to remove it and hammer it back into shape with a rock. And the shaft never broke. :dunno

    Anyway, an ounce of prevention, eh?

    [​IMG]
    #9
  10. dirtrider

    dirtrider Dusty Adventurer

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    Cool! :thumb
    #10
  11. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    One thing that has been nagging at me is the Remus exhaust. The mounting just isn't as secure as I'd like. The combination of a carbon muffler clamp, an aluminum pin, and an exhaust clamp don't have me all warm and fuzzy. Plus I know a couple guys that lost 'em riding hard.

    So I machined a stainless disc to match the muffler mount on the exhaust and the pin on the aluminum subframe. I drilled a 3.2mm hole through the aluminum pin, and secured the disc using a 3mm cotter pin. It fits quite snuggly. I slathered on a blob of RTV to keep the whole shebang from vibrating. This should, I hope, keep the whole thing from blowing off the headpipe. We'll see about that. If I have to, I'll add a second muffler hanger.

    [​IMG]

    The factory X graphics got peeled off before the underbrush does it for me. I like it better just black, gray and white anyhow.

    [​IMG]

    The rear shock is really bugging me still. I called Ohlins in NC, and they asked me to ship it back. Something is wrong here. I removed it. and sent it back

    [​IMG]

    And boxed it up. It's on it's way back to Ohlins now. I reinstalled the airshock (thanks goodness I didn't throw it away), and pumped it up to 110lbs. While I had the rear wheel off to swap shocks, I tossed on a 140/80 Pirelli MT21 rear. I packed the void between the grease seal and the wheel bearing with aluminum based grease, and also put a light coat on the axle.

    Since I was on a roll, I put a Dunlop 606 front tire on. I removed the Sahara and installed the 606 without tire irons. :nod Not because I had to, but because it can be done if the rubber is nice and warm and you have a little bead lubricant. :deal The point here is, if you're working hard to get the bead on the rim, you're doing something wrong.

    The Saharas are decent gravel road tires, but lousy mud and grassy/loam tires. There's still some experimenting to do, and rubber was becoming the limitation in some places. Like I've said many times before, tires are a compromise - nothing performs well everywhere. If you're true to yourself when you quantify the type of riding you do most of the time, you'll have the right tire, at least most of the time. :lol3

    The X- Ch is starting to look like a dual sport bike now.

    [​IMG]

    Time to put some miles on it, and see how it works.

    [more coming soon]
    #11
    Kiharaikido and waylongway like this.
  12. shardzero

    shardzero I have a bike.....

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    I find the MT21 front and rear a very predictable combination with great wear. Certainly allows for some cool corner angles.

    The bike looks great. So is the phase 2 completed?; will you be mounting a large tank or tanks. What bleeder valves are they? I had trouble getting ones that fit.
    #12
  13. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    #13
  14. Max Kool

    Max Kool Xtankteam™

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    Los Angeles
    [​IMG]

    I was thinking of a front fender off a 690 Enduro (lower and slotted) and adding a small fixed front subframe for the navigating equipment and tools down low in the bashplate.
    #14
  15. kenaroo

    kenaroo I am because i ride

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    If .. Ohlins doesn't come up with a fix for the rear shock..

    I have a guy in town that fabs up custom spacers for the shock shaft to lower the shock with changing the links etc.. best part is it's completely reversable if needed.

    I'll hook you up with him
    #15
  16. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    I like the MT21 front better than the 606, and strangely enough, I like the 606 better in the back, but it's really splitting hairs. Any combination of a knobbier tire sure makes the bike a lot more fun in the dirt vs. the Saharas. However, this is what I had in the garage, and needed to use 'em up. I'm sure they'll be good enough to do the job for now.

    And no - there are still a few Phase 1 steps to finish up, and they'll be along soon. :deal

    The bleeders are for a non preload adjustable KTM 4357 or 4860 fork. They are Motion Pro MP11-0031. IIRC, I used these same ones on the original fork.

    #16
  17. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    Looking good there Max K. Your mods have been an inspiration.

    The first time I crash and break the beak/fender, I'll be replacing it with something other than the OE plastic. That's a neat idea on the nav equipment. I never use a roadbook anymore, so my plan is to mount the TT 276C bracket directly to the plate on top of the handle bar clamps.

    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. Oni

    Oni Ronin

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    Bruce

    With more time on the bike now...how are you liking the Emig damper?

    I think there will be one on mine soon and just wondered what your thoughts are on it now that you have had more time with it on your bike.

    I have a GPR on my XR and like the resistance to and away from center. Did you get the Evo 1 or 2 on your bike? I read on the Emig site they recommend the 2 for large dual sports.

    Thanks,

    M
    #18
  19. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    Oni,

    I am using the Rev II on the G650X. I have found that the X will wallow a bit at speed, and the Rev II helps that out.

    If I were going to use the 650 in tight woods and very technical stuff, I'd probably opt for the Rev 1. On the other hand, I'd probably have been riding my 250 anyway.
    #19
  20. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul

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    I started to turn my attention to some sort of rear rack. Once again, I didn't want to go TT, although the big plate they make is a pretty decent unit.

    What I was looking for was a way to tie in some brackets from the passenger footpeg area to the sideplates of a rack. I'll get to that later in the thread as I get to it.

    Heavy duty steel sideplates were what I wanted. I looked and found nothing, and was figuring on having to make them from some cold rolled plate. Then I saw a bike with the SW Motech rack for a rear box. At first I thought they were aluminum, but a call confirmed they were steel.

    The right side plate....

    [​IMG]

    The left side plate is a little tricky, because I have a Remus exhaust. The Remus has it's own bracket and doesn't use the OE mount on the can. The rack sideplate needs tro be in the same place at the same time, and they really don't work together properly without some modifications.

    The Remus mount...

    [​IMG]

    Simple is better. The simple solution it to duplicate the Remus design on the SW Motech sideplate. I scraped off the powdercoat, turned a steel spacer on the lathe, and welded it to the sideplate. I then drilled and tapped it to take an 8x1.25mm thread.

    Squirted on some satin black paint, and the modified sideplate is ready to go.

    [​IMG]

    The muffler secured to the modified sideplate....

    [​IMG]

    One thing I will keep an eye on here - the two sideplates are held to the subframe with four 6mm bolts. The cargo 'rating' for this is pretty low. Looking at the subframe, there's plenty of aluminum there to drill and retap these to accept 8mm bolts. That would double the shear strength. You have to be careful putting much weight out back on these subframes, or they will crack.

    [​IMG]

    The top plate is aluminum, and is also held to the sideplates by four 6mm bolts. I'll also keep an eye on these. They will also be simple to drill out to accept 8mm bolts.

    [​IMG]

    I have no plans to add a top box. This bike's mission doesn't include needing that sort of space. I have a sheet of .100" 6061 aluminum, and will make a 'rack' from that. The problem is, I haven't figured out exactly how I want to do it yet.

    [​IMG]

    I need to have a few beers and pontificate on this for a bit. It really will boil down to figuring out what it is exactly that I want to carry back there. Maybe a small tailbag?

    :scratch
    #20