modified GS500 or DR350SE?

Discussion in 'Japanese polycylindered adventure bikes' started by mr72, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. mr72

    mr72 Been here awhile

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    I am basically looking to supplement my main road ride (Bonneville) with a more gravel and patchwork backroad friendly bike. Not purely an adventure bike. And I want to do this on near zero budget.

    Option A: My currently well sorted slightly modified '92 Suzuki GS500 (with '04 4gal tank)... this bike runs awesome and I have raised it about 1" or so as well as reworked the foot pegs forward an inch and down about 3.5 inches to allow for standing and more upright comfort. KX-bend alloy handlebar. 14t front sprocket. Wheelies in two gears if you want, comfortably cruises at 60mph but gets noisy and revs real high if you go much faster although it has plenty of power to easily run 90+ even with the current gearing. I've gone through this bike bit by bit over the past three years and it's really done right. Only thing holding it back from being very good on gravel and our bad backroads is the pure street tires. A set of 80/20s would make it pretty good, but it just feels kind of heavy and not enough suspension travel if the gravel roads get particularly rutted.

    Option B: Sell the GS500 and replace with... probably a DR350SE. This is the other side of the fence. I think this would require also 80/20 tires just to be streetable enough to get to the gravel from the suburbs where I live and would be running close to flat out on our 60mph highways while the GS is doing it with room to spare. But it'd be 60lb lighter and more capable on rougher gravel roads. Plus it's more of a contrast to my Bonnie, and it might be something I could take with me and ride on the beach whereas I don't think I'd ever try to ride my GS500 on sand. But I could probably sell the GS and buy a later-model DR350SE and it'd be a wash price-wise.

    What would you do?

    And if I do stick with the GS, what's a good choice of 80/20 tire that comes in 140 and 110 sizes f/r on 17" wheels?
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  2. tntmo

    tntmo Oops, I did it again.

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    DR350 is more than capable of going highway speeds with room to spare, it has one of the best spaced gearboxes out there. If you’re considering getting into a bit more dirt or single track then some more aggressive tires are in order. They are fine on the highway.

    I have had a few GS500’s, liked the bikes but only used on the street. I could see it being an interesting mid sized ADV with real suspension. If I wanted to do more than gravel roads, I don’t think this would be my choice although I ride a Ténéré and it’s way heavier than a GS500!
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  3. mr72

    mr72 Been here awhile

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    Well I don't want to do more than gravel roads. I'd rather keep the GS and also get a DR350SE! I don't know what "real suspension" means in this context though. I'm not down for a front end swap. The stock suspension is about 5.5" of travel at both ends. I've lowered the fork legs in the triples about 3/4" (which puts them flush with the top triple clamp) and I put in 0.90kg/mm springs up front and swapped the rear shock with a Katana 600 unit which is about 40% stiffer and also longer, making the ride height loaded about 1.5" taller than it would be with stock suspension. I have never had it bottom on either end with the current suspension setup, but I haven't done rutted gravel, just typical unmaintaned CenTX horrible country roads where it does fine and where my Triumph would toss me off.

    I rode it around just the other day and again it's a mostly ideal rough-paved-road bike as it is, but with the 14t front sprocket it's happiest under 55 mph. I need to find a way to stiffen the shifter mount point because it twists a little bit making for some vague shifts, and I think I need a frame-mounted side stand to replace the stocker. But it's really pretty cool as is for a 360 lb bike with about 40hp. A set of Shinko 705s might just make it gravel road awesome.
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  4. tntmo

    tntmo Oops, I did it again.

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    Yeah, I guess it has real suspension.....I guess saying suspension more suited for off road use would be better wording. If you don't want to do more than gravel roads, then the GS with some more tinkering can definitely get the job done.

    I like the idea of keeping the GS and getting another bike, but that's up to you and your budget!
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  5. mr72

    mr72 Been here awhile

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    With all of the mods and work I've done on it, I'm sure my GS is worth much more to me than to anyone else, so keeping it is probably best. Especially if I can turn it into a gravel bike. Seems DR350SE are not all that common to come up used, so I'll put some money in my pocket and start looking.
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  6. MCGMB

    MCGMB Been here awhile

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    You've got a good GS, that with good tires will do just fine on the gravel bad roads you've described. Selling is a pain, and finding the right used replacement bike is a pain. And that assumes the used DR doesn't have hidden issues.

    I'd stick with the GS
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  7. c_m_shooter

    c_m_shooter Ninja Warrior

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    Stick with the GS. There are very few places to ride a DR anyway. Emma Long is fun, but short. I am baffled at all the plated KTMs and other dirt bikes at dual sport rides I've been on. They only take them on gravel roads that are smoother than what my Harley sees every day.
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  8. mr72

    mr72 Been here awhile

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    Thanks guys. I'm not interested in riding places like Emma Long anyway, well not on a motorcycle. I've ridden it hundreds of times on my mountain bike.

    Keeping the GS is the right answer. Plus that will buy me time to find the right DR350SE if that's what I really want, or maybe some basketcase dual-sport that I can nurse back to health.

    Any comment about tires for the GS? Thinking Shinko 705, probably could fit a 120/70-17 up front and probably a 140/80-17 would fit in the rear... currently running a 110/70-17 Pirelli S-D front and 140/70-17 Michelin Pilot Street Radial rear... would rather find a 110 for the front and a 70 series for the rear if possible. Again, looking for gravel roads usage here, not really off-road at all. A 90/10 tire would be perfect.
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  9. Brainflex

    Brainflex Been here awhile

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    Dr650 front forks shortened and sv650 rear shock will give you longer travel suspension.
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  10. motorat

    motorat Is it raining

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    I think you can get TKC80's in the size you want. I had them on my CB500x and they worked well.
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