One more Versys Adventure

Discussion in 'Japanese polycylindered adventure bikes' started by 88Toyota, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    A little background for those that are in the same dilemma that I was. After months of looking for the perfect 'all road touring' motorcycle for my needs, I came up with no good options from the factories. I put nearly 50k miles on my KLR, and it was a great bike, and did everything I ever asked it to do including some nasty single track. But after 50k (still on the stock piston and no oil burning), it was time for a change. I commute every day, year round, so I wanted something that is comfortable on the road, and be fun with some spirited riding, handle rain/snow in the winter, and be fun in the gravel/dirt roads. I have a KTM 300 for OHV parks, but there are some very degraded roads in the area, so it needs to be good on very rough roads or fairly easy quad trails. I do like to do camping, so it needs to handle a bit of a load and ride easy down the freeway to get to the good stuff. I rode the BMW F800GS and Tiger 800XC. Both were very nice, but just a little bland to me and felt too big for what I wanted (I’m 6’2” and ride a Valkyrie on nice days, so big bikes aren’t bad, just not what I want in the dirt). I grew up riding dirt bikes, so a little engine feedback is nice. The Tiger was just too smooth for me. The BMW was a bit better, but still just kinda bland. I didn’t ride the WR250R, but that was high on my list, and would like to have one, but it’s just a little too dirt bike for what I wanted this time around). I ruled out KTM based on high cost of ownership and questionable reliability. I don't need a race bike, so I don't want the race bike maintenance. I'm sure the KTM guys don't like to hear that, but from what I have read, I'm not comfortable going that route for a street bike (my KTM 300 is a great bike, but it too has some design flaws and high part costs). I had read about so many of the sweet builds that JDRocks and others had done, all with their own needs/requirements, so I took one for a test ride. The Versys, while not as fun as the Ninja from what I have read, was a very fun bike to ride. Some good pull. Little bit of engine feedback to let you know you still have a petrol burning contraption between your legs, and the suspension/brakes were WORLDS ahead of the KLR. I know the KLR can be fitted with better suspension, engine work, seat, etc., but I wanted something different (variety is the spice of life right?). The Versys is also 1/3 or so the cost of the other two. So I looked around for a few weeks and picked up a 2013 with 1500 miles on it.

    I had read many reviews and report about these bikes and it seemed like reports were split 50/50 on the dirt worthy capability. Some say it can be great, others say it is a street only bike. So the day after I bought it, it was time to see if it could do dirt duty:

    [​IMG]

    This thread will hopefully document my very slow build progress on this bike. Many if not all of my changes are based on something that someone else did, so I'm not claiming original design on anything here, just how I am bringing the different things together to make my ideal bike, and hopefully inspire someone else down the road.

    My current list of planned mods are:
    Shinko 705's 130 front and 150 rear - on order
    Front fender lift for new front tire
    Dual stainless front brake hoses for lifted fender
    SW Motech Crash bars
    Skid plate/gravel guard
    Radiator protection
    Rear shock protection
    Lever protection
    Handle bar risers - on order
    ProTaper SE ATV High bars
    Taller seat (its a little tight and slopes forward)
    Lower Pegs
    Lighter/better clearance muffler - in process
    Evap delete - DONE
    Possibly complete exhaust system change. I have an idea to run the pipe more like an F800GS to get better ground clearance. If someone has seen or done this, I’d like to hear about it. I have seen the picture of the green/yellow dirt Versys, and it looks like he tucked it up nicely, but from the picture, I can't quite tell where he ran it, and if/where he put the H-pipe or ran the muffler. I have some ideas, but if someone already worked it out, I'd like to see it.
    Possibly 2015 Ninja oil pan with side drain for ground clearance

    I am thinking this should get me real close to where I want to be. I really like the look of the DR forks/R1 shock and wire wheels, but those will be some of the last things I do at this point.
    #1
  2. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    So the first thing I did was remove the evap canister and associated hoses. The system is intended to remove vapors from the tank and burn them (or something along those lines) instead of release them to the atmosphere. I would not have removed the system, however there is a risk of having the system flood (if the fuel tank is over filled or if the bike falls over), and result in a possible no start situation. This could probably be dealt with on the road if it happened, but I made the decision to remove the system before it became a problem (for better or worse, this is also why I remove kick stand sensors and sometimes clutch sensors, I know it can be dangerous, that's a risk I take, but I have had them fail, and if they fail at the wrong time, it could be much more dangerous in my opinion. I had a finicky clutch switch and one day killed the engine pulling away from a light and instead of being able to just pull the lever in and hit the starter, I had to shift back to neutral and let the clutch out for it to start, this could have resulted in me being rear-ended if the car behind me didn't stop).

    So removing the system is much easier than it first appears. I pulled off the seat, side plastics, and the evap cover. Pull the bolts out of the bracket, and remove all the hoses attached to it. There are 4 hoses that go to the bike, and one hose that just connects one side of the canister to a valve or something. One hose goes to the air box, another goes to the throttle body, the third and fourth go to the tank under the plastic on the left side.

    The tank has a blue dot next to one of the hoses. This hose needs to vent to the ground. This is the main tank vent and if plugged will cause vacuum lock in the tank which will make it hard to open the gas cap and could stave the engine. The other is a return hose from the canister and can be capped off.

    [​IMG]

    Next is I removed the tank and air box. The tank has two electrical connections, fuel connection, and the water drain from around the fill cap. Easy enough to remove and not much fuel leaks out. I just used a rag to absorb what little did drip out.

    The air box can be removed without taking it apart, just pull the four screws in the small cover and pull that part with the hose out (its easier to leave the hose that goes from the contraption at the front of the air box to the valve cover attached at the valve cover and pull the contraption off from that hose). Next you will find four screws inside that cover opening. Pull the screws and pull the air box out.

    Now you can remove the band clamps and pull the air box adapter off the throttle bodies where you will find a hose that use to connect to the evap canister. Pull this off and plug it.

    The final hose connects to one of the throttle bodies. You can take one of the hoses that you have removed and connect it to the other throttle body instead of capping it (there is a cap on the other port that you pull off). This will result in both throttle bodies being connected to the vacuum sensor (vacuum hose connected to the left throttle body that goes up toward the front left fairing where the sensor is), and should provide in a bit smoother running engine at low speed. I didn't ride the bike much before I did this, but it did seem to help a bit.

    That should be it. Put it all back together knowing that you don't have to worry about the potential for this system failing and causing you trouble down the road, and as a side benefit, you have a nice little spot for a tool pack :clap
    #2
  3. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    yes, you can, but i'd split it every single time since you need to visually inspect and clean every part of the airbox interior both in front of and behind the filter, given the access and opportunity. inspecting just the filter doesn't tell the whole story upstream of the throttle bodies, and is especially true if the bike is used in dusty conditions.
    #3
  4. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    Good point JD. I did split them the first time I took it off. Had to pull it a second time to check something I missed the first time and realized it could be pulled as one unit. It is much easier to put back in as one unit though. I'll pull mine after a few more dusty rides to see if I'm getting any dust past the air filter and add pod filters if needed unless there is a better fix out there.

    Got the Shinkos and bar riser on tonight. Need brake lines and do something with the fender next. Haven't decided if I'll do a MX fender or lift the stock one yet. I like the looks of the MX but need to get good radiator protection at least.
    #4
  5. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    Well, after a few more rides in the woods on the new bike, I think this might turn into less of a build thread, and more of just adding a couple farkles and ride it. Got the Shinko 705s on and it handles gravel fairly nicely. For now I just did a little fender riser and dual braided brake lines. I'll probably post up some pictures of how I did it for reference for others. I still need to get crash bars, and build or buy a skid plate/gravel guard. I cut a radiator guard out on the laser at work, so I'll bolt that up this weekend. Cut some rubber for a rear mud guard, so I'll mount that up soon.

    This certainly isn't a dirt bike, but it seems to handle fairly nice in the gravel. A little squirmy, but its kinda like riding in the sand, you just let the rear follow and point the front and it gets through just fine. I had it up to probably 50 mph or so at one point, and it was no big deal. Its certainly no gravel runner like JD and so many others have built :bow, but it jogs along in the gravel nicely :ricky

    I'll keep posting up my small mods, but at this point, I think I'm just going to add some protection and fix the seat, then RIDE!

    A pic from a road not far from home. Old nearly forgotten road. I have a thing for old bridges in the woods, so I had to stop and take a pic. From this point to the end of the road was perfect smooth gravel with a bit of grass down the middle with nice winding turns. Too bad the paper companies put up gates on all the roads that cross their land out here. It would have come out several towns over and been a nice loop.

    [​IMG]
    #5
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  6. lostonwheels

    lostonwheels Adventurer

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    I'm about to raise the fender on my 08' and I'd love to see pics of how you did yours!
    #6
  7. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    I'll take some pictures soon and post them up on the front fender. Was really easy. I have a few more mods done now. Raised the seat several inches to give me more leg room without loosing peg height to the ground and get rid of the step so I could move around more like a dirtbike seat. I went to a foam store in Portland (A-1 Foam and Rubber) and picked up some of their dark grey stiff foam. I also picked up some softer foam and a little under a yard of carbon fiber print vinyl from the Fabric Depot.

    I pulled the cover off using a screwdriver and pliers and stored it away for now, then pulled the pillion seat foam out and stored it away also.

    Then I just took one of the foam squares I got and did a very rough cut to give it a similar profile as the seat (wide at the back, narrow at the front), and then glued it to the stock foam with some Super 77 spray adhesive. Once that stuck good I shaped the foam a bit with a grinding wheel (read up on doing this, if you go the wrong direction with the grinder it WILL catch and could mess up your foam, but if done right, works great and makes short clean work of the foam). I tried to taper the rear portion of the foam down a bit so the seat was a bit flatter. I then layered another foam square over as I did the first one, then did a little more grinding. I also took one of the cut out sections and added it to the sides to give the seat a bit more of a cupped shape in the middle, but not too much to where it would lock me in. I rounded off the sides and tried to taper things a bit. I have read that you want to use a thin layer of soft foam to cover up imperfections, but I skipped that step and it turned out good enough for me. There are a few areas on the front sides where the foam had some large gaps, but the vinyl covered them up well. When I was done with the grinding, the rear of the seat foam was just barely taller than the large bump in the seat pan between the front and rear seat sections. I threw some soft foam in the hole where the rear seat foam was removed and put my new vinyl on nice and snug to pull everything tight together. Even though the seat pan has basically no foam over the bump, it is far enough back that in a normal riding position, I don't hit it, and I can still slide back without hitting a step if needed. I didn't get any pictures of the finished foam shaping, but will post up a pic of the finished product.

    It isn't perfect, but I was able to ride from Portland to Coos Bay without getting off the bike and only stopped for fuel. With the stock seat, I was sore and tired of holding myself off the tank after 15 minutes.

    With this mod, I also installed a ROX riser and the ergos are quite comfortable for me now. Sitting or standing is quite comfortable, whereas before, standing I was hunched over quite a bit.


    Next was adding some protection for the radiator and rear shock/electronics.
    I drew up a 1/8" 6061 Aluminum radiator guard and had it laser cut. It attaches to the three bolts on the front of the radiator that hold the fan on, and put a little weather stripping on the ends to keep it from rattling.
    I used some 1/8" neoprene rubber and cut it to fit in the area behind the battery box and above the swingarm. For now, I just zip tied it to the frame on both sides of the battery box, and on the left side of the swingarm, then used the unused bolt on top of the swingarm on the right side. So far I have ridden gravel, dirt, and sand (more on that later), and haven't gotten any significant signs of junk on the goodies under there.

    Caution! I do not condone or endorse anyone should do any of the following. I am simply showing what I have done and what works for me.

    Many years ago I got a Harbor Freight trailer to pull behind my KLR to get things from the hardware store or pickup dog food etc. I put a metal tab on each side of the axle bolt that has a hole in it that I can pin my custom hitch adapter to. I have used this on the KLR for years and even pulled my late CR500 and my current KTM300 to Portland to meet up with my buddy to ride. I had an opportunity to go to Coos Bay a few weeks ago and do some camping/riding in the dunes. So I put these same tabs on the Versys, and installed a 5 way to 4 way trailer converter and headed for the coast with everything I needed to camp for 3 nights and ride. This setup works great for me. I was able to keep up with traffic down I5 at 70+ and flowed through the twists and turns on HWY 38 sweetly. Sure, you can tell it's back there, but it was still better than taking the boring cage all that way down there. Here is a shot leaving work (I know ATGATT. I had to stop at the end of the street to do some stuff before leaving and geared up then.)

    [​IMG]

    Once I got there, the camp spot was in the sand, so I unloaded everything and rode the Versys through the soft dry sand about 150yds. No pics, you'll have to take my word for it :hmmmmm

    You can see in the picture above the new riding position now with the moded seat and bar risers. I don't feel like my legs are cramped and the handle bars feel good to me.

    This bike seems to be a great street bike that can handle some gentle off roading. I have two big concerns right now about the bike for off/rough road use. The suspension is easy to bottom out (duh, it's a road bike), and while riding last weekend (to Kinzel Lake), I broke the footpeg holder (cast aluminum piece the pegs bolt to). I am really concerned about this especially if I do long off road rides with this (OBDR, WABDR, etc.). For now, I got a new one on order, but wish there was a steel option or a good way to beef this part up. I have thought about making one out of steel, but it won't look as nice as the factory part for sure. Anyone have a solution for this???

    On the smoother gravel roads, this bike is a blast to ride. I am getting more comfortable on it and starting to be able to slide it around the turns just a bit, and the engine is so smooth and the power comes on very nicely. I still might do the DRZ forks down the road, but I have other things higher on the priority list for now.
    #7
  8. El Viajero

    El Viajero Been here awhile

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    The Versys is a real Gem with a great engine! I love the subtle mods you have done!

    /)
    #8
  9. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    So I still haven't gotten around to taking the pictures of the fender mod, but I wanted to post up a little update on the bike. I just took a good long day trip and did I think about 100-150 miles of gravel (300 miles total for the day). Before I left, I turned both front and rear shock screws to full soft. What a transformation! Before I could feel every rock under the tires. Pot holes were bone jarring. Even broken pavement was uncomfortable. I was able to blast along between 30 and 60 in the gravel with no hair raising moments or kidney bruising bumps. This made the comfort level so much better. I put in 12 hours of riding on day one, then rode back on broken pavement back roads and highways the next morning and had a blast in the turns still. I see no reason to turn the damping back up. It will stay full soft from here on out. More mods to come, but this one was a night and day difference I thought was worth posting.
    #9
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  10. Bama67

    Bama67 Cooler in real life

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    Hey 88Toyota,
    How did those big Shinkos affect ride and handling on the street?
    #10
  11. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    It doesn't flick through corners quite as fast but its still plenty quick for me. The improvement in gravel performance is amazing. What I lost on the road was worth the gain in gravel. Its still very fun on the street.

    When I did the tires I also moved the forks as low in the tripples (raised the front) as possible so that could have also caused some of the slower handling. Again, I still find it to be a blast on the road.
    #11
  12. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    Here are a couple shots of the fender lift bracket. Very simple to make. I used a piece of thin steel (about .125" thick or so), and drilled two holes the correct distance for the original mounts, then drilled two more holes a little higher up. The big problem to overcome is the lower bolt that goes through the fender has very little clearance, so you have to use something thin. I used a carriage bolt and welded it to the back of the plate so it won't turn (I don't have one of those cool square hole drills), then ground the head down a bit so it fit nicely. These are rough right now. I might remake them down the road, but for now they work well, and are mostly hidden, so who cares.

    I couldn't tell you why I have two washers under the top bolt now. I'd like to believe there was a good reason when I put this all together the first time, but who knows now. Give it a shot and I'm sure it will be obvious when you get there why it needs it or not.

    This does force the fender to be spread out a little bit, but I have seen no problems so far with this setup. It clears the big 705 nicely. Once in a while I can hear a piece of gravel clunk through between the fender and tire, so there seems to be enough clearance for things to pass through without breaking the fender.

    IMG_20151001_170550034[1].jpg

    IMG_20151001_170543436[1].jpg
    #12
  13. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    Little update, I bought a set of $17 LED lights off Amazon and made up some brackets. Really made a big difference. Too bright and scattered for incoming traffic at night but great for lonely roads.

    The other mod I just finished is installing an EX650 oil pan. Picked it up for $42 on eBay. Ad said it came off an 09 10 11 EX650. Couldn't tell you if that's right but the drain is coming off the side of the pan and it fit perfect. For those of you that can't or don't want to cut/weld the Versys pan, this works great. I took a grinder to the various mounts to reduce the risk of catching one on something and cracking the pan.

    Still thrilled with the bike. Next on my list is custom exhaust system and then aa custom skid plate to keep it all protected.
    #13
  14. Gryphus1

    Gryphus1 I'd rather be riding

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    no pics? I'm pretty sure we ordered the same lights, mine just arrived!
    #14
  15. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    Pics to come. I'm happy with them so far. Need a good night ride to tell for sure.
    #15
  16. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    Here are a couple pics. The lights I got are one piece body. Some versions look like the end caps bolt on. With those you might be able to flip the main body so the wires come out on the inside on both sides, but the ones I got don't so on the left side the wire has to tuck under the light. Good enough for the price.

    The muffler is just something I slapped together. Fair bit lighter and doesn't hang down as much, but too loud for my taste even though it is probably quieter than most aftermarket cans. When I do the head pipe I'll do a new muffler and try to get the volume down a bit. IMG_20151114_105506213.jpg IMG_20151114_104223181_HDR.jpg

    IMG_20151114_104232242_HDR.jpg
    #16
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  17. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    Some might think snow is no place for a bike, but i really enjoy snow riding and this was one area I was real worried the Versys may suck. I got the chance to finally try some snow today on the Versys. The Versys is fairly close to the KLR for snow riding. I have the same tires on the Versys as the KLR had (Shinko 705). The Versys has much wider tires than the KLR tho, and they seem to float a bit more on the snow which is not so bad when moving through fresh snow, but they catch ruts easier making it a bit more tricky at times. The Versys being a bit heavier it takes a bit more strength to keep it upright when it does start to slip or get it moving again after stopping, but once underway, it does just fine. Thinking of trying the Shinko 805s next and will report on their snow capability when I do.

    IMG_20151115_121117741_HDR.jpg
    #17
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  18. tokyo

    tokyo Been here awhile

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    Great thread!

    I just picked up a screaming deal on a '14 Versys to keep my WR250X company until the unicorn Yamaha WR700X comes out. I really like it though so not as anxious now.

    I had an '08 Ninja and like the power delivery of the Versys better. Ninja may have more on top but was harder to wheelie. The Versys has it down where I use it.

    I had the 705's on the ninja and got used to the slightly slower turn in, so the stock tires on Versys feel too quick and nervous now. Can't wait to swap to 705's. I also like the added sidewall height, maybe not true but seems to add a little bit of protection from rocks for cast rims, and the increased diameter, while not a 19", does seem to help a bit off road.

    Quick question, did you end up swapping for the pro taper ATV high bars AND adding the Rox riser? It seems that using both may add quite a bit of bar height, no issues with the cable length?
    #18
  19. 88Toyota

    88Toyota Been here awhile

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    Stock bars right now with the rox risers. I rode my old KLR this last weekend for a bit and the width of the Protaper SE high bars was weird feeling compared to the narrow stock bars. The cables had enough length for the riser and stock bars, but not sure if there is enough for the wide bars on top of that. I'd probably trim the bars which would help. I'm not sure how much higher the Protapers are than stock since the stock bars have a large bend to them. I'm planning the Protapers so I can fit hand guards easier, then trim the bars as narrow as I can get away with. I've also found the stock bars are contoured a bit weird so I end up with pressure points on the sides of my palms after a long ride. Never had that with the Protapers. I'll post back when I do the swap.
    #19
  20. Homerb

    Homerb Been here awhile

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    I didn't like the stock bars either, so I went with a set from a 2006 V strom. Much better.
    #20