The Myth of DR650 Reliability?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by OzPup, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. OzPup

    OzPup Been here awhile

    Sep 2, 2015
    Oz - Near the coat-hanger
    I want to get my first dualsport/light adv bike, and the venerable DR is right at the top of the list.
    But the more i research it, the more troubled I am by the number of issues that seam to be prevalent.

    yes there are a few easily fixed things on the bike like nsu screws
    We have the 3rd gear grenade issue, with a question over entire gearbox strength
    Many reports of poorly greased bearings, headstock etc.
    Failures of cush drive bearings
    Premature carb wear etc etc.

    A few of these issues aren't just anoying but quite possibly fatal.

    I understand that every bike has its issues, but is the DRs reputation of being as reliable as a hammer a myth? is the simplicity of repairing and configuring the bike its real asset?
  2. tHEtREV

    tHEtREV Encouragement award recipient. tEAM iDIOT.

    Apr 14, 2007
    Middle Park, Brisbane, Australia
    They are fine.

    3rd gear blow ups have happened to a few, but so few I wouldn't let it put me off buying one.

    Poor grease from the factory is very common on a lot of brands.

    Wheel bearings are a consumable, and as long as you replace them with a quality bearing they are fine, and that is the first I have heard of carb wear, I knew the 640 Adv carb parts wear pretty badly (I had to replace my needle at 55000Klms, and slide was pretty badly worn at 65), and they run the same carb, but that isn't something that suddenly lets go as far as I know.

    The DR 650 is a very common bike on ADVrider, so you are going to hear a lot of good and bad stories about them.

    KLR 650s also get quite a few good and bad stories, once again because they are so prolific on the site.

    I personally don't own one, and have only owned an earlier 91 model DR 650.

    Oh and I own a KTM, apparently that makes a difference to my trustworthiness.:lol3
    kojack06, arkmola, mylsmkj and 4 others like this.
  3. macrae85

    macrae85 Been here awhile

    Sep 28, 2010
    New Zealand,Scotland,Arizona USA.
    Had 3 DRs,and a XF650 & CCM644(Twin carb heads) only one to ever lose a NSU was the XF,and it was easily identified,the neutral light starts flickering.I've had lots of big singles,most lose bots,couldn't keep the engine in my Gilera frame! 196512_10150199274472150_7225930_n.jpg
    sprouty115, kojack06 and Bitingdog like this.
  4. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

    Dec 23, 2007
    So is DR reliable or KTM reliable? Maybe you have a much higher threshold
  5. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

    Feb 21, 2010
    Canada's ocean playground
    Interweb overload... Just get the dam bike and ride the shit out of it. Maintain it, if it breaks, fix it, and keep riding.

    I don't even own a DR. I have a KTM 450exc I just bought and an 09 Bandit 1250.

    KirkN, JohnnyP3, sprouty115 and 7 others like this.
  6. Schmokel

    Schmokel Key to Happiness: Low Expectations

    Jun 29, 2015
    Up. And to the right.
    10,000 miles in my first year of riding my DR. Zero issues.
    kojack06 and Benduro like this.
  7. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

    Sep 8, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    I bought a used DR650 for $1500.00, put 5000 miles on it with no issues and sold it after the bad crash.
    No issues.
    kojack06 and Bitingdog like this.
  8. sandwash

    sandwash Long timer

    Oct 26, 2007
    Az 7000'
    Unless you the unlucky few.All bikes have there problems,just like my buddy's brand new 3hr ride time 250 2 stroke KTM. Third ride,8 miles out broke down with a no spark problem.Back to the dealer.Ya I'll keep my 97 dr650.At 40k the pick up coil failed.One fail in 25k mi and 15 years of ownership,whats not to like.
  9. Tall Man

    Tall Man Come and take it.

    Jul 14, 2007
    The Occident
    I've owned two DR650s; the second was purchased because I missed the riding experience after selling the first one. Both were and are reliable as an anvil.

    The NSU screws are indeed a recommended maintenance item. It's a straightforward job that I've performed on both bikes.

    3rd gear failures have occurred, and they are serious, but the press they receive is way out of proportion to the very few confirmed episodes mentioned on this site.

    Yes, by way of example, steering head bearings are known to be light on lubricant from the factory. Other brands are not inoculated against such annoyances, as has been mentioned. Like the NSU job, it's another recommended maintenance item.

    Failures of cush drive bearings? Likely only if their periodic inspection and replacement has been ignored. Are you seeing a theme here, mate?

    As for so-called premature carburetor wear: It's in the realm of possibility, but I'd suggest that accelerated wear of internal components tends to be limited to owners who botch a rejetting effort, and/or ignore the inspection, cleaning and replacement requirements of the carburetor breather filter.

    With proper care, the DR650 will stay on the road a very long time. Sometimes their owners enjoy the same benefit.
    Bitingdog and kojack06 like this.
  10. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek adventurer Super Supporter

    Sep 17, 2010
    20k miles on my DR and buddy has nearly 40K on his...both with regular maintenance on wear items.

    Like it was already stated, reliable as an anvil and probably twice as tough.
    kojack06 likes this.
  11. Night Falcon

    Night Falcon Broke Engine Supporter

    Dec 25, 2008
    New Zealand
    name a bike that's never had issues.

    The DR is as safe as your gonna get for large DS use. It is 100 yrs old but there are a bazillion of them out there so turn off the internet and go ride. You don't, cant or won't wrench it, then don't buy a dual sport and use it for dual sport. That said i have a mate who is brutal with his DR and maintenance and its seldom let him down.

    Go ride :wings
    Bitingdog, kojack06 and PlowHand like this.
  12. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    Reliability 1st comes in on any bike how you prep it and address weakness.

    Then reliability comes in on long term how the parts hold up over time and then finally when is the wear out cycle.

    Because the DR is an older and simpler design it does indeed last & thus considered "reliable" as a whole. It's not a myth, but many other bikes are too. Bikes are built very well these days.
  13. Bungholio

    Bungholio Long timer

    Oct 9, 2008
    Aberdeen, WA
    What are NSU screws? Put 17k miles on my dr in 3 years and never heard of them. Lots of commuting, some trails, and some two up. Worse thing was bad plugs from the factory.
    kojack06 likes this.
  14. timeOday

    timeOday Long timer

    Jun 20, 2008
    New Mexico
    Besides being reliable, the risk is reduced by the low cost of the bike.
    Even if the third gear explodes and the engine eats itself, you can get a whole new DR650 engine for $1500.
    Not that it will but as a worst case scenario, well, it's less than a new final drive for an R1200GS.
    Bitingdog, kojack06 and insomnia like this.
  15. Bungholio

    Bungholio Long timer

    Oct 9, 2008
    Aberdeen, WA
    Or just get a whole new bike and Keep the old for spares. A coworker just sold his 2010 model with 500 miles on it for $3900 no extras all stock.
  16. The_Precious_Juice

    The_Precious_Juice The Virginian

    Jun 2, 2013

    Overload indeed.

    I've just had a weaping Cam Chaim Tensioner Gasket, which was fixed for under $30 or so.
    That was around 25,000 miles or so.

    28,500 total miles total.

    Engine is really smooth now. Basically a 2/10 on vibes.
    The vibes were terriable at first. 5+ out of 10 all day long.

    The internet is a black hole of folks complaining. So the negativity is very dense.

    Another bike to consider is the Rally 250 from Honda.
  17. spokester

    spokester Long timer

    Jul 9, 2013
    SE USA
    I know a guy who could break an anvil. Even he can't destroy the DR 650. It receives zero maintenance and 100% abuse.
    Benduro likes this.
  18. shu

    shu ...

    Feb 23, 2010
    I put 70,000 miles on my first DR, an '08, and now have 34,000 on it's replacement, an '09. It is a reliable machine, and I've trusted mine to get me in and back out of some pretty lonely places.


    It is a machine, though, and eventually something will fail. The pick-up coil is the only thing that has left me stranded, so now I carry one in my spare parts box.

    The stock carb is reliable for many tens of thousands of miles. Even when all the physical indicators suggest they are finished, they continue to work fine and deliver good gas mileage.

    Bearings, etc just like any other bike. Take care of it and it will be reliable.

    When I've gotten my use out of this one, I can't see why I wouldn't go out and get another.

    TaZ9, NMTrailboss, Bultaco206 and 4 others like this.
  19. DayTripper85

    DayTripper85 Been here awhile

    Apr 7, 2016
    I'm unaware of this mythical problem free motorcycle. Every bike I've owned has had at least one issue.
    In my DR's case it only had its oil changed regularly in its 12k miles of initial ownership. That's right, no air filter, torque check, valve check, roller delete, mods or anything. For under $100 my new to me DR is fresh, leak free and will hit 90mph in the corners with no weird vibes or wobbles. It has been the cheapest initial maintenance on any of my used bike purchases so far. That translates in smiles from the trails all the way to the bank.
    Pick a good one that suits you, maintain it, and ride with confidence.

    I also experience zero bad vibes up to 65mph.
    The_Precious_Juice likes this.
  20. victor441

    victor441 Long timer

    Jul 27, 2009
    Sonoma Co., Calif.
    Neutral sending unit screws. The NSU is plastic and probably compresses over time and/or maybe the factory didn't tighten them any case if one loosens and gets caught up in the moving parts up it can easily total the engine/gearbox since things are packed so tightly and this has happened to a fair number of DR's (have no idea of the actual number, percentage, etc.). That being said have not secured the ones on my DR yet (due to sloth) and all is well so far and it has been very reliable in general. Check out the page below on how to safety wire them.