Transforming the Husqvarna TE610: From Thumper to Long-Range ADV Machine

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by BLucare, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. BLucare

    BLucare Inmate At Law

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    What's the difference between a great thumper and a true "adventure" bike? That's one hell of a rabbit hole, and a discussion that belongs (and probably exists) somewhere in the basement, or a pub someplace. For now, this is my attempt to bridge that gap. This build thread is going to detail my progress toward transforming my 2008 Husqvarna TE610 from a great thumper into something with some real long-distance travel ability. I'll be learning as I go, and hopefully others can learn along with me. If anyone has any questions about anything related to the project, I'm an open book :thumb

    Here's my inspiration: the TE450 built by Alvaro Bistolfi for Dakar 2010. Yeah, I know :lol3 It's not an "adventure" bike, it's not a TE610, it's got the tank from a 640 Adventure; the list goes on. BUT, we all need a jumping off point, and this bike has always struck a chord with me. An Italian-era Husky in roughly the same color scheme as my TE, built for Dakar. Come on! :clap To quote the great philosopher, Jeremius Clarksonius: How hard can it be?


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    I won't go all fan-guy about the TE610 here, as that's been done a million times before. Instead, this'll just be about the modifications that have been made, are currently being made, and will be made to my TE. After spending 2017 with the bike mostly stock, some major areas popped up that needed to be improved if I wanted to use this bike as an adventure machine: fuel capacity, luggage options, wind protection, and to a certain extent, lighting.

    The previous and only owner had made some nice modifications to the bike before I got it, including: Renazco Racing seat (SUPER comfy), power outlet, heated grips, Pro Moto billet rack, Motosportz steering stabilizer, Acerbis hand guards, Dirtbagz racks and bags, Husky skid-plate, and some other things that I'm probably forgetting. A nice start, to be sure. Here's the bike the day I picked it up, with about 14k miles on the clock:

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    I took the bike on a couple trips during summer 2017: one for about 150 miles roundtrip, and one for around 600 miles roundtrip. The shorter trip was much more manageable; the longer one, however, was another story. So, first annoying things first: luggage. No matter how far you're going, you gotta get your stuff there with you. Here's the setup from last year: Wolfman small (33L) duffel, and Giant Loop Coyote. This photo is loaded with camping gear and clothes for about 5-7 days.


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    What's the problem? Top-heavy, for a start. Intrusive, for seconds. The GL bag is not very easy to organize and fit odd-shaped stuff into, which is nerve-wracking if you're OCD like me. What's the bigger problem? No company makes racks and/or bags for the TE610 except for Dirtbagz, and those are a bit of a disappointment considering the options available today from Wolfman, Mosko Moto, and others.

    Solution: custom work :D Hoops from @Boatman, with other metal with welding work from a friend who runs an automotive/metal fab shop. This photo doesn't show the final product as it sits today, which is why the welds don't look 100%, but you get the gist. They're bolted onto the same places in the subframe as the Dirtbagz racks, with the lower mounting point using the subframe bolt. There is an additional "tie rod" between the two sides, to prevent them from folding in on each other in the event of an inevitable get-off. The racks add subframe strength, and turned out excellent. Next step is paint, which will likely wait until the weather warms up, or until I run out of other things to do.


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    BINGO :clap :clap :clap One problem solved. These are big enough, and strong enough to accommodate just about anything out there. That said, I'm sold on the Adventure-Spec Magadans :thumb

    Next steps: Lights, fuel capacity, wind protection, and more. Updates are on the way!
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  2. rsl47m

    rsl47m Been here awhile Supporter

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    Looking forward to this thread.
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  3. BLucare

    BLucare Inmate At Law

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    Day 1: Frame mounting plate/wiring prep

    I knew when I started researching this project that the most work-intensive job was going to be lights and some sort of tower to mount them to, not to mention a fairing (which I'm still mulling over). Enter a fella from Colorado named Paul (@theantipaul) and his company, Highway Dirt Bikes. Paul is a top guy who makes frame-mounted rally towers that bolt onto the head tube. He also makes towers that mount to the triple trees, but because the TE610 is from the pre-KTM era of Husky, that wasn't an option.

    Here's a photo of the finished product. Not my finished product, because mine's not.....finished. This pic has been borrowed from @Elmer in the HDB thread, and it gives an idea of where we're headed. Steel bracket ---> HDPE plates ----> aluminum plates ----> Fairing mounting plates and lights:

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    The setup consists of an aluminum backing plate inside the head tube, and a corresponding steel plate on the outside that the tower assembly is mounted to, which you can see in the photo above. I'd like to be honest for a sec: the idea of drilling three holes into my steering tube was positively terrifying. But, seeing everyone in the HDB thread do it made it seem much more...doable. There's another bonus that comes with doing the tower, lights, and fairing this way: it forces me to clean up the god-awful wiring that was lurking behind my headlight mask.

    Today was that moment in the shop that was the equivalent of standing on a bungee-jumping platform as the dude is counting down to zero, or in the open doorway of an airplane with a parachute on my back. OK, so I've never done either of those things, but I imagine they feel just like holding a drill in my hand with my tower bracket clamped to my steering tube :lol3 Photos below are a before-and-after sequence. You can also see the beginnings of my wiring mess.


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    And there we have it! Front end disassembled, holes drilled, plate mounted, and front end re-assembled in the span of about two hours. It probably didn't need to take that long, but this was my first time disassembling the front end on this bike, and I always feel that being patient is more important than rushing through a job. I won't go into much more detail about this part of the process, as that's largely detailed in Paul's thread that I linked to above. The bottom line is that it's very doable, even for a hobby wrench like myself. Oh, and before any of you goons chime in: yes, the bracket is on straight :thumb the bars are just turned slightly to the left in the final photo above.

    I'm gonna pause here to throw some credit where credit is due: to Paul and Highway Dirt Bikes. This kit is incredible, simple as that. The entire tower setup only weighs four pounds, and with the frame-mount, the weight is carried by the frame and not by the handlebars. The hardware and other components that are included is all extremely solid, and once it's all together, it becomes clear how much thought has gone into this system. There whole kit is customizable, and includes options for mounting a roadbook. As a testament, I know that multiple people have used Paul's kits in the Baja Rally over the last couple years, and that Desert Rose Racing also uses them :ricky

    That's as far as I've gotten for now, but I wanted to get my thoughts on digital paper before I forgot them all. The rest of the updates will happen as I keep working on it into the near future. I've got some more parts coming in the mail this week, some other parts that I already have my hands on.

    As far as lighting, I decided in the end to go with the tried-and-trusted Baja Designs. I was sold on Rigid Industries, right up until I wasn't anymore (without starting another lighting debate). The HDB kits are specifically designed for Baja Designs lights, and at the end of the day, not worrying about fabbing some sort of mount and ending up with great quality lights simply means one less thing to worry about.

    Oh, and there's GOOD NEWS :clap My 26L Safari tank arrived in the mail today. It's translucent at the moment, but I'll likely be getting it painted. So, next up in the coming weeks:
    • Cleaning up the wiring mess, along with other electrical tasks
    • 26L Safari Tank
    • Baja Designs Squadron Sport lights
    • Unibiker aluminum radiator guards
    • Tuff Lites blinkers from Extreme Dual Sport
    • Heavy-duty clutch spring cup washers from Bertie
    • Custom Lexan fairing
    • Giving the entire bike a bath, and other miscellaneous maintenance
    #3
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  4. BLucare

    BLucare Inmate At Law

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    GOOD NEWS.

    It's like Christmas all over again :clap

    Many, many things arrived in the mail this week: radiator guards, turn signals, Baja Designs lights, and the largest gas tank I've ever seen in my life :lol3

    I had plans to have the gas tank painted professionally, but after learning that it would cost about $500 to have done properly, it's looking like graphics are going to be the way it goes. I got the translucent tank with the intention of painting it, and planned to leave a vertical "strip" of translucent plastic unpainted to act as a fuel window. Oh well, though; certainly not the end of the world.

    I've been chatting via email with Mick from NineTwo Decals in Australia. He's been super helpful so far in trying to figure out a decal solution, and has been talking with some contacts at Safari Tanks to get a template sent over to him for this specific tank. Pretty awesome, considering he's all the way across the world :thumb

    I haven't decided how much I'm going to try to accomplish this weekend. I'm thinking that putting the graphics on the tank will be easier with the tank off the bike, but maybe not? I've never done it before, so feel free to point me in the right direction. In any event, the wiring and lights will be on the agenda for Saturday. The tank install doesn't look too tough, so that can wait.



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    #4
  5. BLucare

    BLucare Inmate At Law

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    Day 2: Rally tower install/wiring nightmares

    Stuff I learned today:

    1.) Everything looks easier on the Internet than it is in real life.
    2.) Whomever designed the wiring on the TE610 was either a moron, or a drunk Italian working on a Swedish bike with instructions from IKEA.

    I thought that cleaning up this wiring would be relatively easy. I had plans to get busy with the split wire loom, the shrink tubing, and some nice waterproof connectors.

    NOPE. :jack

    First and foremost, there is simply not enough wiring between the wiring harness, the connectors, and the rest of the wiring that extends to the bars and the instrument display to provide enough slack to truly do this properly. Trust me, I tried for an hour to figure out a configuration. When I had everything in between the HDPE plates, the connectors were so stressed that they would come apart when I turned the bars. Granted, I highly doubt the bike was engineered for a fancy rally/nav tower setup. That, however, does not excuse my second issue......

    Every single connector has at least one wire that is shared with another connector. This meant that it was not as simple as just separating out a couple connectors and putting those in between the plates, because the random wires bring a whole 'nother connector along with. It also makes it difficult to really use the split loom effectively, as there is always a wire hanging out the side somewhere. My OCD did not have a good day today :lol3

    Anyway, the Highway Dirt Bikes kit continues to be excellent, and there were some other positives today. Old turn signals came off, and got a lot of dirt scrubbed off the bike. The tank will likely be pained this week, too :clap I'm going for gloss white. It'll be 2K primed and 2K painted, to keep those nasty gas fumes from ruining my graphics.

    AND, on Monday, my Adventure Spec Magadan panniers will be here :happay


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  6. BLucare

    BLucare Inmate At Law

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    Some stuff arrived in the mail today :clap Ignore the pillows and the chair, and pay attention to the Magadans :super:super

    Initial thoughts: great build quality, fit and finish, etc. And, for as big as they are unfolded, they fold up quite "small", all things considered. Capacity is superb; I tested them out this evening to see just how much of my camping gear fits in these things. The answer: all of it, with lots of room to spare (and that's including my sleeping bag, which is massive). I should note that I did not include clothing and other small items, as that'll all be in a roll-top duffle on the back rack. I'm thinking that my tools, chain lube, tire tubes, and rain pullover will all go in the outer pockets. They fit nicely there, and being on the outside will mean it's less annoying to access in a hurry. I'm in love, I think. :raabia

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    In other news, paint-related products for the Safari Tank will be here tomorrow (adhesion promoter, 2k primer and 2k paint). I'm hoping to get it painted this weekend, but we'll have to wait and see about that. In the meantime, enjoy this photo of a sunrise from Wyoming last August :thumb


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  7. Engineer5

    Engineer5 Adventurer Supporter

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    Nice. Can't wait to see the end result.
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  8. Finnyfire

    Finnyfire Jedi Master

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    This is sweet. Keep it up and share away. I have he same bike and am now drooling over yours.
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  9. BLucare

    BLucare Inmate At Law

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    Thanks, friends :thumb

    Progress has been slow (read: nonexistent) this week, so no new photos of anything interesting to show y'all. I've got the 2k primer and 2k paint for the tank, and I just sent some templates of the tank off to Mick at NineTwo Decals in Australia today, so he can mock up some custom graphics :clap I can't just go through all this trouble, and spend all this time wrenching to have a plain-Jane transparent tank!

    I'm hoping to get the tank painted this weekend, but that's still up in the air. After that's painted I can finally mount the tank, and then I can start figuring out the shape of the fairing. I have many, many ideas, but no time to put them into motion :lol3 Luckily we got 10 inches of snow last night, and it's still 10 degrees F outside. So, I don't need to feel too bad about the slow-going.
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  10. SRG

    SRG Long timer

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    Are you sure the Safari tanks are paintable? I have one and was led to believe the couldn't/shouldn't be painted (or at least it won't stay on if you do)
    #10
  11. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Jockey

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    They out gas, especially in the heat.
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  12. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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    What a cool thread to find....Dont get me wrong, im not trying to hyjack your build thread with a bunch of pics of my bike, Im just exited to see someone doing something with MY bike. Lately I've been thinking of a new 701, but this thread might have saved me ten grand! I have the same rack, but I got these side things because they are so light. And ortlieb dry bags. Cobbed up a wide seat myself and some footpeg lowering brackets with rox pivoting risers

    Attached Files:

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  13. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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    Sorry those pics are small 20180209_141311.jpg 20180209_141418.jpg 20180209_141247.jpg
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  14. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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    Might be true about the offgassing of the plastic. But I painted my 950sm tank and it did ok. I use a little touch up gun for my bike projects 20180209_142853.jpg 20180209_142917.jpg
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  15. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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  16. BLucare

    BLucare Inmate At Law

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    Not to turn this into a paint debate, but here goes: From what I have read, and from talking to a couple local body shops (one of which paints these types of tanks), polyethylene tanks are paintable with the correct products. The typical rattle can, or even spray paints designed for plastic, will not work on polyethylene tanks, which is what Safari, Acerbis, etc. tanks are made from. The OEM tanks on, say, a KTM 950 Adventure are made from Polyamide-6, which is not porous.

    A two-stage ("2k") paint is required; i.e. the stuff used on modern automobiles. The two-component system includes both paint and an epoxy-based hardener. The end product, after the epoxy is combined with the paint and everything is dry, is solvent-resistant and somewhat flexible once it dries. Consider a plastic bumper on a car: flexible, but paint still sticks.

    I'm using a plastic-specific adhesion promoter like @rick danger posted, as well as two-stage primer and two-stage paint, both meant for automobiles. I will be using multiple coats of each. If that doesn't keep the gases in, nothing will :thumb For what it's worth, the tank has never had gas in it yet, so there are no vapors soaked into the plastic currently.

    All in, the paint products were about $60. That's worth it, in my mind, to have a sharp-looking tank. On the other hand, if it doesn't work, I'm only out $60 and I will have been a guinea pig for others.

    My tank was $700 out the door from Just Gas Tanks, but that included a $30 locking fuel cap that I requested to not receive. I'm still waiting for a refund on that... These tanks aren't exactly cheap, but 6.6 gallons of fuel opens up a world of adventure possibilities. Ordering directly from Safari Tanks in Australia is also an option, and I think that worked out to about $650 USD.

    Looks good :thumb

    Yeah, these bikes are great. I didn't know how much of a cult following they had when I bought it in the first place, but I've read accounts of people putting near 100k miles on these TE610s with only minor/conventional maintenance. It helped me justify spending the money to modify mine. This bike has only had one owner before me who took pretty good car of it, and stored it indoors during our cold Midwestern winters, which is a big deal to me.
    #16
  17. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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    Well, I'm subscribed to this thread. Thats for sure. 6.6 gallons is awsome. I was getting 120 miles about from my stock tank, so the safari should double it. Or at least 200 miles with no worries....if you dont mind my asking, what is a 2008 610 worth now? Mine has about 7000 miles ,and when I was thinking of getting rid of it for a 701 I checked nada book and was quite disappointed to see like $1300.....BTW, they sometimes put a flex agent in paint when they paint bumpers and such. It lets the paint flex a bit before cracking, but the drawback is the paint scratches a lot easier because its softer.
    #17
  18. BLucare

    BLucare Inmate At Law

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    I can't really speak to what they're worth in general, but I paid $3,400 for mine last year with 14.3k on the clock. Granted, mine came with some nice upgrades already, but a few people in the TE610 thread on here thought I got a pretty good deal. I'd estimate yours to be worth about the same, if not a bit more (maybe around $4k or so), given that yours has half the miles that mine did.
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  19. rick danger

    rick danger The further adventures of

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    Was just thinking. You were talking about a clear strip on the tank for a fuel gauge. What if you put a tee in the fuel line and brought it up and teed it into the vent line. And you might even use a piece of rigid clear tube and mount that somewhere where you could see it....like up front by the rad. scoop part. just an idea.
    #19
  20. Finnyfire

    Finnyfire Jedi Master

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    What are your thoughts on a Cush hub? Are you planning on one or something similar? Do you think it’s necessary? I’m just curious as that’s the biggest question I’m struggling with right now.
    #20