DR650 Road Test - A Ducatisti Point of View

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by BlakKrauStudios, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. BlakKrauStudios

    BlakKrauStudios I'm cool... right?

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,752
    Location:
    Basic City, VA
    Since September 10th of 2009, I've been riding with a Ducati between my legs. I don't brag, but I am quite proud. It's a fun bike, and never fails to make me smile like a pig in shit. I can have the worst day in the world at whatever job I might be doing, and instantly be happy within a mile.

    It also helps that it cleans up nice. Shiny spokes, open belts promising bodily injury, wrapped exhaust for that ratty look, and Termignoni's that scream like Steven Tyler being cut in two by something very dull. It sounds angry, but always makes me grin. I hope I don't have to explain this.

    But I have a dirty secret. Beneath my street-bike exterior, under the leather jacket with the patches, the knee pucks, and the Ricky-Roadracer boots, lies the true me. The me that longs for a road made of gravel, a place with no traffic, and an area to start a fire NOT meant to cause mayhem. I want to be an adventure rider. I want to be cool like you guys.

    My only release has been on this site, reading trip reports and starting threads with open promises that you will all be responsible for my choice between a KLR and a V-Strom. It all helps, but I still long to own a bike which can be pointed in one direction, whether there's a road there or not, and just GO.

    Enter my buddy dljocky, who was both kind, and trusting enough, to introduce me to his 2009 DR650. It started with a ride around the block, and now consists of me lying awake at night with a printed photo of it, stroking it gently under the covers of my bed at night. Don't tell him.

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    Every year I head up to the Blue Ridge Parkway with a few friends for a day. It's not what you adventure types would call a "hardcore" getaway. We stay at a house at night. We eat food cooked in an oven or crock pot. We watch TV. We have phones. But it's usually our last big ride of the year. A way to bring the season to a close with some good friends, good food, and usually a few funny stories or seven.

    DL told me that if I liked the DR around the block, I should take it for a weekend. Something where I could really get a feel for what the bike is, and if it's something I really want to purchase. Of course, I couldn't turn him down, and this Blue Ridge trip was the perfect opportunity.

    I got on the road about 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, heading about 100 miles north to Chesterfield, VA, where we would leave Saturday morning, probably in the cold, to head up to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western Virginia. I took various roads to get to my buddy's house. Stop-n-go traffic, back roads, highways, even some Interstate. After that 100 miles, I was already convinced of the bikes capabilities. :D

    The raw, unbridled happiness aboard the DR lasted all through Saturday. We stopped for gas a couple times... Sorry... THEY stopped for gas. I was usually fine, having the aftermarket tank which held approximate 37 gallons of whatever fuel was the cheapest. With as little fuel as the 650 sipped, I figure my range was somewhere between Colorado and Russia.

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    But in no time we were on the BRP, stopping at any number of scenic overlooks to take in the scenery. Oddly enough, these instances also gave me time to brag to my riding cohorts about the finer points of the DR650's capabilities over that of, say, a Ducati Sport 1000.

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    "No, look... I can actually WALK AROUND after riding more than 50 miles on this thing!" I would brag. No more pre and post-ride stretching routine. No more aching back. No more unanswered prayers of intestinal discomfort, just so I had a reason to dismount. I was happy to enjoy the ride again.

    [​IMG]

    Now don't get me wrong, the Duc is a blast to ride. But in a different way. Much like being launched, giggling and shaking, down a lard-covered slide like some game-show contestant. There's a rush about it. And maybe just a small bit of terror. But it's mostly fun.

    But the DR is different. I'm not hunched over like Rossi, and can be a little more relaxed when I ride. My arms, back, neck, legs, and every other appendage, are stretched out, which I've found does WONDERS for my comfort when riding.

    [​IMG]

    Obviously, the DR isn't nearly as powerful as the Duc. But it's predictable power. Once I learned out when and where to shift, I had no problem finding the gear I needed to power out of corners, climb hills, and catch up to my friends to get better shots of them with the GoPro.

    [​IMG]

    Plus, with the upright seating position of the DR, I could actually turn my head and see the scenery around me, and not have to contort myself into some strange shape, just to take a quick peek. It was GREAT!

    [​IMG]

    We rode about 60 miles of the parkway, stopping at Otter Creek Dam for one final rest. Although I felt like I didn't even need it with as comfortable as I was on the DR. I found myself trying to find excuses to ride further, longer, and more indirect roads.

    [​IMG]

    The final "test" of the DR was our decent down the mountain by way of Rt. 60, which twists and turns down the Kudzu-covered hillside. Last year the 6 mile stretch made the days of post-run pain completely worth it. I still have dreams about that afternoon. :D

    [​IMG]

    But once again, the DR did not disappoint me. The tires weren't quite as sticky, and the suspension was a bit more un-nerving, but I found it just as fun, and more than capable of keeping up with my compadres. I'm pretty sure you can hear my laughing in the video I took, which I'll be sure to post, if I ever get the ambition to put something together. :D

    Rt. 60 is great for the first 6 miles, then it contains about 130 of the most mind-numbingly strait and boring road known to man. It was hell on the Duc, stuck in the same position, unable to move, adjust, stretch, or relieve myself from the pain and discomfort that those bastards from Bologna had cause me. Dear God, Lord, and Jesus why did I buy this bike. :(

    While the road wasn't any less boring on the DR, it was certainly more comfortable. Quite sure my friends were planning my demise at our last stop, 50 miles outside of Richmond, for being so cheerful and pain free.

    [​IMG]

    But alas, I had to return the bike on Sunday, despite efforts to find a buyer for one of my kidneys. While I won't be getting rid of the Duc any time soon, I MUST find a way to get my hands on a DR, by any means necessary. :evil
    #1
    phreakingeek, rwebell and Folly1 like this.
  2. BigKnobby

    BigKnobby Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    107
    Location:
    Clinton, Utah
    Fun post. I'm going to buy one this winter/spring. Will farkle it out for backwoods camping and touring, then move to Idaho to indulge in same. They're great bikes - I think one would look REALLY NICE next to a Ducati...
    #2
  3. GsVs

    GsVs Goin' Somewhere

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hoosier (IN) USA
    Great Pictures !

    Great Story !
    #3
  4. nanohiccup

    nanohiccup in time

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2007
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    947
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    Mobile, Al
    You had me at "lard-covered slide"
    #4
  5. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
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    5,511
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    Great write up!

    You didn't mention if the DR had the stock seat that most of us change asap, but compared to your duck, I guess anything would be an improvement. :rofl

    It is a totally different kind of ride for sure, more relaxing and sort of a "smell the roses" experience.

    Sport bike for track days, a DR for everything else. :clap
    #5
  6. robincx

    robincx Wherever u go, there u r

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    114
    Location:
    Global - WNY base
    Interesting timing. I currently have a couple of Ducs, a MTS and a Monster. I've always had a
    Dirt or dual sport, they are more in alignment with who I am, and where I come from. I sold my tricked out DRZ400 last year and have been eyeing the 650 as a possible addition.
    #6
  7. NordieBoy

    NordieBoy Armature speller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Kiwiland
    Looking at the pic, it's aftermarket.
    #7
  8. BlakKrauStudios

    BlakKrauStudios I'm cool... right?

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,752
    Location:
    Basic City, VA
    Shoot... I knew I'd forget a few details.

    The seat is an aftermarket one. Sargent, I believe. It's very comfortable, and probably a must-have when getting a DR. I have no idea how the stock seat would feel, but I've been told I don't want to know.

    Oddly enough, the seat on my Sport isn't that uncomfortable. It's wide, soft, and nicely holds my oversized posterior.

    I recently took the Duc on a long ride up the East Coast from Virginia to Philly, then over towards Buffalo, then down to Pittsburg. My butt never got sore, lame, or tired. It was always my back, arms, wrists, and neck. It's the riding position that's the "problem" on the Duc. But if I change that, I take away from what the bike is, so to me, that's just not an option. I just kept my mileage under 50 between stops, and I was fine.

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    4,100
    Location:
    Only N flowin river emptying in an ocean
    The DR is just what the Dr. ordered.
    #9
  10. BlakKrauStudios

    BlakKrauStudios I'm cool... right?

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    2,752
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    Yes, it is.

    I'm currently taking donations. :D
    #10
  11. Parigi

    Parigi Hoinar

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    Those little cases look good on the DR, what are they and what rack are you using?
    #11
  12. ride4321

    ride4321 Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
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    Location:
    Binghamton, NY
    Great writeup!:clap
    I'm currently experiencing the same love of the DR since picking one up a few months ago and I'm still using the stock seat. Giggles per mile are very high.
    #12
  13. vintagespeed

    vintagespeed fNg

    Joined:
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    Rancho Cucamonger, CA
    the DR is a great platform, a starting point, a foundation....everything you add to it just makes it that much better.

    your Duc is a beauty. love it!
    #13
  14. Richinoville

    Richinoville Turkey Killer

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    Not far from dirt
    Great read. I have sort of the same dilema.
    I have a 2003 FZ1, all tricked out for touring. But I kept taking it places most wee-stroms would cringe at.
    So I just picked up a 2009 DR650. And I am having a blast. The bike is almost completely stock. So I spend all my rainy days planning on new purchases. :D
    After putting 500kms on the DR, I can't picture when I will get around to riding the FZ1 again.
    #14
  15. BlakKrauStudios

    BlakKrauStudios I'm cool... right?

    Joined:
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    The only thing I guess I can say is "custom". :huh

    The owner said they were sort of a "one-off" attempt from someone he knows, and they never really went into production. He could answer questions better than me. Look up dljockey on here, as it's his bike.

    I do know that they're quite large cases, and I was able to fit spare tubes, foot pump, tools, TP, trail mix, dSLR camera, extra lens, spare gloves, tripod, and 4 ratcheting tie-downs (to be returned to the guy with the yellow sv), in them. They're certainly not as big or as "pretty" as the Touratech paniers, but they're lockable, waterproof, and I think very useful.
    #15
  16. dljocky

    dljocky Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    885
    Location:
    Yorktown, Va
    The racks are the Wolfman racks for their Expedition bags, the hard cases are pelican 1430's. I love both set ups.

    Surveyor, nice write up, and I'm glad you enjoyed the bike!


    #16
  17. ShadyRascal

    ShadyRascal Master of None

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    Whippin' Scutt Farkus
    I don't have a Duc, but I get where you're coming from. :1drink

    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. BlakKrauStudios

    BlakKrauStudios I'm cool... right?

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    Location:
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  19. dljocky

    dljocky Been here awhile

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    885
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    Yorktown, Va
    Nice!
    #19
  20. Folly1

    Folly1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    606
    Location:
    Charleston, SC : Bath, Me
    Just saw this thread. I had a 2006 Monster and an 06 749S. Great bikes. I now have a 2016 DR 650 that provides a constant grin.

    Thanks for the post.

    Ben
    #20