Category Archives: Projects – A Progressive Blog Series of New Projects

Suzuki DR650 Mini Adventurer – Turning the DR Into a Mini Adventure Bike – Part 3

Stock BST40 Versus FCR40 DR650 Carburetor

Part 3 of our Suzuki DR650 Mini Adventurer

Turning the DR Into a Mini Adventure Bike series will focus on the Changes and Improvements made to my 2013 DR650 after a full Summer of testing and our full-gear TAT Trial. My mission…..still very still clear – build a purpose bike on the Cheap. This segment will spill-over into Performance and how to make your DR more enjoyable.

With a Jet Kit and tuning, the carburetor performance was improved on the stock BST vacuum carb. Improved means it would now idle and was a lot easier to start. I wanted more. Off-idle grunt and tight maneuvering response was still poor – No let’s make that Lame. The problem? That big vacuum carburetor was still delivering soggy low-end performance and it took seconds for the vacuum slide and needle jet to actually settle down and feed the “right mix” every time you whacked the throttle open.
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Suzuki DR650 Mini Adventurer – Turning the DR Into a Mini Adventure Bike – Part 2

DR650 Starting On the Transformation To Mini Adventure

Part 2 of our Suzuki DR650 Mini Adventurer – Turning the DR Into a Mini Adventure Bike series will focus on the Discoveries and Modifications made to my 2013 DR650 in preparation for and after our TAT Trial (Trans America Trail). The Electronics, Rain, Mud, Communications, and Full Gear experience would be an almost perfect shakedown of Rider, Gear, and Bike. Parts would be added and or modified based on Function and with no regard to looks or Me-Too isms. The goal was to build a purpose bike on the Cheap.

During the Summer before our TAT Trial, we spent weekends riding Fire Roads and Logging Trails in the North / South Carolinas and Tennessee to include 2 extended camping trips where we could test set-ups. The goal was to ride hard and ride fast to see where we and the machines might break.

The crash did 3 things

The Crash – Poor judgment of speed and throttle on my part resulted in a fast low-side crash on the DR in a blind right-handed turn at the top of a hill. The sand covered hard-pack dirt wasn’t going to let my tires take any bite.

Damaged DR650 Pelican Box

The right side Pelican box came up and off of the lower rack mount. The tubular rack would in fact support the weight of the Pelican box fine and did secure the boxes under normal conditions, but my crash proved that I had to limit movement upward. I have to say that I was very impressed with the Pelican box and just how well it took the impact. Same for the Wolfman Racks I use to support them. The flaw was in the way I did the bottom support. It was a simple “rest on” support and did not stop or limit upward movement. Instead, it relied on the bolts at the top of the Pelicans to do that – something they were not up to task for.

Suzuki DR650 Wolfman Rack Insert Modified To Limit Pelican Movement

The solution was to add the Aluminum Wolfman Rotopax plates to each side loop and then cut/slot reliefs that allow the bottom Pelican mounts to work as before, only now they would Prevent the bottom supports coming up during a low side impact. The “win-win-win” was that they would add loop rigidity, prevent the Pelican box movement, and provide for RotoPax mounting where/when Fuel/Water was needed – all while being very light in weight.

DR650 Hand Guards By Tusk - Cheap, Reliable, and Tough

The long skid on the hard dirt road proved that hand guards, AKA “Bark Busters” are worth their weight in gold. My bars, levers, and guards came through the crash perfectly. The ones I installed are Tusk brand and include a small plastic hand shield that does wonders for keeping brush and limbs off your fingers as well as help with cold and wet. These also have the built-in LED‘s for turn signals that do make the bike more visible on the sections of highway we have to travel to get to our favorite off-road track. I did have to modify my stock levers to fit within the travel of the hand guards which was little more than cutting and sanding the ends of the levers off.

Modified DR650 Brake Pedal

The crash demonstrated that the brake (foot) pedal was vulnerable during a drop. The bike went down and skidded on it’s right side – the brake pedal was pushed hard into the right hand crankcase, leaving a deep scratch. Had the pedal hit pavement, a root, or been hung-up by thick grass, I think the pedal could have perforated the right crankcase cover and compromised the oil supply. As was, I had a brake pedal that would not function. We had enough tools with us to pull the pedal out away from under the crankcase and allow me to use it on the limp back to camp.

The permanent fix for me was to inspect the stock case cover and determine the scratch was not a threat to long-term oil containment and to add one of the strong Stainless Steel covers available from ProCycle to the crankcase so that would never happen again. I also sourced a folding pedal from an 80’s model XR350 Honda and grafted the toe pad to a new Suzuki DR650 pedal (mine was trashed beyond service). I positioned the foot pad such that it would fold at a 45 degree angle – deflecting in either an upward (fall) or backward (forward impact), or both.

I would also add a lanyard cable between the aftermarket skidplate and the brake pedal. This lanyard serves to prevent limbs, brush, and roots from getting jammed between the frame and brake pedal and to limit the amount of travel in the event of a slide.

The long hours of riding proved that standing during those slower dirt sections was a critical part of covering the 10 hour days. I’m 6 foot in boots and the DR was too compact for me to do that comfortably. I came back from our TAT Trial and invented/built my first edition RRR Adjustable Handlebar Riser System. I also studied the ground clearance of the bike after all of the Suspension modifications and determined that the foot pegs could easily be lowered 1.5″. The combination of lowered pegs and higher bars would make those standing breaks a whole lot safer and easier. I would have more leverage (hands closer to the push-up position and I would not be slumped over trying to hold the bars).
Better yet, my RRR Adjustable Handlebar Riser System would solve the clearance problems with competitor designs.

DR650 Footpeg Cut, Welded, and Lowered Almost 2" Less Stress Too

For the foot pegs, I could not simply “lever” them down again as some of the bolt-on lowering brackets do. I wanted to remove as much of the stress (leverage) on the frame mounts as possible while achieving the lowered position – Cutting and Welding the foot pads onto a donor set of DR650 pegs purchased on eBay did that for me. I eliminated a lot of the leverage and stress and all of the height that the stock pegs place on the frame.

DR650 Navigation Tools - TAT Ready! Keep Your Eyes Where Your Wheel is Pointed

We used Roll Charts on the TAT Trial. Wow! I hadn’t done that much math since High School……. Every turn and every intersection, many of which are unmarked required a quick calculation between the odometer’s current mileage and the roll chart’s accumulating mileage for that section. Miss one calculation and you’ve lost the turn and screwed-up the consecutive turns and directions for the rest of the course. Forget GPS except to tell you where you are – they simply are not programmed to keep you on the longest, dirtiest, and off-road route possible and neither of us had one of those heavenly Enduro Counters.

All of this interaction with Odometer, Roll Chart, and the GPS made it perfectly clear – Those items needed to be immediately in front of your eyes. My RRR Adjustable Handlebar Riser would solve this need also. I would make Flat Caps and Dash Accessory mounts that could hold charge jacks and RAM Mounts so all of the navigation tools, and your camera could perch on top of the Steering Stem – thereby having the least amount of distortion and movement possible (versus out at the handlebar ends). This would keep business and the front wheel in the same direction of sight.

This will give us a stopping place for now. In the Part 3 Article, I will cover the Gear and Equipment that I’ve made/designed and purchased to “Gear Up” for Off-Road Survival.

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Suzuki DR650 Mini Adventurer – Turning the DR Into a Mini Adventure Bike

New DR650 Crate Assembly

Spring 2013, I needed a Dual Sport bike for fire roads, backwoods exploration, and camping. I have a large Street Touring bike and some vintage bikes to ride, but nothing to take me camping and into the back country. A few weeks of research led me to more than one article praising the Suzuki DR650 for Power, Reliability, and Price. A brand new DR650 would follow me home shortly after reading one particularly well written article. – 2008 Suzuki DR650SE Comparison

Day 2 – Suspension Too Soft

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Wheelie Bike Project Update #2

TTR225 Yamaha On Stand Waiting On Parts

We’re getting excited! Our wheelie training project bike is almost complete. We’ve got a few parts that we’re waiting on, but those should be here by the weekend. I have carelessly lost/miss-placed the new, OEM air filter received 2 weeks ago so a replacement was ordered and then I got carried away with the gearing ratios and installed a new 13 tooth drive sprocket (stock is 15) which will not work.
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Wheelie Bike Project Update for Over Center-Over Fifty

TTR225 Wheelie Project Bike

Our TTR225 Wheelie Bike Project Is Coming Along

Yes, there is a lot to talk about in this update for our Over Center-Over Fifty project!
Let me start by admitting to fact that I was NOT READY for that loss of balance feeling that comes when the bike goes “over center”. I panicked, then immediately left the pegs, and jumped to my feet.
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Over Center and Over Fifty

“Over Center and Over Fifty” is going to be a unique and different motorcycle project series from any that I have taken on before. Yes, there will be Repair, Replace, Modify, Maintain, and Improve segments along the way for readers that want information on how to repair and maintain their own machines. We’re going to share it all on these pages. However, this project has a much darker and wild side to it. From Day 1, this project was to Find and Build a Wheelie Bike that I could use to fulfill a lifetime dream of Riding on the Rear Wheel. The dream and the project are my own, they come with risk of serious injury, they use motorcycles in ways they were never intended, and this skill set is illegal on all public roads. This Project Series will be Video, Photographic, and written Article Chronicles of how the bike was chosen along with progress reports for entertainment purposes only. I do not suggest nor recommend that anyone do this, but I do invite you to add our project series to your internet favorites, share the links with your friends, and watch us as we either succeed, have a major fail, (or worse!).

I consider the term “Wheelie” as being very different than “Riding the Back Wheel”. Almost everyone has done a wheelie – from the short hop, the power wheelie during strong acceleration, a gear change or clutch wheelie, or that exhilarating multi-second throttle on/off wheelie that borders on fear of death and excitement. None of these are what I became fascinated with so many years ago. When? 7th Grade, 1971 – with amazement from my school bus window, I watched an 8th Grader lift the front wheel of his 250 Yamaha Enduro from a dead stop, go through all 5 gears, and onto a speed of 60 mph or so as he passed our school bus! The bike never flinched – it was smooth, balanced, and it’s rider was in full control. That 14 year old had clearly mastered Brake Control and Balance. It was Brake Control that allowed him to practice, practice, practice to hone his skill set of Riding the Back Wheel. As the years passed by, the dream was alive, but my fears of getting hurt or tearing up my bike grew stronger. With age came responsibility – “how could I miss work, I can’t afford to be in the hospital, who is going to raise the kids, I don’t have the money to repair all the damage looping it would cause, and of course my wife will kill me – either way I would die!”
The years continue to pass………The dream is still there.

Last year, a friend sent me a video that he’d found on YouTube. I’ve played it dozens of times and it’s easily become one of my favorite videos of all time. It opens with ” We come into this world bloody and screaming – we might as well go out the same way”. The message is not that you should go try to get hurt, but that you get outside and taste life everyday without a bubble-wrap suit. The video brought those old memories to the surface and my old dream of riding the back wheel to the top of my list. My guess is that less than 2% of the riders that I know can ride the back wheel, yet every Trials Rider, most motorsports athletes, and all stunt performers do it and do it with grace. Hill Climbs, Obstacle avoidance, ride control, and traction should all be improved for me once I develop the balance and skill set needed to ride comfortably on the rear wheel. The time has come, I’m well over 50 now and I’ve got to learn to be comfortable with the bike near, at, and over it’s center of balance point. This series “Over Center and Over Fifty” will report on what we’ve done and how well we accomplish our goals.

Step 1 –
Build and Execute this project on a very low budget. Find a non-running 4-Stroke dirt bike than could be taken apart, repaired/modified, and hold-up to our intended use. Nothing would be modified or replaced unless it was already broken, badly worn, unsafe, or missing. Where parts are needed, we’ll use parts best fitting the design goals and lowest cost. We’d be taking advantage of aftermarket parts, used parts, and OEM factory parts based on “function and price” – not originality. Armed with the knowledge that our Rear Brake is many times more powerful than our engine’s output, we’ll concentrate on building a special fixture that will hold the bike safely in the Zone of under/on/over center of balance. We’ll practice Rear Brake Use and Control at these extreme angles – both standing and sitting. We’ll practice and then practice some more since reaching our goal safely is also part of the plan. A smaller 4-Stroke is my choice since the power output will be mild and easier to control. Step 1 does not include engine, wiring, electrical, front tire, fenders, chain, sprockets,

Project procedures should include –
• Microfiche pages and assembly planning tools
• Suspension – rear shock linkage disassembly, cleaning, inspection, lubrication, and assembly
• Tire, tube, rim strip, bead locks, removal, installation – rear tire
• Wheel balancing
• Steering head bearings – removal, cleaning, inspection, lubrication, and assembly
• Frame and parts preparation for paint using soda blasting
• Frame and parts painting using professional single-stage urethanes with a hobby compressor
• Seat cover – removal, repair, replace using a special “Slip Stop” material
• Record and publish frame angle degrees at rest, sitting COG, and standing COG (balance points)

Now, just to show that I’m serious – here are some photos of the project bike selection. I found and purchased a Yamaha TTR225 for this project. The bike met the low price, ($150 delivered), was non running, and had the low-powered 4-Stroke engine I wanted. Our first update will include some video, photos, and procedures for many of those steps outlined in our Step 1 above.

Step 2 –
Again, we’ll build and execute this project on a very low budget. Nothing would be modified or replaced unless it was already broken, badly worn, unsafe, or missing. Where parts are needed, we’ll use parts best fitting the design goals and lowest cost. We’d be taking advantage of aftermarket parts, used parts, and OEM factory parts based on “function and price” – not originality.

Project procedures should include –
• Front fork oil/fluid flush and replace
• Fork performance changes using thinner, lighter-weight fluid
• Brake Arcing – (blueprinting those brake shoes for exceptional performance and control)
• Tire, tube, rim strip, removal, inspection, installation – front tire
• Spokes – wheel lacing, wheel truing
• Engine cleaning and installation
• Clean and diagnose wiring, cables, and install
• Disc Brake fluid flush, replace, and bleed – front wheel
• Clean and rebuild carburetor
• Sprockets and chain replace with smaller front and larger rear for higher final drive ratio
• Ride controls – cables and controls adjustments
• Engine maintenance and adjustments for best operational efficiency

Enjoy this video for yourself! –Why We Ride



TTR225 Frame Bare

TTR225 Frame Blue

TTR225 Components Silver

Over Center Over Fifty Project Articles

  1. Over Center and Over Fifty
  2. Wheelie Bike Project Update for Over Center-Over Fifty

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