Day 2 – Suspension Too Soft
The first 100 miles on the new bike were done over 2 days in separate heat/cooling cycles during which time I liked almost everything about the DR. Looking back, I must have had blinders on that first day. On Day 2, I knew for sure this DR was falling short in several areas and would need upgrades. First up was the suspension – it was way too soft and had to be the first thing upgraded/changed.
The Front Forks were bottoming out under modest braking and the Rear Spring was really soggy and not able to hold my weight. I set-up the sag, but my weight of 240 lbs without gear was more than either of the 3 springs could manage. I ordered up replacements for my stock Fork Springs with Progressive 55 Pound Springs while the Rear Shock was covered with the strongest available 8.3 rated Spring. Soggy Suspension Problems solved.
500 Miles – Carburetor Problems
The first 500 miles came quickly over 2 weekends and with the longer riding times, Two Problems were clearly evident. First was an Extremely Lean Carburetor. My DR would not idle when stopped at intersections or in traffic due to factory limited jetting and a lean idle mixture. I ordered a DynaJet kit and installed it along with a new, longer Idle Mixture Screw. These two corrections gave immediate improvements with the Idle and let me return the RPM back to 1,500 where the clutch and finding neutral would be easier (the faster a bike has to idle, the harder Neutral is to find and the shifts from Neutral “clunk” more due to clutch drag).
500 Miles – Seat Or Torture Device?
Next to Go was the Factory Seat. Forget waterboarding torture…let a prisoner sit on a DR650 seat for 4 Hours and I’m sure they start talking! It had to go- I ordered and installed a ProCycle Seat foam and cover after that first long ride. That simple change to a wider, more supportive surface made a big difference – still not a Russell DayLong, but so much better than the Vinyl covered Pine 2 x 6 Suzuki put on it. I would soon pull the smooth/slippery Vinyl Cover off and have a Custom Slip-Stop Cover made for it (Vinyl that holds like sandpaper). Hard stopping and accelerating had me sliding up and down the bike. Slip-Stop is very good at holding you in-place.
700 Miles – Tires From Worst to Best
The next 200 miles (now 700) put me on some great fire roads and trails near Boone, NC. It would be my first ride with best friend Lloyd and his new XR650L. I still had some carburetor issues, but it was better with the Jetting changes. Then we come to one long downhill run that took us through 1/4 mile of deep gravel. I was having a blast on the DR and those dirt bike memories from 30 years earlier were coming back. It couldn’t get any better.
Well, as with Gravity – What goes Down the Hill, must come Up, Right? No Go! I pushed my DR back up that gravel hill while slipping the clutch walking beside it. Those Awful stock Bridgestone Trailwings would not get or maintain traction up that gravel hill. It was a long walk/push back to the top. The next change was Tires. After trying some Kenda 270’s which I did not like for highway use, I found the Shinko 244’s to be My perfect blend of tires. For me, they are the perfect blend of off-road and highway tire. The best part? $100 for the Pair! Check out ProcycleUS.com.
During the 2013 Summer of riding with friends, the discussion of doing the Trans America Trail (TAT) came into play. Neither me nor my best friend could manage the 30+ days and then return commute away from work, so we decided to do a Gear Trial. In September of the same year, we would take our new 2013 650’s and do as much of the Eastern States TAT as we possibly could in 5 days and then come home. We would take full gear – Clothes, Camping, Cameras, Tools, Parts, and see what broke, got lost, and just how well our bikes were equipped for the trip. We would then spend the Winter making corrections and plans for a full TAT trip for 2014.
Preparations for the trip included new gearing on the Front Sprocket. I dropped 1 Tooth. I realized on several tight trails and in the thick woods, that I was using a lot of clutch slip to keep my speeds low. The 1 tooth drop in the front worked wonders and I never want for more speed in 5th when loaded and using the bike for it’s new role. Gear Storage was a major concern. We like the Pelicans because they offer durability, can be locked, and they are cheap.
I chose to use the Wolfman Rack System and configured them with the RotoPax Inserts (more on those odd shaped cut-outs later). These racks fit the DR perfectly and gave me a lot of mounting options. I have the Expedition soft bags that I can use as well, but I prefer to use the Pelicans. Each Pelican is mounted so that it’s top surface when closed is perfectly level with the top of the Factory Rack and Seat. This gives me the ability to stack my Camping and Drybag Gear across all 3 surfaces for a wide, 24″ fully-supported, stable mounting surface.
To be sure that we had plenty of Fuel, we both carried RotoPax Fuel Cans. I would have the rack sides and I also welded two 8mm nuts onto the backside of the factory top rack for 3rd Rotopax mount option – giving a total of 3 if we needed them. By the way, the Pelican 1430’s are perfectly suited and sized to hold one RotoPax can of Fuel or Water inside if needed.
In my next article, I’ll share what we learned about our bikes and what changes I made to the DR to get it 2014 TAT Ready! Stay tuned, because that’s where my Riser System and Accessory Dash was born!
See You Soon and Thanks for following – Gordon/RTS