First Bike in Decades

Hello, noob here. Went through alot of pages, can't seem to find the right search tools (Yamalink search turned up 913 hits!), and don't really know squat about motorcycles, etc. 


So with my apologies up front, I was hoping someone could point me in the right direction.


Just acquired my first bike in decades (last bike I had was when I was 14yrs old) Picked up a '04 WRF450FR and have begun the learning curve. 


Found the vid/thread about setting it up as an adventure bike and while I don't plan any extended adventures, (that's what the Land Cruiser is for :thumbsup: ), the set up described would suit my intended use perfectly. Not looking to race/jump/out run people on gnarly single track. But want it capable of handling exploring areas that are little more than animal trails. Hoping to discover some amazing places the large expedition vehicle can't get to!


While I lack actual riding experience, my reading comprehension and critical thinking skills are well developed. I know what the bike is and I chose it because I determined it would be easier to "de-tune" it rather than try to "upgrade" a more road oriented bike. Weight was a major concern not only for the handling aspect, but it will hauled on the back of a expedition vehicle/expedition trailer many times. I also want to be able to do some shorter adventure rides where I will be packing in shelter/food/water/gear, etc. and adding that to my 200lbs means I need something with some power. 


So at the risk of being rude, I'm not looking for "get another bike" kind of recommendations. Everything seems to need some modification, so I made a choice and am moving forward with it.


1.) I like to get some feedback on a Yamalink vs having suspension work done by a shop. Feedback from people who actually have done either the link/or lowering work.

While I'm 6'/200lbs and can get the balls of my feet down, until I have some actual skills I want it lower. Obviously, the lower CG would be beneficial as well. 


Have read pros and cons, but many times I think peoples bias come into play. Based on my goals above whats your opinion? I like the reversible aspect of the link, so if I'm loading it up with alot of gear, then return to stock because the xtra weight will bring it down. But also realize that having a shop set up the suspension would be ideal. But how much $$ would that cost? Yet another factor is after I actually gain some skillz, perhaps I'll like it back to factory height.


2.) Tires, lots of opinions. Any long term experience with say a 50/50 tire or 60/40 (dirt/road)? Does anyone know just how wide a tire I can fit on the rim with out rubbing? Also thought of going with a 19" front wheel as another detuning measure?  I noticed the big ADV bikes run smaller diameters. So while the larger wheel gets over obstacles better, they are more squirrly on road are they not? Not looking for super fast turn in, stability is more important to me.


3.) Everyone seems to lament the lack of a 6th gear, (I almost bought a 99 dr350 just because of that and air cooling) is there a gear out there from another bike that would give an OD effect to 5th? Seems that the solution now is to change the front sprocket for better gearing for at speed traveling, and add a cush hub/rekluse clutch to compensate on slower terrain. If I had the stock gearing for the first 4 gears, then the 5th was a OD that seems to be a good option(?)


If one doesn't exist, it could always be made. I should mention here that I am pretty mechanically inclined, I've done some amateur car racing, have rebuilt motors, and have a decent shop with small lathe, small CNC mill, heat treating oven, forge, etc. If I had to fab one-what tooth count would you recommend? Not looking for a real high top speed, but comfortable RPM's at 75mph? 


A lot of my other questions on this build have been answered by the excellent adventure build vid, so that is my checklist. I've written a freaking novel as it is, so I'll stop here. 


Thanks for any help (and patience with yet another rookie)

1. Don't lower the bike, lower the seat if you MUST lower. At 6' you should have zero trouble.

    Don't use your feet for outriggers, as you will just get injured. 
    Balance, throttle, and weight transfer. 

    If you lower the bike, you will be focusing on failure.


2. Don't worry about tires yet. Get some cheap hard terrain knobbies or DS tires, and wear them out practicing. 

    You will have to make up your own mind about tires. Stay away from the 'standard' DS tires from Dunlop, Pirelli, and look at Kenda and IRC.

    Properly applied tire pressure is WAY more important at this stage. Under 15 for dirt and over 25 for street.


3. There is no way to add a replacement OD for 5th unless you have a machine shop and lots of time. It's just not practical.

    You would have to make (2) gears, and get them treated, and try to get control of them on the shaft(s). Not simple.

    You will not achieve a comfortable 75mph without gearing to the moon, making first gear no good for off road.

    Most of us have learned how to swap a front countershaft spocket and re-align the chain in 15 min or so. 


4. Ride, Ride, Ride. There is no substitute for seat time, especially if you concentrate on form and feel. 

    Find a dirt lot near your house and practice going as slow and tight as you can, learning to feather the clutch and get used to the feel of he throttle and brakes.

Thanks for the feedback, I know there is no replacement for seat time.  


No doubt I'll get carried away on this, I seem to have a problem keeping things stock.  The last sports car I had was a Datsun 240Z that I stuffed a Ford V8 into.  


About the gears, I was hoping there was a gear out there that would adapt.  But since I do have a small machine shop it may be something I do a one point.  


Any advice on suspension mods? I've read about "pogoing". Gold valves? 

If you ride offroad at all you will need to rebuild the forks, as the base valve assembly fails catistrophically.

There are kits from Race Tech, ProAction, and Smart Performance that can solve the problem and improve control, front and rear.

Thanks!  I'm making my list..... 

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