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96 DR350SE front end dive

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I just purchased a very nice 96 DR350SE for my beginning rider son.  I rode the bike prior to purchase and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.  During our first ride, my son indicated the bike was diving severely in front when he let off the throttle. I thought it was his beginning clutch skills causing the issue, however, when I rode it again it was very noticeable.  To explain further, when turning the throttle into the closed position in any gear there is what I define as an extreme front end dive.  Its very irritating and at it's worst in 1st and 2nd gear.  Throttle free play, chain slack, and clutch seem to be within spec.  No cush drive on this year, stock gearing 15/41, however it does have Supertrapp exhaust.   It feels like extreme torque braking.  Any thoughts?  The only thing I haven't checked is the clutch basket.  I read that grooves in the basket could cause this.  I want to do this as a last resort.  Im handy with mechanics, but not that comfortable digging to far into the engine.  Carb perhaps?   Thanks in advance.

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For dampening rod type forks you have now, I'd suggest proper springs sizes for your weight and Race Tech cartridge fork 'emulators' - these easy to install devices will slow and control compression (dive) during bumps and off-throttle situations.
There is some tinkering to do for adjusting the emulator and increasing the fork oil viscosity weight for getting good compression and rebound performance, but well worth the effort when starting as suggested in the install instructions.
A better option, but costs more and you'll need more parts... is a fork swap (and front wheel change due to the axel size increase) from any '98 or '99 DRS or '97, '98, or '99 DR (dirt) model. These bikes got 'cartridge forks' - these forks work much better in their more modern design over the early 'dampening rod' forks, but proper springs will be needed here too. Any bike from 1960 till now still needs proper rate springs for the rider, regardless of the fork design.
I'd say a set of emulators, a couple bottles of proper weight oil, and maybe some fork seals and some new fork slider bushings would get you 95% of where you want to be with updating your forks.
Keep an eye on fleebay for the parts or plan on $125 for springs, $150 for emulators and $60 for oil and new seals and slider bushings. If the teflon coating on your current bushings is still good and not worn down to the brass layer, you may not need new slider bushings, but new us money well spent if you are going to keep the DR around for a bit.

Enjoy!

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PS: Your problems have nothing to do with the clutch or gearing. Your 15/41 gearing sounds like it was more for street use. I found 14/47 worked great for trails and decent for stints on the road. Just adding a 14 tooth front sprocket in your case will help (and likely replace your currently worn out front sprocket), while giving you more useful power.

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For dampening rod type forks you have now, I'd suggest proper springs sizes for your weight and Race Tech cartridge fork 'emulators' - these easy to install devices will slow and control compression (dive) during bumps and off-throttle situations.
There is some tinkering to do for adjusting the emulator and increasing the fork oil viscosity weight for getting good compression and rebound performance, but well worth the effort when starting as suggested in the install instructions.
A better option, but costs more and you'll need more parts... is a fork swap (and front wheel change due to the axel size increase) from any '98 or '99 DRS or '97, '98, or '99 DR (dirt) model. These bikes got 'cartridge forks' - these forks work much better in their more modern design over the early 'dampening rod' forks, but proper springs will be needed here too. Any bike from 1960 till now still needs proper rate springs for the rider, regardless of the fork design.
I'd say a set of emulators, a couple bottles of proper weight oil, and maybe some fork seals and some new fork slider bushings would get you 95% of where you want to be with updating your forks.
Keep an eye on fleebay for the parts or plan on $125 for springs, $150 for emulators and $60 for oil and new seals and slider bushings. If the teflon coating on your current bushings is still good and not worn down to the brass layer, you may not need new slider bushings, but new us money well spent if you are going to keep the DR around for a bit.

Enjoy!


I installed race tech emulators and their recommended springs for my weight on my -91 dr 350s.
It made a big difference even with standard adjustment of the emulator. We’ll see when I’ve ridden it som more if it needs adjusting. (It has a nut and bolt that adjusts the springload in the emulator, and it comes with 3 different springs.)

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Interesting... when I installed my emulators there was only 1 spring and you adjusted tension with the clamping nut... pretty simple idea it was, but it works.

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I think you are right.  I haven't done a huge amount of research on the DR 350 but I own a modded DR650 with full Cogent suspension.  We took the bike out today and I noticed that when I strapped it into the truck, the first 2 inches of the suspension took very little pressure to compress.  It seemed like a really soft progressive spring instead of a straight rate.  So, I dialed the pre-load adjusters all the way in to see if that helped and 1/2 of the dive disappeared.  Time for new suspenders!  Thanks.

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Was the previous owner a petite lad? Because he might've tuned the suspension to match his weight.

 

Not that standard dr suspension is anything to write home about, mind you.

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