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Lukas' Ultimate DR650 Adventure build up/ rebuild

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I am cross-posting this thread from ADVrider where I started it a year ago. For folks who don't read both forums like some of us internet junkies do... 👍

So I am finally starting my next project. I would like to share this with you guys and hope to inspire some of the less mechanically inclined ones. It should help people working on their DR's as well as show you what NOT to do as I am sure to make plenty of mistakes.

The bike is a 96 DR650SE (except for a gasket the exact same thing Suzuki is still selling today) that I bought last winter real cheap. I plan on doing a trip from Vienna - Capetown down East Africa sometime this fall. I thought it would be a smart idea to really get to know the bike, replace all the wear items and improve some of the DRs weaker areas.

The plan includes the following upgrades:


Excel 21" front and 18" rear wheels for offroad

Excel 17" front and rear for supermoto

Front brakes:

Brembo 2 piston with 300mm rotor, 13mm (?) MC for offroad

Brembo 4 piston with 320mm, 16mm (?) MC for supermoto

WP 43 USD Forks with 20mm offset, custom valving and external preload-adjusters

Pro Taper Easton 28mm bars

Ufo hand guards with aluminum inserts

KTM EXC switches

Touratech IMO 100R300 with switches

Garmin 60CSX GPS with Touratech mount

IMS tank (and later Safari)

Wilbers rear shock

Hepco & Becker luggage rack

SW-Motech quick release side racks

Replace worn bearings, regrease

Metal base gasket

Holeshot Performance header

Aftermarket exhaust (probably LeoVince)

Dynojet kit

Also, since I have a scale in the garage and somewhat of an obsession with weight (being a wannabe racer), I will keep a running tab of the part weights as I add them to the bike. Maybe they will help someone who is trying to get the weight down to something more off-road worthy:

Frame (helmet lock yet to be taken off): 16 kg

Wilbers Shock: 3,4 kg

WP 43 Forks with triple and handlebar mount: 12,5 kg

Stock engine with oil and oil cooler: ~50kgs!

21" complete Excel front wheel with tire (90% thread): 9,1 kg

IMS Tank, plastic cap, petcock: 2,9 kg (I read somewhere that stock is 4,5 kg)

Left side case saver: 0,1 kg

Ufo hand guards: 0,6 kg

Wiring harness: 1,1 kg

Stock Pegs: 1,1 kg

Sidestand: 0,6 kg

Throttle tube with cables: 0,4 kg

Front MC: 0,4 kg


Plastic undertail: 0,7 kg

Rear handles: 0,75 kg

Sidestand safety switch: 0,1 kg

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So this is what she looked like the day I bought her. What can I say, she was really cheap... 👍


The previous owner clearly felt no love for this bike, so there were lots of little nags and minor issues. The engine however felt solid and made no strange sounds, so I thought it was a good candidate for my planned project. I does however have a leak, which I think comes from the shifter shaft area. Kind of hard to tell as the whole thing is covered in grease and dirt.

Since the frame had lots of rusty areas and a hideous purple color (looks much worse in real life than the pictures), I decided to tear her down completely and start fresh.


These are various shots that show what mess I had to deal with. And this is after several tries with the pressure washer..


Wiring was messed with as well:


Almost done, the beast (sort of ) and its heart:


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Since the dissassembly about 3 months have passed, I have accumulated lots of the parts I need (much of the delay due to a very unreliable supplier ), the frame is back from powdercoating and of course I have no memory anymore which part goes where

This is what the frame looks like after sandblasting and powdercoating. The finish appears to be pretty tough so far and I think the dark silver color came out nice:


Next up were the WP forks. As I have posted on here before and member Gsuser did on his bike, they fit on the DR650 very well. You can re-use the stock DR races, the lower KTM seal and bearing on the KTM stem, and the KTM upper bearing with the DR seal on top. Looks like this when done:


Put the upper triple on and slide the forks tubes in, gotta love the USD look!


The swingarm was wire brushed, and the seals + bearing cleaned and re-greased. Also put the pimpin' shock on for a trial fit.


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I have worked on the bike quite a bit since the last update. Only had the camera with me today though, so I decided to wait for some pictures before posting again.

There has been progress but also quite a few setbacks, so LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES!!!

First up was the rear shock linkage. I didn’t notice any problems with this before taking the bike apart, but decided that a clean and regrease would definitely not be a bad idea.


When I had taken it apart to start cleaning the bearings, I saw that one of them was missing two needles. Of course they were nowhere to be found, damn! I guess that they fell out during disassembly.


So I had to wait a couple of days for a replacement to arrive at the dealer. Once I had that, I just took out two needles and put them in the old bearing cage. I didn’t have a bearing puller and there was no wear on the bushing as far as I can tell, so I hope that this won’t be a problem.


Stuffed them full of grease and put the linkage back on the bike. Hope I did it right... 👍



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Next was the front wheel. The one I have is from a 2005 EXC, which comes with a 26mm axle that fits into WP 48 forks. My WP 43s have a 20mm axle, and there is no factory solution to use the newer style wheels. The other way is easy with fork bushings but I will either have to make some custom spacers or re-lace the wheels with a 20mm hub. Either way a PITA!

I tried to fit the engine (now sporting the lovely metal base gasket) into the frame from the left side as the factory manual states, but managed nothing other than to scratch the frame. Turns out the powder coat is not as tough as I had hoped! Tried it again from the right side, and with a bit of wiggling got it in there. It is definitely not light, with the oil cooler and oil it weighs about 110 lbs.


As you can see in the last picture, I also trial mounted an old handle bar I had laying around while waiting for my Pro Taper to arrive. This is when I came across another problem: The mounting kit attaches with a nut from the lower side, which will contact the Suzuki steering lock receiver on the steering stem.


I took out the grinder and tried to remove as much as possible while damaging as little of the new PC finish as possible. Came out ok and there is plenty of clearance now (but my bearings don't fit, but I will post about that again in more detail). At some point I plan on mounting a Rallye style fairing on the front, so I will probably have to weld on some kind of bracket anyway.

Another solution would be to use an EXC or SX upper triple like Gsuser (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...34#post4065534), they have the bars solid mounted from the top only (LC4 is rubber mounted with a through-bolt and nut).


While having the grinder out, my weight phobia gave me some more stupid ideas. With a lot of restraint I only went through with one of them: Removing the helmet lock! I never use it, and the powdercoaters didn’t mask it off properly so it wasn’t working anyway.


The result: ½ a pound less! Would have hoped for more, but better than nothing. Still gotta touch up the frame here as well so it won’t rust.


The bike is farther alonng already, but the camera battery died, so you can read and see more pictures next time. Here is a small sneak preview


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The next step was to find a solution for my fork (20mm axle) and wheel (26mm) problem. I contacted an experienced machine shop and had them make wheel spacers with the small inside and large outside diameter. You can see the difference to the stocker (right) in this picture:


While waiting for the spacers I also bought a set of KTM Supermoto wheels. The front is a 3.5" Excel rim with a HE (German supermoto shop) hub, the rear a 4.25" with a Talon Ultralight hub (I will probably change this out for a stock KTM LC4 hub).


Since I was still looking for a good deal on a 300mm brake disc (stock on KTM LC4s like the Adventure) and caliper bracket, I decided to use the 320mm parts I already had in the meantime. The next picture shows the 21" offroad wheel with the 260mm EXC brake disc and 26mm wheel spacers, the one after that is with a 320mm disc (massive compared to the other one!) and the custom spacers:





When I finally got the spacers I was looking forward to mounting the wheels for good - but no such luck! A trial fit revealed that I was not able to fully slide the axle in and that the wheel was therefore off-center to the left and touching the lower fork guard. Check red circled areas in the picture (kind of hard to see):


Ughhh! Luckily my cousins 2002 520 EXC is parked with my Zook so I was able to play around with exchanging parts to see where the culprit was. Turns out that my triple clamps came from the earlier WP40 fork (unlike the seller had said) and are therefore only 28cm (center fork leg to center fork leg) wide. The WP43 mm forks use the ones that are 29cm wide.... Eventually I was able to find the matching ones on ebay. Changed them out and all is good now!

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Next step was the wiring. As Django had mentioned earlier the last thing you want to have when far away from home is to have electrical problems - especially if you are as clueless about them as I am. The loom on my bike was more than 11 years old, spliced and hacked up in several places (check first page of this post) and in general rather poor shape.


I was lucky and found somebody parting out a low-mileage, street only and garage kept bike and got his loom. Being electrically challenged, I doubted that everything would actually work right away, so I just laid it out temporarily on the bike and plugged everything in. When I turned the key I was thrilled to see the neutral light come on, thinking - holy shit, this might actually work!!! Pressing the starter produced the lovely chicken shrieking sound - and it turned over. And over. And over. And over. No choke adjustment, no starter spray, nothing would get it to start. Ok, let's change the spark plugs. No dice, either. How about checking if there actually is a spark? Ahhh, thats why it won't start - no spark! But why? Checked all the connections, used contact spray, tried bypassing the clutch and sidestand safety switched and still no dice.

Bypassed side-stand relay:


I decided to try it with the old loom, since I knew that the bike ran with it before I disassembled it. PITA but what can you do. Installed it and who'd have thunk it - the bike starts right away!! So I knew that the problem was somewhere with my new harness, which was very strange as it looked brand new and was definitely not damaged in any place. Luckily my cousin Alex (who was a great help with the whole bike - I owe you one buddy!) came to the rescue - he somehow noticed that the connector at the CDI had one wire less in it. Strange as I had thought that all the 96+ DRs were the same?

The green wire that is circled in the picture was missing on my new harness:


We removed the tape and wrap that was on the old loom and traced the wire. Turns out it ends at one of the diodes (I think ) at the front of the airbox. It doesn't look like a factory solution either (notice the blue tape) which was even more confusing?


Back to work to install the new loom once again. Then we tried to copy the old wiring and ran a temporary wire (red in the pictures) from CDI to the front connector.



And - suprisingly enough - everything was finally working! I stripped the green wire with the correct connector from the old CDI plug and installed it in the new one. Ran it through the existing wire tubing, and soldered the other end to the existing green wire. Then I mounted the harness on the chassis with some nice re-useable rubber cable ties. Added some protective spiral wrap where there wasn't any, and the wiring is finally done!



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With the wiring out of the way (mostly), the next step was suspension, wheels, etc.

The 17" Supermoto wheel fit in with no problems now that I had the right triple clamps (29cm center spacing for the fork tubes). I also decided to replace the stock jello bars with some very strong 1 1/8" Pro Tapers. A bit blingy but I got them new for less than half price:


Then the post guy showed up and brought me my new KTM style fender. Since the OEM/Acerbis part is only available in orange, silver and black I had to order a special part from Italy to match my blue color theme. The company is called Cemoto and quality appears to be good, about on par with Acerbis.

I also got some UFO handguards, with an aluminum bar insert of course. At some point I will put on some Acerbis Multiplo (very strong plus they have a nice curved bar for hand side exit) with the big Touring shields.

The color (Yamaha blue) is a decent match for the Suzuki blue IMS gallon which I also trial fitted in this picture:


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So with the bike a roller, I thought it would be nice to finally have some front brakes. I didn't get a brake line with the caliper/master cylinder setup I got of Ebay, so I took some measurements and headed to a local motorcycle brake specialist to get some nice stainless steel lines made up. I had worked with him on my R6 track bike and was very happy, this time was no different:

Again, I just HAD to spend an extra $10 to get the blingy gold anodized fittings:

Brembo MC (adapted the brake light cables to plug into the DR harness), UFO handguards:


Switched back to the 21" Excel wheel since my Brembo 2 piston caliper only works with a 300mm disc and not the 320mm that will go on the 17" wheel. You can also see the new white lower fork guards:


And here is the overall front look with the KTM style front light. I really like these because they attach with two quick-release rubber straps and can be undone in 2 seconds to access the wiring. Plus it weighs about 1/3 of the Suzuki light:


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One thing that had been bothering me since the beginning was a slight leak right above the shifter shaft. The plate seemed to have had a bunch of liquid metal gooped on to it, so I figured there was probably a crack somewhere:


We had just done an oil change, so Alex (that's him in the picture) had the brilliant idea to lay the bike on the side before taking the plate off. With me riding it will just be a matter of time (minutes?!? ) until I crash I, so I wasn't exactly concerned with scratches.


Upon taking the plate off, I found the culprit of the oil leak - there was indeed a badly patched crack in the cover. I was going to try to fix it with some more epoxy until I found the following (fast forward a few days until I got in the new parts that are laid out next to the old ones for comparison):

So which one should I put on the bike..... (btw isn't that the part that Max Kool broke during an offroad trip to France?):


Don't have to do a patch job after all, plus it saves me some clean-up work:


Got all the crud out that fell in when we took the cover off:


New gasket in place:


Buttoned up and ready to go!


Of course no solution without creating another problem..

While we had the bike on the side, the new oil temp gauge that I screwed into the oil filler hole touched the ground. Maybe it is because the Suzuki skid plate that I have on there now doesn't have "ears" like the Utah Sports one, but for now I won't recommend it for offroad riding (where the bike will likely rest on its side at some point):

Cracked one day after installing, didn't even get to test it once:


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When I was working on the next few things unfortunately I did not get to take too many pictures. I was supposed to leave on a trip through Switzerland, Italy and Austria the following day. Had a 36h marathon in the garage (shocking how long those little things that you thought would be done in a few hours can take) getting the bike ready.

For the trip, I had to fit some sort of luggage system. I thought I wanted to go with Gobi hard cases so I ordered the SW-Motech side racks. I also found a Hepco & Becker top rack on Ebay. Mounting was fairly easy, although I managed to strip a bolt and took forever to rig something up as there was no way to get a replacement in time.

Rack mounted, since I removed the stock sub-fender there is still something missing for the rear mounting. The stock white fender was spray painted blue with plastic paint - it doesn't hold up well at all.


Alex and my buddy Norb working feverishly on MY bike while I stand around taking pictures...


We ended up fabbing a plate holder out of 1mm aluminum plate, with the bend located so it would bolt to the rear of the luggage rack. This bad picture shows it after one year of use, including many crashes. It survived ok but since it has a crask I am going with a 3mm alum. plate next time:


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Since this trip was taking place at the beginning of November last year, we knew it was going to be cold. Even here in Vienna slightly above sea level early mornings and evenings were not feeling good in my Gore-tex gloves, so it would be much worse up in the mountains. After lots of reading on ADVrider I decided to get a set of Symtec (also sold by Dual Star) heated grips.


The install is fairly easy if you follow the instructions, here are a few additional tips:

Use some sort of tape to reflect the heat, otherwise the bar will soak it up and your grips will not get very warm. I used 2 layers of electrical tape which held up fine (this picture was taken after 1 year of use):


On the throttle side, the constant movement can weaken the connection of the cable with the pad so it will eventually break off. To avoid this, I made a hole through the side of the grip. Then I looped the cable through it from the outside so that the pull is on the wire/grip point and not the wire/heat connection. Kind of hard to explain so maybe the pictures will help.


Finished throttle side with the new Progrip 714 grips - very thick but quite comfy:


Finished clutch side, Touratech holder for Garmin 60 CSX also shown:



After I buttoned up the wiring, I put the plastics and the seat back on and started packing. Gobi cases did not arrive in time, so I got some soft Ortlieb dry side and top bags.

Here she is loaded up and ready to roll, 6am of our departure day:


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Lucas, I see that you're using the SW-Motech pannier racks. They normally attach to the rear subfender, which you and I both have removed.

I noticed that you made a license plate mount that attaches to where the rack would have connected to the stock plastic subfender.

Do you think the rack wouldn't be sturdy enough if it weren't tied to anything back there? I can't see how the stock plastic fender would give it much stability.

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I don't think the it really makes a difference. The racks are very sturdy by themselves and the support comes more from being connected to each other than the plastic sub-fender like you said.

But since I needed something to attach my license plate bracket to anyway, it was very easy to make out of 1mm aluminum sheet. This way I can also use the quick-lock fasteners to unmount the rack in a few minutes and the license plate and center brace (the 7" piece that connects both racks in the rear) can stay on the bike.

I will post some pics of the new and improved bracket when I make it tomorrow or the day after.


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I am amazed at the way some people's brains work.

It would take me the better part of a year to put a bike back together.

Thanks, Lukas, for reminding me why I am not a mechanic.

That's incredible to me.

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How much longer are the WP forks over the stock ones? I've been looking at some Ohlins forks from Cannondale bikes here, but they're almost 4" longer!!

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I am amazed at the way some people's brains work.

It would take me the better part of a year to put a bike back together.

Thanks, Lukas, for reminding me why I am not a mechanic.

That's incredible to me.

Thanks! It really is not that hard, you just take it step by step and figure stuff out along the way. I was never really mechanical and hadn't touched a screwdriver until a few years ago.

That being said, you should see the box of leftover bolts that I have no clue where they are supposed to go! 👍

How much longer are the WP forks over the stock ones? I've been looking at some Ohlins forks from Cannondale bikes here, but they're almost 4" longer!!

I don't know exactely as I had mine shortened and revalved to fit the DR. I have a set of new KTM WP Supermoto forks that I am putting in now, I'll let you know the measurements of those when I get a chance.

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If I ever finish this thread (these pictures are all from last year - bike is currently ompletely in pieces again!) I will post a proper ride report. Until then, here are some pics from the trip we took right after finishing the rebuild (version 1.0). I'll try to keep them DR-specific.

View from the rear that shows the luggage setup:


The first mountain pass we had to cross on our way from Vienna to Zurich - near Innsbruck, Austria:



The Fluela pass in Switzerland, only a few km from the boarding school my rebelious little brother has been exiled to:


Getting a bit cold on the Paso Tre Croce (spelling?) in Südtirol, Italy:


That's what I got for showing my cousin how the DR can run circles around his GS:


Riding on the snow sucked with our tires, so when it got dark we decided to stop - Colfosco, Italy:


Just pitched the tent in a big emtpy parking lot we came across, freezing pretty badly by now:


Next morning:


View from the tent:


With clear skies the snow is quite enjoyable and makes for great views:



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