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The start of something big. A DR Journey!

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Well I finally got my DR650. I have done most of my bike mods already and I figured I would share and see what input I could gain as well. These are the beginning preparations for the TAT. My friend and I will be making the trek summer of '10.

The Bike: 2004 DR650, 5k Miles, $2700.

The Mods (so far): 7.62mm Ammo cans (2), Pelican Top Box, homemade racks, driving lights, power adapter, stickers!

The pictures:

I didn't get a shot of the bike before I did everything, but I'm pretty sure everyone knows what a stock DR looks like.


Finished top rack. Everything fastens to the existing mounting places, just needed to get longer bolts.



Top rack with Pelican case mounted.


I ended up drilling my holes off center :doh so I found some small round rubber tube patches and stuck those over my giant holes and pierced the bolts through. Instant weatherproofing!


I have pictures of the design process for the side racks but they are grainy (camera phone), so here is the finished product. Powder coated side and top racks.


Mounted on the bike. The rear turn signals are fasten to the top rack since I did away with the stock grab handles.


The finished product of my labor including the ammo cans.



Driving lights from Wal-Mart...$14.95. Mounted to the reflector brackets. I have since drilled new holes above to remount the reflectors.


Fabricated a weatherproof switchbox to mount the independent switch to the battery and the power adapter. I have since redone the mounting so it looks nicer...(i.e. hidden zip ties) ๐Ÿ˜


And the drum roll...(stickers!)


Total cost for modifications thus far:

Pelican Box $113.36

Ammo Cans(2) $45.45 (w/ shipping)

Side Rack $52.41 (including hardware and flux core)

Top Rack $18.87 (including hardware)

Driving Lights $14.97

Accessory Plug $7.97

ADV Stickers $35.00

Total: $273.06

Fabrication of the windscreen is next.

Things still to get: TrailTech X2 headlight(ordered), Acerbis Front Fender(ordered), Corbin Seat, IMS Tank, Skid Plate, Tires, Handguards, and much more!

I do have an issue that I have run into that I could use some input with. I have my ammo cans bolting to the side rack as of now. However I am trying to design a 'quick release' system to be able to remove them easily at my discretion. If anyone has some ideas they would be helpful. I have seen the 'hockey puck' idea but I don't know how it works well enough to implement my own.

Any and all input is welcome. Criticize away!

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With all that space, where are you going to keep the kitchen sink?๐Ÿ˜

Just kidding. I like it. The racks look good.

Would wing nuts be getting closer to an easier quick disconnect?

First thing that came to my mind was this:


How big of a trip do you plan on going?

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Did you consider addiing a bottom edge of angle iron for the ammo can bottom edge to rest on? I would try a carriage bolt through the can with a nut to lock it to the can and a wing nut through the rack. Drill it for a lynch pin or cotter pin so the nut can't back all the way off.

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Wing nuts won't be as "quick" as I want it to be. And I was thinking of something along the lines of a cotter/lynch pin but I can't figure out how to make it work, maybe I'm thinking to hard. I can't quite picture what you are describing MtnJohn. ๐Ÿ˜ I think I'll just weld the nuts to the inside of the rack and unbolt all eight bolts whenever I want to take them off. Still open for other suggestions.

And the trip will be the whole breadth of the TAT. 47XX miles there and highways home. Starting from central IL to TN to OR and back to IL.

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Looks like you're having a good time, and not spending much money ๐Ÿ˜ But rather than add up the costs .... I'd be adding up the lbs.๐Ÿคฃ

I haven't done the TAT trail. What sort of riding is it? Do you guys camp every night or make it to towns to motels? How long are your riding days typically? (miles/hours)

I ask these questions because I see you're adding a lot of weight to your DR.

I notice your rear rack sits back BEHIND your rear axle and the pelican sits back even further. Whatever is in there will get the crap beat out of it. Mass centralization is your friend.

I've ridden my DR with a variety of set ups from Hard bags to soft bags to just a duffle bag. Suffice to say, for any off road riding, lighter is better. MUCH better, and safer. After a particularly tough Baja ride I got home and started weighing everything. What I found was a shock. I found my GIVI racks, hardware and GIVI hard bags all together weighed about 32 lbs. That is nearly equal to all my clothes, tubes, tools and misc. crap. I did not camp.

The weight really hurt the handling, especially in slow speed, steep rocky terrain. Made deep sand harder than it should have been. The DR really needs BETTER suspension and a fork brace to handle a heavy load. Stock suspension seems to be optimized for a 150 to 160 lb. rider. I weigh 200 lbs. with gear/boots on. So already, I've over tax'd the stock set up. Now add heavy bags, racks and gear and the negative effects will show up.

My '06 DR650 only has 26,000 miles on it, but it's my 3rd one, so I'm getting to know this bike pretty well. Great bike! :ride:

After getting jetting worked out I concentrated on suspension. This is the most rewarding area of work on the DR, IMHO. A good shock or rebuilt stock shock and up graded, re-valved, re-sprung front forks makes a huge difference in handling and control, especially when the bike is loaded up. I highly recommend riding the bike fully loaded stock, then do suspension work, load it up and go ride some rough terrain again. Transforms the bike.

I have an Ohlins shock on my DR and the forks have heavier springs and some work has been done on them.

I noticed you've added driving lights. I'm sure you know the DR only puts out 200 watts total. So you've have, in reality, about 75 spare watts to play with. I run a Gerbing and heated grips but installed a headlight switch for daytime riding. I don't know how much your lights draw, but just be aware.

No kick start on the DR and it's a bitch to bump start in the sand. :moon:

Have fun with the mods!๐Ÿคฃ

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The TAT is mainly off road riding. (www.transamtrail.com) The trails will put us within range of a town every night, though we will be mostly camping.

Originally, I was planning to not exceed 60lbs of gear plus myself, 180lbs not including gear/boots, but it seems I may go over much to my dismay. The Pelican is for my electronics (a mobile workstation so to speak) and shouldn't add more than 5lbs at the very most.

So far the bike still handles fine, though I have just ridden it on dirt roads and haven't gotten a chance to take it on the trails. I had considered shocks especially the rear but I would have to move around some costs since I am on somewhat of a budget.

When I got the the driving lights installed, I immediately noticed your concern. Though the lights are only 20W a piece, they still drain my battery. ๐Ÿ˜ What I have discovered, which you may know, is that I can rewire the stator from a wye to a delta to gain extra wattage though it may compromise the voltage regulator. (http://www.procycle.us/dr/wye_to_delta.htm) I am going to do this tonight and I'll let you know how it goes.

I appreciate the input and will be rethinking a lot of things in the time to come.

Edited by Seeking Zero
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Spot on Zero!

I've heard of the Pro Cycle Stator mod and am thinking of doing it. I doubt it will harm the V. Regulator. If you run no other accessories the stock system should handle the 40 watt draw of your lights with NO modifications.

Sounds like your battery is weak or you already have a charging system problem?๐Ÿ˜ I would start your trip with a BRAND NEW battery. MOST electrical problems on motorcycles are battery related. A poor battery can ruin your stator over time .... a $400 repair. Order the STOCK Suzuki battery from a Suzuki dealer. (It's a NO NAME Japanese MF sealed batt and very good! ... and cheap ($60) ... shop around!)

A new battery will stand up to more abuse and come back 100% even if run down a few times. If you keep the revs up over 2000 rpm with the stator mod you will be fine! I would also install a headlight switch in case you need to run more stuff. Switching off headlight buys you 50 watts. I always kill headlight when starting the bike. Headlight OFF, start motor, Headlight back ON. Helps battery.

I switch off my headlight in daylight running when using my Gerbing jacket (77 watts) and heated grips (27 watts). With headlight off I can run the jacket at 100% and grips on HIGH for 16 hours straight and not run down the battery. (I rode from mid Baja to N. Cal, straight through, 1000 miles, 16 hours in December cold, stopping only for food/gas ect.)

I understand about budget. Do what you can and try to go as minimal as you can. Over time, I've gotten pretty good at this. I carry half the stuff I used to. I carry mostly all high tech fabrics that take a minute to wash out and dry easily over night. No jeans, too bulky.

My DR650 had over 100 lbs. (plus two spare tires originally) on board in Baja. I am 200 lbs. with gear on. Not good. The bike had Eibach springs front and rear. Not good enough for that terrain.

Here I am in Baja doing one of the little climbs on some loose stuff watching for Baja race pre-runners coming at me over the top of the hill at 50 mph!:ride: Had some close calls. The weight was a problem. I now limit my load to 60 lbs. and the DR is transformed.

The Ohlins shock also is great. Rick at Cogent Dynamics does a wonderful rebuild/re-spring of the stock Suzuki KYB shock for MUCH less than an after market shock. He rides a DR and gives a good deal to DR guys. Well worth it. I would have done this but got my Ohlins FREE! Many good reviews of Rick's DR650 shock!




This is an old pic but this is now the configuration I've gone back to. The top duffle is for camping gear only. Everything else fits in panniers. I always have a front tube on front fender. (see next pic of current bike)

525669321_oFVmV-L.jpg Here, (after Camo paint job) camping duffle is left at camp for a day loop ride around Death Valley. Those are Cortech bags (touring ones)


Carrizo Plain, CA

Edited by 54321
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Nice pictures! I love the bike, especially the camo version.

Well I just finished rewiring the stator, and I will post a full write up pictures and all as soon as I am back to my computer. I will be getting a new battery, though probably not till next spring/summer. And the new headlight will have its own switch though I fear I may have to rebuild my switch box. ๐Ÿ˜

My friend who is going with me has your setup almost exactly, except with Nelson Rigg bags. I think he may have made some better choices than me but I do like my ammo cans.

How much does Rick charge do rebuild the shocks? I may end up doing that if the price is good and I have some extra cash.

You mentioned you only carry high tech fabrics now. Can you give me some examples? :ride:

Edited by Seeking Zero
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Go to Rick's web site to check on the shock re-build prices. IIRC it's around

$400. An Ohlins is about $1300, Penske about the same. Wilburs about $900.

You can find all kinds of good travel fabrics at outdoor stores like REI or other high end stores. But very Pricey. My GF and I hit the local Good Will and find the most incredible stuff! Expensive Micro Fiber bicycle or exercise jerseys and really nice jerseys from marathons or corporate sponsors shirts. Most is like brand new and most high quality. Just feel it, you'll know.

I buy expensive underwear at REI: ExOfficio brand. Another Excellent Micro fiber type fabric. Dry in two or three hours. I only carry TWO pair, even for a month long ride.

I like the really soft synthetic long sleeve T- shirts. Good in heat and cold, thin, easy to hand wash and dries quick. Saves space. Most Moto cross jerseys are cheap nylon, not great. Much better fabrics out there if you look around. Mine are mostly plain, no graphics.

In the heat I wear Moto Cross pants for off road and carry light weight rain pants to go over Moto pants. Works good. Waterproof, Vented Enduro jacket with full armor, custom knee pads, Sidi Crossfire boots. So far, so good.

You can save weight and bulk if riding with a buddy by sharing tools. You just don't need two sets of everything.

I'm too old (and lazy) to camp every night. Normally I can camp a few nights if weather is good, then take a motel to "re-charge" for a day. YMMV.

In rain, it's motels all the way for me. Camping in the rain is just no fun, IMHO. :ride: I only make Tea or Coffee when camping, but if you're really out there then you'll need to cook and bring all the crap along to do so. If you can hit a town and buy food or sandwiches, that works too.

I'd do a couple "shake down" weekend rides to test everything out before you do a long TAT ride. ๐Ÿ˜

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Well damn. I don't think I'm going to be affording a shock. I hadn't even priced em, but I will really have to find some extra money.

Clothing for the trip is still being worked out but we had about the same idea, and we will definitely check out all that stuff.

We will be sharing everything basically. I'm going to pile stuff on his bike to save weight on mine. :ride: We have food worked out. We will have a propane stove top and a canister or two of propane to heat cans of stuff and toast some bread. We are going to try and rough it as much as possible. The idea of the trip is to get away and damn well enjoy it! ๐Ÿ˜ We will probably hit a cheap motel once or twice a week for cleanliness...

We are going to be doing some hardcore trail riding...as much as the DR will allow...here soon, probably in a couple weeks. This spring we will go on some short trips to work out the kinks and prepare ourselves.

Stator rewire up next!

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It seems my DR needs some more wattage. Following the lead from Procycle I have rewired my stator.

I am not sure if it works yet since I don't have a gasket or oil to put it back together. I will edit this with the final verdict.

Since I learn by example, and couldn't find a DR650 stator rewire with pictures, I decided to make one myself. Using my electrical/computer engineering know-how, I have, to my knowledge, successfully completed the transformation.

1. Remove the left side cover of the engine (i.e. stator cover). There is oil in it so have a bucket ready. There are 11 screws, one is longer than the rest, make sure to mark where it goes. Also, be careful not to damage the dowel pin. If you are careful not to damage the gasket (assuming it comes off with the cover) you can reuse. So don't damage it like I did! ๐Ÿ˜ Also make a note of how the wires are ziptied to the stator.


2. Next, remove the piece that holds down the wires with two philips head screws and then the stator itself held in with 3 allen head screws. I also removed the wire holder off of the stator for ease of access.


3. Right now the stator is wye wound. We are going to rewire it so that it is delta wound.




4. Notice the yellow wires running along the wire loops. Those are the wires labeled A, B, and C that come out of the motor and go to the voltage regulator. Their end connections are all connected together at the wye connection lead, or based off of the wye diagram they are all connected in the "center."



5. Cut the wye connection, sever the wires and pull them apart. The whole thing is covered in a resin to prevent shorting so you'll need some needle nose pliers, but be careful not to damage the wires in anyway. Once cut you should have 3 different length wires. Then, lay the cut wires out alongside the yellow wires. Use a utility knife and gently cut open the the casing at the appropriate length. (cut as if you were whittling wood so as not to damage the wires underneath) It doesn't matter which wire is connected to which so long as the wye end of the coil isn't connected to its own yellow wire connection. To make sure you don't do this grab a voltmeter set to resistance and touch a yellow wire to each wye end. If nothing happens you're good. If the resistance jumps to some negative number you have the other end of the wire. :ride:


6. Connect a wye end to a yellow wire and solder. (I did this one at a time so that nothing got mixed up)



7. Next you'll need some epoxy. (I had some general purpose from wal-mart that I am hoping will do the job) Mix the epoxy and cover up the spliced connection to prevent any shorting.



8. Re-ziptie the wires back in place and put it all back together.

BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT, THIS HAS NOT BEEN COMPLETELY TESTED. I still have to get a new gasket and oil to test it and make sure I didn't make a mistake but this is the basis of what the rewiring entails. If anyone noticed some error of mine please let me know.

The Delta connection will produce 70% of the voltage output and 140% of the current output of a Y connection with the same windings. See Luke's post on Stators Demystified.

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Hey SeekingZero,

Nice write-up and pictures! You should copy and paste this in a new thread with an appropriate title for future reference. ๐Ÿ˜

Of course I will do that. I just want to make sure it works first. So it will be another two weeks before I can work on the bike again. School and all.:ride:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey Seeking Zero -

Looks like you are going to be well prepared by the time you are ready to do the TAT. Are you doing the whole thing East to West?

For a little perspective on the ride my buddy and I did the Eastern half of the TAT in 2005. We rode 1986 and 1986 XL 250s that had seen years of dirt bike duty in Colorado and off road in Oklahoma. I had just had my 60th birthday before the ride, my buddy was 50 at the time. Because of work I was only able to put 2 days in on bike prep which was mostly doing a quick and dirty bracket for luggage. I did change the fork oil. Both 20 year old bikes had the original shocks, clutch, cables and such.

We took a running start at the TAT by leaving Northern Arkansas and riding South to Louisiana then across to the Natchez trace which we rode across Mississippi and part of Alabama to the beginning of the TAT in Tennessee. As we reached the Arkansas border again Hurricane Katrina caught up with us and the remaining days of the ride were a bit damp.

In 10 days of riding we did 2000+ miles and the only mechanical problem we had was the loss of my tag bracket. My fault, I used plastic bolts to hold it on. Don't expect any single track trails on the Eastern half. It is mostly remote dirt roads. Much of the Tennessee part is asphalt. Still it is a great ride and one you won't forget. While I haven't done the Western half yet, I have ridden for years in Colorado on the TAT's route through there. You'll love it.


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Hopefully we'll be prepared, we can't wait to ride. :excuseme: We will be doing the whole thing, East to West.

Since classes are out for fall break I got started putting all my new parts on.


I finished the stator rewire. Then put on the following parts; Acerbis Front Fender, Trail Tech X2 headlight, Emgo hangguards, Corbin Seat, Skid Plate, and a Twin Air Air Filter. IMS tank is being shipped.



By the end of the week I should have my side racks rebuilt to bring my ammo cans higher and make them easily removable as well as painting the ammo cans since they are starting to rust. I will also be making my own windscreen and highway pegs.

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Well I was finally able to test out my bike on the trails and see if I had any regrets on the decisions I had made.

My friend and I took our DR's out on the trails at the beginning of the week. We went on ATV trails in our area through the woods, creeks, and muddle hills and was it ever challenging with these big bikes. It was a scenario of man handle or be man handled...

I enjoyed every moment! The bikes performed great and even survived some hard crashes and many tip-overs. One thing that seemed to help handling was lowering the front forks. Mine are lowered to the handle bars while my friends were up at stock. After switching bikes, it seemed that my DR was the more stable of the two. I also had 80lbs more weight on my bike than he did since I am 40lbs heavier and I had my ammo cans on, another 40lbs. This may have helped stable my bike a bit but I'll leave that to speculation.

We didn't get pictures of the trail riding but got some dirty ones after.




The next day my IMS tank came and I installed it and rebuilt my racks while my friend built his.

Here are some photos from the day.


The goal of rebuilding my racks was to make them symmetric, since I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and to raise up the boxes.




Here are my friends racks for his Nelson-Rigg soft bags.




At this time I also cut off the metal lip on one end of each box and welded that side shut so the lids can hinge up stand on end. Then I painted the boxes so they won't rust anymore.




As of yesterday, after the paint had cured, I started making the new attachment brackets for the ammo cans.



The bracket will mount on the bottom of the rack and then I only need to secure two screws at the top and my boxes are mounted.


And the finished product. Now I just have to make a windscreen.





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Nice placement of your Ammo cans :excuseme: Perfect!

Regards raising your fork tubes up to handlebars: This will have the bike turning more easily at low speeds off road and feeling "lighter", but you will loose stability on the highway at speeds over 60 mph. By raising the fork tubes up you are lowering the front of the bike and changing the bikes geometry.

You could achieve a similar result by cranking up rear shock preload. Is your shock linkage set on the "low" setting? By lowering the front it indicates you likely have too much Sag. This is why bringing the tubes up helped. The bike is out of balance and by lowering the front, you've brought it more into balance. (I'm guessing)

Most likely you need a stiffer shock spring to achieve balance. Also, by lowering the front you loose ground clearance, so in rough going you may whack a rock. Stiffer front springs should also be done to match rear spring.

With better suspension your DR will handle all that weight a lot better. IMHO, the DR650, if loaded heavy, needs a fork brace. Jesse sells a good one. The chassis does flex with lots of weight on board but good suspension and a fork brace will help this symptom a lot.

BTW, for riders going RTW (or very long trips) one of the most common problems is cracked/broken luggage racks. It's good you know how to weld!๐Ÿ˜ 1000's of miles of washboard on a fully loaded bike will eventually take it's toll.



Happy Trails right side rack for my soft bags. NO FIRES! Rack wraps around panel and fits very close in.


Left side ... cheapskate special: Electrical conduit. Works fine keeping soft bag out of wheel.

Edited by 54321
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When I bought my bike, the previous owner had the whole thing lowered, front forks up to the handlebars and the rear shock in the stock low placement. When I got it I left the front where it was and raised the rear.

Surprisingly I haven't had any highway stability issues even when loading the bikes down with semi-truck batteries. :excuseme:

Your statement on low speed turning is right on. On the trails I was able to zip right around the harder corners that my friend was forced to take slower. Though this did result in a hard wipe-out as my front deathwing gave out in some soft dirt. The ammo cans and handguards saved me from any potential injury. I have lost an inch or so of ground clearance compared to my friends DR and I'm OK with it. One of these days I will get a better suspension, but I don't have the money to replace them for this trip.

And my welding has held and proven to be very strong. I was able to wipe-out, hit rocks, and trees and tree limbs with the boxes (not on purpose of course) without breaking or damaging any part of the rack/boxes or bike. I am very satisfied with how everything has turned out on my bike.

BTW love the conduit! :bonk:

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