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DR650 HIll Climb?

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Last weekend a buddy of mine on his DRZ400 and I on my DR650 went out for short DS ride, both equipped with D606s. We hit an area that has miles of public dirt roads. After riding the roads for a while we decided to make things more interesting by climbing a relatively steep long wooded hillside. Unfortunately for me I was only able to make it up about half way on the DR. The front end kept bouncing up into the air as I hit the large rocks that littered the climb. This situation had me using the clutch quite a bit to stop the wheelie effect. Unfortunately all that clutching killed my momentum. With the momentum lost, the combination of lose rocks, sand and pine straw made for crappy traction and ground me to stop. Any attempt to restart upward movement only resulted in trench digging. I had to leave the hill without conquering it :smashpc: although my buddy was able to make it on his DRZ with a bit of effort. Now I'm determined to go back and try it again to restore the DR650's honor. I really believe a lot of it was me not gaming it right and not all the bike. However I wonder if emulators in the front dialed in to dampen compression and rebound would help stop the front end bounce that caused the bouncing wheelies on my bike?

In any event, I though about going back with my Husky or KTM but that's really no challenge. I have to do it on the pig!

Any other experiences with a DR650 hill climb?

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Just started riding off road again after 18 months on the motard wheels. Chucked the dirt wheels back on and I've been surprised how well the pig does. I have spent near $1000 on the stock suspension, mainly because I was sick of the front diving when I put the motard setup on and started riding quicker (RT Gold valve in shock, heavier springs front & rear, and Emulators in the front, all set to Racetech recommendation for standard tank, my weight and offroad riding), and although I've never had a proper ride on a bike with well set up suspension, this thing is amazing. I've always ridden shitty old XTs, DTs etc, so the DR is the most "modern" bike I've ever owned, as funny as that sounds.

There's a particular steep, rutted hill with big erosion mounds all the way up I've been tackling with mates on Husky's (although I have much more experience than them) I've left them for dead each time. I can hold her flat out in 3rd all the way up and hang on, jumping every erosion mound on the way up, the front wheel getting hammered side to side, yet it just ploughs straight thru. Hard to explain. Thinking of a steering damper. The only time it doesn't do great is slow single track, the 725 kit seems to run a bit hotter than the stock bore, and it does get pretty hot according to the Vapor and occasionally coughs and dies, but I've only tried that particular single track once (1st and rarely 2nd gear), and not doing that again on the DR. The wide ratio box sucks for single track anyway. 1st is screaming, click second and its chugging. Too much gear changing for me. On the look out for a pure dirt bike. Gonna end up breaking the DR if I keep riding it how I have been the last couple of weeks. I can just lean back and gas it now, whereas my riding mate's seem to slow down and look for ways around pot holes and ruts.

I'm a bigger guy, so I don't think the DR is as heavy as people say, that is until I drop it and have to pick it up haha. I'm confident in saying the Racetech suspension setup blows away stock DRZ suspension and I'd love to challenge someone with a stock DRZ to some whoops, you can ride pretty darn fast with good suspension, no matter the bike. I'm no enduro racer, but I've been surprised just how fast I've been able to ride the last few weeks.

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Ive gone up a few climbs that friends on mx bikes struggle with (power delivery and light front). All I do is choose a gear and lean back pinnig it closing my eyes and trying not to scream... For hard offroad riding the gearing and tyres do a lot but practise does a lot more. If possible try floating the front over most obstacles but it sounds as though you are in first? Try other lines and get comfortable with riding on a slope.

Ive flipped a yamaha dt50 going up slopes so think before following my advice...

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mx bikes struggling to climb a hill that a Dr650 makes it up tells me the mx riders are horrible riders. Any and I mean any 250cc two stroke made in the last quarter centry will destroy a dr650 on a hillclimb reguardless of what you do to the suspendsion or the motor. A modern 250 four stoke will do the same and something like a Honda cr450 will climb stuff a dr wouldn't make 1/4 way up. I've had many 250 and 500cc 2 strokes as well as a Honda xr600r, Yamaha tt600 and a Suzuki sp600 and my dr650 is the worst thing I've ever had for hillclimbing.

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Yeah both guys had just gone from road bikes to mx bikes... They each flipped about halfway up and were too scared to try again, that said when I tried the CR500 I flipped before I got to the climb... LOL

I havent ridden with them since january so I dont know how they can ride now.

BTW how does the TT600 ride compared to the DR?

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The tt600 was a 84 and with a set of forks from a yz250 and a stiffer rear spring it handled way better than my dr. I put cams and a header pipe and a supertrapp on it and it runs way beter than the dr. I sold it to a friend and I regret selling it everytime he gets the front end up in 3rd gear without the clutch.

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My DR650 has a TM40 so no issues with response. But I did use 1st gear. That may have been the wrong choice since the bike wound out fast as the uphill accent increased. I'm thinking with the low RPM windout the rear wheel can't spin fast enough in first to be effective. So next try I'll shift to 2nd gear and see how that works. (I'll also add pics to this DR report)

I did also notice reving the bike on the long climb spiked up the temp. It did not want to start easy after the half way point. I had to gas it and turn up the idle just to keep it running until I got it moving again.

I think I've convinced myself to go ahead and spend the $ on a full suspension mod. That way I can keep riding the pig just like my MX bikes. Don't get me wrong I like my high-reving dirt bikes but it’s nice to have a bike that can do both off road and highway well.

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Last weekend a buddy of mine on his DRZ400 and I on my DR650 went out for short DS ride, both equipped with D606s. We hit an area that has miles of public dirt roads. After riding the roads for a while we decided to make things more interesting by climbing a relatively steep long wooded hillside. Unfortunately for me I was only able to make it up about half way on the DR. The front end kept bouncing up into the air as I hit the large rocks that littered the climb. This situation had me using the clutch quite a bit to stop the wheelie effect. Unfortunately all that clutching killed my momentum. With the momentum lost, the combination of lose rocks, sand and pine straw made for crappy traction and ground me to stop. Any attempt to restart upward movement only resulted in trench digging. I had to leave the hill without conquering it :smashpc: although my buddy was able to make it on his DRZ with a bit of effort. Now I'm determined to go back and try it again to restore the DR650's honor. I really believe a lot of it was me not gaming it right and not all the bike. However I wonder if emulators in the front dialed in to dampen compression and rebound would help stop the front end bounce that caused the bouncing wheelies on my bike?

In any event, I though about going back with my Husky or KTM but that's really no challenge. I have to do it on the pig!

Any other experiences with a DR650 hill climb?

I ride a DR650, stock suspension, D606 rear, stock carb, 14-45 gearing. I have no trouble climbing the kind of hills you mention. I will say this, tire pressure is key. I run 12-15 psi off road without rim locks and even lower 8-10 with rim locks. The difference in motive traction at 12 psi vs 25 psi road pressure is astounding. Having good traction at the back also allows me get my weight forward more with out spinning the rear. This helps keep the front end down. I use my clutch mostly to go slower than first gear allows without stalling. My next mod will be a pumper carb for better throttle response and low end.

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The DR650 can out-climb almost anything if you learn to use the "chug". It's one of the redeeming features that offsets the bulk of the "pig". Put a smaller countershaft sprocket on it or a bigger rear so you can chug at lower speeds. If you are in a taller gear, say second on that climb, you can chug the motor just above where you think it's going to die and it will pull and not break traction. All you have to do is steer and let the engine do its work.

I love to sit at the bottom of black diamond and double black diamond climbs watching all the hotshots on their big dollar KTM's and such fail over and over. When there's a break in the action I chug on up with little drama and conquer. The hotshots are too prideful to even throw out an "attaboy" much less ask how I make it on such a turd. That makes me even happier.

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climb almost anything if you chug? Maybe on a small hard pack hill you could you could use the weight and low tire pressure to chug up the hill and not loose traction but when I think hillclimb I think of a real hill. A dr wont make a real hillclimb even with a paddle tire. I live in the anthracite coal region of northeast Pennsylvania. We have some of the best dirtbike, atv, buggy and 4X4 riding there is. We have some great hillclimbs and if any members are in the area and want to be disapointed with thier dr on some hillclimbs drop me a line.

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Yup - almost anything. I climb rutted out powder covered, shale, baby heads, granite, hardpack loose top, you name it. If it's not a wide open climb then the chug works like a champ. One climb we do is a designated double black diamond hill that is rutted/powder at the bottom, has a jump 1/4 the way up, three turns, is rocky and rutted at the top where it is even steeper with four foot walls on each side. In the five years I have been going to this riding area, I have seen only six riders make it, and me on my DR650. It's a real hill.

Tire pressure is important as always, but on the big DR the clutch doesn't need to be abused much because of the chug. Not sure why so many think you have to mob every hill wfo until you make it or crash. Many times a methodical approach works better. I'm sure you (bob101770) have challenging climbs in your area but it's better to withhold judgement on something you know nothing about. And maybe it's more about the rider than the bike anyway...

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yeah the rider is the ticket because if your climbing stuff on a dr that most people can't climb on bikes that are far superior in peformance and handing than you must be a great rider. Just think what you could do on a real bike! I'm not saying you can't climb on a dr but I'm saying it's not anyones choice for a hillclimer. There are a lot of members on the forum and very very few will agree that the dr is a good hillclimber.

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climb almost anything if you chug? Maybe on a small hard pack hill you could you could use the weight and low tire pressure to chug up the hill and not loose traction but when I think hillclimb I think of a real hill. A dr wont make a real hillclimb even with a paddle tire. I live in the anthracite coal region of northeast Pennsylvania. We have some of the best dirtbike, atv, buggy and 4X4 riding there is. We have some great hillclimbs and if any members are in the area and want to be disapointed with thier dr on some hillclimbs drop me a line.

I don't know what your hills are like in PA but the hills I climb on my DR in CO and UT are anything but "small hard-pack". A few of the more famous ones that you could google or you-tube search for are Radical Hill near Breckenridge, Rose Garden Hill near Moab, and Skinny Ridge near Grand Junction. There are many more unnamed ones that are even tougher. Bring your kickass paddle wheeled bike out here and try some of these, I'd enjoy watching that. That being said, I have seen some radical kickass paddle wheeled bikes doing extreme competition hill climbs and that is pretty impressive too.

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I've been to countless Ama pro hillclimb events in Pa. and thou some people that don't have big bucks run CR or kX500's most run bikes like a CBR900 destroked to a 800 and put out 250-300 hp. But you also got the crazy Harley Davidson guys who thinks he's gonna win on a 70's xr750. Not gonna happen. I've also been riding for more than 25 years and have climbed a lot of hills big and small and a lot of the big coal banks here that can't be climbed without a paddel tire. That being said I know from climbing these hills with countless bikes that the dr sucks. I've seen some of the great hills you have to climb on youtube but I can't seem to find any Dr's doing them. Please post some links of the great Dr climbers. One with a dr makeing it and a Yamaha or Honda 450 not making the same hill would be even better. I checked youtube for skinny ridge and breckenridge and to be honest they look weak. Look fun as hell to ride but doesn't look very challenging.

Edited by bob101770

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I must admit though, that I have an 18" rear wheel with a huge knobby and I've had the suspension done - so the rear stays high in its travel and the forks aren't choppered out like a stock DR. So, traction is vastly improved as is handling. I was trying to figure why the DR could be such a bad climber and it must be the low rear and consequent raked out forks. These traits would be amplified going up making the bike a terrible climber (I didn't do any serious climbing before the suspension was done). Like a downhill mountain bike that leans back like its sitting on its back wheel, it works better going down - where the bike levels out and feels normal.

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Good discourse all

I don't think there is any way I can chug up that hill on the DR. The ground is too soft, too loose and the hill is too steep. Once you lose momentum your screwed. But I would love to see someone do it. I will say that low tire pressure may be worth a try on my next run.

Regarding other bikes, I have found hill climbing to be much easier on my Husky 310 and on my KTM300EXC. But I still think the DR can handle a lot more than most people think.

While reading all these replies I though it would be nice is we could organize a bad ass challenging DR ride so we could test the limits of our machines, individual capabilities and share ideas with fellow members.

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+1 It's a weight to horsepower thing for a soft steep hill... no amount of chugging is going to get you to the top on a DR650 with those type of hills... yeah, it has the power to chug but it will just dig in and loose momentum. It is really down to defining what traction level you can maintain.... OH, and your definition of what soft and steep is. The DR has lots of weight and not much HP... not a great combo for hill climbs with limited traction.

Hmmm.... a DR hill climb event. I bet spotter volunteers would be hard to come by. 👍

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it's a combination of both rider and bike, which one is more important well......

I thought the DR was a pretty good hill climber, and quite frankly it is. The easiest part is the torque. a 2 stroke MX bike is BLOODY DIFFICULT to climb hills properly, if you let the revs drop too low no good, if you give it too much throttle, no good. The DR is much more forgiving in that you can feather the throttle either up or down and is very forgiving at both ends of the throttle

On a 'real' hill I tried chasing a FE550 a couple times. I found that I have way too much preload on the rear, it's good on a flat ground as it doesn't compress as much, but on a hillclimb the rear end bounces too much and tracks poorly, resulting in bad traction and loss of momentum. We switched bikes and the other rider found the same, it's also a gearing problem. At 14/41 it still has all the torque in the world and nothing will stop it, but it's also quite prone to wheel spin even in 1st gear and is harder to maintain your momentum. A lower gearing will give you more control ensuring you won't lose as much momentum

On the FE550 I did better but the other rider would still overtake me on the uphill climbs. So it is a combination of both. If I just set my preload correctly and significantly lowered my gearing to around 14/48 it'd do heaps heaps better

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Yeah, the friends on mx bikes are new to offroad riding.

Plus we ride technical hillclimbs no wide open sand and such, the dr is very usable in technical situations.

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