Tag Archives: dr650es

Every Bike Tells a Story

19 Jun

Yesterday I stopped by Whole Foods to get groceries and ended up spending half my time in the parking lot looking at motorcycles. Yes, at Whole Foods.

First, I found a great parking spot that was already occupied by a Suzuki DRZ400SM – that’s the super moto version of the DRZ400, the baby brother to my DR650es which I was riding. Of course I checked it over, starting with tire wear (check the chicken strips to determine rider skill, daring or both), then moving on to accessories, maintenance (dirty chain? worn sprockets? rust?) and damage. This was a nice, clean bike with about 3/4″ chicken strips. The only accessory was the exhaust – Yoshimura. It was nearly new, so it was no surprise that the bike was in nice shape. And the relatively small chicken strips told me that the owner was an experienced motorcyclist, which also makes sense because few noobs would understand what a super moto bike was.

As I was looking over the DRZ a bit of red caught my eye. About five parking spaces away was a white truck with a red Ducati in the back, circa 2007-2013, pre-Panigale. From that distance I already knew it was either a just-purchased bike, a repair, or heading to or from a track. Grocery shopping would have to wait.

As I walked over I could see it was a 1098, so that meant it was the early model. Everything was stock, including the exhaust, and the entire right fairing was scraped substantially – it had been down. The brake pedal, bar ends, clutch cover and other parts were unmarked, so they had all been replaced. It had no sliders. So it was a stock 1098 with severe road rash from a long slide. It wasn’t a tip-over, a high side or anything causing the bike to tumble. Fast enough to slide some distance, but not so fast as to completely destroy the fairings or cause the bike to flip.

But was it in the truck for repairs, and recent purchase, or a track day? The brand new Pirelli tires answered that question: track day. On his way to (not from) a fun day at the track. And was this an experienced rider or a noob? Young or old? Hard to tell. Perhaps and experienced rider picking up a salvage repair bike to ride at the track? An experienced or inexperienced rider picking up his repaired bike that just happened to need tires, too? (Wrecking the track-day scenario.) Difficult to tell without actually seeing the rider or peering into the truck’s cab to see what sort of equipment was there. Did he have his leathers, helmet, boots and other gear? Nothing else was in the back of the truck, not even a toolbox. The track-day scenario was looking less likely.

When I decided it was time to do my shopping I noticed the DRZ owner gearing up, so I went over to say hello and compliment him on his choice of bikes. Youngish guy, probably about 28. Knew his bikes. We talked wheel size and geometries. Always good talking bikes with bikers. Better when they know their stuff.

I did my shopping, returned to the parking lot, and the 1098 was still there. Where is that guy? Probably eating. Well, now I’ll never know for sure, unless I see the guy at the Rock Store, the dealer or at a gas station. I decided to stick with the track-day story as I liked that one best.

And maybe that’s the point. Every time we see a motorcycle sans motorcyclist we imagine the story of both. Examining the bike is the best part as that tells most of the story. The rider can tell the rest, but he can’t get around the chicken strips. Why we write those stories in our heads cannot be explained, but it’s part of the experience.

Final weigh-in before the event

7 Mar

If you’ve been reading this you’ve seen that I’m keeping track of weight gains and losses on the bike. With all the extra parts for protection and lugging, I would like to net out at a zero weight gain to the bike by replacing parts with lighter versions (e.g., exhaust pipe) and just tossing unneeded parts, like passenger pegs. The big things I could weigh individually, but the little stuff just got thrown into a bag to weigh later, like today. So here’s the bag ‘o junk – old turn signals, bar-end weights, passenger pegs, upper chain roller, piece off the clutch lever, etc. – and the weight savings, 5 pounds. As of the February 23 post the bike had gained 1 pound. Not bad considering the tail rack, surf racks, skid plate, luggage rack, etc. But with this savings we were at a 4 pound loss, but.

The DBz Flat Top Duffle tail bag came in today; that’s another 2 pounds. (The DBz stuff is really light.) And I finally weighed the magnetic (heavy) tank bag I already had (and had never used because my Ducatis have either plastic or aluminum tanks); 5 pounds! So the 4 pound loss has turned into a 3 pound gain, and there’s not much more I can do without spending a lot of money, as in hundreds per pound. Better to lose some weight myself!

Test Run

6 Mar

I loaded up a 6’8″ in a canvas Julie Bag for a test ride. I cruised on up the the newly opened Deus Ex Machina on Venice and Lincoln to show the crew there what they had helped inspire. (There was an article on Deus in The Surfers Journal that showed one of their surf rack modified bikes.) I was surprised at the reaction. The moment I pulled up they all piled out to check it out. I showed them around the bike, making lame excuses for my prototype PVC mount for the front, but they seemed pretty stoked. They took some photos. Much better than this one of the DR back in my little garage, board in rack. How did it work. Excellent-ly. 😉

Yes, bad photo. But this isn't the right board bag, so the good shots will come later. You can see the PVC poking out under the nose. That's been painted black. The bungie up front attached to a tie wrap that goes through a small but convenient hole in the frame behind the triple clamp.

Board Support Up Front

6 Mar

A big concern has been how to support the front of the board and to keep it from hitting the front wheel or fender when turning, and to make sure it doesn’t get caught on the front brake cable. Since the racks are on the rear, they are only holding the back third of the surfboard, so wind and bumps will cause the front of the board to move around. Probably a lot. The DR650es has an oil cooler with a frame extension for protection. It’s a perfect place to mount some sort of stabilizer. For now, and maybe forever, I cobbled together a support piece out of PVC. Here’s the piece for mounting to the frame.

What's difficult to see here is how I cut the PVC to mount onto the frame tube.

Yes, working at night. I ended up putting a piece of neoprene between the PVC and the frame tube to keep the PVC from cracking and to give some shock absorption. Hose clamps are used to secure.

 

Surf Racks Mounted

6 Mar

Mounting the Carver surf rack to the Manracks tail rack was almost straightforward. As you can see in this pic, one bolt looks different from the other. The Carver rack mounting bolts are LONG, and would drill into the fender, so I replaced the left side bolt with a shorter one, about 3″. Not seen here is that I put a third bolt in the center. That one is even shorter. It’s a solid mount.

You can see that the Carver surf racks clear the DBz luggage racks nicely. That was a relief.

Carver Surf Racks

6 Mar

OK, down to the good stuff: Surf racks on a motorcycle. I checked Deus Ex Machina rack, but you can’t buy it without buying the motorcycle attached to it, and at this point they’re only doing street bikes. I also checked out the Surfer Peg rack, but again, it’s street oriented, and needs to attach to the frame. That’s not inherently bad, but it would require fabrication that I’m not quite interested in. Primarily, though, it’s the street focus that steered me away. I settled on the Carver Racks, even though they’re not for motorcycles – bicycles and scooters, but not motorcycles. What I liked, though, is that it could be bolted to the rear rack.

When putting the racks together I encountered a small problem: The rubber tubes were too long, so the pieces wouldn’t fit together without a bit of cutting. I called the guys at Carver in Hawaii. They were a bit surprised, but were good with the mod.

Moose Hand Guards

5 Mar

Another delicate area is the handlebars, especially the clutch and front brake levers. Even a parking lot tip-over can break a lever, so a fall in rocks out in the Baja boonies would be worse. So hand guards are in order. Tons of online research yielded nothing but concern about finding myself having to do a bunch of handlebar cutting, buying new levers, and all sorts of make-it-fit stuff, because everywhere I looked I read about problems with the installation. I found the fewest problems with the Moose guards, so I went with those. Actually, the problems were few. Just the usual make-it-fit stuff. The one real problem was the clutch lever not fitting inside the guard. (The brake lever would have had the same problem, but the previous owner bent it in his fall. Convenient for me.) That was solved with a hacksaw. And I saved an ounce or so!

Not an elegant fix, but it works, and I can clean it up later.