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  #1  
Old 24 Jun 2008
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DRz400s vs DR650SE for RTW

This discussion came up at the Canada west meeting, and I wanted to post it here to get some feedback from present or (maybe) future Suzuki owners.

In my opinion, the DR650 is an under-rated travel bike (particularly for shorter riders) but I gather that they do have a few mechanical foibles - what doesn't? As to the 400, those that I have talked with who own them, love them. They are billed as one of the most dirt capable road legal bikes (baring a few small tanked orange bikes) yet can still cruise at 120 kmph all day. To me, the 400 with a larger tank and better seat looks like a great exploring bike for Central and S. America.

My question here is put to those more familiar with these two bikes or those going through this choice right now. In my mind both would make an excellent overland bike. Any big issues I am overlooking? Excessive vibration, poor fuel economy, busted valves, overly weak subframes? Any feedback appreciated.

Timo
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  #2  
Old 25 Jun 2008
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I own a '99 650SE. In my opinion the bike is not very dirt capable, especially when loaded. The problem is the engine and first gear: the engine lacks flywheel mass, so you can't run it slowly, as it will run extremely rough under about 3000 rpm. First gear is too tall. When the going gets tough these two factors force me to ride fast, which is sometimes just not possible. Even with a larger 45 sprocket on the rear going uphill on a sealed road the minimum speed is about 17km/h. In dirt you have to go even faster or drag the clutch.

When the bike is loaded and running in higher gears the chain tends to thrash like mad, usually while trying to ride at constant speed. This seems to be a harmonic between the engine and the chain, probably caused by me running a lighter 520 chain. (Can't get non-standard ratios with the standard 525 chain.)

Other than that I'm very happy with the bike. If only I could get the seat made more comfy. I've had two attempts, partially successful, but made the bike much taller. In 140000 km the only major breakdown was the oil seal behind the sprocket popping out. Still runs like when I bought it and uses almost no oil. Works well on the road and in light dirt.
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Old 6 May 2009
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bump.....

I'm keen to hear more on this...

I just cant make my mind up between these two bikes for a UK-South Africa trip.
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  #4  
Old 6 May 2009
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I think the DR650 is a very capable travelling bike. Last year I was part of a group of three who each rode 28000km on 2004 models. I'd like to say that we had zero mechanical problems, but all our steering bearings got notchy after 4000km of corrugated roads.

Aside from that though I changed oil, filters and a set of chain and sprockets.

They are a very boring bike, and too softly suspended from the factory, but will keep on going until the end of time from what I've seen.

My entire experience on a DRZ amounts to about 5 minutes, but the one I rode felt much firmer, more like a motocross bike, and much more highly strung.

So I'd suggest it comes down to your priorities for the trip.

Ben
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  #5  
Old 7 May 2009
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Steering bearings for DRZ also have very little grease from the factory. For new bike it is recommended to re-grease these. Especially lower will get dry as hot oil tank is nearby and grease will get warm and will flow out/down. I opened up mine when it was quite new and indeed there was not much grease in there, on some reason. Now I have about 29000 km on it and no problems, will check them again in a few days.
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Old 7 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebaseonu View Post
Steering bearings for DRZ also have very little grease from the factory. For new bike it is recommended to re-grease these. Especially lower will get dry as hot oil tank is nearby and grease will get warm and will flow out/down. I opened up mine when it was quite new and indeed there was not much grease in there, on some reason. Now I have about 29000 km on it and no problems, will check them again in a few days.
When the time comes to replace the bearings, fit a grease nipple in the headstock tube. Only takes a few minutes. When you pump in some fresh grease, you force out all the emulsified, dirty stuff.
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Old 7 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Yellow Tractor View Post
When the time comes to replace the bearings, fit a grease nipple in the headstock tube. Only takes a few minutes. When you pump in some fresh grease, you force out all the emulsified, dirty stuff.
Yup... Common on MX bikes.

You can buy them on Ebay.

OFF ROAD MOTORCYCLE GREASE NIPPLE KIT PK 6 MOTOCROSS on eBay, also, Other Motorcycle Parts, Motorcycle Parts Accessories, Cars, Parts Vehicles (end time 17-May-09 11:09:52 BST)

I've never done this to my own bikes as I always fear the headstock developing a crack.
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  #8  
Old 7 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedmagnum View Post
I've never done this to my own bikes as I always fear the headstock developing a crack.
I'd be surprised if a 6mm hole caused the headstock to crack. I used one of the two holes that are already in the headstock where an ID plate fixes.

Despite my greasy nipples, I still have had to replace the bottom race.
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Old 7 May 2009
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Steering lock must then be removed. I personally don't see need for filling with grease.
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Old 8 May 2009
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I have though about the grease nipple idea as well and just think it's overkill. How much grease does a steering tube take, about a pound?

But as far as stress cracks from drilling a hole, this shouldn't be a concern. Some of the popular rally kits used in the Dakar (MecaSystem) have you drill 6 holes in there to mount the navigation tower to. Haven't heard of any failures and these see quite a load, too.

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Old 9 May 2009
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Decided...

I'm going for a DRZ400S - post 2002 for better suspension.

I just wont enjoy the weight of the DR650 offroad. I don't think the DR650 will be that much better than the DRZ onroad but the DRZ will certainly be much better than the DR650 offroad.

28L aqualine tank - £450
CRD Bashguard £100
Better engine cases £100
Braced subframe £0.00
Lightweight side pannier racks for soft luggage £100
Hard steel rear rack with small back box with valuables. £150
Seat rebuild £150

Should be able to pick one up for £1600 if i'm savy.

Ready to roll for £2700.... Capetown 2010 here I come
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  #12  
Old 9 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedmagnum View Post
Decided...

I'm going for a DRZ400S - post 2002 for better suspension.

I just wont enjoy the weight of the DR650 offroad. I don't think the DR650 will be that much better than the DRZ onroad but the DRZ will certainly be much better than the DR650 offroad.

28L aqualine tank - £450
CRD Bashguard £100
Better engine cases £100
Braced subframe £0.00
Lightweight side pannier racks for soft luggage £100
Hard steel rear rack with small back box with valuables. £150
Seat rebuild £150

Should be able to pick one up for £1600 if i'm savy.

Ready to roll for £2700.... Capetown 2010 here I come
Hi Ted
Here are a few comments
Tank: I've got a 27 litre Aqualine: It only fits the E model. Check it before you buy.

Used CRD bashplates are on fleabay quite often at about £40

Stick alli case savers onto your cases: On ebay new for about £20 the pair

Check this rack and make your own: Morocco_Easter_2007_60.jpg

and

Morocco_Easter_2007_64.jpg

You can borrow mine to copy.

HTH
Chris
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  #13  
Old 9 May 2009
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If your bike comes with factory bars then replace these as well. Factory steel bars for DRZ are very soft, I bent mine first time I went off at some speed and others have similar experience.

For making side cases a bit stronger you can also get cheaper ThuperTalk case savers that can be put on factory cases with silicone sealant (plus grind sharp corners off your gear and brake levers, so they won't cut into cases that easily).

One thing I will add to mine is small add on fuel filter that uses paper, not mesh.

I'm also quietly thinking about doing Cape Town via East Africa on my DR-Z, start probably in fall 2010 (did west route with car few years ago).
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  #14  
Old 9 May 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris View Post
Tank: I've got a 27 litre Aqualine: It only fits the E model.
I have 28l on my S. You need a few pieces to mount it on S, like rubber strap and clip for seat mount (E parts can be used), plus make mount for bike where rubber strap mounts to (very easy to do). From packaging of the tank I got impression that some kits come with mounting hardware for S and others don't. For tank support I used rubber from under my genuine Suzuki tank, it is much more solid than the piece of foam Aqualine supplies. I also had to cut end of front fender off about 1 cm as it was scratching against alu tank support bar (it can wear through hollow alu bar if it rubs against it).

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Old 9 May 2009
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Thanks for the tips guys

I had heard somewhere that the Safari tank obscured the radiator fan and then others said it didnt...

Great to see that it does fit and the mods for S are easily doable !

Thanks again
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