Thursday, October 12, 2017

Axle Clamp Studs

Axle Clamp Stud

The 2016 Suzuki DR650 (and probably many other years) have a front axle clamp with four studs. During the tire change leading into the Southern Discovery rally, one of the upper studs snapped. It did not snap when being re-torqued; rather, it was snapped when we pulled the tire off. Either way it's most likely and over-torque and incorrect installation issue.

A quick check of OEM Parts Diagrams does not show the studs as a separate part....and the whole fork bucket is a $400 item!!! However, I was able to get information from other owners on the facebook group that indicate that this is no need to panic.

RockMountainATV Screenshot-2016 DR650 Front Fork Dampener.

Over-torqued or incorrectly installed?

While the broken stud was most likely caused by being over-torqued, discussion with other owners indicate that incorrect installation could also cause (or contribute to) the stud failure. Correct installation calls for tightening the upper stud nuts first, as shown in this screen shot of the DR650 Service Manual:

Certain experienced owners indicated that the preferable approach is to snug the upper nuts and then torque the lower nuts to the axle holder torque spec. That's not what the Service Manual sez, just an FYI...and I thought relevant because that's the same method that handle bar clamps are installed.

Replacement Stud

First you need to find them. As previously mentioned, Suzuki does not offer the OE stud in its parts offerings. However, again, our friends on the facebook group indicate that Dorman offers and aftermarket part that fits. I was able to have my local O'Reilly Autoparts Store order me one...actually for $2.16, I got a couple...just in case we have this problemo again. :)

Dorman Part No. 675-317

Replacing the Stud

Awaiting the stud. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Southern Discovery Rally

My son and I just completed the Southern Discovery Fall Rally this past weekend with the DR650 and KLR650. This is our second trip this year up to Hohenwald, Tennessee (south of Nashville) where rally headquarters was the Fall Hallow Campgrounds.

We stayed in the primitive tent camping area and I set up a cot in the Toy Hauler. 

Casey Hampton heads up the Tennessee Dual Sport Association and led our group on Saturday.

This is a KTM Adventure 1190 trying to make this hill...not. No guts, no glory though.

Papa Kay Joe's in Centerville, Tennessee was a great place to stop for lunch.

This guy rode his Gen1 from Vermont for the rally.

Two bikes had flats at the exact same time, place. We donated our rear tube to the K-Toom and the Husquveran guy had his own.

Carnage. This Gen2 did a little "deeper" off-roading into the forest and busted up his expensive Zero Gravity Screen.

This is Rocky Bull, mascot of University of South Florida where my daughter goes to school. He's usually at home on my mountain bike, but I decided to bring him along for the ride.

Overall, dragging all our stuff up to Nashville took two days up and two days back. It's about 750 miles. It's a really good, well-planned, track though and worth it. I suggest considering one of the Tennessee Discovery Rallies in your rally plan for next year.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DR650 Handlebar Alignment

My 2016 DR650 is, first and foremost, a rally bike and it's been down a few times. It's not uncommon for rally falls to cause the front forks and bar to go out of alignment. It's a fairly easy process to straighten everything out, but I haven't been able to get the alignment exact for some time. It hasn't been significantly off, but just enough to make it slightly annoying.

In short, after studying the design of the DR650 steering head I isolated the problem to the bolts that hold the bar cradles in place. The bolt extends through the cradle as shown in the diagram and then through upper and lower dampeners. 

Sure enough, when I got it broken down, the left bolt was bent.

I probably could have gotten some replacements from my local hardware store, but decided on OEM bolts since I was buying some other stuff from RockyMountainATV. The newly purchased bolts are a better grade and fit in the cradle much better. Apparently, this isn't a new issue.

Now that I know what the problemo is, I'll have a spare set of these bolts for my travels.

One last comment...

As mentioned, the bar cradles and upper tree are supported by upper and lower rubber dampeners. The rubber cone things in the photo and parts 12 and 13 in the exploded diagram. I am really kind of unimpressed with this design. The normal design is the bar clamp built into the top tree. This design is a double weak spot. First, the bolt as we've seen here and, second, that rubber cone is a problem waiting to happen....and $50 per clamp to replace.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I actually found the mirrors on my DR650 to work fine...a rare outcome in my motorcycle experiences. However, I had a fall at the recent Blue Ridge Run in Cruso, North Carolina that put an end to the left side. Bummer...

If that wasn't bad enough, I cut my finger picking up the broken glass and it was a bitch to stop the bleeding. Not even a bruise from the fall, but I cut my finger on the mirror...go figure.

Anyway, the OE replacement was $88.58 (at RMATV) and the clowns on eBay were trying to get $60 for their used mirrors which I'd have paid maybe $20-$25 tops for.

So instead, I landed on a set of DRC Off Road Mirrors (p/n 058-16-110) that I purchased from Pro Cycle for $22.95 each. I liked the KTM-like angle pivot and the ability to flip them right out of the way so they don't get bashed by brush or falls...turns out I need a 4mm key to do that though.

Obviously not as much mirror as the OE. It's got a small amount of outward extension, depending on the angle chosen. My problem with mirrors in the past is that they don't extend out enough to let you see past your shoulders. Since the stockers were okay, these should be okay on that point.

Here they are installed. They look fine. They look the part. The smaller size didn't bother me on my test ride....although for some reason I'm bothered by the fact that they're smaller.

Damn! I really liked the OE mirrors better than these. Perhaps if I could go back and get a do-over I'd have dug around a little harder for a better priced used replacement. But I am where I am...

I think the DRCs will be okay after a quick run around the neighborhood, but will advise if I have any further issues after a longer trip.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


I did an inventory of my son and my current fleet. Actually I pulled them all out so I could clean the garage. Here's what we have...

TW200--This is my son's bike. He absolutely loves it; says it's the most fun motorcycle he's ever owned. He just had it in NC and TN at the Blue Ridge Run and will be taking it back in September for the Tour d' Pisgah Rally.

DR650--This is my motorcycle. It's my dual sport rally bike. It's lighter and easier for me to get around on at the dual sport rallys. It's a rugged ass bike!

KLR650--The KLR is actually owned 50/50 between my son and I. My son uses this for road riding and some rallies. He had it at Devil's Creek earlier this year. However, he really seems to pull the TW out more often these days.

FZ09--The FZ is my street bike. I've had it since early January and it only has 1,300 miles. It needs some attention. I'm really not interested in a long trip, but it is a really nice bike that deserves a good long trip from time to time.

All cleaned up. Everyone is back in the stable.

As you can see we spend a lot of time on the waterways and bicycle trails too. We like our toys here. :)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Lodge (Facility Rating)

Overall Facility Rating: B

The Blue Ridge Motorcycle Lodge is located in Cruso, North Carolina. My son and I visited the lodge for the first time in connection with the Blue Ridge Run.

The lodge offered cabins and primitive camping. We had hauled our bikes up for the rally thinking that we would stay in the toyhauler and pickup truck (it has a camper cap). However, the camp only provided for that in the muddy parking area out by the street. We were uninterested in that arrangement so we opted for a two bed cabin.

Facilities included a very large lodge room open 24-7 and bath houses with heated showers. The lodge room was very nice. The bath house was uncomfortable with lots and lots of bugs (many spiders and strange things crawling all over). The showers had strange slimy floors but it was okay with my flip flops. If I owned the place I'd go in there with a shop vac and I'd be done with all those bugs. Then I'd put bug zapers or other devices to keep them at bay. I'm serious about this, there were bugs walking around in every sink! Also, a rubber mat in the bottom of the showers would be nice.

The camp meal service was irregular. It appeared that the planned meal service was on or off depending on occupancy levels. Weather during our trip resulted in some cancellations, so many of the meals were cancelled.

No one can complain about the prices at this place. All prices were reasonable to down right cheap. In fact, our two bed cabin price was one-half of what the Ironhorse two bed cabin was.

Overall, the camp is set up for bikers hauling their camping gear on their bikes. You are not even allowed to pull a vehicle in there to unload...although they let us do it when we arrived...but not when we left...and it's about a hundred yards from the camp to the parking! So, if you're trailering or planning to stay in a camper, you may want to look around for someplace else that accommodates that.

Otherwise, the setting is nice, the cabins were very comfortable and the location was pretty good to access many of the great riding areas on the eastern side of the smoky mountains.