Saturday, April 30, 2016

Suzuki DR650 Engine Temperatures

I carried my infrared thermometer along on my ride today with an eye toward getting some engine temperature readings on my new 2016 Suzuki DR650S. The DR650 is air cooled but also has a very decent sized oil cooler. It does not have an engine temperature gauge, though, so I have no idea what temps the motorcycle runs at. Thought I'd take a few minutes out of my ride to take some readings.

Ambient temps here today in west-central Florida were 88 degrees Fahrenheit. I rode a number of differing surfaced roads with various speed limits. I wanted to gather temperature readings across a broad range of speeds because, while the cooling affect increases as speed increases, the related increase in revs means more heat. There's really no way to tell which (faster airflow or higher engine revs) is having a greater affect on temperature.

I took all the temperature readings on the cylinder head. Cylinder Head Temperature (CHT) is where most high temperature engine damage occurs. I noticed a small rectangular panel on the back side of the cylinder that looked like a good place to take the reading with no major interference.

The way I did the test was to sustain the test-speed range for at least 20 minutes, then stop and take the reading with the engine running. That way I could see where the operating temperature is at various speeds. Then I charted the data out. For example, at 45-50 mph my DR650 operates at about 266.5 degrees.

At each speed range, I further left the engine idling and took three more readings in one minute intervals so I might get a sense how fast the temp ramps up in slow or stopped traffic.

Here are the results of my test in degrees Fahrenheit:

The off road conditions (more like off-pavement) were very sandy double-track forest roads in the Croom WMA as in the photo below. I still have my Trail Wings on, so the DR was working quite a bit in lower gears. Plus unlike a lot of Florida off-road venues, Croom actually has some elevation....but not much. Not surprising, those slow forest road speeds racked up high temperatures very similar to the temps that I got at Interstate speeds.

All, very good information.

When I landed home the CHT was at about 307.0 degrees. I had prepared another little test that involved blowing air directly onto the cooling fins of the oil cooler to simulate fan-modified oil coolers like the Trail Tech Universal Fan Kit. I've never used such a device, but I have been reading about them.

I don't have a puller fan for this little test. In fact, all I could find to use was my shop hair blower, but it does blow unheated, ambient temped air at a rate that seems consistent with a regular cycle fan. Basically, I was looking for the affects of convection, if any, so anything blowing a focused stream of air on the oil cooler should work. The set up was like this...

So, as mentioned I rolled in and the engine was at 307.0 degrees. It took a minute to set up the fan but I turned it on right away. The temperature in one minute increments from the time I turned the fan on are as follows:

1 = 328.0 degrees
2 = 332.5 degrees
3 = 338.0 degrees
4 = 343.5 degrees
5 = 346.0 degrees

I wasn't comfortable letting the engine idle to a higher temperature and turned it off after five minutes. My understanding is sustaining north of 350 degrees for any length of time could be harmful. However, the fan did not reduce the CHT. If it was going to reduce the CHT I'd think that it would have done so (or at least started doing so) in five minutes. It didn't and....honestly...I really didn't expect that it would. An oil cooled engine and a water cooled engine with a fan are two very different cooling systems.

Anyway, I got some good information out of my test for heat management here in Florida. Its darn good that the DR650 has an external oil cooler, that's a big plus. Oil cools faster than most other substances, including water, so giving the oil a brief few seconds outside the engine in the oil cooler is very helpful.

I can help the cooling process by using a good quality synthetic oil. The principal property (and value) of synthetics is that they dissipate heat faster than mineral oils so they're a very practical solution for air cooled engines. A couple other things that I can do is use the lower temp spark plugs (NGK CR10E vs the hotter NGK CR9E) and I can run premium fuel, which burns at a lower temperature than regular.

Lastly, there's one important thing to consider. I've been all over the Internet studying this motorcycle before I bought it. In that process I didn't find any indications that the DR650 even remotely has or ever had an overheating problem. That says a lot for this massive air cooled engine.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Passenger Pegs

Last weekend I made a run down to South Florida and back (401 miles) on my 2016 Suzuki DR650S. I had my Givi E26N-S Top Box mounted on the rear luggage rack and during the ride I noticed that my back was touching the front of the top case on many occasions. No big deal, of course. It's just a short seat. However, doing a little work on the bike today the passenger foot pegs caught my attention and I was thinking, based on my ride experience last week, there's no way a passenger is ever going to fit on this bike.

And with that went 2 1/4 pounds of dead weight!

Here's a link to a thread from the DR Owners Forum on The Making of A Lighter DR650.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Okeechobee Loop

I have a longstanding tradition of looping the lake as part of my new motorcycle running-in cycle, the lake being Lake Okeechobee in South Florida. Yesterday, I jumped on my new 2016 Suzuki DR650S and made the loop: 407 miles and 8.5 hours. When I rolled back into my drive, I'd just touched 1,000 miles.

This photo is from the Port Mayaca Locks on the east side of the lake.

It's always a good feeling to get the running in completed.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Suzuki DR650 Top Speed

I've seen a number of YouTube videos and forum postings with claims that the DR650 can top out at 95 mph-100 mph. During the two videos I found, I noticed that the stock speedometer was used to determine top speed. Unfortunately, like most Jap bikes, the speedometer on the DR650 overstates actual speed. In fact, the higher the speed, the wider the spread. The reason I know this is that I've compared it to my SatNav.

Today, on my way back from South Florida, I found myself on some good county roads with no traffic. Being close enough to the end of the running-in cycle of 1,000 miles I decided to see what my 2016 DR650S had in it in terms of top speed. Below are the details. Now, this is Florida so don't ask if the road was straight and flat. We only have one kind of road here, straight and flat.

I made three separate runs to gauge top speed. My DR650S was configured as follows:
  • Stock Trail Wings TW41/42.
  • Stock Gearing.
  • SWMotech Skid Plate.
  • A Givi E26NC-S top box was mounted on my TCI Borrego Luggage Rack.
  • No screen.
  • Rear Fender Flap Removed.
  • Helmet was a full-face with visor adventure-type helmet.
  • Short sleeved tee with no other gear that would grab wind.
  • Clear skies, no wind.
  • I weigh 180 pounds.
  • Speed was determined based upon a TomTom Rider SatNav GPS.
And the top speed was ... 93 mph.

Not bad. It'll probably never see that speed again. However, another conclusion I've reached during the last 400-500 miles is that the DR650 will easily maintain consistent highway speeds ranging from 75 mph to 80 mph. Above that it seems to be working a little beyond its comfortable limit. For a dual sport, that's a very good range to get from track to track.

Friday, April 22, 2016

DR650 Swingarm Decals

I though that the barren swing arms on my new 2016 Suzuki DR650S needed a little touch so I ordered a set of swing arm decals from a vendor on eBay, under $15.

Much better!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

TCI Borrego Luggage Rack

I purchased the Moose Expedition Luggage Rack for my 2016 Suzuki DR650S because it looked so remarkably close to a TCI Borrego luggage rack that I used to have on my 2009 Kawasaki Super Sherpa. Well, when I got the rack in the mail, turns out it was manufactured by TCI and actually is the TCI Borrego. Apparently, Moose is just marketing it under their brand.

Here's what comes in the box.

Installation is simple; ten minutes tops. There are three mounting points for the rack. The two forward bolts on the passenger side handles are replaced and the bolt to the fender bridge is replaced, as follows:

The one shortcoming of the Borrego Rack is that things don't mount well. Things strap down real well, but when you get to top cases and fuel cells you need to come up with a method.

Same as when I had the Super Sherpa, I plan to use the rack for my Rotopax Fuel Cell and I may mount my Givi E26NC top case. The Givi came with some brackets for racks like this called W-Brackets. Do not use those, they don't work! Trust me. Rather, I came up with some better, flexible brackets to deal with the mounting and they will still work today all these years later.

My brackets are simply a couple of square aluminum tubing, plugged on the ends and with some soft, anti-skid material on one side (iirc its actually shop drawer liner). Then I situated holes in the tube to accomodate the Givi top case or the fuel cell. All the stuff to make this was a few bucks at my local ACE Hardware store. Done deal!

Here are the brackets with the Rotopax mounted...

Here are the brackets with my Givi E26NC-S mounted....

The Borrego luggage rack does not extend forward over the seat. It does not, in any way, interfere with removal of either the seat or the side panels.

SWMotech Aluminum Engine Guard

My new 2016 Suzuki DR650S doesn't need much in the area of protection, but it does need a good bash plate. After reviewing the alternatives I purchased the SWMotech Aluminum Engine Guard. Although I purchased the bash plate directly from my dealer, it was from Twisted Throttle and I paid $119.99, same as TT price, except no shipping cost. Next photo is a stock photo from TT.

Looks and protection coverage, the SW Motech was in the ballpark with most all the other aftermarket brands. I should mention that a couple models, including the factory option, did not have side coverage, which is something that I wanted. So I eliminated plates without that side coverage.

Ultimately, I picked the SW Motech plate among a number of plates mainly due to the facts that (i) it really looked pretty good and (ii) it appeared to have the best mounting solution of any plates on the market. While all the plates attached in the rear to the two bolt holes provided for the manufacturer's factory plate, the front mount of the SWM is actually incorporated into the lower front engine mount. A diagram of this is provided longer.

Here's what came in the box from Twisted Throttle. Everything was well packaged.

My initial reaction was that the material was a little on the thin side. In fact, I noticed a number of reviews on Twisted Throttle's site that indicated that the material was on the thin side; mostly generalities. However, the listing said it was 4.0 mm thick. That's only 0.5 mm thinner than the Ricochet Bash Plate on my KLR650 ... seemed like I could live with 0.5 mm thinner plate.

When the SWMotech plate arrived I had the exact same reaction regarding the thickness. Then I mic'd it ...  and the bottom plate came in at 3.10 mm. Hmmm. Did I read that wrong? Looks like it says 4.0 mm.

Surfing around, I found other retailers that reflected the SWMotech plate as having a 3.0 mm thickness. One example was Solomoto Parts.

Anyway, this thickness thing was just a disappointment, nothing more. My off road riding terrains are mostly very soft surfaces that are devoid of large rocks, where a bash plate really comes in handy. Rather, my obstacles are more like tree stumps. I can live with the thinner plate.


Installation is quick and simple. Here are a look at the instruction diagrams. As previously mentioned the mounting provides for two rear points where there are pre-existing bolt holes for the factory plate and the front mount is incorporated into the front engine mount by replacing the lower engine bolt.

The only difficulty I ran into was not with the bash plate itself. Rather, the nut on the long engine/frame mount bolt that gets replaced was frozen. I had to break out my 400 ft/lb Craftsman Air Impact Wrench to break it. Once I got that nut off it was smooth sailing. There are no clamps; everything bolts up.

Here's a look at the final installed bash plate.

Overall, I'm happy with the SWMotech product. It looks good, has plenty of coverage and a very solid mount. Would I have purchased the SWMotech plate knowing that it was only 3.0 mm thick in the bottom plate when represented to be 4.0 mm? I'm not sure. The alternative would have been the Ricochet Skid Plate ($89.00 at Procycle) similar to my KLR650 plate. However, I had problems fitting that plate, so I'm not too high on them either. I guess I just can't say. Ride on...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Green Swamp Country Store

I was rolling up State Road 33 (Florida) on the east side of Green Swamp today and noticed that the Green Swamp Country Store was open. Well, almost...the doors were open but the new Sunoco fuel pumps installed out front weren't operating yet; had bags over the pump handles. Looks like they've got the regular convenience store fare thing going like before and are working on a deli.

The 172 mile Green Swamp Loop that circumnavigates the swamp is one of the most popular motorcycle and scenic ride loops in all of Florida. However, the east side along State Road 33 has been all but barren in terms of amenities since the Country Store's being shuttered three or four years ago. Since then we're left to decide to get gas at Rockridge and US98 or wait until Webster.

Not anymore. Good news and I'm glad to see the Country Store open again.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Adventure Rider

I'm a long-time member of Adventure Rider. My handle over there is XRWilly. That name came from the years that I had my Honda XR500R and then I had a Harley Davidson XR1200. Well, I don't have any XRs at the moment; I've got a DR...Suzuki DR650S. I rarely go to ADV but did so to check out what's up with the DR650 info. I found that the DR650 page has 6,247 pages. Crikey!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fender Elimination

I had a fender elimination on my shortlist of mods to my 2016 Suzuki DR650S and got around to it today. I didn't eliminate the whole fender, just the rear flap or, as it's called in the parts list, extender. I had no concerns about the flap hitting the tire, there seemed to be plenty of room. Rather, its just a cosmetic thing. I did the same thing to my KLR650 (KLR650 Fender Elim).

Here's a before and an after photo of the brief project.

Elimination of the DR650S flap required the fabrication of a new license plate bracket. Simple process, I found an example online and then cut a bracket out of a piece of sheet metal.

I tried a couple options for a license plate light and didn't like any of them. The same thing happened on my KLR650 and I ended up buying a set of lighted license plate bolts. Under $5.00 for the set, I'll probably end up doing the same thing.

I received only one of my lighted license plate bolts but the vendor has another on the way. I went ahead and wired up the one I got and was surprised how much brighter it was than the lighted plate bolts that for my KLR650 fender elimination.

The lighted bolt is in the upper right corner of the plate.

Here's what it looks like inside my garage with the lights off. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Devils Creek

Speaking of Devils Creek, there was a rally up in the swamp and surrounding area back in early March that I partook in. They offered Adventure and Dual Sport riding tracks. I still have one of the Adventure tracks that seemed like a good ride plan for my new 2016 Suzuki DR650 with its OE Trail Wings. So I did that today.

My son joined on the KLR650. He got screwing around and ended up sitting in a mud hole.

Suzuki DR650 Mileage

My new 2016 Suzuki DR650S has a 3.4 gallon fuel tank. No fuel gauge. The owner's manual says that the 3.4 gallons includes a 0.8 gallon reserve. I'm not planning on keeping detail records of mileage, such as on Fuelly, but I'll toss some mileages in from time to time until we can get a sense for what the mileage is going to be like.

April 15, 2016, 130 miles*/**, 2.575 gallons, 50.5 mpg
April 16, 2016, 120 miles**, 2.40 gallons, 50.0 mpg
April 19, 2016, 113 miles**, 2.20 gallons, 51.4 mpg
April 20, 2016, 158 miles*/**, 2.80 gallons, 56.4 mpg
April 24, 2016, 3 separate fuelings 50 mpg, 53 mpg, 53 mpg
April 26, 2016, 2 separate fuelings 48.1 mpg, 56.6 mpg

     Low = 120 miles
     High = 145 miles

Usable fuel:
     About 3.2 gallons

* in Reserve at time of fueling.
** fueling during the first 500 mile running in period.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Poor Man's Fuzeblock

I used to install Fuzeblock Power Distribution Units on motorcycles, but these smaller dual sports that I've recently purchased don't throw off enough juice to run anything worth buying the Fuzeblock for to begin with. The only things I have to wire up on the new 2016 Suzuki DR650S are my TomTom Rider SatNav and a cable for my Slime Powersport Air Compressor. However, when setting up an accessory wiring harness, it's a good idea to start with a scalable platform.

I started my accessory wiring harness with a $3.50 6-gang, Radio Shack Junction Block (also called a Dual-Row Barrier Strip). I dedicated three of the gangs to positive leads and three of the gangs to grounding leads. I painted the screws red and black, accordingly. Since each gang is an individual circuit, I needed to wire connect the positives and negatives and provide leads that connect directly to the battery. Of course, all positive leads to any battery must be fused, so I installed a fuseholder at the positive battery terminal.

The best place for these types of setups is under the seat, but there wasn't any room. I zip tied the junction block to the subframe located right in front of the regulator rectifier. Since there was no cover for this model of junction block, I was left to coat it with dialectic grease for protective purposes.

Essentially, this accessory harness provides for multiple accessories (within the motorcycles electrical limitations) but each accessory requires its own fuse. My TomTom has its own fuse in it's mounting cradle and the Slime lead has a linked fuse holder as can be seen in the photo.

In anticipation of perhaps adding an accessory later, I ran a simple pig tail from under the seat up to the area in front of the fuel tank. Installing it now will lessen the installation of the accessory (whatever that is) later.

Tire Selection

The 2016 Suzuki DR650S comes equipped with Bridgestone Trail Wing 41 (90-90/21) on the front and Trail Wing 42 (120-90/17) on the rear. The Trail Wings 41/42 are generally rated 20/80, which means 20% off-road and 80% on-road. While these tires will hand most all road conditions, unfortunately, these tires are not going to cut it for Florida off-road riding conditions.

The dual sport tire rating system is somewhat of a misnomer as it doesn't necessarily mean (in this instance) that you'll ride them 20% of the time off road and 80% of the time on road. Rather, the rating is more of an indication of a tire's functionality along a range of conditions that one may experience both off road and on road while dual sporting. Off road conditions range from hardpan, to rocky/rutty, to loose gravel, to loose dirt, to sand, to mud. On road conditions range from straight, smooth and dry to curvaceous, rough and wet/slippery. Shallow tread patterns, like the TW41/42 above, are going to be best for on road conditions and hardpan off road surfaces. Deeper tread patters, right up to knobbies, are going to be best for loose surface off road conditions...and not so good for just about any on road conditions. You really need a good balance that's based upon your riding plans.

My riding plans need to take into account that any time I go off road here in Florida, there is a very high probability that I am going to encounter sand and other very loose terrains, including mud and flooded conditions. I need to have a tire with a much deeper tread, plus one that channels the crud from side to side and self cleans. At the same time, I want a tire that will do a reasonably decent job of tracking through paved cornering. It's a compromise.

So, I have four tires that I'm currently looking at to replace the TW41/42. The are:

Continental TKC80 Twinduro (40/60)
Shinko E-804/805 Crossfly Dual Sport (40/60)
Dunlop D606 Dual Sport (10/90)
Pirelli MT21 Rally Cross (10/90)

Continental TKC80 Twinduro

I'm already a big fan of the Twinduros. They're the gold standard in dual sport and adventure tires. I have a set on my KLR650. They have handled some pretty gnarly terrains on recent rallies. They aren't as aggressive in the sand as I'd like, but they got me through some deep sugar sand areas. On the highways, the Twinduros have been nothing short of amazing. I was just up in the Smoky Mountains at a rally and ran the Tail of the Dragon, Cherohalla Skyway and some other real curvy roads and the TKC80s stuck nicely.

On the downside, the Twinduros are expensive! You could find yourself spending $250+ on a set. Another downside is that the rear Conti on my KLR only lasted 3,000 miles. Expensive tires, soft short-life tread. 

Shinko E-804/805 Crossfly Dual Sport

These are a good looking set of tires that I think may well be comparable with the TKC80s. I saw a set recently being used on a big Super Tenere during a rally in South Florida. They really seemed to be doing a good job. 

The Shinkos come in at the lowest pricing of all my choices. In fact, I can reel a set of these in for $158. Also reviews are coming in with mileages ranging from 5,000 miles all the way up to 8,000 and several of those reviews were guys riding heavy adventure bikes.

Dunlop D606

This is my first 10/90 tire in my lineup. The reason I have such an aggressive tire in the lineup is that they are highly regarded among small to mid-size dually riders. 

That front tire really looks a little gnarly for road work. Also the tread wear reviews seem to be all over the place, but on the low side. In fact, Revzilla had some reviews showing 1,500 miles. Yikes! This is the problem with the high off-road percent tires; they tend to be softer. I don't really need soft and need a block that can channel stuff.

Pirelli MT21 Rally Cross

The Rally Cross is another set of 10/90 tires. A popular tire, it actually comes stock on some KTM models. I find the tread pattern really attractive for soft terrains like sand and mud. They really look like they'd channel the crap out and self clean. However, similar to the D-606, tread life is pretty short lived. Any highway use is going to wear this tire fast.

Comments and reviews also indicated that the tire wasn't very stable on longer road expeditions, which is somewhat of a concern. I suspect that this tire is the right tire for someone who's an A-Rider and trailers their dually to the riding areas. 

For sure the good thing about dual sport tires is even if you make a bad decision on the set you buy, you're going to end up buying the right set in another 3,000-5,000 miles. Also, I bear in mind that I can mix and match these tires. However, I'm not choosing to do that at this time.

I want to give the Shinkos a try. Like the Conti's, they're 40/60 tires, but they look just a little short of the Conti in block design on both the front and back. I was already a little disappointed with the Conti in the sugar sand and mud already, so I'm thinking the Shinkos aren't going to be better, but not much worse. 

Then, the low price of $158 for the set and double the tread life of the Conti really make the Shinkos a desirable choice for the first set of suitable tires for the DR650. 

Stay tuned for the review of performance.

Devils Creek

Devils Creek Swamp is one of the many sloughs in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve and the Richloam Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located in West Central Florida. The Green Swamp is a popular place for dual sporting with many levels of technical conditions and a lot of sand.

I have been riding Green Swamp for many years and named my blog after one of the sloughs and roads in the swamp.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 Suzuki DR650S

I just wrapped up a deal on a new 2016 Suzuki DR650S. The DR650 is a popular and, in fact, classic dual sport motorcycle.

I currently ride a 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000LT and a 2016 Kawasaki KLR650. The Versys is my 1043cc sport touring model that I racked up 20,000 miles on during 2015. The KLR650, like the DR, is a dual sport. I purchased the KLR650 in late November 2015 to use for Florida dual sporting during the winter months. Seriously, I've ridden the Florida roads to the point that I just needed something else to with a background in dirt and adventure, dual sporting was where it was at.

The thing about the other motorcycles is that I have a 21 year old son who has his endorsement and rides both motorcycles. However, he noted all the rallies that I'd been attending looked fun and wanted to join we needed another dual sport, since the Versys isn't up to that kind of action.

I looked at three models. Another KLR650, the Suzuki DR650 and the Honda XR650L. These three models were all in the price range that I was looking to spend. Quite frankly, I took the KLR off the list right out of the gate for no other reason than we already had one. It has been a great bike, but something different was in order...for better or worse or even the same. Here's some comparative information on the three models.

On paper the XR stands out in the group; better off-road dynamics across the board. However, the one feature that pushed me back to the DR was the seat height. The KLR and DR seat heights at 35.0 and 34.8 are as high as I can go and still feel comfortable. I know some people install lowering kits, but I don't think that's the way to go. It's better to pick the bike that fits. And so it was the DR650.

I did a test ride on the DR just to confirm my decision and was really quite amazed at the additional low-end torque that it had over and above the KLR650. It's quite easy to get that front wheel off the ground.

It does need a few touches but not to the extent that we had to accessorize the KLR650.

First and foremost, in Florida we always end up needing more aggressive tires to deal with the sand, mud and flood. I'm in the decision phase on that. I also needed a tail rack and a bash plate that I ordered at my dealer. On those two items, I got the SWMotech Aluminum Engine Guard:

And I got the Moose Expedition Luggage Rack, which is actually the TCI Borego Rack (I used to have this exact rack on a SuperSherpa).

I think that the DR650 is going to offer up great fun as my son and I explore the dual sporting opportunities that are available here in the Southeast.