Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chain Roller

The Suzuki DR650, like all motorcycles, has a few of those mechanical quirks that need to be addressed by their owners. Fortunately not nearly as many as my 2016 Kawasaki KLR650 but a few nonetheless. One of the easiest mods is the chain roller removal.

When I first took a look at the chain roller to see what this big problem area was, I was a little struck by the fact that the so-called chain roller doesn't actually do anything. With the bike sitting unladden, the chain can't even reach up to the roller. The only way the chain could ever make contact with the roller is by significantly compressing the rear coil spring/swing arm, such as coming off a SuperCross-like jump. But then the question is why? What is it protecting if the chain ever gets that high? The answer is...nothing. There's nothing along the entire chain length that it will make contact with and potentially damage. WTF.

Well, apparently the rollers presence in and of itself presents the possibility of damage to the motorcycles frame. In a high compression situation the chain will rise up and make contact with the chain roller with such force causing it to snap right out of the frame! Here's a stock photo of that damage that I'm talking about.

Well the mod is simply removing the roller. It's not needed anyway. The roller is attached with a single M8 bolt with a 125 pitch (12 mm head). Remove the bolt, uninstall the roller.

However, before wrapping it up, the bolt hole needs to be plugged to prevent water from getting in the frame and rusting it out. There are a number of different ways to do this. Some people fill the hole with silicone sealant. Some put a set screw in there with thread lock. Some people just put a bolt in there. I did the later (bolt-thread lock), but I found a bolt with a low rounded head so as to be less obtrusive and not interfere with the chain movement.

It's nice when a mod gets pulled off at no cost.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Laminar Speed Screen

See update at the end of this post.

The Laminar Speed Screen (Part No. SS-961-S Smoke) that I'd selected from my screen options exercise arrived in fairly quick order and I set out to install it. The mounting that is provided with the screen are eight Velcro-Like 3M Dual Lock Disks (eight more are provided for spares). The Dual Locks are definitely stronger than plain Velcro, but I'd read where the Laminar Screens with the Dual Locks had flown off in flight. A permanent mount was more my plan.

The screen is 14.5" tall, 14.0" wide (at the widest mid-point) and about 12.0" wide at top. The screen can be mounted at various levels on the DR650 headlight shroud, but it's important to get the height right if permanently mounting it like I did.

Although perhaps not a good permanent mount solution, the Dual Lock Discs were really useful to mount the screen at a couple different levels to experiment out on the road and find the height that I wanted. They were actually reusable when I removed them with some heat from my shop blow dryer. Just warm; I wouldn't put anything too hot on the screen like that which comes out of a heat gun...or the shroud for that matter.

I mounted the screen with four M6-100  flange bolts. All surfaces (each side) was buffered with a 1/8" rubber washer. In addition, I inserted 1/2" nylon spacers in the top mount points. I was careful not to over torque the bolts; doing so is what causes these screens to crack. Keep in mind that the surface is bowed into shape. Flattening them out by over-torquing is not what they want to do.

Based on where I mounted my screen, it extends 8.5" back from the headlight shroud at its current angle. If I take out the angle and measure straight up from the top of the shroud to the top of the screen it's 7.0" high.

Here's a look down the back, between the shroud and screen. In this photo, the 1/2" nylon spacer is visible on the left side; it's white. The 1/8" washer in the lower mount is also visible. It seems fairly sturdy.

I'm really liking the looks of this screen. It doesn't take away from the "dirt-bike" look that the DR650 has. I really only needed that additional seven inches to keep the wind from blowing back on the front of my helmet so hard at speed.

On the downside, while the screen itself doesn't flex back, it causes the front shroud (to which the screen is bolted) to flex back. At 50 mph, the shroud is touching the speedo. That takes a small amount of angle off the screen, but didn't reduce effectiveness. Nonetheless, I need to add some sort of brace to keep the shroud from flexing. Stay tuned!

Quick Tip: The best rubber washers for buffering vibrations are 1/8" -- 1/4" thick faucet washers found in the Plumbing Section at places like Home Depot. They're thicker than regular rubber washers found in the basic hardware sections and much better at buffering than vinyl washers. 

Update: Unfortunately, the Laminar Lip Speed Screen and the DR650 didn't get along. The screen caused extreme oscillation in the front (death wobble/tank slap) and after tinkering to try and fix the problem, my only option was to remove it. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Suzuki DR650 Screen Options

After a couple thousand miles on my 2016 Suzuki DR650S, I've decided that I need a little better wind deflection in the front. It's really not that bad and just needs a little help getting the airflow over my head as it's right directly, dead-center in my face at the moment. I know that's where it is because north of 60 mph the air flow uncomfortably pushes the bridge of my glasses into my nose. Okay, not the end of the world.

Surfing around the web, there appear to be a number of windscreen options for the Suzuki DR650. Some of the options have mounting solutions back to the bars. Some of the options mount on the headlight cover/shroud.

Cee Bailey Sport Deflector $89.00

Cee Bailey offers a commuter and sport deflector shield. I'm not interested in anything too high because it'll just snap off in a trail fall. So I'm focused on the Sport Shield. It mounts on the shroud and rises 9 inches above the shroud. It appears that alternative mounting solutions might be available for different heights, but I can't tell in the photos whether those solution would increase or decrease the height. I definitely wouldn't want to go more than 9 inches above the shroud.

The Sport Deflector comes in clear or smoke. I'm not planning on looking through this screen and definitely want an smoke, dark smoke or even an opaque black.

Bajaworx Ralley Windshield $110

The Bajaworx Rallye is similar to the Cee Bailey, but extends 7.5 inches above the shroud. It seems a little higher than that, but by comparison the CB appears to be angled back a little perhaps leading to that effect.

The Bajaworx Rallye comes in a clear and a smoke tint.

Laminar Lip Speed Shield $89.95 (at Pro-Cycles)

The speed shield is reportedly designed for motorcycles with minimal wind protection or no wind protection (like the DR650). They're designed to lower wind pressure and minimize fatigue. Ah yes, that's what I'm looking for; not a touring screen. Since it is a shroud mount, it is adjustable from 7 to 10 inches of height above the shroud top.

Interestingly, this model comes with a Velcro mounting solution for easy off, easy on. I found a couple reports that the screen came off in flight using that solution. Probably best to stick to the more permanent mount solution also included in the kit.

Turbo City (TCI) Adventure Windscreen ($197.95)

TCI makes some nice products. I have their Borrego rack on my DR650. I had a bunch of their stuff on a Kawasaki Super Sherp I had several years ago. This particular product is one of the bar clamp mounted screens. It's also quite a bit bigger of a screen than I want. It's definitely a sturdy looking contraption (as most TCI products are).

TCI stuff is also on the pricy side.

National Cycle Deflector Screen DX

There are a couple universal options out there as well. I found some DR650 owners opted for the National Cycle Deflector Screen, which is typically a Harley application. However, it's universal and they found some interesting mounting solutions.

In the case below, the DR on the left has the deflector mounted in front of the shroud while the DR on the right has it mounted behind the shroud.

Definitely some good installations there. In my case, the screen is just a little too big and I've decided to pass on any bar mount solution.

Certainly, there are many other options but these were the few that seemed to be more for deflection that I was looking for rather than full touring. Among these options, I have selected the Laminar Lip Deflector.

It's about the right size and its about the right price and here's what I was thinking: For non-adjustable (as to height) screens how do you get it in the sweet spot without having to re-mount it several times punching all kinds of holes in the shroud? Well, the answer...I that Velcro mount solution of the Laminar Lip. I can use the Velcro mounting to experiment with a height to my liking and then, when I find it, re-install it with a more permanent solution. We'll see.

I order the screen from Pro-Cycle and will report back when I get it installed and properly tested.

Monday, May 16, 2016

DR650 Mudflap Mod

I'm laid up with a knee injury and to give you an idea of how bored I am, I did the DR650 Mudflap Mod today.

The mudflap in question is in two pieces directly in front of the rear tire. One of the pieces is connected to the swing arm and the other is connected above to the sub-frame. The problem warranting a mod is that there's a gap between the two pieces that allows mud and other crapola to fling into the spring area and rear of the engine. It's exasperated as the swing arm pivots up and down but there's a gap there at all times.

The mod is simply to attach a a plastic extension to the swing arm component of the mudflap. I've read people cutting up various things...plastic garbage cans, dust pans, etc...I cut up an old CD-Rom case I had laying around.

Here's my version of the extension. Sort of a Franken-Mudflap considering all the bolts, but that's the only way I could get the extension to contour with the curvature of the base.

Here are some photos of the installed extension.

Well, that took all of 20 minutes. Now what the heck am I going to do? Better heal up soon because it's primo riding right now.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Trackside Handguards for DR650

I was visiting Cycle Gear today and noted that they're Trackside Aluminum Handguards, normally $99.99, were on sale for $49.99. They're pretty decent quality, made of billet aluminum. One of the big attractions was that they had a number of adjustment points to facilitate universal installation.

I found the installation very simple and straight forward. I did not have to cut off the ball ends of either levers. However, I did need to slide the clutch perch <1/4 inch to the right to make the lever fit inside the handguard frame. The perch could not be shifted any further because the pull of the lever will interfere with the casing, but that <1/4 inch was enough in my installation.

At the same time, I installed some Universal Bike Master Risers that lifted the bar 21mm (13/16"). The kit comes with a couple shims to make for another 1/2" in rise if I find myself needing some more. I had plenty of cable slack at 13/16" to go higher, but I'm going to see how I like the 13/16" rise.

Some folks like to retain the bar end weights even with handguards. I don't, but for those that do, I suppose all you'd have to do is take the bar end anchor bolts up to ACE Hardware and replace them with bolts 1.5-2.0 inches longer.

Overall, these two mods were great additions to my DR650. The guards in particular are a good looking and sturdy set of handguards. Glad I went to Cycle Gear today and got in on this great sale!


Photo of the adjustment points on the bar. A lot of handguards, including some of the expensive models, don't have adjustment points to get a good mount. I've also heard that the more adjustments that a handgaurd has, the weaker it is. My experience is that the things bend anyway when you fall over. They're main purpose is to keep the brush from ripping my gloves (and hand) all apart riding on trails. They're great for keeping cold wind off hands, too. If you don't want to bend them, don't fall.

I suppose if we consider the bar end anchor an adjustment point, then there are four adjustment points.

Spot GPS Satellite Messenger

Several years ago I did a 12,500 mile, 36 day ride to the Yukon Territories, Alaska and back through British Columbia and Moab, Utah). One of the many things I did in anticipation of that trip was purchase a SPOT Satellite Messenger. The reason that I got the SPOT was that I was planning to ride through some very remote areas in Canada and Alaska. If something went wrong and I needed help, I could send out a request for HELP and whoever was available to respond would have my exact GPS coordinates.

In addition, the SPOT allowed people to follow my physical progress in Google-Maps and gave me an opportunity to send a couple pre-written messages to emails and texts. One of my daily messages was a simple note to my family that I was done riding for the day and off the road. After that trip, I cancelled the service, but still had the SPOT Tracker.

Fast forward to this past weekend with my son and I riding up in the Richloam WMA. At one point during the ride I had a fall that tweaked my knee a little. Nothing serious, but when my wife saw me limping in at the end of the day, she suggested that I dust off my SPOT and re-establish the service just in case something more serious happens. I thought that was a good idea and that's exactly what I did.

One thing that I learned right away is that my SPOT Tracker is a little outdated. It's the Generation 2 version of the tracker and there's now a Generation 3 and a number of other devices. The Generation 2 tracker can be found online (e.g. Amazon) and other retailers for around $100. The new Generation 3 is about $150.

There are a number of service programs and additional features. The Basic Service Plan is $150 a year ($15 a  month). However, be aware that when/if you sign up, there was another $9.95 network fee. So it's more like $160!

And what do you get to do with it...

Basically, you get to send two pre-written messages, track your progress, send a Help! message and send an SOS! message. That's it. It is not a two way communication device. My understanding is that there are other products and services that now offer two way communication. That makes sense as technology advances. However, since I already have a SPOT device I'm just going with the basic service for the principal reason that my GPS coordinates will always be known.

The next question I had is where to mount it. It needs to face the sky. There are not a lot of options on the DR650, but I have both a cradle for the device and a very versatile Ram EZ-Strap Mount for it that opens up some different opportunities.

Ultimately though, I simply strapped it on the bar.

Now I'm covered.


As mentioned, my Gen2 Spot may be a little dated, but it's doing its job. However, I went ahead and ran down some articles about options among the more contemporary Personal Locator Beacon devices (PLBs).

Outdoor Gear Lab did a comparison of the DeLorme inReach, ACR ResQLink and Gen3 Spot.

Andrew Skurka, in his Blog I came across, does a good job explaining device types and comparing the DeLorme products, the ACR, Gen3 Spot, the Spot Global Phone and a few other devices.

Both good reading if you're in the market for one of these devices.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Richloam WMA

My dual sport days are several years stale, so I'm in the process of getting re-acclimated with many of the areas dual sport venues. Probably one of the largest and most popular areas is the Richloam Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located east of Brooksville, Florida. This was center stage of the Devil's Creek Dual Sport Rally last month in which I road my KLR650. On Sunday, my son (on the KLR650) and I (on the DR650) headed into the WMA with an eye toward scouting the north-west corner of the east side (east of SR471).

Riding Florida Forest Roads is sort of a hit-or-miss venture. Sometimes the roads are swamped under deep muddy water crossings. Sometimes they're fairly well dried out. It's all a big swamp after all. The sport is to navigate through and around all the obstacles, mostly made of mud and water and sand.

BTW...all of these tracks you see in these photos are forest roads, obviously unimproved, but they're all legal roads. No OHVs allowed out here.

Lots and lots of water! You can't just barrel through. You need to find the right line assuming there is one. If not, you either find a way around or turn around.

The sidelines are often a good bet.

Better carry a map. It's easy to get lost in the forest.

Here I am losing my line in the sand and getting sent into the forest. Riding in sand takes a lot of patience. If you get push too hard you'll lose the rear or the front will wash.

Here I am emerging.

And then there's the mud. The rule is that momentum is your friend. The other rule is don't do terrain like this unless you've got some help to get out.

We've got a lot more of Richloam to explore and some other WMAs. Then I'll be heading up to Ocala National Forest to see if I can still find my way around there.