Monday, December 18, 2017

Wild Bear Safari

Our 2017 Rally Schedule ended this past weekend with the Wild Bear Adventure Safari that was hosted by the Apollo Motorcycle Club in New Smyrna Beach.

The Rally provided for several levels of trail on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday the Adventure Track covered 180 miles, largely through the very sandy Ocala National Forest. On Sunday, the options were single track trails around New Smyrna or a largely paved 100 mile scenic adventure ride.

My son and I took our 2016 KLR650 and 2016 DR650 for the rally.

The Apollo Motorcycle Club has their own facility. It's actually an enormous cow pasture...need to watch where you walk around in there.

Rider's Meeting Saturday Morning...

This is my friend Howard from South Florida. I originally met him at a DS rally and we seem to wind up at the same ones.

My son also has a 2017 Yamaha TW200 and was disappointed when he found some new buddies at the rally with their T-dubs.

Rocky Bull is the mascot for University of South Florida where my daughter goes to school. He's been joining me on my rallies this year.

This is my 2016 Suzuki DR650. I have this set up for and use it only for dual sport rallies. While I don't often dump it, when I do it's a hell of a lot lighter to pick up than the KLR.

This is our other friend Sam...Samantha. She is a dual sport rally veteran. She may not go very fast, but she makes it from point A to point B every rally.

It's the dry season and we only had one water crossing and a very few number of muddy spots like this one. My son aims for those things.

Ocala National Forest, like all of Florida is sandy and in some cases very deep. The rally offered bypasses for some of the more difficult sand areas.

Papa Joes for lunch. An iconic little burger joint right in the middle of ONF.

That was it for our 2017 Dual Sport Rally Schedule. After being out for most of 2016 with a knee injury this was pretty good year. Next stop...Devil's Creek where the AMA kicks off its 2018 Dual Sport Schedule on March 3, 2018.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tail Rack Touchup

My Borrego Cargo Rack that I purchased for the DR650 is in need of some touchup. It's been a great rack other than the powder-coating coming off.

I've got some painting work coming up soon so I'll see what I can do with the Borrego. Stay tuned...

Update May 19, 2018:

Okay...I sanded all the rust spots and spots where the powdercoat had pealed up and painted the rack a semi-gloss black. Hmmm....not sure I like that. I think that I liked the aluminum/silver better, but I'll leave it black for awhile to see if it grows on me. Not to fret, I've got a good foundation for any color now.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pumpkin Run

Pumpkin Run
Apollo Motorcycle Club, New Smyrna Beach
October 28, 2017

Let me just say in advance that my son had a great time at the 2017 Pumpkin Run at New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He and I attended our first ever Pumpkin Run at $50 a head, which is a night ride through a privately owned property containing mostly single track trails. The event caters to ATVs and Side-by-Sides...and "dirt bikes are welcome." I took the DR650 and my son took his TW200 after some of the Apollo members recommended this event to me earlier in the year at the Hooch Rally in North Georgia.

All I can say is I'm glad it's over.

My issues start with the fact that they let over 1,500 people onto a muddy cow pasture that at best could accommodate no more than 300-400. They just kept letting pickups and trailers in to the point that they had to park around the boundaries and lockdown everyone in the interior.

Then, all those vehicles...mostly ATVs and Side-by-Sides....jammed the 13 mile trail network to the point that no one could move. As if the volume of vehicles wasn't bad enough, many were unequipped for the rugged trail and either got stuck or broke. The night trail opened at around 7:30PM. At 10:30PM I threw up my hands waiting for the trail to open.

Not just me, many of the people were frustrated and just started running all over the entire site tearing it up into a ridiculous mud pit. On Sunday they had to bring in tractors to pull everyone out of the mud.

There was very little information to begin with on this particular event. Most of what I learned about it, I learned from Apollo Members that I met up at the Hooch in North Georgia. Those guys left Saturday afternoon.

I can't recommend this event for dual sport motorcyclists. While I was concerned about riding among many ATVs and UTVs, that wasn't a problem at all. The problem came down to one thing and one thing only. The volume of people and vehicles that Apollo allowed into the site overwhelmed both the facility and the trail...period. I won't go as far as suggesting ATVs and UTVs not attend because there are just too few good events for those guys these days. I think the Apollo group should cut the volume to 300 vehicles (which I still think is too many), double the length of the event and the rest of us should just wait until the Wild Bear Adventure Rally in December allowing the 4-wheel guys to have the site.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


My Alpinestar Scout Adventure boots have taken a beating but I just can't seem to part with them. They just fit so well. I think I've got almost 100,000 miles on them, including a trip to Prudehoe Bay and back and two trips across the country and back. As I think about it maybe more.

The main issue they're having is keeping the soles on. First the backs went. Then the fronts went. I've found that JBWeld works in putting them back together. It's kind of unsightly though.

The first time the rear heal on one came off I was at a dual sport rally up in North Carolina. If you look closely at this photo, I had to resort to my Walmart camp shitkickers to finish the rally.

For the record, they actually worked pretty good.

However, some day I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and buy a new pair of boots.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rally Calendar

Our Rally Calendar for 2017 is coming to a close with two events left. Both events are with the Apollo Motorcycle Club here in Florida.

This coming weekend is the Pumpkin Run. It's a night ride this Saturday night in New Smyrna Beach Florida, but is for quads and side by sides more than it is for motorcycles. The rally has been run for almost 50 years, but I've never attended. My son and I thought, what the heck, let's go see if there's some fun to be had. If not, it's only a two and a half hour drive over there.

Coming in mid-December is the Wild Bear Safari. It's big bike friendly so more adventurish than dual sport. I'll be shocked if we see a bear. I know they're here, but I've never seen one in the 31 years I've been in Florida.

Next stop after December is Devil's Creek!!!

A real long time...

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 (third this year) leading into the Southern Discovery rally, one of the upper studs snapped. It did not snap when being re-torqued; rather, it was "already" snapped when we pulled the axle nut holder off and the broken end fell on the floor. 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 to the proper torques 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 the stud for $2.16 I got four just in case we have this problemo again. :)

Dorman Part No. 675-317

Use caution shopping this part as I saw it being offered for $20 each on both Amazon and eBay! 

To be continued when the studs come in....

Replacing the Stud

The studs finally arrived at O'Reilly Auto Parts and just in time; the Pumpkin Run is this weekend and I really don't want to do it on the KLR650. I purchased four studs and am keeping three for spares.

Removal of the snapped stud required a little heat and a lot of care. It's only cast aluminum and it was an uneasy feeling turning that thing out. My $3 fix would have turned into a much more expensive fix if I broke the casting. It did come out though by working it with a vice-grip.

The new and old stud had the same thread length that set in the cast (7mm) and the same unthreaded length (12mm).

The outer thread length of the new Dorman stud is 18mm, which is 5mm longer than the stock, so it sticks out further. I can live with that.

I set it in the cast with blue locktite.

The nut is called "Front Axle Holder Nut" in the  torque section of the Service Manual and calls for a torque of 10 N.m or 7 Ft/lbs. That's a pretty low torque but can be accomplished with my clicker torque wrench.

Equally important to the torque, I now believe is the installation process that provides for the top nuts torqued "FIRST" and then the lowers. I do not believe that I have been doing that and I've been changing out my tires three times a year. Here's a screen print of my service manual on this point.

Overall, it was an easy fix. I'm surprised that it isn't discussed in the service manual or that Suzuki doesn't off the replacement stud. I'm grateful to the folks on the Facebook DR650 Group Page for helping me out with this mess. It looked bad. It turned out to be a $3 fix.

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.