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.

I was certain, based on they were made, that they would vibrate and wouldn't be able to see what's behind. Not the case. They work find....

...and of course the folding feature is good for transporting the bike to rallies.

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.

Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge (Facility Rating)

Overall Facility Rating: A

We spent a week in the North Carolina/Tennessee Smoky Mountains while attending the Blue Ridge Run Dual Sport Rally. See our Rally Post in Devils Creek DR.

The three day rally was held in Cruso, NC; afterward, we packed up and relocated to the Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge in Stecoah to ride the forest roads around the Cherohalla Skyway in east Tennessee.

I honestly don't think that one can find a nicer motorcycle lodge in the Smoky Mountains...if not anywhere for that matter. They accommodate everything from primitive camping to full size, multi-occupant houses. They also have a rare bunkhouse concept.

While we were hauling our toy hauler, we opted for the two bed cabin. There was, in fact, four cabins in this building with two cabins sharing a nice, clean bath on each side.

I camped in the camping area in April 2016, with electric for my electric blanky.

There's a nice little stream rolling right through the middle of the lodge.

The lodge offers some pre-order meals. It is not a restaurant that you can walk in and order. Rather, you're orders need to be provided the night before by 9PM.

Bathrooms are plentiful and their are six nice, clean showers.

Overall, it's just a real comfortable place run by super nice people. Yes, it's pricy, but compared to other options the prices are totally reasonable.

Check out their website, Ironhorse Motorcycle Lodge, for more information.

Blue Ridge Run

The 2017 Blue Ridge Run was held out of the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Lodge in Cruso, North Carolina. My son and I attended the rally with the DR650 and his TW200. After the rally we swung over to the Ironhorse Lodge in Stecoah for some forest trails on the northside of the Cherohalla.

We trailered the bikes up from Tampa in the toy hauler.

The plan was to camp in the toy hauler but it was so rainy up there in Cruso that we bit the bullet and got a small cabin. It was only $35 a night and turned out to be much more comfortable.

We rolled in Wednesday night with a plan to visit Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley...

...and Cherokee...

...before riding the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rainy and foggy!

On the way back we stopped into the General Store in Waynesville. I've stayed at the Oak Park Inn in Waynesville many times and always try and get a visit in at the old-time General Store.

On Friday we had lunch at the Mount Pisgah Inn and discussed the Tour de Pisgah Dual Sport Rally coming in September.

 That big rock dropped right off about two hundred feet!

With the rally over, Sam and I rolled over to Stecoah and booked a couple nights at Ironhorse Lodge. On Monday we hit the trails with a plan to ride the Dragon, dual sport in the area north of the Cherohalla and then ride the Cherohalla back to Stecoah.

First stop...Fontana Dam:

Hitting the Dragon on a Monday is a great plan.

Sam picking out his stickers.

After the Dragon we circled around toward Telico Plains and cut into the mountains on the north of the Cherohalla Skyway. It was mostly forest and jeep roads. We were in there for over 8 hours.

Then we rode the Cherohalla back to Stecoah.


The only damage we came out of the smoky mountains with was a smashed mirror on the DR650. I slid down on a forest road and the mirror went crunch.