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The Budget Adventure Tourer

Budget Adventure Tourer Project Bike - The Suzuki DR650SE
Suzuki DR650SE Blog
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
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Welcome to the Suzuki DR650SE blog!

This motorcycle is the subject of our Budget Adventure Touring series for 2011. The links to the reviews are entered in the table below as we customize the bike.

The DR650 has a huge fan base and the bike was first introduced in 1990, which means that 2011 marks the 21st year of production.

A dual-sport motorcycle with a single cylinder engine and a carburetor may seem a curious choice compared to all of the high-tech bikes available in 2011.

But the point is to demonstrate that sometimes you can think outside the box and have a lot of fun without having to spend a fortune.

If you have any tips on parts or accessories for the DR650, please feel free to drop me a line at

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 Pivot Pegz Review

August 4, 2014 - Rotating foot pegs for off-road or dual-sport motorcycles are beautifully made and very useful. Read the webBikeWorld Pivot Pegz review.

 Bikemaster HID Headlight Conversion Kit

September 16, 2012 -  Always on the search for more light using less juice, we replaced the stock headlight with this Bikemaster HID kit. It's easy to install on the DR650, but does it make a difference? Read the Bikemaster HID Headlight Conversion review.

 1156 LED Bulb Replacement for DR650 Turn Signals

August 6, 2012 -  Replacing the old-fashioned 1156 incandescent turn signal bulbs on a DR650 isn't as easy as you think, and it will cost you a pretty penny. But the results are worth it! Read how in this 1156 LED Bulb Replacement review.

 Wolfman Enduro Fender Bag and Pro Cycle DR650 Fork Brace

July 16, 2012 -  A Quick Look at the SuperBrace Fork Brace for the DR650. Looks great, precision made in the U.S.A. and claimed to help handling. It was easy to install...but does it make a difference?

 Wolfman Enduro Fender Bag and Pro Cycle DR650 Fork Brace

April 24, 2012 -  A Quick Look at the Wolfman Enduro Fender Bag for the DR650 that could be a lot more useful if it had a different design. Also the Pro Cycle DR650 fork brace is installed.

 LED Brake Light Replacement Choices

April 10, 2012 -  Photos and a video on choosing an LED Brake Light replacement for the 1157 bulb on the DR650.

 Suzuki DR650 Dual-Sport Tires

February 20, 2012 -  Photos and information on DR650 tires, with photos and information from the 2012 Dealer Expo.

 Suzuki DR650 Center Stand and Lowered Foot Pegs

January 27, 2012 -  Installing the SW-Motech center stand and lowered foot pegs on the DR650.

 Suzuki DR650 Shift Lever Comparison and Review

January 19, 2012 -  Installing a new shift lever for the DR650 is easy. Choosing one is the difficult part! Read this comparison review of the Suzuki, Emgo and Moose Racing shift levers for the DR650.

 Suzuki DR650 Engine and Rear Master Cylinder Guards

January 15, 2012 -  Protect both sides of your engine case with these easy-to-install items. More in the DR650 Engine Case Guards review.

 Suzuki DR650 Hand Guards

December 1, 2011 -  You'd think that a bike as popular as the DR650 would have many options for hand guards that actually fit. Nope. It took 4 sets and a cob-job to find a set of hand guards for this bike. Read all about it in the Suzuki DR650 Hand Guards report.

 Magnetic Drain Plug and Oil Filter Magnet

October 9, 2011 -  For oil-obsessed owners, a magnetic drain plug and oil filter magnet may help you sleep better at night? Do they work? No one knows, but they can't hurt. Read all about it in the Magnetic Drain Plug and Oil Filter Magnet review.

 Pro Cycle High-Output 250 Watt Alternator Stator Upgrade

September 23, 2011 -  50 Watts isn't much of an upgrade and 250W isn't "high-output" in my book, but 50 Watts is 50 Watts! "Better than a sharp stick in the eye", as they say. Here's a report and installation procedures for the new Pro Cycle 250W Alternator Stator upgrade for the DR650.

 Clearwater Voltage Sentry

September 8, 2011 -  The DR650 has a wimpy 200W alternator, so it doesn't take much to start overloading the battery. The Clearwater Voltage Sentry (review) is a clever little device that monitors the battery voltage to let you know what's happening. It was first developed on and for a Suzuki DR650 and we used our DR650 to help evaluate the prototype units.

 Clearwater "Krista" LED Lights

July 29, 2011 -  These super-powerful retina-melting LED lights may be expensive, but they put every other LED light to shame. And the best part is that the stock DR650 electrical system can handle the load (although we have a 250 Watt alternator stator on the way!). Clearwater has a nice and simple kit for easy DR650 installation (developed with webBikeWorld assistance!). Read more in the Clearwater Krista lights review.

 Happy Trails "Imnaha" Panniers

July 12, 2011 -  There are enough luggage choices for the DR650 to make your head spin. But I had some specific criteria for mine: light weight, minimal size, rugged good looks and I wanted to keep the DR650's rear hand-holds. The Happy Trails Imnaha panniers (review) did the trick.

 Blue BikeVis Bullets

June 26, 2011 -  BikeVis Bullets are cool little LED visibility lights that now get installed on every bike that comes into the garage. So if white Bullets are good and the PodMod "twinkler" pumps 'em up a notch, why not blue? More in the Blue BikeVis Bullets Review.

 Hella Disk Horn Comparison

June 7, 2011 -  What started out as a simple horn installation on the DR650 turned into a comparison of a few more horns we found in the garage. A pair of Hella "pancake" horns fit the bike and they're also pretty loud. Read all about it in the Motorcycle Horn Comparison Part 2, which also includes an .mp3 file with the recorded horn sounds.

 Pro Cycle "Saddlemen" Seat

May 30, 2011 -  The consensus seems to be that the stock DR650 seat is pretty bad. Here's a look at the Pro Cycle Saddlemen seat, which runs about $50.00 less than a Sargent or Corbin. But is it worth the savings? Find out in my Pro Cycle Saddlemen Seat review.

 Stompgrip Traction Pads

May 23, 2011 -  Weird-looking knobby stick-on pads for the sides of the fuel tank provide an "enhanced rider/motorcycle interface". Not sure how useful they are for the DR650 with its narrow tank, but they look cool. Read all about it in the Stompgrip Traction Pads review.

 DR650 Rear Swingarm Stand

May 2, 2011 -  A rear stand is a great benefit when working on a bike. I discovered that my old Steel Horse rear swingarm stand will fit the DR650 due to its adjustable saddles. UPDATE (May 8, 2011): The Steel Horse URR505 Rear Stand is an even better fit and I updated the article with photos.

 DR650SE First Ride - Ride Report

April 23, 2011 -  My impressions after the first 1,000 miles on the DR650SE in this DR650 First Ride Report.

Budget Adventure Touring With the Suzuki DR650SE

April 11, 2011 -  A 2009 Suzuki DR650SE was chosen as the newest webBikeWorld Project Bike. It was a long and twisted logic path to come to this decision, but it's the right bike at the right time. Read all about it in the Budget Adventure Touring introduction.

Shorai vs. Ballistic Lithium-Iron (LFP) Battery

April 8, 2011 -  The DR650 needed a new battery because the OE battery barely had enough grunt to turn over the engine. So we took advantage of the latest Lithium-Iron battery technology and used the DR650 as a testbed. Read all about it in the Shorai vs. Ballistic Li-Ion Motorcycle Battery Comparison review.

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Your Comments and Feedback

Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details).  Comments may be edited for clarity prior to publication.

From "R.R." (July 2014): "I wanted to thank you for your reviews and especially for the DR650SE Blog. I have pretty much been a Suzuki road bike man since 1983 and now that my interest has turned to the dual sport genre discovering your DR650SE Blog has been very helpful and informative. Outstanding work gentlemen! Cheers."


From "I.V." (August 2012): "I wasn't sure if you guys had already done all the building and farkling to your DR650 that you had planned, but there were a few things I'd be interested in seeing if they were in the budget.

There's always the more expensive mods, TM40 carb, big bore kit, etc., that are ever popular, but there's a few cheap mods that I'd be interested in seeing you guys test out.

From what I've read, you guys haven't really done anything to the suspension yet. I'm a larger guy, so I put the stock fork and shock in a pretty rough place, especially off-road. Places like Pro Cycle sell fork spring kits for under $125, and I'd be interested to see those done and see what difference that makes.

For a purely cosmetic mod, Trail Tech sells a really nice looking X2 Dual Sport headlight that's supposedly street legal. It makes the bike look light years more modern and smooth looking, and you guys have done the best lighting tests I've seen on the net, so it would be a great pairing. Just some thoughts. Thanks for the awesome build log."


From "S.P." (December 2011):  "Iím sure you have read about them already, but the best upgrade I did to my stock at the time 650 was buying a Mikuni TM40 flatslide pumper carb kit from Procycle. It really brings the engine to life over stock, and drastically helps with acceleration, it even power wheelies from putting it on their in 1, and 2 gear from low speed, something a stock carb would never let it do, and still maintains 50mpg.

It also allows you to shift down less in corners as it will pull stock gearing down from much lower speeds than the CV carb. It will accelerate in 5th gear as low as 35mph without a buck or hiccup, where the stock CV doesnít like to go much less than 55mph without complaining, and downshifting. It did this with the stock exhaust, and simply removing the snorkel, and was jetted for that setup at the time.

An aftermarket seat is a must over the stock 2x4 seat,lol, Iím sure youíve found that out by now. I installed a Sargeant seat, also from Procycle, and it fits very well, and the ride is much nicer, and it is still narrow in the front for off road riding.

The stock front springs are the biggest issue in suspension, and the under $100.00 fix is simply installing progressive springs from Procycle, and it works so much better than stock under hard braking without dive.

The lowered/wider pegs are a much needed upgrade, and Procycle had a complete kit for that as well, that made it much more comfortable to stand, as well as some better handlebars. I used Protaper CR high bend bars, and Cycra brush guards for a good combination in case of a fall off road. I see you changed your pegs already though.

A small windscreen is a good add on also to keep the wind blast down on your chest for extended highway riding, and less fatigue, as well as not interfering with off road riding. I finally went with a MRA ST shield, it is their shortest shield, and barely any helmet buffeting, and much easier to maintain highway speeds for long distance. I installed a 12v socket in the bar area also for my phone charging and a GPS.

I have an FMF Q4 slip on, as well as an opened airbox now with the carb change, and jetted for my mods, and it only required minor adjusting on the idle mixture screw, and accelerator pump rod to make it work the way it should..Itís nice to have the pump for cold weather starting also, just a small pump of fuel to help get it fired. An aftermarket fuel valve is a must, as the stock vacuum fuel valve will fail over time.

I bought a Pingel fuel valve, that is gravity fed, and you block off the vacuum on the carb to use this, as well as use an inline fuel filter, and get rid of the inline fuel filter sock that comes stock where it connects to the carb. You have to shut off the fuel when not riding though. I also removed the upper chain roller as they are known to break off, and cause holes in the frame, and I replaced the lower chain roller with a ball bearing roller.

A supermoto front fender will drastically help your high speed handling on the highway, and help keep it from wandering at higher speeds, also from Procycle.

The stock tires arenít as bad as people say, but when replacement time comes, if you do allot of dirt road, and trail something like a Pirelli MT21 is a great upgrade, and still handle good on the pavement, but will wear the rear within 1200 miles. I like the Pirelli Scorpion MT90ís for more of a street tire, but still handle dirt roads as well, and they last a long time on the rear with great grip, and high speed handling on the street.

A good sprocket combination is to go up to a 43 on the rear, and leave it there at all times, and buy a 14t countershaft with an adapter for it from Procycle to slip on their if your doing allot of off-road riding, and switch to the 15t for mostly road, and easy trail riding.

The biggest thing you need to do to your DR is look up on ADV rider about how to fix your neutral sending unit from falling off inside your engine and grenading your engine, not to mention the danger of a screw going into the gearbox at road speeds.

Itís basically held on by two screws, and the unit is plastic, and over time from heat cycles it loosens up, and a screw can back out and fall off. It is behind your clutch, and is a simple 2hr or less fix. I simply removed it, and cleaned the screws and threads well, and put lock washers on the screws, and used red Loctite on them, and let it set for 24 hrs. before adding oil again. People wire tie these with Allen screws as well. It should have been a Suzuki recall for this issue.

Suzuki DR650 Blue

(Photos of what could happen and here's the fix).

Iíve done other little things as well, like removing the ugly stock taillight, and plastic extension, and a DRZ taillight fits perfectly, and a LED stuck to the home-made plate holder.

The front fork springs need to be replaced with Progressive springs to help with the front end dive on braking, and my next move is emulators on the forks, and Racetech re-valved fully adjustable rear shock so it rides right, and doesnít get bucking on the small stutter bumps anymore. Might even be able to get some decent air on it finally lol!

I also wanted to add that I use a magnet behind the oil filter for better filtration, and use Amsoil 10w40 synthetic bike oil, the bike now has almost 20,000 trouble-free miles with just basic maintenance, and valve clearance checks

Have fun on your bike, as you got IMO the best bang for the buck in a DS bike. Very simple, and reliable, and fun to ride. With the carb and other mods, you will be surprised how it will run. It surprisingly out accelerates my buddies big v-twins in the red light drag races, lol, boy does that get them twisted! Have fun."


From "D.L." (04/11):  "An FCR39-MX carb with mxrob modifications or a TM-40 carb from Procycle.us will cure the fueling issue and put more power to the ground combined with the airbox mod.

Also, the TrailWings are very good on the road. However, they are frustrating in mud and wet, off-road conditions. I ride 95% road and use Kenda K761 tires. Very similar to the TrailWing but wear much better and do a little better off road.

Your review on the DR650 was very good and straghtforward. It is a FUN, do-it-all bike. A jack of all trades but master of none. It just lets you enjoy riding. You can make it better if you want or enjoy it stock.

Stop by www.DRRiders.com for a whole lot more ideas.


From "K.M." (04/11):  "You asked for suggestions for luggage. I made my own using Plano dry boxes. Model 1812-50.

They are almost identical, size wise, to Happy Trails aluminum panniers. Some sort of ABS-type plastic and almost indestructible. They are O-ring sealed and for the last 10,000 or so miles have been completely waterproof.

(Here) is a link to stromtrooper.com and my post (and photos) on these. I post as "10-95". Cost is listed in the post."

 

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