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DaBit 11-14-2010 01:21 PM

Yet another SV650->Adventure build
When the LC4 Adv was sick I needed another bike to ride on. The intention was to get a simple lower-priced roadbike which I could just ride, and sell for the price I got it for (or at least not much less) once done with the LC4.

Well, it just happened that a guy I knew was selling his '99 SV650S. I knew he was the kind of guy that sleeps badly when there is a speck of dirt on his bike, so no problem with lack of mainenance etcetera. I visited him, saw a bike in front of the house which looked like it just rolled out of the showroom, did a test drive, and arranged to pickup the bike and the paper work.
The bike right after I drove it home

Well, after several 1000's of kilometers, I decided I like the weight of the bike and the engine very much. It's torquey, smooth, has a wide useable RPM range, and offers plenty of power. However, I absolutely hate the suspension (must brake for a speed bump, yech!) and seating position.

After seeing the bike 'Russ S' built (absolutely one of the greatest builds ever), I decided to give it a try also. Maybe it is a bridge too far, maybe it isn't. We'll see. I started wrenching only a few years ago, I lack metalworking skills, I have no artistic genes at all, no clue what to do with angles that are not 45- or 90 degrees let alone curvy things, and my main tools are a hacksaw, a hammer, and a cordless drill. Oh, and a welder.

The target: not an hardcore offroad bike, but an adventure bike. One I could jump on, ride 1000km over the blacktop at 140km/h to an interesting and sunny place on earth, and do some exploring over the smallest and worst roads ever, or no road at all. That's my idea of fun. The LC4 comes close, it it only wasn't such a vibrator. The LC8 comes close, but those are expensive and generally too much. Too much weight, too much fuel useage, too much power.
I want that bike to weight less than 200kg. Not 'dry', but less than 200kg 'ready to ride', thus loaded with fuel for 350km range, skid plate, GPS mount, tools, softluggage rack, etcetera. My LC4 adventure weights 184kg once farkled up like that. Also, I want a 21" front, and preferrably an 18" rear, and something like 200-250mm of suspension travel.

And I want most of the weight to reside low. kilos are only that, kilos. But it makes a lot of difference if they reside under the bike, or far back and high up. Thus, the fuel tank on to has to move, battery will move out of the sub frame, etcetera.

Oh yeah, and the build has to be fairly cheap; the other family members have to eat too.

So, how does one start? The SV has an exhaust pipe underneath the engine and therefore it's impossible to jack up the bike with an hydraulic bike lift. So, one starts with the skid plate and relocation of the footsteps. If either one of these tasks proves to be too difficult, going further makes no sense.

So, skid plate. Take that literally; even with increased suspension travel the bike will lack ground clearance. I could have done what everybody does: make one out of aluminium. But I have a hard time welding aluminium, and I think aluminium is not a very good material for a skid plate. It is fairly heavy, it is expensive, it doesn't slide well, it corrodes easily, it dents, dirt sticks well to it, it reflects a lot of noise back to the rider, etcetera.

Plastics like HDPE or even better UHMWPE seem to be a much more suitable material. Slippery, tough, good abrasion resistance, light. So I decided to go for a metal frame with a plastic skid plate.

OK, decision made. Then I started walking around the bike to find mounting spots and a possible new location for the footsteps. A piece of steel strip here, some cardboard there, figuring out what to do.
Tinkering around with some cardboard, see how it ends up (and this sucks)
Possible new footstep location?

It soon became clear that I needed to weld plastic sooner or later (I also intend to use HDPE for the underseat fuel tank). Had to play with that too, but I had no plastic welder. A second hand one was too expensive, and I could not find cheap Chinese copies. So I decided to make one myself from an old paint stripper with broken fan. Replaced the fan with an attachment for compressed air, and made it possible to adjust power to the heater. This allows me to produce dry air at a stable temperature of 300 degrees C: perfect for welding HDPE.
First test of the plastic welder

First result with a strip of HDPE I sawed off as a welding rod:

OK, have to exercise a bit more, but this weld is already very strong. Way good enough for the skid plate. Have to order a few welding rods though.

So, I moved on with the metal work. I decided to make a mockup out of steel strip since measuring is quite difficult.

This 'bunch of metal strips' evolved more and more:

So in the end I decided to reinforce the frame, and keep it. It will weigh a bit more than I'd like, but that weight is mounted low. It will look like sh*t, but nobody will see it.

The footsteps. All that 4mm steel should easily be able to carry the footsteps. so, I got myself a set of cheap pegs, and made the mounts.

Test mount with 4mm bolts:

OK, seems to work if I replace the 4mm bolts with 8mm Allen bolts. Let's add more metal to the frame, and construct the other side. Aligning the steps is important, so I set up my cheapo cross-laser:

At last I drilled the peg-bracket mounting holes, welded in nuts, drilled mounting holes for HDPE skid plate and welded nuts there too. This is the current state

I think I should give it some anti-rust protection, and mount it. Then I can jack up the bike. Next will be the foot-operated controls, I suppose. Have to figure out how to do that.

To be continued....

LukasM 11-21-2010 07:23 AM

I think the Suzuki 650 twin is a good basis for an adventure bike, so it will be interesting what you come up with. In! :lurk

DaBit 11-21-2010 01:28 PM

The engine is lovely. My first idea was to do an EX500/650 engine swap into an LC4 chassis, but you saved me a lot of money by proving that it's not possible without very major modifications to the frame.

Haven't gotten that much further yet.

I figured out the shifter:

Russ S mounted the shifter linkless, but I decided that is not a good thing. It reverses the shift pattern, which is not necessarily a bad thing but not desireable also. But the shift shaft also extends a lot out of the engine, and with the pedal mounted directly to it, it might be prone to break in case of dumping the bike. That leaves you stranded, which is a bad thing for an adventure bike.

This solution is so simple and straight that I can even make a new shifter out of a tree branch with a Leatherman if I need to. It also took me 'only' two and a half hours to figure out what I wanted to do (usually takes most of the time), dig up the necessary bits&pieces, and fabricate it.

Today, while the little guy was taking his afternoon nap, I tried finding an acceptable solution for the rear brake pedal. A picture of a possible concept:

I'm not happy with it...

Pulasky 11-22-2010 02:15 PM

Look at this one.

DaBit 11-23-2010 01:23 AM

(someone really should resize those pics)

Yeah, I have seen that one. That machine is pure art. But I don't really see many advantages over a brake pedal construction with the pump in the neighborhood of the original location.

Someone at another forum came with a 'reversed' solution like this one. I like it. Harder to kill the brake pedal when dumping the bike.

I'll investigate that 'mirrored mount'. If that's too complicated, I will just make a bracket which moves the pivot point closer to the frame since I see no real disadvantage in having a slightly longer brakepedal-to-pivot distance as long as the lever ratio stays correct. And in the neighborhood of the original location the brake pump is tucked away nicely.

Anyway, back to the drawing, ehm, cardboard:

DaBit 12-15-2010 05:27 AM

Slight progress.

Some more pictures:

Brake pedal, made by putting slits in a piece of steel, bending these slits closed, and welding. The piece of pipe on top of it was necessary to prevent flexing. Thought that spot welding, bending a little, spot welding, etc. would work fine. Not... No drama; this project is mostly a learning experience, and trying different techniques is part of that.

I will probably have to relocate the footsteps and controls anyway, so i'll cut the next one from a piece of plate.

Oops, little accident when removing the front forks. Remember to always tie down (or up) the bike...
But in this state the bike is light enough to almost effortless lift it back up on the bike lift all by myself.

DR800 steering stem/triples was almost a direct bolt-on. It's only a litle too long and has a 'step' in the stem which needed to move a bit down. A regular metal file does the trick:

The rest of the length difference was filled with a spacer cut from a piece of Delrin using a jigsaw. Saves me another 5mm of steering raisers later :evil

The (DRBig 800) front suspension doesn't hit the radiator and front cylinder head at full fork compression (springs out). Not much margin though. But I can drop the forks a little in the triples when needed.

Wheel in, handlebars (from an old DR650) mounted.

Now I will have to wait for the mailman to arrive with a stuff like a brakedisk, master cylinder, some lengths of Bowden-cable, etc. I also found the light unit/front mask of an XT660R whioch I have to pick up. Might be useable.

Evil Invader 12-17-2010 08:04 AM

I REALLY like these buildthreads. :evil

Any more info on that bike in the BIG photos?

DaBit 02-22-2011 06:47 AM

A small update.

Last weekend I did the first few miles on the SV in half-finished but rideable condition. Only had to mount the rear brake hose. When that was done, I got on the bike immediately. Wish I had the common sense to re-check tire pressures and eventually re-mount the rear tire in the right direction, because during the test ride the valve was ripped off the inner tire while cornering. That was a very, very scary moment.

Anyway: the bike:

A few random pictures:

New dashboard:

A new skill I had to aquire: plastic welding. Need to improve my plastic welding skills before starting the fuel tanks, though.

KTM LC4 wheel adapted for the SV swingarm and axle:

The rear brake caliper anti-rotate pin turned out as a beautiful piece of workmanship, done for me by a guy (ErikRS/XTankTeam, also on this forum) that really knows how to work metal.

Many more pictures are on a Dutch forum (but hey, pictures are a universal language, right?), beginning approximately here:

tileman 02-22-2011 03:11 PM

:clap well done, liking your work!!!

eternalRider 02-22-2011 09:03 PM

Nice! Looks good I like your detailed pics, very good work I always wanted to do this to my sv before I got rid of it but I had already gone the other way and put gsxr suspension on it. but now i am doing it with my ninja 250:wink:. really looking forward to seeing how this comes out.

DaBit 03-04-2011 03:29 AM

A couple of days ago I weighted the bike.
Front wheel 72kg. Rear wheel 84kg. Gas tank almost empty.

Total: 156kg. :D :clap

Did a few visible things such as hand guards and blinkers at the front:
(and ooohhh yeah, they suck. Will be replaced soon)

LC4 master cylinder at the rear:

Longer sidestand:

And of course wire here, nylock nut there, etcetera.

Now I'm riding the thing until some suspension components arrive. The (very) limited lock-to-lock steering angle is a problem.

Due to the totally wrecked suspension the bike behaves like a bouncing ball on steroids, but steering and curve-holding is pretty neutral.

Very fun bike to ride! I think we will become good friends.

I'll take a few new pictures soon.

MotoRover 03-04-2011 05:33 AM

Gave bike ben je aan het bouwen DaBit! Hoop je ooit ergens tegen te komen in de klei.

What material are you going to use for the fuel tanks? A plastic called Kydex seems to be very abrasion- and chemical resistant, weldable too. In the transalp mod thread someone uses it for tank/radiator shrouds.


Cloud9 03-04-2011 05:40 AM


Originally Posted by DaBit (Post 15332650)
A couple of days ago I weighted the bike.
Front wheel 72kg. Rear wheel 84kg. Gas tank almost empty.

Total: 156kg. :D :clap

156 kg = 344 lbs... ?!

That's less than the 365 lbs (166 kg) of my single cylinder, 5 speed, high seat height, carburated, air cooled Honda XR650L

V-twin motor, 6 speed, low seat height, liquid cooled, EFI, lots of torque & hp, reliable... what's not to like?

... ummm, I maybe interested in a new "dual sport" bike soon!!


LukasM 03-04-2011 06:59 AM

Looking good Bart, that was very good progress to get it rideable so fast.

Glad to see the LC4 MC worked out so nicely! :thumb

DaBit 03-04-2011 02:26 PM


Originally Posted by MotoRover (Post 15333073)
Gave bike ben je aan het bouwen DaBit! Hoop je ooit ergens tegen te komen in de klei.

Zal wel lukken :)


What material are you going to use for the fuel tanks?
I want to use HDPE (high-density polyethylene) for the fuel tanks. That plastic is light (2.5 times lighter than aluminium when compared by volume. It floats on water), tough, resistent to most chemicals including fuel, easy to weld, and cheap.

That Kydex stuff looks interesting too though. I'll give it some research.


Originally Posted by Cloud9 (Post 15333106)
V-twin motor, 6 speed, low seat height, liquid cooled, EFI, lots of torque & hp, reliable...

No EFI. This SV is a 1st gen bike which is carbed. It also uses the lighter tubular frame, less wide radiator, no oil cooler, etc.
Later models are a bit heavier and produce a few more HP.

But still, the motor is the best part. Torquey, smooth and the redline is somewhere in the sky. When I open the throttle in second gear and let the motor rip, all I see is sky. Do the same in third gear, and my arms are a few cm longer once the motor reaches redline :D

Seat height won't be low when finished either. More suspension travel, more ground clearance, underseat tank, some foam is needed for a comfortable seat, etc.

I will try to keep it at 90cm / 36" or lower, but that won't be an easy task.


what's not to like?
Exactly my idea. 156kg still sounds a bit too little so I might recheck the measurements with another scale.

On the other hand: the scale measures my body weight just fine, and that Thinstrom built by glitch_oz weights in at 171kg with 20L of fuel, heavier fuel tank, original instrument cluster, etc.

And I'm able to lift up either end of the bike and put it where I want it, so it can't be very heavy. Comes in handy in the shed :)


Originally Posted by LukasM (Post 15333597)
Looking good Bart, that was very good progress to get it rideable so fast.

Yep, but it's only rideable and street-legal at the moment, not even close to finished. Although the seating position works out nicely the way it is now. I wouldn't mind strapping a few bags on the rear and leave for a couple of weeks trip in the as-is state.

Suspension is the next big issue besides 10.000 little jobs. Definitely need to get that sorted first since it determines the angles of the rest.

I have to limit front travel to 210mm / 8.3". For a bad asphalt / light offroad bike that's not too bad. Talked to the suspension guys, and they will prepare a nice package with an intital guesstimate of the required springs, cartridge emulators, fresh oil/seals/bushings, etcetera for me soon.
Once the front is sorted and my savings acount recovered, we will match the rear.


Glad to see the LC4 MC worked out so nicely! :thumb
Glad someone offered me one :) The SV MC didn't work so well.
The rear brake still isn't functioning as well as it should (can't block the wheel on the street, for example).

Guess I'll get me some fresh brake pads first before I start troubleshooting ;)

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