Joined: Apr 2006
Translated from the original article in the "Moto" magazine (Israel) October 2006 Original article in Hebrew by Kfir Levin
What do you think about a DR800 big with top of the line suspension and a drastic weight reduction? Numerous improvements and changes combined in the creation of Naveh's cool bike.From the beginning I must admit that I like the DR800. There is something about this bike that no matter how many times this bike passes by me, even one that is beaten up, and maybe because of that, still makes my head turn. The comfortable seating with the absolute viewing angle, the enormous dimensions compared to any other "singles" and of course the largest single engine ever made, that in reality, is willing to perform much better than on paper. And I'm not the only one who thinks that this model is more than just another bike, here in Israel it's considered a recommended bike and has a good used market value (mainly the latter models) but in some countries it's no less then a cult bike. You'll probably ask, if it was that good, why was it stopped being manufactured in '98? For the same unreasonable causes that the Yamaha XTZ and the Honda Africa Twin were. Like the DR800, they too were born in Japan in the 80's as a Dakar replica.
Naveh admits to be a man with a preference for "big single engines". The reasons for that are well known and we've heard them before. He has had a few bikes, some extreme than others, until he settled down with a Yamaha XT600E for efficiency and budgetary reasons, but in '97 the bike was stolen. Naveh at the time was riding only on road, looking for something that would be more comfortable on the road but the XTZ was too expensive. The choice was a standard DR800 model '93 and the ease with which the asphalt was swallowed under the "Big" tires, leaving the owner with a big smile all the way to the chiropractor (much better then the XT600E) and also on the way to the bank, thanks to the self maintenance Naveh is capable of.
However, Naveh didn’t even consider going off road with the enormous clumsy looking BIG. At least until he met Alon Yeffet, also a standard DR800 rider but with a fundamental difference between them: Alon actually rides the DR800 off road, just with a pair of off road tires, this fact opened Naveh's eyes and more important – whetted his appetite.
In a long process that included inquiries and studies about the subject, understanding the demands and the needs and then jumping into the interesting deep water of what is called - "project motorcycle"…
The list of modifications and improvements is long and detailed; we chose tofocus on the main parts that reflect excellence on the idea behind Naveh's choice of direction.
The main points to be modified and altered to fit the final product that the owner was aiming for were around the suspension and the overall weight, which is certainly the Achilles heel of the DR800, especially for one who want's to enjoy unlimited off road riding.
Beyond the mechanical and technological skills to do almost everything by himself, Naveh also enjoyed a great deal of luck. At some point in time Alon's DR engine gave his soul back to the Gods of motorcycles, and he gave the corpse to Naveh. Now he had a motorcycle that he could plan all the modifications, adjustments and build parts, allowing Naveh to keep his main transportation vehicle functioning. He was able to continue a creative process without pressure and time limitations, which allowed him to check everythingseveral times, as he likes to do.
About the weight, if you really want to go into a long description here, there is plenty to do to approach a normal off road motorcycle weight. Except for the tail plastic, nothing original stayed on. The difference in appearance and weight is fundamentally the combination of an ACERBIS plastic fuel tank (25 liters) and without the special but heavy "beak", gauges and the original headlight. This created a much more aggressive look. A smaller off road headlight and a new digital speedometer (the finish is impressive), a high front fender- all these were able, thanks to a new main component in this adventurous package: an up side down front suspension belonging to a 2006 HONDA CRF450R (purchased on EBay for an relatively low price). True, it needed good hands and patience, and even some help from others, and Naveh claims that the basic matching parts of the steering axle eased thework.
And what about the rear part?
A major part of the consultation about the DR came from Stefan Hessler (Hessler Rally Team) Germany. Useful solutions came through him especially the connection to WILBERS Company,who were a supplier of suspension technology and now is an independent manufacturer of high quality suspensions for competitive prices. Apparently they will build you a rear suspension on demand - as crazy as you like – adapting the rear suspension to the rider's weight, nature of use (on/off road) and to the fact that the front suspension is adapted from a professional motocross motorcycle…and they built a shockabsorber that works in perfect harmony with the front fork. Again, the price is really not sky high.
There are many more interesting parts and changes, the original quiet and heavy exhaust was replaced by a light and noisy D&G, a local manufacturer (by the Eliatim brothers) Danny Eliatim also came with a solution to the problem of big single engine reversing when turning off - a cool patented invention that combined the automatic decompression for the start of the engine also when it's shut down- ingenuous and effective.
Other personal adjustments were cutting some of the sponge of the seat to adjust to the height of the owner, building an adapter to fill the gap between the seat and the fuel tank and others for the ignition switch and the front disk guard. A lot of do-it-yourself, and all professional, accurate and impressive.
It's a pleasure to go over this bike. All the parts that were dismantled from the original bike and not reassembled were weighed (as well as the new parts that replaced them). Now the bike's dry weight is 171 kgs, compared to the 194 kgs official declared weight of the bike, which is known to be very optimistic (this explains the difference between the scaled parts and the actual weight of the bike…) the short time I spent riding the bike proved beyond any doubt that there was truly a drastic weight loss.
Maybe as someone who likes the DR800 for a starting point I'm partial, but Naveh's DR800 is really something cool, unique and exciting. Naveh is in love with the bike and he certainly has good reasons.
I spent about two hours off road with this unique bike equipped with Dunlop D606 tires, testing the various performance capabilities of the bike.
The harmony that Naveh achieved by wisely investing in a high quality suspension, combined with a drastic reduction in weight, produce a great off road touring motorcycle that actually needs a tough, continuous "enduro" trial to test it's limits. Surely you need some confidence and time to adapt to the still heavy machine, but after all are said and done, the DRZ800MAX will be happy to go airborne without real complaints.
The final transfer ratio was shortened a bit, leaving road cruising an efficient component of the experience- remember, we are talking about Naveh's main means of transport.
Overall, the project cost was summarized at a bargain price of approximately $3000, but remember that the owner's knowledge and technical abilities saved a lot, as well as the patience of finding solutions combining high efficiency with low cost.
Naveh is a rare but crucial type of motorcyclist to our motorcycle culture, a project motorcyclist - and he is good at that, very good.
1- TRAIL TECH digital computer/speedometer. Very useful and aesthetic
2- WILBERS rear shock absorber. With all the adjustments including high and low damping
3- A new self built carrier with gripping handles.
4- POLiSPORT Front headlight giving the bike a fresh aggressive look.
5- Great to look at - front SHOWA suspension, 20 years advanced from the original DR-BIG
6- The adjustment of the front original wheel, disk and caliper to the new fork using the Honda CRF original wheel axis. All made by Naveh.
7- Naveh Lev-Ran, a true biker with hands and head of gold, and mostly, with a lot of soul. Above, the bike in its original condition. (sorry - it's a photo I took of a friend's bike, mine was black)
nave screwed with this post 03-19-2009 at 11:46 PM