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Old 09-29-2011, 04:46 PM   #1096
jdrocks OP
Gravel Runner
 
Joined: Jul 2007
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Suspension

The first two ER6 rat bikes used the stock Versys suspension, the first with a 17Ē front, and the second with a 19Ē front. The V649HP uses the DRZ400 49mm forks and a R1 shock with a custom 16kg/mm spring combined with a 19Ē front. Man, now we have a completely different animal for a gravel runner, and I couldnít be happier with these suspension changes. I had a good idea that the bike would do fine since I had a couple pre runs on West Virginia gravel roads, but to get it out on the TAT, CDR, and Canadian gravel was a whole different deal. Thousands of miles of about every configuration of road surface, including roads that could barely be described as such. The bike did extremely well on pavement too.

The forks are rated for 12Ē of travel, and I used about 11Ē on gravel, 10Ē on pavement. The forks are set fairly stiff, I hate a soft setup on gravel. With all the surface transitions, itís easier to power out of trouble if the suspension doesnít take a dive.





The lower fender mount is also a fork brace, makes the forks rock solid. The bike goes right where you point it, no wiggles, no wobbles. I had custom neoprene gators with me, but never used them. I kept the tubes and seal areas clean, and the forks came back with no leaks at the seals despite plenty of dust and mud.

The R1 shock also performed extremely well, with the 16kg spring being perfect for me, a huge improvement over the stock Versys shock. Some riders using this shock have changed the stock bushings, but I donít think itís necessary.

I hadnít been able to get the tire to hit the fender liner before the trip, but once the trip was underway with the loaded bike, I had to make some adjustment. With the R1 or any other comparable shock of this length and travel, you can quickly find out that you have more shock travel than possible wheel travel. The shock reservoir will eventually hit the tank trim panel, I didnít initially think so, butÖ.






The new suspension on this bike made it a positive joy to ride, both gravel and pavement. I never got over the feeling of riding this tall bike Ďcause it sure seems like youíre sitting way up there scooting down the road. Mile after mile, canít say I ever got tired of it.
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Old 09-29-2011, 09:04 PM   #1097
villageidiot
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awesome bike, awesome read, what do you mean by "cop motor"?
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:50 PM   #1098
b0mb3r
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Originally Posted by villageidiot View Post
awesome bike, awesome read, what do you mean by "cop motor"?
+1 on that
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Old 09-29-2011, 11:34 PM   #1099
donny662
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Originally Posted by villageidiot View Post
awesome bike, awesome read, what do you mean by "cop motor"?
Motor from the Ninja 650r (ER-6F) not the Versys.
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...1&postcount=27
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Old 09-30-2011, 01:35 AM   #1100
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ahhh thanks
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Old 09-30-2011, 05:36 AM   #1101
jdrocks OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donny662 View Post
Motor from the Ninja 650r (ER-6F) not the Versys.
true, that's it.

the reference is to the Elwood Blues quote in Blues Brothers...

Elwood: It's got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It's got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters, so it'll run good on regular gas. What do you say? Is it the new Bluesmobile or what?

the Versys motor looks identical, but makes 12% less of everything performance wise, and must be at least 50% less fun. if you want to build a freakin' beast of a rat bike, use the cop motor. i describe it as "white knuckle" fast on the gravel, and guess what...i ain't kiddin'. throttle response is instantaneous, idle to blastoff.

when i ran Tourances on 17" wheels with the 130/80-17 up front, i would call this set my cop tires.

the car manufacturers of the day really did produce police cars with a performance package. you could still outrun that police package if you had an even bigger package in your hotrod...not that i would know any specifics, musta read about it somewhere.
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:05 AM   #1102
jdrocks OP
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Wheels/Tires

From the build thread, everyone knows that it’s a DL1000 19” cast wheel on the front, SV650 17” cast wheel on the rear. I’ve previously run the 17” Versys/ER6 cast wheels also over the same type of roads. I mention this fact again because there are those who continue to insist that these trips require spoked wheels. Obviously, that’s not the case. I consider unsealed spoked wheels a disadvantage, and spokes, in general, unnecessary.

If you’re building a rat and end up with spokes as part of your build package, that’s one thing. If you’re going to run out and buy spokes for your Versys because your think your need them for gravel, it just ain’t true. The spokes look good on the bike parked in the drive, less so if covered with calcium chloride mud way the heck out there.

There is a big advantage to running a 19” front, and I consider it the best size for the combination of road surfaces and speeds found on these trips. There is little difference in overall diameter between the 19” wheel/tire and the 21” wheel/tire, with the advantage going to the larger section on the 19” tire. I’m convinced that the larger tire inflated to rated pressure is a wheel saver configuration. I do NOT air down, ever.

I ran TKCs on this trip, two fronts and three rears. I could have made it home on my original front, but changed it at about 11,000 miles. The first rear went 6,000 and the second ran 5,000, although each tire could easily have gone another 500 miles, probably more. I run Tourances for a long road trip, but for a big combination trip like this with thousands of miles of gravel, the TKCs have worked well for me. I had one flat, the first in tens of thousands of miles on TKCs, and the story will be in the ride report.
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:30 AM   #1103
sanjoh
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Nice write up JD. You are enamored with your rat as I am with mine for a lot of the same reasons!

As far the TKCs, they work well until


Luv me some mountain laurel not.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:10 AM   #1104
jdrocks OP
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Radiator guard and Gravel guard

The Versys and late model ER6/650R both use a 40mm wider radiator than the first model years of the sportbike starting in 2006. I didnít have any problems with the smaller radiator except in 2009 when I inexcusably let the entire radiator fill up with mud while coming down off the Dalton. The wider radiator is an advantage because itís quite a bit harder to clog, the mud doesnít seem to get to the outer quarter on either side. The radiator guard is a larger version of the ones used with the smaller radiators, plenty of airflow, and mounted in a standoff position to allow deflection and make it easier to flush the radiator core. I canít emphasize enough the need to get the mud out of the radiator and off the cooling fan. I never got a temp warning light, but then I never passed up an opportunity to flush the mud out of that area.

The gravel guard is the same one Iíve used previously, and also the same one Iíve said I would redesign and never have. The reason for the redesign was to get the rear mounts off the oil pan ears, considered a weak point to attach the guard, although Iíve had no problems. For a fact, I routinely lift the bike with a jack under the guard. The V649HP bike has quite a bit more ground clearance than the previous versions, so I just repaired a stress crack and mounted it back up for another go. I looked at the bottom when I got back, no major scratches in the paint. Pretty good, the bike had been some nasty places.

I you design and build your own gravel guard for your rat bike, watch for interference issues with the guard and/or mounts. You donít want to spend a lot of time on it only to find that your front tire will hit at or near fork bottom.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:23 AM   #1105
jdrocks OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanjoh View Post
Nice write up JD. You are enamored with your rat as I am with mine for a lot of the same reasons!
capable bikes, and now that i have the suspension straightened out, even better.

ya got the skinny TKC size, i use the big boy 150/70. the TKC is not known for being great in mud, but it's way better than no big lugs at all. i got caught in some serious mud...took an hour of hard wrasslin' to get three miles. conditions worse by the second, i didn't think i would make it.

i see that you finally got some Motech guards on there...after you knocked holes in the covers.
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:30 AM   #1106
jdrocks OP
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seems i wasn't accurate when i said no fasteners loosened or were lost. found two fasteners on the pannier mounts that were loose, and this has been reported previously by another long range Versys guy. vibration or the outcome of crashing 5 times, not sure. i did visual inspections along the way, but missed these. one was in the open, while the second was concealed. another thing to watch closer.


stripped all the extra junk off to get it cleaned up and touched up. feels light as a feather now, wish i could have ridden the whole route at this weight.

i'm going to have to check around and find a place to get an accurate weight on this thing.
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Old 10-03-2011, 07:37 PM   #1107
jdrocks OP
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this is how the bike came back from almost a month on the road...mud, dust, chain oil, road grime, you name it.



i had washed it off four or five times along the way trying to keep the mud and then chloride mud to a minimum. plus, if you have a bike problem, it's easier to deal with if the bike is clean.

if you're on northern roads, or any other place where calcium chloride is used, you need to take time to clean the bike when you get back. northern tier riders know what it means to get road salt on a bike, the other stuff is not much different. corrosive as hell. rinsing the bike off doesn't get it, ya need to scrub it down.

stripped all the road gear off, now back to poser street trim. easier to detail the bike with less in the way.



basically, scrubbed the whole thing down, toothbrushes for the tight places. car wax, armorall, and WD40 to coat all the surfaces.


other than random paint chips here and there from rocks thrown up by vehicles on those gravel roads, and scraped panniers, the only other damage was a scratched upper fender and bent brake lever. the hand guards were scratched already, now they have more scratches.



the upper fender was nose first into the sand three times, then buried in mud, and finally went sliding along the pavement. built tough, i'm still surprised something didn't break.

the brake lever was bent in the first sand wreck, the worst of the three and a dangerous deal. details in the report.



i had a spare lever with me, you can't count on a dealer having any in stock.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:50 PM   #1108
donny662
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So, is this one the keeper, or are you going to do a fourth 650 build this winter?
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Calvin: I think people worry too much about the little things. All they do is make themselves unhappy that way. Why get an ulcer over things that don't really matter?

Hobbes: Like that book report you're supposed to be writing now on the book you haven't read?

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Old 10-03-2011, 10:04 PM   #1109
b0mb3r
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donny662 View Post
So, is this one the keeper, or are you going to do a fourth 650 build this winter?
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:41 AM   #1110
jdrocks OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donny662 View Post
So, is this one the keeper, or are you going to do a fourth 650 build this winter?
undecided on the bike, but i do know i'll be working on something in the shop this winter.
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