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Old 03-01-2015, 01:02 PM   #1
nuke24 OP
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Location: Asheville, NC
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Traveling solo on the most unreliable dr650 in the world.

As of February 28th 2015, I have set of on a grand tour across north America on my dr650, the most unreliable one in the world. My plan is to take a few months to hit up as many personal points of interest across north america, everything from area 51 to Inuvik while spending most nights camping or taking advantage of the tent space map. This is not only a financial decision but also a better way to become more immersed in the local culture and environment. I have a rough route planned out but am trying to remain flexible in the trip as it is often the unexpected parts that are the most enjoyable.

So the bike, it is a modified dr650 for long distance travel, large tank, luggage, armor, all the normal gear to outfit a bike for long distance. However unlike the normal dr650 mine is incredibly unreliable, or possibly reliable, depends on how you look at it. It all started with a long ride in the mountains, me and a riding buddy stopped, turned off out bikes and looked around. After we got out fill of the view we decided to continue riding. I went to start my bike, it turned over at normal speed but wouldn't start. I keep trying until the battery dies. Luckily I had jumper cables as the bike does not have a kick start. After many attempts to start the bike with jumper cables I remove my over sized tank and plugs to find I have no spark. Great, no cell service and no spark. At least I have para-cord, a couple hours later and many curvy mountain road and miles of interstate I was home.

Now the diagnosing starts, the only thing I can find that appears to be out of spec is the resistor spark plug caps. I change those out and it starts right up, sweet. So I ride it to work for a few weeks and it works great, I am then invited to the lake, I decide to ride my dr650. A couple hours later I am at the lake house, when the weekend is over I pack up my bike and go to start the bike. The bike turns over like normal but no spark, I keep trying as the other people I was with have driven over to the boat launch to pick up the boat. After about 15 minutes of trying to start, the bike is dead. Luckily they came back to check on me but unfortunately didn't have room for my bike. So I had to come back out and pick it up later.

So this time I notice the stator pickup is out of spec, that makes sense, no sensor no spark. I do a little research and realize that I can order a ltz400 pickup. I place an order and a few weeks later have the bike up and running again with the new pickup. I ride it around for a while, gain confidence in the bike and decide that a few days later I am going to go for a long ride. About 50 miles away my bike makes a huge backfiring sound on the interstate an it feels like it is seizing, I quickly pull over to find the bike idles normally. I look at it in confusion, pull back onto the interstate and quickly turn around and start heading back home.

As soon as I get to the bottom of the on ramp I go to accelerate and it begins to backfire and lunge again with little power, I make it a few miles then it gets worst so I pull over. This time I pull over to to find the bike it backfiring like crazy, then dies. I can not get the bike started so I call my family, then begin pushing the bike a mile to the nearest exit and wait. After about 15 minutes I try to start my bike, and it starts right up like normal. I call my family and tell them I am going to try and ride closer to them and meet at a closer exit. I make it about 10 miles down the road and have to call it quits. I get it home and find the pickup is still in spec so I decide it must be the cdi and as I can't test it realize I need to order one.

After I receive the cdi and install it to find the issue still remains. I then get annoyed and just order a pickup coil just in case. When it arrives I replace it and the issue goes away. However by this point my battery has become weak as it was already old and the past few months of abuse. I decide to replace the battery with a shorai battery for an increase in capacity as well as a lose in weight.

A few rides later I decide to ride to Knoxville, after around 150 mile of meandering I arrive in Knoxville. I pull the side of the road to take a photo to only hear my bike die, I rush back over as my lights get dim and the bike will not turn over. I end up managing to get the bike bump started and rush home. I find that the rectifier has melted the plug and ruined the battery. I replace the rectifier with one from a hayabusa as I can solder it in and have read that others have done the same. I decide to buy a cheaper battery as the bike ruined an new battery.

I have soldered all the joints between the stator to rectifier, then rectifier straight to battery to reduce resistance. I put the new battery in and go for many rides, stopping and re starting the bike throughout to see if the bike is still charging. It appears to be working. I decide to ride to the Florida keys with a friend over spring break and once I reach the Florida welcome center my bike will not start. The voltage is to low, jump starting the bike again to continue on my way. Pick up a trickle charger and charge the battery at my stops.

Once I get it back home and install a voltage indicator. On long rides I find that the battery voltage will drop a little after each start and then remain constant. It will not recharge to the original voltage just remain at a post start voltage. Yesterday I set of for Atlanta, the bike ran fine all day, started up after each stop but at the end of the day the battery voltage drops so it can not be restarted. It is currently on a trickle charger and I plan on continuing on my trip for as long as I can keep it going.



Other problems I have had, some due to riding conditions and some due to the build quality, loose neutral screws, 3rd gear noise, base gasket leak due to gasket being installed off center, rear bearing detonation, leaky forks where I find the internal fork bolts have been rounded out, crushed under engine frame from previous owner, seized and rounded crankshaft inspection plug. Then broke rear brake light and bulb, bent turn signal mounts, bent speedo mount, broke mirror, and bent headlight mount in a front flip coming down a large drop off on an extremely rough jeep trail. So I guess it has been ridden.



I have installed a seal retainer as preventative maintenance as it would probably be next, as well as caring a micro start personal power supply along with a jumper lead with a wiring harness with an ec5 connector to allow both the micro start and jumper leads be connected without taking the bike apart.

I am going to try to keep the bike running for as long as I can on the trip and will try to keep you all posted. I will be using my gps to upload most information so most replies will be more photo based as apposed to text unless I can get access to a computer.

nuke24 screwed with this post 03-11-2015 at 08:33 PM
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Old 03-01-2015, 07:43 PM   #2
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AND we're OFF!!

Should be good!!
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:59 AM   #3
geolove2
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Louisiana

Hi, Nuke, on your way here if you are going through Louisiana I wanted to recommend a stop at the Blue Moon Saloon, bike friendly with parking in the back.
bluemoonpresents.com

A friendly college town (geaux Ragin' Cajuns), Henderson Swamp tours and a great bar next door to an ice cream parlor. 'Cause everything goes with beer....

Looking forward to seeing you in Texas.

Geo
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:40 AM   #4
Molonlabemike
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I'm In, bring it on
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Old 03-02-2015, 03:06 PM   #5
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Could be interesting.
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Old 03-03-2015, 06:08 PM   #6
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Oh yeah,this sounds like it's gonna prove interesting..
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Old 03-03-2015, 06:47 PM   #7
nuke24 OP
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Interesting it has become.

So rather than a north america traveling ride report this has become more of a real time collapse of structure and plan.

So my trip started innocent enough, on a cold winters morning, ice still covering the back roads and a controllable charging issue. As long as I remained riding for a decent amount of time the bike would have no issue restarting, the only real issue was short hops from one place to another where the weak charging system was unable to keep up. By the time I had reached South Carolina the cold air had caused my hands to go numb and I was forced to pull over and use my exhaust gas powered hand warmer. As I descended the mountains it became warmer and easier to deal with and I was able to reach Atlanta with relative ease.



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Old 03-03-2015, 07:00 PM   #8
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Once in Atlanta I meet up with a fellow Dual sport rider I meet over on the tentspace map. Everything was going good, my bike was running fine and other than two road blocks, one being a firetruck and one being an ambulance and the all around crazy traffic my bike was doing fine. We stopped by a motorcycle co-op garage called brother moto, a cool garage I wish I lived closer to, so we could help out a little for the party later that night. After the setup we rode back to to his house and as I was pulling into the driveway my bike stalled, or rather stopped running. I think to myself of crap, and press the starter button to hear a weak starter motor noise but no fire. I connect it up to my jump starting pack and it fires fine, so fortunately he has a trickle charger we connect up to re charge my battery. I end up walking back up the street to the party that night as I don't feel like having to go through the starting procedure on a dying bike. The guy in the red and blue is me.


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Old 03-03-2015, 07:18 PM   #9
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The next day we head back into town to have some lunch, this is where he introduces me to some more of his friends, one is a motorcycle mechanic. I explain to him my problems and he suggests a few things to test then he offers for me to bring my bike by the next day to run a few tests. The next day my bike fires right up and I ride into down town to a small shop and meet the guy from the day before. He runs a few tests and finds one of my stator coils is grounding out, not good at all.

It would appear that my issue is getting worse by the day and I need a new one quick. Unfortunately they do not have one and he can't locate any local shops that do, the closest thing is a shop that could get one in but it is a Suzuki part and is close to $650. So I decide I am going to try and push on to my next destination and try and order an aftermarket one and have it delivered down the road and try to limp there on what little charge I have. Here is my bike all loaded up and ready to depart Atlanta, take a good look at the backpack as it is important.


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Old 03-03-2015, 07:54 PM   #10
nuke24 OP
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So the backpack, yeah it was important but is no longer with me. So on my ride from Atlanta to Alabama I was caught in a bad rain storm that lasted my entire ride. This is where I discover my gps likes to change setting in hard rain thinking rain dripping down the screen is a finger, while frantically trying to switch back before it changes to much. As the weather was cold, around 50 degrees and was raining I became quite wet and cold. Despite my water resistant gear, multiple layers and rain jacket I became soaked, began loosing body heat and just all around mental capacity. You know all the fun side effects of hypothermia like uncontrolled shaking etc.

Anyways as I near my next stop I pull over as the rain has started to let off and take my book bag off to get my phone out to call ahead as I am arriving an hour earlier than expected as I changed time zones and the gps's estimated arrival time changed an hour on the trip. Anyways after getting a hold of my next host, warming up a little and eating a small snack, I press the starter button, the bike fires right up and I hop on and go on my way. It only hits me when I get a good distance away from my stopping point and decide to stop and take some photos of the Alabama roads that it hits me that I have no book bag.




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Old 03-03-2015, 08:53 PM   #11
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So after backtracking as fast as I dare in hopes of finding the bag it is nowhere to be found. Looks like someone found it. My hope is someone who will try and contact me. So what was in the bag, well like a fool my wallet containing license and credit cards, some money, jump starting box, dry jackets and gloves and some other miscellaneous gear. All the stuff I wanted to keep on me at all times. Now encase of this eventuality I did have most of my money on my bike as well as photo copies of all my credit cards and other important cards, however I did not have a backup power supply.

So there is nothing I can do now except got meet my hosts for the night, as I am stressing out what to do next my led voltage indicator goes all predator on me and then cuts out completely. I make it to the host family and explain my predicament, they help quite a lot by calling police and state trooper departments trying to locate a lost bag that may have been turned in but no luck. I place an add in the lost section of craigslist in hopes someone will see it. After this I go to check on my bike and discover I have zero volts, absolutely nothing. We try putting it on charge but the charger is unable to do anything.

I do not sleep well that night as I can't relax. The next day I make the decision that I will more than likely need to head towards home and try to fix this major problem as I can no longer limp under my own ability but rather need a jump every time. I get a jump from the family car and right before I set of the bike dies again, I connect it back up and it takes many attempts before the bike starts. So it looks like I need to keep the revs higher to prevent stalling. You get funny looks in traffic, but it is less of an annoyance then me slowly pushing a bike out the way.

As soon as I set off it begins to rain again, this time harder than yesterday and my clothing is still wet, so I can already tell it is going to be a fun day. Due to my electrical state yesterday I didn't stop for fuel, so as I set off I could only do 50 miles before I ran out, I put both petcocks on reserve and set off as long as I dared. I pulled into the gas station cold and wet, filled up with gas ate a granola bar and waited until I could find someone to jump my bike. Once I found someone I set off for Atlanta again.

About 100 miles from my fill up I witness a really bad crash involving a truck slamming into the back of a car that was left on the side of the road. I am not sure what happened as it only caught my attention as the truck launched up over the car, but the visibility was terrible and there was a lot of water so it could have hydroplaned. I pulled over as quick as I could and with a bit of reluctance turned off my bike to run back and check on the crash victims. Fortunately there was no one in the car or someone might have died and the truck only lost the front passenger suspension area, and the occupants where fine although a bit shaken up.

Anyways the state troopers arrive, I tell them what I witnessed and they thank me for staying. Then I hit them up with my demands for the information, I need a jump start. One of the troopers brings over a jumper box but it is unable to provide enough power to his disbelief, as he says he has used it to jump 18 wheeler's. Anyways we connect it up to the battery in the car and it fires right up and I head on my way. I know my bike is in a really bad state at this point and so am I. I know I am not going to be able to get home in one shot so I arrange to meet my father on the ring road near Atlanta.

After another 80 miles of shivering torture in far less layers than I should be wearing I reach an exit to try and locate my ride, at that moment my bike dies again, this time at a pretty desolate exit ramp. With no charging system my gps has little charge and has decided that it is going to change settings mid ride to recreational due to the rain drops and my directions are to "Walk to Atlanta" something I am seriously contemplating at the time. So with no hopes of restart from a passer by due to my location I am stuck waiting and due to traffic he is about 30 or so minutes out.

So I have noticed for the last few hours the feeling in my hands have been fading, but it is only now that I have removed my gloves. My hands are now completely white and my two fingers that I broke in the past have turned yellow, not good at all. I try and warm up my hands near the engine until they slowly start turning pink with purplish knuckles. Some time passes and I finally see my ride, we load the bike up and I change into the small amount of remaining dry clothing I have. We stop by a chick-fil-a where I proceed to eat two chicken sandwiches one medium and large fries and a lemonade as well as a extra large gas station cappuccino and another granola bar. Who knew sitting still was so energy depleting.

Anyways I got the bike home right now and am going to take a look at the stator at some point, I am wanting to get it back up and running and once I sort out my other stuff head back out, however I may be checking out other dr650s as this one has stranded me 4 times and I have had the same components fail multiple times.


nuke24 screwed with this post 03-11-2015 at 08:42 PM
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Old 03-03-2015, 08:54 PM   #12
nuke24 OP
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So I guess this is not currently a grand adventure but I have hopes of getting it up and running again and setting off once again.
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Old 03-05-2015, 02:06 PM   #13
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Major Stator Failure

So after some testing it would appear all three of my stator windings have become grounded. If anyone wants to confirm my tests, disconnected yellow wires and measured yellow to ground and all three have continuity. It is amazing the bike would even run like that. The rectifier looks good, at least the diode testing. We will have to see what happens.
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Old 03-05-2015, 02:19 PM   #14
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Well good luck with all the electrical issues - sub'd for updates - hope everything works out
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Old 03-05-2015, 03:43 PM   #15
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Dang Nicholas.....how are things going now??
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