CMG Project: DR650 update #1

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to finally put my DR650 back on the road. Yes, the same DR650 that I had to start mending after a simple valve adjustment went awry three years ago …

Anyway, I’ve tinkered a bit on the bike since then (cleaned up the engine and frame a bit, swapped a few minor parts around), but over the past winter, the rebuild began in earnest.

I’ve gone out and purchased the typical assortment of gaskets, etc., one replaces when doing maintenance and added a new camchain, seeing as the bike is probably due. But I’ve also added a load of aftermarket bits to bolt on. Read on:

Aftermarket additions

Stator coil (Electrosport) The stock DR650 stator is good for 180 watts; the aftermarket unit pumps out 250 watts. That makes it easier to run some aftermarket lighting and heated gear, both things I’ll appreciate in shoulder-season touring.

High compression piston (JE Pistons) I had to disassemble the top end to repair it anyway. Why not do a bit of tuning while I’m in there? (gets revised insurance bill, reflecting price hikes due to customization — “Oh, THAT’s why”).

The DR650 will look quite a bit different once the rebuild is done, and should have more roll-on snap.

Reground cam (Web Cams) I sent in my stock camshaft for a mild regrind, courtesy of Web. It’s not aimed at more high-end horsepower, but low-to mid-range snap. In conjunction with the new piston and the pumper carb I added a few years ago, this should help the bike accelerate faster, which is where I really want my speed.

Clutch (Barnett) Barnett sent me a new set of plates and springs for the clutch. It made sense to tune it up while I was in there, especially if the updated top end encouraged aggressive clutch action

Seat (Seat Concepts) I’ve used a Corbin for years, and had mixed feelings. It’s far better than the stock, but still took some getting used to. Seat Concepts sent me one of their units, and I’m keen to try it out.

Plastics (Seat Concepts) The DR’s yellow bodywork had gotten scratched and dirty enough that it had earned the nickname “The Dirty Banana.” I’ve got new blue plastics to bolt on, which will also tidy up the taillight/rear end section and give me a more aerodynamic front fender

Exhaust can (Leo Vince) I’ve run an FMF Q4 on the DR650 for years. It makes lots of power, but also makes lots of noise, and requires periodic rebuilds. The Leo Vince exhaust might make a bit less peak horsepower, but it’s much quieter, meaning I won’t be waking up the neighbours when I leave the house early in the morning. That’s a good thing.

For the past few years, I’ve run rackless luggage, or used a TCI rack. Now, I want to try a different approach.


I need to finish putting the engine together (it’s mostly done at this point), and I need to finish cleaning up the frame, then repaint it.  One of my friends has a a body shop, and has told me I can use his sandblasting and painting equipment, so that’s probably how I’ll do that job.

After that, I plan to paint the frame myself. I’m planning to use POR-15 products, but if I can get equally good results and spend less money, again — I’m all ears. I’m not a fan of spray-bomb products generally speaking, especially in an application which sees plenty of use (off-roading). But I’m always happy to hear of others’ experiences.

I’m going to get new set of luggage racks, too. I currently have a steel TCI rack that weighs too much, and is too easily bent. For side racks, I’m looking for something similar to Wolfman units (now discontinued). If anyone has any experience with a similar product, let me know. I have a few ideas, but if someone knows of an option I’ve missed, I’m always glad to check it out. For back rack, I’m really digging the Pat Walsh Designs rack.

The road ahead

Once the show circuit is done, and the sunporch has warmed up enough to start painting in there, I’m hoping to blitz this project. After everything is back together, I plan to drop the entire bike off at Thug Engine Works, for a dyno run. With a new exhaust and the top end work, it makes sense to ensure everything’s all tuned properly before hitting the road. I’ll keep you posted as things progress.


  1. Just saw this when I read Update 2. MotoRacks in Vermont makes racks that are similar to the old BRMoto/Wolfman ones I have on my KLR. Have the MotoRacks ones on my WR250R.

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