This being a motorcycle trip, the bike is obviously a very important part of the trip and I need to make sure that the bike is capable of what I ask of it. To ensure this, I’ve modified the bike to better suit long distance adventure riding and have done the routine maintenance to reduce the chances of any breakdowns.

My only possessions for the next two years will be what I can carry on my motorcycle and thus it acts as a lifeline and a home on two wheels. In my preparation for this trip, I’ve tried to learn as much as possible about all aspects of this motorcycle so that I can better handle any mechanical breakdowns or just routine maintenance.

The Suzuki DR650 is a tried and tested motorcycle that has been taken around the world by numerous others before me. Besides being highly functional for the task at hand, she also looks good and that matters because I have to bond with the bike as she’ll be my steadfast companion through this journey.

Her name is sanDRina (sun-dree-nah) and we’ve already gotten off to a great start with a successful two week trip in Summer 2009 down the Continental Divide.

sanDRina, a DR650, in Tanzania

The reason I chose the DR for long distance adventure touring:
– Dual-Sport Capability > meaning it can handle dirt and gravel roads as well as cruising on the highway.
– Tube Tires > easier to patch/repair a tube tire than to repair a tubeless tire like sport bikes.
– Spoked Rims > can absorb the shock of poor roads better than alloy rims.
– Expandable Gas Tank > this bike’s design is such that the original gas tank (3.4 gallons) can be upgraded with a 4.9 gallon one or a massive 7.9 gallon tank, which I currently have.
– Air Cooled > the bike’s engine is cooled by moving air and an oil cooler but with no water-cooling (radiator), meaning less parts to worry about failing.
– Carburetion > this bike is carbureted instead of fuel injected because it’s easier to work on in case something goes wrong while traveling.

sanDRina riding across the Alps in Switzerland

Modifications To The Bike From Stock (as she came from previous owner)
– Aqualine Safari 7.9 gallon gas tank (to improve range to nearly 400 miles)
– Corbin aftermarket seat (to improve comfort)
– Mikuni Flat Slide TM40 Carb with K&N Air Filter (to improve performance and throttle response)
– Happy Trails Skid Plate (to protect the engine)
– Answer 1″ Handle Bar (to improve handling and durability)
– Trail Tech Vapor Digital Speedometer with Tachometer (to improve monitoring)
– WER Steering Stabilizer (to improve handling)
– SuperBrace Fork Brace (to improve handling)
– Seal Savers fork boots (to protect dirt from damaging front suspension seals)
– Stiffer Progressive front and rear springs (to improve handling)
– Larry Roeseler Rear Shock Absorber (to improve handling)
– Stainless Steel Braided Brake Lines (to improve braking performance)
– Adjustable Chain Guide (to protect the chain)
– Acerbis Hand-guards (to protect the fingers and the levers)
– Acerbis Supermotard Front Fender (to improve aero drag and looks)
– LED Tail Light and Turn Signals (to improve the looks and reduce voltage draw)
– Secured Neutral Sending Switch (neutral gear indicator bolts that could come loose in the engine)
– Upgraded Engine Torque Limiter (to prevent starter gear train damage related to this model year)
– Upgraded Engine Base Gasket (factory paper gasket could lead to leaks)

sanDRina riding the Lake Turkana Route in Kenya

Modifications Added Since Then
– Rear Luggage Rack (to improve usability)
– Happy Trails Luggage Rack with Pannier Set and Top Box (to secure and increase storage space)
– Symtec Heated Grips (to provide warmth to the fingers when it’s cold)
– Centech AP-2 Fuse Box (to have better control of electronic add-ons)
– Eastern Beaver Headlight Relay Kit (to increase power to headlights)
– Voltminder Battery Voltage Monitor (to monitor battery health)
– Upper Chain Roller Removed (potential design flaw that could damage the frame)
– Aluminum Engine Side Case Protector (to increase engine protection)
– Wossner Forged Piston
– Scotts Stainless Steel Reusable Oil Filter (to reduce carrying spare parts – disposable filters)
– Rear Brake Master Cylinder Guard (to protect exposed components)
– Shortened Kick Stand and welded Larger Foot Plate (to improve stability when parked)
– Fabricated Highway Pegs (to reduce strain on legs)
– Fabricated Lexan Windshield (to improve comfort in terms of wind buffeting)
– Fabricated custom bike crutch to aid in tire repair
– Tool tube under engine and subframe (to increase carrying space)

Trusty Garmin GPS 60Cx in Mozambique

Farkles (Functioning Sparkles: electronic add-ons)
– GPS: Garmin 60Cx with Touratech Locking Mount
– 12V Accessory plug: for running mini air compressor, heated vest and charging electronics

Maintenance done before the start of the trip
– Engine Rebuild with new transmission parts and gaskets all around
– New Oil and Oil Filter with Shell Rotella-T 15w-40 Synthetic
– Valve Clearance Check
– New EBC Front and Rear Brake Pads
– Bleeded Front and Rear Brake Fluid
– Cleaned and oiled K&N Air Filter

Riding the wilds of Northern Mozambique

I’ve done all the above modifications and maintenance to improve my chances of how sanDRina will behave while we’re out on the road. Some items will improve her performance, while others will add to my comfort and increase my usability. Not everything above is necessary before a motorcycle trip like this, but it gives me a better peace of mind, so that I can enjoy my journey more.

Jay enjoying the riding in Northern Mozambique

Next: Packing List

Previous: The Route Plan

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