Dan’s bike is based on the supermoto version of the DRZ for a couple of reasons – higher spec suspension, stronger, lighter handlebars and bigger brakes as standard. This particular bike was an ebay bargain picked up in Summer 2009 whilst only 11 months old and with just 106 miles on the clock, looking like this:
The first change to be made was replacing the standard rear light and numberplate mount with a DRC Edge unit – mainly cosmetic but replacing incandescent bulbs with reliable LEDs always feels good. What followed was more functional – a huge 28 litre Safari tank replacing the stock steel tank – quite an increase in capacity as you can see from the picture…
Then came the second hand Corbin seat, proper bash plate (Guard-It from Adventure Spec) a Scottoiler strapped to the right hand fork leg and a Scorpion exhaust system and James Dean jet kit. Rather unusually for a modern bike – and perhaps betraying the ancient heritage of the DRZ – this actually makes a noticeable difference to the performance of the bike.
Many cold, dark, late-night hours in the man cave transformed £8 worth of steel tube into a home made luggage rack based on the original Suzuki parcel-carrier and added both some structural reinforcement to the aluminium rear subframe and support for panniers at the side. Once it had been welded up it was blasted and powder coated silver for a further £12 – probably the best bargain of the entire prep phase.
A secondhand set of dirt wheels and a longer sidestand from a DR-Z400S rendered the bike ready for rougher roads, though the larger discs from the SM model were retained to provide more reassuring braking when laden.
At the front, twin headlamps from a Buell Lightning fitted with a 35 W HID in the dip beam side provide massively improved lighting, and an MRA highway screen provides shelter from the breeze. A home-made fibreglass front cowl based on the top part of the original Suzuki headlamp cowl mounts to fabricated brackets with quick release fasteners and hides the disorganised mass of electrical gubbins between the two.
An Acewell 1100 was added to the dash to provide a rev counter and battery voltage monitoring (a paranoia gained during the Cape Town trip) along with oil temperature monitoring functionality. As the stock DRZ battery can be a little marginal, a common mod is to fit a larger unit. Dan was lucky enough to find a tatty but serviceable set of kick-start parts taken from an early DR-Z400K for sale, and fitted the required gearbox parts and lever – and the bike started first kick. The battery was left stock. Ed is poised to point and laugh the first time Dan struggles to kick over a DRZ with a dead battery half way up a Mongolian goat track.
A final mod borrowed from our Africa bikes is the über-horn – a Stebel Nautilus Compact air horn. These were easy to house near the prow of an Africa Twin, but a little more tricky on the baby DRZ. These may seem like overkill, but when you’re hidden in the dust trail of a slow moving truck there is no better way of telling the driver that you’re overtaking. If you happen to sound like a freight train, so much the better. The compressor unit was separated from the horns and the two parts were mounted on either side of the front cowl, with flexible hose linking between the two. Based on experience in Africa of one ailing and one failing horn, a small filter intended for a crankcase breather has been added to the compressor inlet to cut down on dust ingestion. Will it help? Only time and travel will tell…