DR650 General FAQ

Q:

How long would it take to wear out a DR 650?

How many miles does the average DR650 last as far as everything goes? I recently found a 2005 for $2500 with 11,000 miles on it. I know they are pretty bulletproof but I just want to be sure I am buying something that will last.

A:

We don't see anybody wearing them out. There are lots of guys around with more than 50K miles on them. Most folks don't get to ride enough to wear any motorcycle out!

Q:

Are parts interchangeable between years?

Will parts from older DR650’s fit the newer models?

A:

There was a fairly major change to the DR650 in 1996, consequently parts from 1995 and before will not fit any model from 1996 on. Consequently, parts from 1996 to 2010 are almost all interchangeable.

Q:

What are the best forks for a USD fork swap?

I am contemplating doing a fork swap on my DR650 for more rigidity and better suspension. I would like to install a more modern upside down (USD) fork. What do recommend and why?

A:

When I decided to put a USD fork on my personal bike, I used the front end off of a DRZ400SM. These went on almost like they were made for it. The stock DR650 brake caliper bolted right on. I used the DRZ400SM front hub, brake rotor, brake hose and headlight brackets. It would have been too much trouble to use the DR650 front hub is the reason for using the DRZ hub.

Q:

Does a red-hot pipe mean jetting is too lean?

I recently purchased a 1992 DR and after running it for just a minute or so, or riding it around the block, the header is glowing read. Is that in indication that it is running to lean? If so, is it possible to make it richer without changing the jets? It is also very difficult to start, can this be caused by the lean condition?

A:

You really can’t base tuning and jetting decisions on exhaust pipe temperature. Besides the starting issue, does it run well? If it is too lean, there are sure to be some symptoms related to rideability. If it is a jetting issue, you will have to change a jet. Sorry.

Q:

How do I loosen the steering head lock?

I want to loosen the steering head lock on my DR650 while I am doing my fork conversion project, but am not sure how to get the bolt out as there is no head. Do I have to drill it out?

A:

Because it is a locking device, this is held in place with a security bolt to prevent thieves from just unbolting the lock. A security bolt, when it is installed, has a normal head on it, but it is necked down just below the head. When the bolt is tightened, the head breaks off leaving a ‘tamper proof’ bottom half in place. If you look very close you will see that the center is indeed torn metal.

About the only way to deal with these is to drill them out. Make a center-punch mark as close to the exact center as possible and drill about a 1/8" hole down approximately 1/4" deep. The step up the drill size to a 5/16" and drill down until the head comes off. Then you can remove the locking device and you can remove the remaining portion of the bolt with a pair of pliers.

Q:

Did Suzuki make a dirt only DR650?

Were there different versions of the DR650, such as some street legal and some pure dirt, or were they all street legal?

A:

All the US versions were street legal.

Q:

Can I upgrade my levers?

I want to upgrade to Sunline V1 levers and see that they only offer them for the RMZ. Do you know if those will fit the DR650 perches?

A:

As far as I have been able to determine there are no levers from other models that are a direct swap for the DR650. Sorry, looks like you will have to purchase the perches as well as the levers, that should do the job.

Q:

Will a 1993 wheel fit a 2003 model?

I cannot find any info about hub size. Will a 1993 rear wheel fit my 2003 DR650?

A:

Not without a lot of trouble. The brake rotor bolt pattern is different and the 1993 brake rotor is smaller.

Q:

How cold should the motor be to adjust the valves?

Tonight I'm doing the first valve check on the DR650 (2007, just under 600 miles), and I read in the shop manual that the bike should be cold. I plan on letting the bike sit for at least an hour or so before checking the valves. Is this sufficient time? It's pretty cool out here now (low 70s, 60s at night). I have a friend coming by to help me work on the carburetor, so I figured we can do that while the bike cools.

A:

An hour is plenty of time. If it's not too hot to touch it will be OK.

Q:

What is the best way to raise compression?

Is machining the barrel a cheap or cost effective way of gaining some more compression.

A:

Milling the top of the cylinder is the easy way to get the squish clearance set up properly but you won't be able to raise the compression ratio any significant amount. Taking .010" off the cylinder is only good for an increase of maybe .2 or so. Take off much more and the piston will contact the head. Not good! If you do increase the compression ratio much you definitely want to set the squish clearance properly. The squish area creates turbulence during combustion which speeds up the burning and decreases the tendency toward detonation.

Though milling the head is the easy way of raising the compression, I would suggest welding up the sides of the combustion chamber instead. Why? First, you would increase the available squish area. Second, milling the head (and cylinder) will retard the cam timing. Retarded cam timing can be good for top end power but maybe at the expense of bottom end torque.

You can slot the cam gear, but it is complicated by the fact that the DR cam is also pinned. I'm not sure why Suzuki decided it needed a pin in addition to the two sprocket bolts. Maybe just leave the pin out and slot the bolt holes. It works for other bikes that have heavier cams and spin to much higher RPMs.

Q:

Possible to raise the ignition timing?

Has anyone out there raised the ignition timing and if so, how?

A:

Changing the ignition timing on a stock DR650 motor probably won't yield much in the way of performance improvement. Once the motor has been significantly modified there may be a good benefit to tuning the ignition curve.

If the fuel injection project being worked on by a reader at ThumperTalk.com pans out he will have full control over ignition timing. Click here to go to that thread.

Q:

Does the DR have an oil cooled stator?

I finally got around to checking valve clearances on my DR650 today. Anyone who has ever done this knows that one step in the process is getting the engine to Top Dead Center (TDC). To find TDC, you remove the 8mm and 10mm hex/allen bolts on the left side of the engine. When I removed the 10mm hex/allen cover on the left side of the engine (when looking forward on the bike) oil poured out. This can't be right, can it? The flywheel must have been spinning in oil and I really can't see how the bike even ran because I would have thought that the magneto wouldn't have worked correctly if it is swimming in oil. All total I'm guess that about a cup of oil poured out; some of it came out just by removing the 10mm hex cover; more came out when I tilted the bike to the left. I even ran the bike with the 10mm cover off and some oil sprayed out. This is a 2005 DR650 with about 3,000 miles.

  1. Is this normal? I'm guessing not but I don't know.
  2. If it is not, what could the problem be? Maybe a seal out on the left side of the crank?
  3. How much work would it take to replace such a seal if that is the problem?
A:

To answer your questions:

  1. Yes, well mostly normal. The stator is cooled with engine oil. Most bikes made in the last 30 years have oil cooled stators.
  2. No problem, no blown seal.
  3. No work at all!

That said, your engine oil must have been over-filled for oil to pour out just by removing the cap. The bottom of the inspection plug hole is a couple inches above where the oil level should be. Either someone put too much oil in it or you have a carburetor problem allowing fuel to overflow the carburetor and drain into the crankcase. If the oil smelled like gasoline you have another issue. One last tip is to be sure that you check the oil with the bike in a totally upright position. If you check it with bike on its side stand, it is not a good reading.

Q:

How do I tell when my wheel bearings are bad?

I have a DR650SE that only has 3600 miles on it and the front wheel bearings are loose. I can hear a whine at road speed that comes as you speed up and goes away as you slow down so I am sure it is the bearings. Also found front tire/wheel has side to side play that I feel is too much. My question, is this common for this bike? This sure seems like very low mileage for bearings to be worn out.

A:

If you can actually feel side to side play DO NOT RIDE IT! When the bearings are that far gone they are only a very short time away from disintegrating - with possibly disastrous results. Having a bearing problem at 3600 miles is definitely not normal. Could be from mud or pressure washing or both.

Q:

Can you advance the timing on the DR650?

I tried to do a search to see if any parts exist for advancing the timing on a DR650 but couldn’t come up with anything. Does anyone know of a company that makes anything to advance the timing on the DR for a little more power? This is such a common cheap performance mod on most other bikes that I figured there would be stuff for the DR but I haven’t had any luck.

A:

It is certainly possible but it isn't something that would lend itself to being sold as a product. You could make an offset key for the flywheel to get a few degrees advance. You could also modify the mounting bracket on the pickup coil or even modify the pickup tab on the flywheel. I'm doubtful there is much to be gained and it would be easy to go too far and end up with a detonation problem. This would be especially true of a stock bike. In stock form the DR is right on the edge of lean detonation in the mid-range.

Q:

How much horsepower does the stock DR650 make?

How much horsepower does the 2007 DR650 make?

A:

Individual dynos vary, but most show 34-37 HP at the rear tire for a stock bike.

Q:

Performance motor kit review!

For 1996 to 2009 DR650SE owners – I recently installed a standard bore J&E HC piston along with a Web Cam camshaft and must say the results were fantastic. My goal was not to destroy the best part of the big DRs power... the awesome low to mid range torque. I decided to go ahead and do some head work while I had it apart but only matching and cleaning work, no port hogging. The head certainly needed some TLC in its stock form. The valve seat to cylinder head transitions are pretty bleak and there are the typical casting goobers in both the intake and exhaust ports. I matched the intake manifold to the head but, other than clean up and polishing, I did not open the exhaust port any more. I had a nice multi-angle valve grind job done as well. Fresh valve seals were the only new parts required.

The standard bore J&E HC Piston and Web Cam were bought from ProCycle and I went to my local Suzuki shop for the gasket set (I just went ahead and bought a complete set). I used Permatex copper coat on the base gasket, head gasket and head bolt washers. It sure is nice to have a totally leak free dry engine again.

I know... shut up and get to the good part! I put 65 miles on the bike yesterday after getting it all back together. Torque is the big word! The stock powerband doesn't seem to have changed, it just moved up the food chain a ways. From thump-thumping out from a stop to roll-on torque there is just more on tap everywhere. Obviously more power is available up top as well but, just like the stock engine, it’s not the strong part of the powerband. The roll-on torque is a riot out of turns and my nearly new rear tire was no match for the power, breaking away easily. I can see this being a huge asset for the SM guys shaming all of those superbikes in the tight twisties.

I have made no jetting changes or adjustments on my FCR from how it was before the engine mods but I noticed even less deceleration popping than with the stock engine internals. Not that it did much of that before but it seems even better. I'll keep an ear on this but I'm wondering if the increased vacuum generated by the smaller total combustion chamber volume is holding the Air Cut Valve open wider... or at least for a longer duration before the spring closes it. Heck, maybe it’s a cam duration thing.

Oh yeah, If you’re thinking of doing these mods anyway don't wait for the dyno report... just do it. My recently calibrated seat-o-the-pants dyno says you won't regret it.

A:

Glad to see you finally got the new parts into the motor. Yeah, the cam behaves better around idle than the stocker. You'll probably notice it pulls a little bit better and smoother right off the bottom in addition to making more power through the rest of the range.

For anyone replacing their piston I recommend you click here and pay a visit to the Mototune web site for a good explanation on break in.

Q:

Should I worry about my DR650 getting too hot?

My 1996 DR650 has a Web Cam, 10.5:1 piston, 36/32mm valves, FCR 41mm carburetor and a FMF Q2 exhaust. My question is should I be concerned about it getting too hot? I know these motors are pretty much bulletproof when stock, but how much can you do to them before you start worrying about dependability? The bike runs absolutely great, and I’d like to keep it that way.

A:

The DR650 is very good at shedding heat. When we're running one on the dyno we have to run the fan on the low setting and turn it off between runs in order to keep things up to full operating temperature.

If you are concerned - or just curious - add a Vapor which has a nice temperature gauge function.

Q:

Can I fix a leaking head bolt?

I have a 1996 DR650 that is in like new shape that only has 4,000 miles on it. I bought it a few weeks ago and was told it was stored for 10 years. I just rebuilt the carburetor as the jets were all corroded and junked up. But now after a few hundred miles it has developed an oil leak. The leak is coming from the head bolt just in front of the spark plugs. I understand there is a crush washer underneath it that might have failed. I tried torquing the bolt some more but no luck it does not budge. Should I just remove the head bolt replace the washer and re-torque? All other gaskets are perfect, no weeping or leaks anywhere else.

A:

Try loosening it a half turn and then re-torqueing it.

Q:

How do you mount and wire up the Vapor on the DR650?

I have a 2007 DR650 Suzuki and the Vapor looks like a real good choice. I have a few quick questions:

  1. How does the Vapor hook up on a DR650?
  2. How do you mount the Vapor on this bike?
  3. Is it backlit?
A:

I have a Vapor on my personal DR650 and I love it. Installation was very simple and full instructions are included with it.

  1. There are just four electrical connections: Tach pickup wire goes to the coil. Temperature is sensed with a thermocouple under the spark plug. DC power for the back light. Speed pickup is by a magnet attached to the front brake rotor.
  2. It mounts to the handlebar or you can use the optional billet protector to mount it to the handlebar clamps.
  3. Yes, it has a nice bright back light!
Q:

Vapor installation questions!

Hi, I am finally getting around to installing the Vapor unit that I purchased from you this spring on my 2007 DR650. Where/how did you install the magnet on the front disc? Where do you recommend hooking up the temp sensor, on the oil line banjo fitting bolt or under the outboard spark plug? Where were you taking your temp reading from, when you were seeing the 240 to 300 degrees that you mentioned in a Thumper Talk posting?

A:

We have done the magnet a couple different ways. One was to use the bolt with the magnet in the head and put it through one of the floating buttons (with a washer and locknut on the back). The other way we've done it is to drill a small indentation into the brake carrier and epoxy the magnet into it.

I like to put the temp sensor under the spark plug. It's the closest point to the combustion and will give a quicker reaction time to temperature changes. Some folks like to use it to monitor oil temperature or even just bolt it to any handy spot on the head.

Q:

Big bore kit vs. high compression piston with cam?

I was browsing your web page trying to sort out what I should consider for a 2009 DR650. So I have a few questions that maybe you can answer for me:

  1. I was trying to decide between the big bore or the complete kit of the high compression w/ cam. What is the difference in power / performance between the two? Or, am I comparing apples to oranges to some degree. Should I be thinking of the big bore vs. the high compression, and figure the cam should be used for either?
  2. Also, should I assume that I need to upgrade the carburetor and exhaust as well for both these upgrade routes?
  3. Lastly, for a carburetor, I need to sort out whether I should go with the Mikuni TM40 pumper upgrade or try to go with the Keihin FCR-MX? How does Mikuni perform vs. the Keihin?
A:

It is somewhat a case of apples and oranges.

  1. The high compression piston and cam will give you crisper engine response and a motor that is more willing to rev and makes more power everywhere with a better top end pull. The big bore kit by itself will give you a motor with a powerband similar to stock but with the biggest gains mostly in the low end and mid-range. For the best of both worlds add the cam to the 725 kit.
  2. Upgrading the exhaust and carburetor are not required but will definitely help make the most of the engine modifications.
  3. Performance wise, the TM40 and FCR are nearly equal. The TM40 will flow slightly more air so might have a small power advantage in a well built and tuned motor. The choice between TM40 and FCR comes down to what is practical for you. Our TM40 kits are a 'plug and play' setup. New carb, jetted for your bike. No tinkering necessary. Most people setting up an FCR will start with a used carb from a Yamaha YFZ450 ATV and have to make their own modifications to make it work. IF you can find a GOOD used carb and get it for a good price the FCR can be done for less money than our TM40 kits. At this point there isn't anyone offering brand new FCR carbs kitted up for the DR650. New FCRs are very expensive. One technical advantage to the FCR is the air cut valve that decreases decal popping noise from the exhaust. Both the stock carb and the TM40 will cause popping noise from the exhaust during deceleration with closed throttle.
Q:

What are the best improvements for the DR650?

You have a DR650? Good! Can I pick your brain for a moment? I use to ride a XL185 years ago and have had many street bikes since. With the 96 DR650 I just purchased this is my chance to get back into trail riding and just plain having fun! Can you tell me as a newbie on the DR650 what improvements if any are the best to do (in your opinion of course)? Mine has an aftermarket exhaust on it but is all stock as far as the rest. I keep hearing about improving the suspension whatever that means). I'm 6'3" tall, weigh 225 pounds and am 43 years young. I don't plan on racing or taking any triple jumps, I just ride roads 85% of the time and trails 15% of the time. Thanks for your help.

My riding buddy has a ´97 DR650; are they the same for the most part?

A:

Any improvements should be based on what you intend to with the bike. I like to ride the twisty canyon roads and explore Jeep trails and I'm not afraid to push my limits and the bike's limits. For myself, I thought the front fork was way too soft. It's OK for sedate street riding but anything aggressive or any off-road riding makes it too easy to bottom the forks. I installed a set of Progressive fork springs and they made a big improvement for me. My rides are typically long distance and I could end up having to ride a long way to find the next gas station. I had to have more fuel capacity than the stock tank so I installed an IMS 4.9 gallon tank. I can go almost 250 miles between fill-ups now. The other thing that made a huge difference for me was a Corbin seat. I could only ride about 100 miles on the stock seat. After that my butt was so sore I wasn't having any fun. I still have the stock muffler and prefer to keep it as quiet as possible. I also have a GPS mounted to the handlebar which really opens up the possibilities for places to ride.

The DR650 is basically unchanged from 1996 to the current 2009 models except for colors and graphics.

Q:

More general DR questions.

I am thinking of buying a DR650 but have a few questions.

A:

Here are some answers to your questions!

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