DR650 FAQ - Wheels & Tires

Q:

What is the best SuperMoto wheel size?

So I have decided to get a complete set of supermoto wheels for my 2005 DR650. Now I am trying to decide what size tire to go with for the rear. Does a 150 series tire fit okay back there with plenty of clearance within the swingarm?

Second question on this same topic! If the rim is centered between the chain and the swingarm, will a 160 series tire fit? (Just curious, but how wide a tire you could theoretically get in there without too much of a headache.)

A:

A 150 will fit just fine. If you are going to lace your own wheel (or have someone else do it) the best thing to do is to true the wheel on the bike, so the rim can be centered perfectly between the chain run and the inside of the swingarm. Our complete set comes completely built and spaced so your 150 will fit perfectly.

For the second question, on a 4.25" rim (like we build) most 160 series tires should fit, however that rim is really too narrow for a tire of that size and it will make the carcass too pointy. A tire of that size really should be mounted on a 5" rim. I have seen one owner fit a 5" rim and 160 tire on his DR650. It had a little less than 1/8" clearance so tire choice would be critical as not all 160s are really 160mm wide. Because of the slim margin for error anyone attempting this should do the final truing with the tire on the rim and the wheel installed on their bike. Also, just because it is possible doesn't mean it is a good idea. A 5" rim will make the job of removing and installing the wheel in the swingarm a big chore. A 4.25/150 will just barely snake around the chain guide and brake caliper. Anything wider means having to do a lot more disassembly & reassembly to fit the wheel into the swingarm.

Q:

What is the optimum tire size for 17" SuperMoto wheels?

What size tires would you recommend for the 17" wheel set that you have for the DR650?

A:

The typical supermoto wheel setup will use a 120/70-17" front tire and a 150/70-17" rear tire.

Q:

Can I use a stock rear wheel for a front SuperMoto setup?

I am looking for a price for a 17" front wheel for 2005 DR650 laced to a stock hub. I already have a spare rear 17" stock rear wheel. I have not decided what tire I will use as of yet. I want to use the extra stock rear and this new front for street and a track day or two, but not for competition. My thought was a 120-17" front to go with a 150/160-17" on the rear. I am open to suggestion and have even thought about a 19" front. I have an adjustable Vapor speedometer to adjust to the changes.

A:

A stock rear wheel will be WAY too narrow for a 150/60-17. The 150 series tire needs a 4.25" wide rim and the stock rim is 2.5" so if you want the 120 front with 150 rear supermoto combination you will need a wider rim on the rear as well. If you want to keep the rear wheel stock then I suggest an 18" or 19" x 2.15 rim for the front running a 110 width bias ply tire matched to a 130 or 140 bias ply rear tire.

The 150/60 and 120/70 tires are radials and won't work on narrow rims. The first step is to figure out what sort of tires you want to run and them build wheels to suit them.

Q:

Can I buy 17" front only for a SuperMoto setup?

I'm interested in a 17" front wheel for a 2007 DR650SE. On your web site you advertise a "wheel set" for around $1099. You show both front and rear so I'm assuming the set includes the front and rear. What would you sell the front only wheel for?

Second question – I don't understand why I couldn't purchase the 17" front and run with my present rear wheel? If you could give me a little more information on that I would appreciate it. The wheels look like they are setup first class though. Could I purchase a front wheel now and then save up and purchase the rear later? Would it cost more if I did it that way?

A:

The price of a front motard wheel can be found there. That is built with a silver Excel 3.5x17" rim, Buchanan's stainless steel spokes with plated nipples, new OEM Suzuki hub with bearings and seals installed and all laced and trued. This front wheel setup will NOT be compatible with the stock 2.5x17 rear wheel. In order to get matching tires front and rear you will need a 4.25x17" rear rim.

The issue with the wheels is there aren't any tire combinations that will work with a 3 1/2" wide front rim and a 2 1/2" wide rear rim (stock size). The supermoto rims require a radial tire in a 120/70-17 size. The matching tire for the rear would be a 150/60-17 which requires a 4 1/4" wide rim. The stock rear rim requires a bias ply tire. I don't recommend mixing bias and radial tires. The handling could be severely affected. If you try to squeeze a 150 series radial onto a 2.5" rim it will be severely distorted. If you want to keep your stock rear wheel I suggest an 18" or 19" front rim in a 2.5" width, that way you can get good matching tires front and rear. Though you can do it, if you buy the supermoto wheels one at a time instead of as a set it will end up costing you $100-$150 more.

Q:

Is there a difference in sizes in 150 rear tires between manufacturers?

I recently received a 4.25 x 17" wheel and will be mounting a 150 series tire for street use on my DR650. As I understand things, tire sizes vary even within the same size designation. I'm wondering if anybody knows if there is a particular brand and model that should be avoided due to clearance issues.

A:

As long as you stick to a 150 you should be fine with any brand. Even though they do vary a bit we have not yet come across any 150s that were too wide to fit.

Q:

Can I build a 19" front wheel for my DR out of a used rear rim?

I'm looking at a 19" front wheel conversion. I have access to a 19" x 2.15 rear rim and spoke set (I believe it is off a RMZ450). They appear to have the same hole pattern and spoke angle as the stock 21" front wheel. My question is, does anyone know of any problems I may encounter before I go tearing my front wheel apart? If it helps the rim is an Excel 19" x 2.15 with the numbers ‘123’ and ‘907’ stamped on the rim?

A:

The rim is drilled for a rear hub which is much wider than your front hub. This means that the spokes will have to bend in order to run from the nipple to the hub. A properly built wheel will have the rim holes drilled so there is a straight pull from the rim to the hub. Spokes that don't run straight will be overstressed where the spoke meets the nipple. Think of the nipple and spoke as a funny looking nut and bolt. You wouldn't expect a bolt to do a good job of holding things together if it had to thread in at an angle instead of pulling straight.

Q:

What is the best size front wheel?

I have a question for you. I want to re-lace the front wheel of my Suzuki DR650 with a smaller (18" or 19") rim, using my existing front hub. I intend to keep my existing stock rear rim. Which front rim would you recommend? I'd like to go with the widest rim that would work well with the stock rear rim. You do not list a kit consisting of the appropriate front rim and spokes. Would you be willing to sell such a kit? What price?

A:

We have many sizes of rims with spokes listed, click here to see that page. Deciding between the 18" or 19" in the front will come down to the tires you want to use.

If you plan to do any dual-sport type riding there are several 19" front tire choices. There are no 18" front dual-sport or off-road tires that I know of. If you plan to ride strictly on pavement I think the 18" on the front will be a better choice. Handling will be a bit sharper and braking performance will be better than with a 19". I would recommend a 2.15" width in either the 18" or 19" size. You can use a 2.5" wide rim but I think they tend to make steering heavier feeling than the 2.15" rim.

Q:

What are the pros and cons of an 18" vs. 19" front wheel?

Needing some professional advice. What are the pros and cons on the 18" vs. 19" front wheel? I know some guys have 2 sets (street/dirt) of wheels. Since everything is somewhat of a compromise, if you could only have one set of wheels, what would be the best combination to go with? Talking more like in a 70/30 street/dirt setup? Should I just stick with the stock setup & forget about it?

A:

Either an 18" or 19" on the front will carve curvy paved roads much better than the stock 21". There aren't’t any dual sport tire options for the 18" front so if you plan to ride 70/30 street/dirt I would go for the 19" front. For strictly pavement riding I think the 18" would be slightly better. A good approach to figuring out what wheels you need is to decide on the tires first, see what sizes they come in and build wheels to match.

Q:

What is the best size rear wheel?

Can you guys build a wire spoke wheel for a DR650 rear only? What size would it be and what tire would you recommend? Is it a straight bolt on? Can I fit the original disk brake and calipers? I am thinking of purchasing a rear only and moving my existing rear to the front and getting it re-laced and cleaned locally. I am thinking that it is the cheapest option. What price would I pay for the rear only and will it look OK next to my old rear going on the front once cleaned? Is it rim only or do you supply tires too? Can you advise me on the best option?

A:

First of all, I strongly discourage you trying to lace the rear rim to the front hub. The holes in the rim are drilled at specific angles to make sure the spokes pull straight toward the holes in the hub. Since the rear hub is much wider and larger diameter than the front the spoke nipples will end up angled away from the front hub spoke holes. Lacing a rim with mismatched angles puts a large bending load on the spokes. A wheel built this way is not safe. Any shop that would agree to do this does not fully understand wheel building.

As for the rear rim for a DR650 supermoto setup will be a 4.25x17". We build our wheels using OEM factory Suzuki hubs so you can be assured everything will fit up the same as original. Your brake rotor, sprocket carrier, etc. will fit perfectly. A rear rim by itself will come to $599. The proper tire size for this rim would be a 150/60-17 or 150/70-17 tire. There are dozens of rear tire choices ranging from $150-$300. A matching front supermoto rim will be 3.50x17". The rear DR650 rim is 2.50x17". Even if you could use it on the front you would have a severely limited selection of front tires that would fit properly.

If you have someone locally you can trust to build wheels, the least expensive option would be to buy just rims and spokes ($529) and have them built by your local wheel builder.

Q:

What are the best dual-sport tires?

I'm really enjoying this DR and think I will many years with this bike! Do you have a recommendation for dual purpose tires? What about the grip/hand guards? I hope to get out on it this weekend!

A:

There are LOTS of choices for dual sport tires. Every choice is a compromise. For street oriented riding the stock Bridgestones work pretty well. We have also had good results with Duro HF904s as a budget dual sport tire. Lots of people love the Avon Gripsters. For more off-road oriented use the Dunlop 606s are very popular. You can't have it all. Tires that work good in the dirt are a bit sketchy on the pavement. Tires that work great on the pavement perform marginally at best in the dirt.

I'm a big fan of 'bark buster' type handguards. I use them mainly to keep from breaking a lever in a tip-over. It can ruin your day to have a broken clutch lever way out in the woods. Most all the aluminum handguards are good. We sell the Moose brand - they seem to be the best value.

Q:

Can you build me wheels with my hubs and rims provided?

I'm looking to get a set of supermoto wheels built. I've seen on your website that you offer a service to build a set of wheels with my factory hubs. My question is, if I send a my factory hubs, along with a set of black Excel rims that I received through a friend (he has an Excel sponsorship), would it be the standard charge for wheel assembly, plus the purchase of the Buchanan spoke sets and tires? To my knowledge the rims have not been drilled yet, I guess I would require that service as well.

A:

First of all, it is important to understand that if these rims have already been drilled for any other bike, I won't even attempt to lace them up to a DR650 hub. It is critical that the drilling is correct as the DR rear wheel has different spoke angles on the left and right due to the cush drive. If you can get blank rims we can have them drilled to the correct angles and then build the wheels, add the tires of your choice and balance the package.

Q:

What is the best rear tire size to work with stock front rim?

I would like to purchase a wider rim for the back of my DR650 and put a more street oriented tire on it for those highway jaunts. Can you sell one, as opposed to the set on your website?

Also, as you know the stock DR rims are closer to the caliper side of the swing arm, would your supermoto rim be set up more to the sprocket side to allow for the wider tire without rubbing the swingarm? I was hoping to fit a 140, maybe a 150 back there if possible.

A:

There are lots of possibilities. The first thing to decide is what tire you want to use. Then we can build a rim to accommodate your tire choice. The DR650 can fit a rear 150/70-17 radial to our 4.25x17" rim with no problems but this will not work very well combined with a stock front wheel. If you want to run a 140 bias ply tire in back we could lace up a 3.5" wide rim. A wheel could also be built with a 16" or 18" inch rim. Click here for more information on that. Yes, our rear rims are built so that you could run a 140 or 150 in the back with no clearance issues.

Q:

Do you know where I could get a used wheel for my DR650?

I've been looking for a stock 17" rear wheel so I can swap out with knobbies for off-road. I've checked all the forums, and no luck. I don't see any on your site either, but thought you may know where I can get one other than the dealer?

A:

For a used wheel the most likely place to find one would be eBay. They seem to come up there once or twice a month. Expect to pay $250-$350 for a decent stock rear wheel. We can build any wheel setup your want – including the stock setup. Click here to see view our current price on a stock wheel. This would be a brand new wheel built around a brand-new OEM Suzuki hub equipped with new bearings and all. All you need to do is bolt on your rotor and sprocket and hit the trail. (We can even ship it with a rotor and sprocket so you don't have to swap those out!) If you want it strictly for off-road knobbies I recommend going with an 18" rim. There are lots more tire choices in 18" than there are in 17". Most motorcycle shops don’t stock many (if any!) 17" knobbies.

Q:

Will a 1993 DR650 rear 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:

Can you tell me more about spokes and rims?

I thought spokes are available in different angles so can be selected to fit any drill angle of the rim? Might not be optimum for strength but can be made to work correct?

A:

With very few exceptions spokes only have a bend where they come through the hub. This is done to keep them from spinning in the hole while tightening the spoke nipple. You would have to have a second bend in the spoke to align with a rim drilled at different angles.

From the hub, the spoke should have a straight pull to the rim. The hole drilled in the rim has to be directly aligned with this angle. The spoke nipple slides straight through the drilled hole. It might appear to be some sort of 'ball and socket' joint where the nipple sits in the rim but it is not. It has a definite angle with only a couple of degrees freedom. If the nipple is not aligned properly the spoke will have to bend.

Think of the spoke and nipple as a bolt and a nut (which is exactly what they are). You wouldn't expect a bolt to thread into a nut at an angle and still give reliable holding strength. No, the bolt would eventually bend or break.

The angles required for the nipple holes will be determined by the width and diameter of the hub. As an example, in an old style conical hub, the spokes on the close side run almost directly toward the axle while the spokes on the far side have to run at a much wider angle. The holes for each side have to be drilled exactly according to that angle.

If you look at a DR650 rear hub you will see it is also conical. The cush drive side of the hub is larger diameter than the brake side. You couldn't take your rear rim off, flip it side to side and lace it back up and still have a strong reliable wheel. None of the nipples would align with the spokes.

Q:

Why does it take 3 weeks to build a wheel?

Can you tell me why it takes three weeks to get a wheel to me?

A:

All of our wheels are built to order, and like any custom item, that takes time. Depending on the time of day we receive your order, we call our rim and spoke supplier that day or early the next to order your rim letting them know what size and brand of rim we want. We tell them what kind of hub this rim will be laced to as well. They start with a blank (undrilled) rim and drill spoke nipple holes at the correct angles for your particular hub. They also make the spokes in the necessary lengths and bend them to mate the hub to the rim. This process typically takes 5-10 working days, and then a couple of days to ship them to us.

While the rim and spokes are being produced, we order the hub from the appropriate vendor. Once the rim and spokes are done, we assemble and true the wheel. We usually do this the same day we receive all of the wheel components, but occasionally it takes us an extra day. Once the wheel is built, we install the tires (if they come with it) and then box them all up and ship them. Shipping takes 2-10 days depending on your location and shipping method selected.

So, you can see, it is just one of those things that takes some time to pull together. We do our very best to get them to you as quickly as possible.

Q:

Do I need to lower rear to keep geometry correct after installing SuperMoto Wheels?

I am considering purchasing a set of your 17" supermoto wheels for my 09 DR650 Suzuki. Would you recommend lowering the rear end per the factory recommended method to compensate for loss of front end height due to the 17” front wheel thus maintaining proper front end geometry? (P.S. I purchased the high compression piston and cam kit from you and I really appreciate the increased performance.)

A:

In my opinion lowering the rear to maintain geometry is not necessary. In stock form the DR has ‘dirt bike’ steering geometry – about 29 degrees of rake. After installing the supermoto wheels it will be much closer to ‘street bike’ geometry – about 26-27 degrees of rake. You can always experiment by lowering the rear. You may find you prefer the way the bike feels set up that way. Some people do.

Q:

Can there be clearance issues with a lowered front end and the front fender?

When converting my DR650 to Supermoto 17" wheels, if I wanted to drop the front end 1" through the triple trees, would that cause bottoming problems with a 17" tire and fork brace? (I don’t do high jumps, but plan on doing curbs and wheelies.) Second question, shouldn't the rear be dropped to keep the stock trail/rake?

A:

Yes, with the forks slid up in the trees you are likely to occasionally hit the fork brace against the fender. And to answer part two, yes, you will want to maintain the same comparative height front to rear if you'd like to keep the rake the same.

Q:

Will RAD hubs work with my speedo drive?

Will the RAD hubs work with the replacement speedometer drive needed to compensate for the smaller wheel?

A:

The speedo drive has to be modified to fit the RAD hub. The outer portion of the drive body has to be ground or machined away slightly to allow for RAD’s ‘beefier’ spoke area. This does not weaken the wheel in anyway.

Q:

Don't ride with loose wheel bearings!

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 defiantly not normal. Could be from mud or pressure washing or both. Here is our selection of front wheel bearings and rear wheel bearings for the DR650.

Q:

Are Moose rear wheel bearings as good as stock?

I am replacing the original rear wheel bearings on my 2006 DR650 with Moose bearings and seals. I got 16,000 miles from the original bearings and I was wondering if there was any way the Moose bearings will last as long as the stock ones? The stock bearings and seals are $85 while the Moose kit is just $25. Should I be concerned?

A:

The Moose bearing kits are made by All Balls and repackaged in Moose packaging. The Moose/All Balls bearings are a quality bearing and should last as long as a stock set. You do want to be careful about pressure washing around the bearings to help extend their life.

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