Some good news, some bad news, but at least I’ve been riding

When I have good and bad news to tell, I usually like to start with the bad–just seems better to get it out of the way. In this case the bad news is sort of the reason for the good news anyway, so it’ll also be chronological order. Oh, but there’s also the riding…which in general has been good this year as reported in my last post (aside from my head giving me grief).

I took the Stone up over McKenzie Pass this year–I didn’t do the entire thing, but did get down the west side past most of the hairpin turns before I turned around to head back. It’s always beautiful up there and this trip was no exception.

The Bad News

I had another couple of rides locally on the Goose after this, but the last one–yep you read that right–was a doozy. I was determined to get a ride in one weekend and left for a short one on a Sunday. I headed up onto Cascade Lakes Hwy into a stiff wind and basically fought the wind for the entire ride. Between being tired when I started the ride and fighting the wind during the ride, I was pretty wiped. Little did I know at the time that I’d also screwed up my neck. That’s right, my old herniated disc decided to give me problems again…15 years after the first time.

After dealing with the neck for a couple of days I went to see a doctor friend of mine because I was due to head out on a driving vacation with the family a few days later. I was afraid my neck wouldn’t like being on the road for 8-10 hours in the car (when the herniated disc showed up 15 years ago I couldn’t be in the car for more than 45 minutes–and I was miserable the whole time). My friend told me that if I was worried about it I probably shouldn’t go, so I ended up sending my family on vacation to see the redwoods in Northern California without me.

The Good News

Staying home worked. I took lots of ibuprofen. I stretched. I chilled. I stayed off bikes. I got better. And I got on CraigsList. I found another bike and I went and looked–a Honda NC700X owned by the owner of Cibellis pizza. Cool. Then I went and looked at another–a Suzuki V-Strom 650 owned by a gentlemen whose name I don’t recall, but he had great taste in motorcycles. In his shop were no less than seven¬†motorcycles–a W650, DRZ400, DR650, the Wee Strom, a big-daddy Vstrom (the new version), a KTM 1290 Super Adventure and a Suzuki GSXR-750 track bike.¬†There may have also been a TW200 in there somewhere. Ultimately I didn’t buy any of those bikes but had good fun meeting the owners and admiring them.

The following weekend, though, I found and agreed to buy a 2009 Suzuki DR650. The bike was a little more money than I wanted to spend, but had low miles and lots of farkles including the two big ones: aftermarket seat and a great big gas tank. I took it for a test ride and knew immediately it’s what I was looking for and haven’t regretted buying it since.

Once I got the bike home, the customization started immediately: returned to stock height, put the stock kickstand back on, ditched the windscreen and added my universal top case mount for my Givi top case. Within a week or two I’d ordered a jet kit from and I installed it the day it came in. Of course it created issues with surging that I sorted with a little help from the interwebz. Turns out the carb is very sensitive to air flow/pressure, so I tweaked the airbox cuts I made and extended a hose from the carb that’s tied to air pressure and it runs great.

Made a few other tweaks to the DR as well. One of the previous owners had installed hand guards that prevented the clutch lever from being pulled in all the way so I removed those and reinstalled the stock hand guards. Now I can get the bike in neutral when I come to a stop with it in gear. Also pulled the foot brake lever and installed it one notch down so I don’t have to try so hard to shift gears. Finally I noticed the handlebars weren’t straight after a trip up and over McKenzie Pass–yes I rode the entire thing this time–so I loosened all the bolts tweaked the bars and tightened them back down. Perfect.

Have been riding and loving this bike and will leave you with some gratuitous shots.