The big decision when deciding on doing a long distance ride is what bike to take? A common answer to this question is take the bike that you have, and it's not a bad answer really. When I first starting thinking about riding around the world the bike I had at the time was the trusty Honda XR600 and I did consider using it, sometimes I whish I did. But that's because for me off-roading is what it's about and here the XR is good. It's not so good on the road, it's not so good on fuel economy and it's not so good on carrying luggage, but it can do it and I do in New Zealand where I still ride it and the highway miles between off-roading are low. No one bike is going to do everything well, It's always a compromise. You don't need the latest and greatest bike to have fun while travelling, sometimes less is better!

Here's what I've done to the Suzuki to improve it for touring;

Original rear shock revalved and heavy spring installed, at 79 000km replaced shock with Cogent Dynamics Mojave Shock
Heavy front fork springs and gold valves fitted, 79 000km Gold valves replaced with Cogent dcc valves
Safari 35litre fuel tank
Seat Concepts seat
Foot pegs repositioned 25mm lower and 25mm back.
B&B bash plate and rear carry rack
Motosport pannier racks and hybrid bags
Wolfman enduro tankbag
Homemade tank cover with small saddle bags
Original carb fitted with Procycle jet kit and air box opened, at 79 000km carb replaced with Tm 40 pumper
GSXR 1000 muffler fitted
Baja Designs Squadron led with dimmer unit fitted to replace headlight
Eagle Screens windshield
Led indicator lights
Trail tech trip computer
Garmin Montana GPS
12 volt socket charger
Home made larger tool kit fitted (storm water downpipe and screw cap)
Procycle countershaft sprocket seal retainer
Procycle countershaft sprocket case saver
Fat tapered bars and barkbusters
16/45 gearing for road, 14/45 for dedicated off roading

Here's what I've had to do to keep her running;

Oil changes every 6000km, semi synthetic, usually Motul 5100 10w40/50
Oil filters and valve check every 12000km
Rear wheel bearings and sprocket carrier bearings don't last too well, usually about 15 000km
Chain and sprocket about 20-25 000km 525 DID VX is very good. think the 525 last better than 520
28 000km replaced fork oil
50 000km replaced piston rings, cam chain, valves and valve guide seals.
55 000km replaced rear shock linkage bearings, steering head bearings, fork seals and fork oil
79 000km replaced fork bushings and seals, replaced rear sprocket carrier hub(bearing no longer tight fit) re-greased rear shock linkages, small crack in frame welded

Here's what I like about the Suzuki;

It's easy to work on, wet sump oil changes are a breeze, valve check and adjustment easy, all the above work done by myself (except measuring head and piston tolerances)
Very dependable, old school simple carb and air cooled ruggedness
With luggage removed it can do some narly single track ( although it's still a big heavy pig and has its limits!)
Loaded up it can sit on 120 km all day on highway if needed ( although it's still only 650 single and runs out of power)
It's actually pretty smooth for a single
It's cheap, both to buy and maintain

Here's what I don't like about the Suzuki;

Everything above!! Sometimes I wish I had a high performing bike and all the work that comes with it. Although the DR rides pretty well it's no KTM. Here's the thing, 95% of the time I'm cruising on some sort of road and enduro racing performance is just not really necessary. Although it is a shit load more fun to have it now and then!!

Here's my current dream bike:

Ktm exc500

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