I got the idea to do this trip while I was on my trip around the
United States in 1999, particularly while I was riding through Baja California.
Originally I thought I would be doing this by myself and really wanted
to get a sidecar rig to do the trip with. But the availability of a good
sidecar rig and a ride in the dirt on a friends xr650 and the fact that
two friends would be joinging me convinced me that a dual-sport might be
the best way to go.
For the trip I purchased a new 2001 Suzuki DR650SE. I picked this bike
for three reasons. First it had the lowest seat height of the three Japanese
dual-sports. Second it was a better street bike then the Honda XR and a
better dirtbike then the Kawasaki KLR and last but not least I had
never owned a Suzuki.
This is a picture of my DR a few weeks after I bought it.
This picture shows some of the modifications I've done in preperation
for my trip. At this time I've added handguards from Enduro Engineering.
A 5 gallon gas tank from IMS. A Suzuki luggage rack. A top box from JC
Whitney. Luggage racks from Happy-Trails. A skid plate from Baja Designs.
A centerstand from Dual-Star and a Corbin Saddle.
Current Bike Modifications
Enduro Engineering Handguards
No problems seems to be quality gear
IMS 5 gallon Tank
This thing was a real pain in the butt to install. First mine came
with a petcock but I was told to remove the petcock from the stock tank
as I needed to use the stock bolts in new tank. Unfortunately the stock
bolts are much to long to use with the new petcock (grrrr). I ended up
using the bolts supplied to mount the attachment point for the seat to
the back of the tank to secure the petcock. After installing the petcock
and putting some gas in the tank it leaked like crazy (grrr x 2). The shape
of the petcock is not even close to the shape of the gasket so it didn't
seal at all. I ended up making a thin metal plate to go between the gasket
and the petcock and another gasket to go between the petcock and the metal
plate. I applied a gasket sealant and it doesn't appear to be leaking.
Also the holes drilled into the gastank for the petcock mounting where
very sloppy. At this point I've got to say that I'm very underwhelmed by
No Problems but you need to drill holes in your rear fender.
JC Whitney Top Box
I found about this box while surfing the web. While it's definitely
not a Givi box it's quite functional and well worth the $50 price. The
mounting hardware is pretty generic and had to be modified for my purposes
but I'm quite pleased with the setup.
These bolted right on and appear to be real quality pieces.
Baja Designs Skip Plate
This went on fairly easily. I purchased this with my bike before
I ever got the centerstand. It does not fit with the dual-star centerstand
so I ended cutting the back end off and drilling new holes to mount it
to the centerstand. It tends to reflect engine noise up to the rider and
it sound is quite tinny. I've coated the inside of the plate with underbody
coating in an attempt to dull the noise.
This went on without a problem. It lacks a tab to step on which
makes putting the bike on the stand harder then it needs to be. Also when
the bike is on the centerstand it doesn't appear to be very stable so I
wouldn't leave it unattended. However when it comes to mainting the chain
or rear tire it's extemely convenient so I think it was a good purchase.
When I ordered the saddle from Corbin I asked them to build up
the front to elimante the usual dip. The saddle is about twice as wide
as the stock saddle and very comfortable. It's flat design also lets you
move on it easily.
Pending Bike Modifications & Gear
Upgraded Alternator / Stator
Replace instrument cluster
Tank Panniers etc.
Brake Disk Guards
chain and sprockets
wheel and steering head bearings
Considering a Garmin E-Map
Nolan N100 Flip-Up helmet
These helmets are inexpensive and got a very positive review from
Motorcycle Consumer News. While I believe that a standard full face helmet
provides superior protection the convenience of a flip-up on long trips
to talk to your buddies or cops or whatnot on the side of the road is awesome.
Aerostich Darrien Jacket and Pants
Bought the jacket used from Todd and the pants new. I'll post more
of a review once I've tested them a bit more.
Still need to get
Like my riding suit the boots need to be waterproof. The boots
need to be unligned so I don't sweat my dogs off in the heat and should
be lace ups to allow room for multiple layers of socks when the weather
turns cold. Walking comfort is also a very high priority with steel toes
and shanks coming a distant second. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
I plan to bring two pairs. Warm weather gloves and waterproof cold
weather gloves. Any recommendations for waterproof riding gloves would
I currently have a Sierra Designs Cliplight tent. I've had this
tent for a decade and it's proven extremely versatile and most importantly
water resistant even without a ground cloth in torrential down pours. Unfortunately
there's barely room to fit me and my gear so I'm looking for something
a bit larger.
sleeping bag and mat
I'll be using a bag rated for very cold weather in case I get stuck
in the Andes or somesuch and a full length thermarest mat.
First Aid kit
International Drivers License
Proof of Insurance
Proof of Vaccinations
Most of my research has been conducted on the web at the sites
listed on my links page.
Read This First Central & South America
Berlitz Latin America Phrasebook with cassette
Chatting with the Latinas at the local gas stations.