The Bike (06-05-09)

Delivery of ZoltanZoltan is a 2004 Suzuki DL650, we decided to buy this after having an SV650, we also considered the KTM Adventurer (just because they are cool) and a GS1150 (well when you see them everywhere you have to don’t you!?) but we considered both of them too expensive and also believed that Suzuki had a better dealer network if required. If we were to look now I would also consider the Yamaha Tenere and the good old Africa Twin if available but all in all I think we are both very happy with the decision we made.

Although the DL is a great bike as standard we have made a few changes:

Pat Walsh sump guard and, oil radiator guard and crash bars. I have been really happy with how well all this setup has worked, the main source of battering they have taken has been the numerous speed bumps we have encountered on our way, the worst of which were in Pakistan! My only complaint is that I had to pay extra for powder coating and after just a couple of months the paint had started to come off! Pat Walsh Sump Guard
Metal Mule panniers 45 and 38l, consider these a bit big (although may not after a few months) were very expensive when we bought them and they have gone up, also considered Pelican cases. Would now seriously consider making my own cases following this website. Front and Side Of Our Metal Mules
Rear of Our Metal Mules
Famsa Tank Bag and Panniers (come separately) these were bought both for extra carrying volume to carry awkward items and things that might leak and also to help balance the bike back up with all that weight hanging over the back from the Metal Mules. The tank panniers are mainly used for things that we wouldn’t be too fussed about if they got stolen, usually things like water bottles, oil, washing up liquid, bike cover, etc. The main tank bag is removable which means it has two uses, firstly we keep keep things that we don’t ever want stolen even when we are off sightseeing or things that we just like to have pretty quick access to; our camera, passports, bike documents and our guide books and maps. Tank Panniers and Tank Bag Base
Tank Bag and Panniers Side View
Fitted an MRA screen but not sure how effective it really is for me (I’m 6′ 4″, not sure what that is in new money!) and would now consider a more substantial one. MRA Screen
Autocom Intercom system, bought whilst at the Birmingham NEC Motorbike show, good choice as we got it half price, having problems getting the autovox thing to work but still working on it, overall very good system (discovered there is only really a problem when there are strong side winds). Autocom Intercom System
Scottoiler with dual injectors, this has probably been the most useless of all the extras we have added, I have used the single injector system before and would say that that is far better, the dual injector system seems to keep getting caught by the chain and then ripped off! One of the other guys we have met on our trip so far also had a Scottoiler block system and that seemed to work really well so would maybe consider that. Scottoiler Dual Injector
Added switches in side pods for the intercom system, for the added 12V AUX socket and one for turning off one of the headlights to reduce load on alternator when using the 12V AUX socket. Side Switch and AUX Socket

Now that the trip is about to begin we have done a few preparations on Zoltan, we’ve had the tyres changed (10072), changed the spark plugs, had an oil change, changed the coolant and replaced the stock air filter with a K&N version (although I have been warned to watch this in dusty conditions).

After reaching Estonia we are still both pretty happy with the bike, people have thought that the 650DL might have been too small with both of us and our luggage but after crossing over the mountain passes in Norway I think it pulls just fine, it isn’t any sort of sports bike but it isn’t supposed to be. I am still planning to go ahead and change the front sprocket with one with an extra tooth to reduce the fuel consumption and just make motorway cruising a bit happier as at 60 – 70 mph it will be sitting happily in the non vibey zone around 4000 rpm. There are a couple of changes that I am planning to make though, the seat on the 650 is RUUUBBBBBIIIISSSSHHHHH, after an hour or so your bum is starting to get sore, another half an hour and you need to get off so we are hoping to either change or improve this. The other change which I think is necessary is the rear spring (and possibly front springs but I won’t know that until I change the rear) at the moment the rear of the bike is a bit too bouncy and quite often bottoms out even though the damper is pretty much wound right up (you might say that we have too much on the bike but I have been assured by Kadri that all of those shoes are needed 😉 (sorry honey!) ) so I think we will change this and maybe the rear damper too after taking advice from a man that knows. Apart from that the bike has been excellent, if you are thinking of doing a trip like this and are scared by the price of a BMW or KTM then definitely have a look at a DL, it may not be so off road orientated but how off road do you plan to go on this sort of trip 🙂 .


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