The beast that bore me and the things she carried are all described below. See this update on the moto, mods, and gear for a review of what worked, what sucked, and what broke.

Meet Dyna Rae, my Suzuki DR650 – she can do it all. Near the beginning of her overland makeover:

Modifications complete and loaded for a trans-Africa expedition:

Just about any bike will get you there and back, given a flexible schedule and enough ingenuity. That said, it gives me some peace of mind knowing that I’ve taken up with a reliable, versatile and time tested machine such as Dyna Rae – simple enough mechanically that even I might be able to fix her when she needs some TLC. She is a 2007 model that had 6K miles on her when we met in 2010.  Sporting a 644 cubic centimeter power plant, she weighs in at a svelte 325 pounds dry and unburdened. She’ll do single track trails, hours blasting on superslab, and everything in between. The carbureted, air cooled design hasn’t changed since 1996, which means that you won’t be winning any enduro races, but there are loads of aftermarket goodies to dress her up and a wealth of knowledge on the design out there in the motorcycling community. Of course, no one is perfect…

DR Modifications

I had no idea about motorcycles before Dyna and I met, so learning how to work on one has been a journey in itself. Usually involving breaking one thing while I’m trying to fix another thing. I’d be in far worse shape without the experiences of other riders and travelers – some of which are linked on the side bar at the right. My bike modifications are listed below along with tools, spares and a gear list. See the post Dyna Rae all Dressed Up for more details on preparations for circumnavigating Africa.

  • Body and Controls

    Long range tank – Acerbis 5.3 gal
    Handlebars – Renthal Jimmy Button bend
    1” Bar risers
    Hand guards – Cycra
    New grips
    Windshield – Screens for bikes
    Engine case guard – Procycle
    Quick response throttle tube – Procycle
    Case and oil filter cover armor
    Front fender – KTM style UFO
    Bash plate – Procycle
    Rear rack – Moto Billet
    Saddle – Seat Concepts
    License plate bracket – Procycle
    Top box – Pelican 1450
    Toolbox – MTE Engineering (via DRriders)
    Tool tube – Ag supply on ebay
    Panniers – Ortileb saddle bags
    Surf Rack – modified from Carver Racks
    Wider footpegs – bronation from ebay
    Side racks for bags – ebay
    Stainless hardware replacement

  • Suspension and Rubber

    Fork springs – Eibach
    Heavier (7.6 kg/mm) shock spring
    Race tech gold valve
    Heavy-duty (3mm) inner tubes
    Mefo Explorer tires
    Rear axel locknut- Procycle

  • Electrical

    USB outlet hardwired into switched power
    HID headlight
    DR 250 tail light
    Battery -Yuasa high capacity
    Home made mini jumper cables installed under seat
    GPS – Iphone with RAM mount

  • Engine and Drive

    Magnetic sump plug – Procycle
    Oil filter magnet – Procycle
    Aluminum chain guide – Procycle
    Case Saver – Procycle
    Air filter – Twin Air
    Filter skins x 12
    Stainless steel oil filter – Dual Star
    Extended fuel screw – Keintech
    Plastic choke fitting replaced
    Suzuki Hyabusa muffler – ebay
    Two Brothers/Keintech midpipe
    New chain ring and countershaft sprocket
    DID 525 X-ring chain

  • Ditched and Refreshed

    CA emissions box removed
    License plate holder assembly removed
    Valves adjusted
    Carburetor disassembled and cleaned, screws replaced
    Upper chain roller removed
    Cush drive rubbers replaced
    Sprocket cover removed
    Kickstand and clutch safety switches disabled
    Dialectric grease applied to connectors
    New spark plugs
    Replaced cam chain tensioner gasket
    Shock seal and oil replaced
    Fuel line replaced
    NSU screws replaced and loctited

Bike Stuff on Board

You can never carry everything that you might need, but it would be nice to have spares and tools along that will avoid a show stopper. This is the trouble with time to prepare – you think of too much crap to carry. Here is my list for the DR:

  • Spares

    Clutch and throttle cables (zip tied in place)
    Front sprocket – 14 tooth
    Counter shaft seals
    Front and rear wheel bearings
    Cush drive bearing
    Shock and fork seals
    Front brake pads
    Headlight and taillight bulbs
    Inner tubes front and rear – standard thickness
    Oil drain plug
    Chain links, master links x 3
    Spark plugs x 2
    Fuses x 3
    Fuel line
    14 gauge wire +connectors
    Spare bolts kit

  • Tool Kit

    1/4” Socket driver – Motion Pro
    Bit driver
    Combo tire iron/axel wrench x 2
    Allen keys – 2/3/4/5/6/8/10
    Wrenches – 8/10/12/13/17
    Sockets – 6/8/10/12/13/14/17
    8”Socket extension
    3/8”-1/4” Socket converter
    Spark plug socket
    Chain tool
    7”Knipex locking pliers
    4” vice grips
    Tire pressure gauge
    Mountain bike pump
    Bike crutch for tire repairs
    Feeler gauges
    Valve tappet adjuster
    Sawzall blades – metal and all purpose
    Valve stem fishing tool
    Letherman tool
    Small voltage tester
    Telescoping magnet
    Tow strap

  • Consumables

    Zip ties
    Duct and electrical tape
    Blue loc-tite
    Tube patch kit
    JB weld
    Blue RTV gasket maker
    Bearing grease
    Chain lube
    Small WD-40



Gear obsessing is a great way to pretend you’re going to do something exciting while you’re not doing anything very exciting. I’ve tried to embrace the lesson I’ve learned backpacking in the wilderness that less is often best when weight and space are at a premium.

  • Riding

    Helmet – On-off road AFX- FX39
    Goggles – Smith Intake
    Armored jacket with mesh panels- Rev’it Turbine
    Armored pants with zip off panels – Joe Rocket
    Gloves – Aerostitch Ropers

  • Camping

    Tent – REI quarter dome
    Sleep mat – Exped Airmat and pillow
    Bag – Montbell down hugger 30 degree
    Cooking – Trangia mini alcohol stove and pot, 1L water bottle
    Water – Sawyer in-line filter, MSR dromedary bag

  • Surfing

    Board – 5’11” quad fin by Ward Coffee, Santa Cruz
    Water wear – Oneil 3/2 psycho freak suit, boardies, reef boots, neoprene top
    Spares and repairs – 2 x leashes, 2 x fin set, ding repair stuff

  • Personal

    Clothing – Keen Sandals, 3 t-shirts, 1 pair pants, 3 socks, 3 underwear, hat, rain jacket, light insulating jacket
    Communications and data– Macbook Air 11”, 1TB External drive, 128gb USB drive
    Camera – Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 tough camera, Lumix GF3 with 14 mm lens (28mm equivalent), mini tripod, modified go-pro mount, x-shot monopod
    Med Kit compression bandage, adhesive bandages,sterile dressings, antiseptic cream, tweezers, ibuprofen, vicodin, antibioics, antimalarial medication
    Other – stowable daypack, headlamp, pack towel, mosquito head net, toiletries, water treatment, nylon cord, mini caribiners, rechargeable batteries, chargers, outlet adapters

  • Documents

    U.S. Passport
    Bike registration
    Bike title
    California driver license
    International driver license
    Travel insurance
    Carnet de passage en Duane (Africa)
    Paper and digital copies of all

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