After spending many years riding the Hawk GT and the KLX, I decided that it would be nice to have a modern bike, that was still sold, with a good amount of aftermarket support. I thought long and hard about this, and decided with my advanced decrepitude, I shouldn't be looking at a sports bike any more, and I'm too damned young to be giving up and buying a Harley :o). I finally settled on a Suzuki, the last of the big four manufacturers that I've owned. I'd originally looked at getting a used one, but based on how most of them seem to have had the crap beaten out of them, and that I could get a brand new 2007 model for not a lot more, I went for the new one. It's been a long time since I've had a new bike, so this is going to be nice :o)

I installed Kouba lowering links, to drop the seat height by 0.75" or so. Enough to give me a bit more confidence moving it around, but hopefully not enough to bugger up the handling too badly. You have to knock the steel bushes out of the old linkages, so be prepared for a 5 minute job to be closer to a 45 minute job. After I was done, Vic rode it around the block a few times, as as soon as I've started hacking, she won't be able to ride it. Other than banging her shins on the footpegs (she usually rides a V-Star), she seems to have enjoyed it.

I then proceeded to convert it.

The side cases are made of magnesium, which is light, a pretty colour and amazingly brittle. Word on the street is that you can crack a case if the bike falls over, so I've installed case savers to ensure that the bike never falls over. I first tried to glue them on with some silicone adhesive that I already had in the garage, but when that didn't set, I used red RTV.

I removed the massive, but surprisingly light, tail light unit, and replaced it with a far more modern LED setup. I cut the connectors off the old unit and soldered them onto the new unit, so it all plugs together nicely. I was going to hack it to the loom, but then figured that the old stuff was just going to sit in a box of stock parts I've taken off in the garage, so didn't need the connectors.

Strangely, black with a white trace is earth...

At the same time, I took off the lunchbox, sorry, tool bag, as it's just a nylon zip up bag that just aches to be emptied when you leave the bike somewhere. I also took off the passenger pegs ("where do I put my luggage?", "tell her to get her own bike"). This required the fitment of an exhaust hanger bracket. It was a pain to fit, but it's there now. I don't see me taking passengers on this thing (it's pretty tall, even with the lowering links) and not having the pegs tidies up the back end.

The front LED turn signals showed up and were fitted, along with a variable load flasher relay. The instructions called for the red and yellow lines to the relay to be part of the loom (I cut the standard lines into the relay and put them on bullet connectors, so it can be changed back if necessary), but neglects to mention that you need to run black to earth. Earth on the DRZ is run in wires, rather than just the frame... so I stripped an earth wire and soldered my connection to it.

I also got the Acerbis Supermoto front mudguard fitted - it's smaller than the Suzuki item, and that'll help with stability in the wind. Plus it looks cooler :o)

I got tired of the 95 mile range of the stock tank, so I got a 3.9 (US) gallon Clarke plastic tank. I've lost the locking petrol cap, but gained a 200+ mile range, and the ability to see how much petrol is in the tank by just looking :o) The plastic tank is a lot lighter, and requires the removal of the annoying charcoal filter. I wanted to take that off anyway, as apparently overfilling the bike slightly can stop it running with the filter on. I had a brief flirtation with a Rekluse auto-clutch, but it wasn't for me, so I got it out again.

The Clarke cap's gasket fell apart, and when I found out that that's a common problem, I replaced it with a Honda XR (they're all the same) one. Problem solved, apart from a few largish bits of rubber hiding at the bottom on the tank.

The standard DRZ airbox doesn't breathe very well, so I did what it seems everybody does and used a hot box cutter blade to cut a 3"x3" hole in the top of it. This makes it run lean, so at the same time I installed a James Dean jet kit. It's pepped the bike up a lot (to the point where I think it could stand to lose a few teeth on the rear sprocket). I managed to pick up a cheap used Leo Vince slip on pipe, and even though the quiet baffle doesn't seem to fit properly, it's not too loud. One day maybe I'll drill the rivets out of the can and figure out what's going on there... it shouldn't be too hard to fix once I can see what the problem is.

I took the DRZ to work - a 125 mile trip each way, and was praying to get hit by a car on the way home so I could ride in an ambulance. The stock seat is downright painful, so I've replaced that with a Corbin to make the bike a little more practical. I also installed a rack, so I can carry more than I can stuff in my pockets. Some Acerbis hand guards are there to make sure that the bike never falls over, and at least if it ever does it won't break the levers so badly that I'll have to push it home.

Suzuki made a set of different bodywork for the DRZ - the "Supermoto appearance kit". You could either get the front only, or the front and side panels. I totally missed this. Still, I managed to find a front kit locally (on eBay), and picked it up for ~1/2 what they sold for originally. I like it. I wasn't that bothered about the side panels anyway.

I installed a Trailtech Vapor dash, to replace the old-looking Suzuki setup. It's got a built in rev counter, temperature gauge, timers and suchlike, which is nice to have. Oh, also programmable shift lights - I've been having fun getting the "shift now" light to click on, but I have yet to get the "engine destruction imminent, arsehole" light to come on.

I dinked around with a HID headlight kit, and that made the headlight a lot whiter. It had an odd habit of cutting when I overrevved the engine, so I took that back out. I'm still thinking about some sort of better headlight, but I want it to fit the SM headlight fairing. I've installed an LED bulb for the moment. I've made up a little holder for a couple of LED car daytime running lights powered from what was the old instrument panel socket, too.

As I'm always going for 6th gear, I installed a larger front sprocket (17T). It was a pain to get in, and required a little work with the Dremel-alike, but it means the bike's not revving its guts out quite as badly on the freeway. Maybe I'll still drop a few teeth from the rear sprocket at some point.