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Across Aus – A DRZ to ride from coast to coast

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This entry is part 12 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #22

For Adventure Rider Magazine’s publisher, riding across the Wide Brown Land has been a long-held dream. In 2017 the dreaming is over. It’s time to take care of business.

Ready for a coast-to-coast ride…once the Safari Tanks fuel cell is fitted.

Riding east-west from one Australian coast to the other – or vice versa – would have to be on just about every adventure rider’s wish list. It’s up there with Cape York and The Simpson as one of those challenges where a rider can measure his worth.

Even if the route doesn’t include some of the more ferocious alternatives in central Australia, the distance and isolation make it a ride that needs to be taken very seriously.

Back in 2015 the APC Rally staged ADVX, a monumental crossing which offered all the toughest possibilities: Steep Point, The Gunbarrel, Finke Gorge, The Simpson and some other bits and pieces no-one expected. Adventure Rider Magazine’s publisher was one of the first to sign up, only to find when the event came around family commitments meant he couldn’t make the start. Not to be denied, he sent his worked-up KTM990 out to Alice Springs and joined the ride in the red centre…only to have the clutch give out in the axle-deep red dust of the Finke access road.So that was that.

Then, in 2016, he grabbed a bunch of mates, an SWM RS650R, shipped the whole lot over to the west coast, dropped the clutch and started roosting eastwards.

That all went well until Cameron Corner, when an oversight in preparation caused a failure that couldn’t be dealt with on the edge of the Sturt Desert. Once again he loaded the bike on a trailer and headed for the coast.

‘Third time’s a charm’ goes the saying, and everyone’s fingers are crossed that’s true, because he’s about to give it another shake, and this time he’s setting up a DRZ. First port of call: Vince Strang Motorcycles in Inverell.

A well-sorted cockpit.

The Man

When it comes to Suzuki’s DR range, Vince Strang is the Grand Poobah. His Inverell dealership stocks everything Vince has found an asset for the Suzukis in his many years of building and racing the DR range.

The publisher’s DRZ was rolled into the workshop, the credit card swiped, and Vince was briefed on the mission: Australia’s east coast to Australia’s west coast, with probably a ride back through the southern part of the nation after.

Vince thought for about…ooo…0.5 of a second or so, then, in a blur of movement that resembled the exhaust valve of a DR650 with the throttle wide open, he went to work.

First up was a pair of new sprockets to reset the gearing. A 43-tooth rear and a 15-tooth front allow the bike to run open-road speeds without excessive revving. Vince says the DRZ400 motor has heaps of torque and handles the taller gearing without any stress at all.

A Ralle Moto ’bar clamp raises the Renthal RC Twin Wall ’bars around 30mm and moves them forward just a little.

Adventure Rider Magazine’s publisher is a tall bugger, so there were a few concessions made to his height. The ’bars and Ralle Moto mount were one example, and so were the Pivot Pegs. A 60mm ’peg instead of the standard 45mm makes a big difference under a size 13 hoof.

Heated grips were fitted under Pro Taper dual-compound pillow grips, and a VSM screen, Funnelweb filter and B&B rack round out some fairly standard changes.

Big ’pegs and high handlebars are the go for a tall rider

A few words to the fans

One thing that did catch our eye was the VSM fan kit.

The S model DRZs come with a fan already fitted, but the E models – the standard choice for adventure and trail riders – don’t. For low-speed running, and slogging through deep sand comes into that category, the fan is great idea and can mean the difference between a batch of good memories and a DNF.

Heavy-duty tubes were fitted and the suspension tuned for the publisher’s weight, including heavier springs and some revalving, and, mechanically, the bike was ready to go.

The total weight of the luggage, including camping gear, is expected to be about 10kg. There’ll be no need for a fuel bladder on the crossing.

Stray bits and pieces

While all this spanner work was going on, consideration was being given to navigation and luggage.

For this crossing the bike will run a Garmin Montana on the ’bars, but will also have a Hema HN7 in the map pocket of the tankbag. That should save any geographical embarrassment.

Luggage will consist of a Giant Loop over the rear of the bike and a backpack.

All up, including camping gear, 500ml of oil and a can of chainlube, it looks like the load will be about 10kg, and naturally, a Safari Tanks fuel cell will do the bizzo and give the range needed to cope with The Outback.

There’s a few other bits and pieces which will be sorted as the weather and route are made clear, but for now, it’s a damn good package.

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