While some of us are now approximately hip-deep in winter, there’s still time to do those over-winter mods you’ve been putting off. To that, I’ll add that adventure bikes are all well and good, but buying a brand new one is generally not cheap. That’s especially true when you start kitting it out for dual-sport functionality. I think you see where this math problem is leading the ADV-minded among us.
If you want a lightweight ADV bike on a budget, being handy can be a huge ace in the hole. Hopefully, that’s you, because if it is, you can do what YouTuber mtn moto adv did. He took a humble 1995 Suzuki DR350 that he bought for $1,500, threw an estimated $1,000 worth of modifications at it, and now has a lightweight ADV that he loves taking off-road on the regular.
Now, the bike came with a couple of modifications already made by the previous owner. Good mods include an RM250 fork and triple clamp, which this guy says makes the bike handle extremely well. The previous owner also installed a Trailtech endurance speedo, which doesn’t always work perfectly, but works well enough. Mr. PO also installed an extremely loud FMF aftermarket exhaust.
The real PO pièce de résistance, however, is a kickstart kit. Without it, Mr. MMA says, he absolutely wouldn’t feel comfortable doing all the off-road exploring he’s been doing. It has saved his bacon from being stranded in the middle of nowhere multiple times.
So, what did the new owner add to this bike? First, he installed a new lightweight front brake rotor, because the PO apparently warped the old one. Now, Mr. MMA didn’t mention a brand name, but he does say that it works well for this application. A bunch of other parts he installed were random things from Amazon, so perhaps this one is, as well.
To that, he added a set of Shinko 244 Golden Boy tires, which he says are very capable both on- and off-road. He notes that heavy clay-type mud can be an issue, but like all tires, these have their limits. Mostly, they’re fine and even perform admirably well for what he needs them to do.
Braided stainless steel brake lines, an RM250 front fender, and a DRZ400 headlight shroud also went straight on this bike. The brake lines make a huge difference in feel, and are much more durable than rubber. The DRZ400 headlight shroud makes the bike look more modern. He also installed an LED headlight, taillight, and aux lights to improve his lighting situation for riding both in the daytime and at night.
Other important goodies include a set of Bark Busters, new grips that reduce vibration, grip warmers (one of which isn’t working properly at the moment and needs fixing), and bar risers. This rider is around 6 feet tall, so those bar risers made a huge difference over stock ergonomics on the DR350.
He also installed a large-capacity Clarke fuel tank, and his only quibble with it is the petcock location. Apparently, the petcock is located significantly higher than the lowest point where fuel sits in the tank, so you’ll never get a significant amount of fuel out of the bottom due to, well, gravity. Overall, it still holds more fuel than the stock tank, but that situation could definitely be improved.
Mr. MMA also installed a Seat Concepts kit to make spending hours in the saddle much more practical. The stock saddle on the DR350 is not conducive to lengthy rides, so that was an absolute must. Another important tweak was keeping the front 15-tooth stock sprocket, but dropping down to a 39-tooth rear sprocket, which he says greatly improved his ability to channel power where and when he wants it.
Finally, he installed a heavy-duty Immix rear rack that also works well as a grab point to hoist the bike up when needed. A Nelson-Rigg tank bag and set of rackless saddle bags seemed like a good idea, and they’ve so far held up well when he’s dropped the bike multiple times. However, he notes that on both Nelson-Rigg products, the stitching on the straps broke when he simply tried to tighten them down. He sewed them back together using some strong upholstery thread, and he says they’ve held up fine since then.
All told, none of these changes seem particularly difficult or outrageously expensive. However, when you add them all together, it seems like he ended up with a machine that’s making him very happy. That sounds like goals to us.