From where I’m writing, in rural New Zealand, the Suzuki DR650 is a common sight. The bulletproof thumper has been one of the country’s bestselling bikes for many years, because it’s easy to maintain and cheap to buy. And yes, it’s still on sale down under, despite being carbureted, air-cooled and devoid of ABS.
I don’t think I’ve seen a customized DR650 in my ‘hood though, unless you count luggage racks, mufflers or sheepskin seat covers. So I was intrigued to see this pair of cleverly modified zooks from Crooked Motorcycles.
Builders Jakob Müller and Dominikus Braun are based in Memmingen—an hour or so west of Munich. They’ve developed an angular and distinctive style, and picked up clients from all over Germany.
In this case, the commission came from the two founders of Heimplanet, a Hamburg-based outdoor gear brand known for its tents (and about to celebrate its tenth anniversary).
“We got along very well because we share common passions—adventure and surfing,” says Dominikus. “The first plan was for two NX650s, but we switched to the underrated DR650—which has not been customized often. It’s a very good base for adventures and long journeys.”
Jakob and Dominikus are speaking from experience: they’ve been travelling around Europe regularly on older enduros for around three years now. “Suitability for travel was in the foreground for this project. We wanted to ‘optimize’ the donor bikes as well as possible, but still create a unique design.”
It took four months to finish the Suzukis, and Crooked selected a pair of matching 1993 kick-start DR650 RSEs for the job—in SP43B spec, with close-fitting fenders.
With a tight build schedule ahead of them, the Crooked guys set to work quickly. They stripped the Suzukis down and created a new tank design that could hold ten liters of fuel—good for around 200 kilometers of riding.
All the new bodywork is handcrafted in-house from 2mm aluminum—from the tank to the hand guards, side covers and the mini fairing. (Even the pop-up gas caps were created in the workshop.) It keeps the weight low, and adds visual interest with the look of raw and polished metal.
The cockpit has been upgraded with Renthal 971 bars—a bend popularized by Ricky Carmichael. They’re fitted with levers from Probrake, plus soft grips, buttons and a Motoscope Pro display from Motogadget.
The forks have been refurbished with new YSS internals and there are uprated YSS monoshocks on both bikes, tuned to the weight of riders with luggage. The wheels have been refurbished, re-spoked and powdercoated—like many other hard parts on the bikes.
They’re now shod with Metzeler Sahara Enduro 3 tires, one of the best 50/50 compounds on the market, with road spray deflected by modified Husquarna TX85 front fenders. New discs and pads bring the brakes up to spec.
The electrics are now channeled through a Motogadget mo.unit Blue box, which controls the juice going to a Gazzini LED Headlight and auxiliary Baja Designs SP2 LED lights. The compact blinkers are HeinzBikes up front, Motogadget out back.
The 640 cc engines on the bikes have been refreshed and serviced with new bearings, but otherwise left stock—presumably for reliability’s sake. Leo Vince slip-on mufflers shave off almost 2.5 kg in weight on each bike, as well as freeing up the breathing a little.
The rest of the mods are all about practicality. The plush new seats are big enough for two, and upholstered in a mix of Alcantara and leather. The rear frame is mostly stock, but tweaked at the end to accommodate luggage racks and removable side racks.
Those side racks are designed to fit custom Heimplanet bags, which have around 30 liters of capacity. The can also take one-gallon water packs from RotopaX, and Crooked have even fabricated a surf rack that can be bolted onto the aftermarket engine guards on the DRs.
The paint uses colors that will be revealed on future Heimplanet products, and there are latitude and longitude coordinates added to each side of the tanks: one is the location of the Crooked Motorcycles workshop, and the other marks the Heimplanet headquarters, some 700 kilometers north. Genial!
Right now, the DR650s are on a journey from Hamburg to Portugal and back, with the Heimplanet guys on board. It’ll be a trip of around 11,000 km—and proof that you don’t need a farkled-out modern ADV to travel in comfort and style.