I was riding the mountain curves and bends of the bike’s favorite N260 road in the Spanish Pyrenees. I’d read the comments on forums this was one of Europe’s best biking roads, running east to west parallel to the French Spanish border. It’s a good road, in fact a very good road however I wanted more…. My eyes were being drawn to the little dirt tracks spreading out from the main metalled trunk of the road like small branches, heading into the sun and the freedom of the unfenced wilderness. As I rode in the Spanish heat, my curiosity grew, what was down these trails? How far did they stretch? Were they open access or do you have to ride them as a covert mission avoiding detection?
After 25 + years of riding road bikes, the dirt was calling and as I rode home through France the voices in my helmet were getting louder.
Upon my return home I decided a new motorbike was needed and who doesn’t like dreaming of a new motorbike, comparing the specifications and kicking some wheels? Remembering the Trail Rider’s Fellowship, I consulted their website. I found some advice on bike selection and learnt that a 250cc to 400cc bike was advised. I however, had another factor to consider in my bike selection algorithm, I wanted to ride the Pyrenees dirt trails I’d seen from the previous summer, but also ride the road from the UK, through France down to Spain and back, some two thousand road miles. I needed what the Americans call a “Dual-Sport” motorcycle.
The first weekend in January I drove a 400 mile round trip to southern Cornwall and purchased an eight year old, fully standard, Suzuki DRZ400s with a mere 2,800 miles on the clock. It is worth noting this bike is the S model, “street” version, with the stronger rear sub-frame for heavy luggage carrying.
Talking to TRF members, and searching the internet I started to draw up a list of modification I needed to be carry out on my DRZ to make it a real dual-sport motorbike, capable of riding two thousand miles on the road and then riding the dirt trails for a week. Below is a list of my main modification that resulted from two consecutive summers as I rode through France to the play on the Pyrenees dirt trails.