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Jan 22, 2011

DRZ/KLX 110 Rebuild Brand X Mini "Pit Bike", Custom DRZ 110

The moment you've all been waiting for, I'm positive. The big unveil! Here's where I'll break down what we started with, the details of the build, and the finished product. The impetus for this build was a growing boy that was quickly outgrowing the once adequate DRZ 110cc dirt bike. While there are options out there, it's a fine line at this size between too small, just right, and way too big. Building our own gives us more options than simply buying something else and since we have 2 more kids to grow into this bike, the cost was well worth it.

Here's what we started with, a pretty much bone stock 2004 DRZ/KLX 110. Although it says Suzuki, it's made by Kawasawki for Suzuki, and is therefore identical to a KLX 110 of the same year.

The budget for this project was something that I wanted to pay attention to, not only because of the obvious limited funds, but also because I think it's silly that some will spend up to $10,000 or more on these little bikes and end up with something cool, but something that just doesn't make much sense unless you just have money to burn and/or you race in this niche area. Brand X Minis seems to understand this by making a good product that doesn't break the bank. At first I was trying to keep it under $500, which would basically buy a manual clutch, new plastics, and stiffer springs with a bit more travel. I can see how it's easy to get caught up in spending money on these bikes though, there is so much available, you can spend about as much as you want. After deciding that a longer fork would be nice and looking at stock KX60 forks(that will bolt up), or KX65 forks that need modification to fit, I decided to do something more with the swingarm as well. My ideas with the swingarm included welding and fabricating a longer swingarm, then bolting it to a stiffer, long travel spring. The problem here is that the KX60 or 65 forks are still really soft, and would not be a good match. Here is a pretty good, almost comprehensive list of the options for suspension upgrades. This list leaves out what we feel was the best option for us, Brand X Minis. They solve the problems associated with "making things work". You'll quickly realize that to make a good upgrade, you may find a good deal on a fork for example, but making it fit will become expensive. It's really impressive what you get with Brand X Minis, try adding up the cost of individual components to do this and you'll end up spending more, often much more. We settled on a budget of around $1500.

Here's what I'm talking about. $1,000 bought everything we needed to upgrade our suspension. Individually you'll pay $549 for the front and $549 for the rear.
Brand X Minis

Brand X Minis claim is that they test and ride what they sell. This stuff really works and is a great value. The rear spring has a rate of 650lbs, but the leverage from the swingarm works to make it soft initially, then tighten up as it compresses. There is separate compression and rebound damping adjustment, and the preload is adjustable with the included tools. Riders from 80 to 200 pounds can appreciate this suspension. There is a full 8 inches of travel and it comes with everything you need. The height and leverage can also be adjusted to suit different riders.

The front comes complete with 8" Travel Fork Legs, Custom Machined Triple Clamps, Complete Laced Front Wheel, Caliper, Stainless Braided Hose, Master Cylinder, Lever, Installed Wheel Bearings, Wheel Spacers, New Front Axle, Fork Guards, and Hardware To Install. We also added the taper steering bearings, but the teeny stock ones can work.

The 110 has an auto clutch and a manual clutch. The manual clutch is actually used, but it goes unnoticed because it's sort of automatic by being linked to the shifter. We opted to remove the entire auto clutch assembly and replace it with a lightweight/strong drive gear, then install a cable and hand lever to actuate the manual clutch in the traditional way. An aluminum spacer can be used as a wedge between the gears as shown in order to remove the nut on the auto clutch.

On the right(below), is the auto clutch assembly. Over 3 pounds of weight is removed from the crank by replacing this with the drive gear shown on the right. You must re-use the 4 stock pieces shown including the gear, snap ring, cap, and spring. The top cap just taps off to reveal the snap ring, then it goes on the drive gear the same way.

The manual clutch conversion kit comes complete with the cover, bracket, spacers, lever, and cable. It has a washer that will allow you to use the stock drive assembly minus the auto clutch, and still let you lose 2 pounds of weight. The drive gear that we bought was an additional $75. The rest of the kit sells for $180. It's a very simple system that simply utilizes the manual clutch that is already in the bike. It really works well and is a slick upgrade. Since the weight of the auto clutch is directly on the crank it's the same effect as removing a 3 pound flywheel weight. Aftermarket auto clutches such as rekluse do not add weight directly to the crank and the flywheel effect is minimal..not the case here. Taking this rotational weight off really wakes the bike up making it rev much quicker. There still seems to be plenty of flywheel weight left, and the bike still produces smooth power.

Having access to a water jet can be fun. We dressed up the other side of the engine with a piece we cut out of 1/8" aluminum, then sandblasted, and put a polished piece of thin aluminum behind it. It was so simple to do, but it looks killer!

Besides the suspension and the clutch, we also added new Dunlop MX51 rubber front and rear, an aluminum folding shifter, a bump start kit that will allow the bike to be started in any gear, a taller seat with gripper cover, new carbon fiber looking plastics, Monster Energy Decals, Pro Taper SE Bar, rear rim lock, new chain and sprockets, custom chain guard, and grips. Not knowing better, you would think this is a brand new bike now..and really you'd be basically right. Seat height is about 30" and the wheelbase is about 46.5" We decided to fashion a triangle stand instead of lengthening the kickstand, but the kickstand could still be installed and function if it was longer.

Ok, total cost? Right around our $1500 target, prolly a bit more if you add in the tires, chain and sprockets and other random stuff like wire ties, metal, paint etc. As I said, with 2 more kids to grow into it, it should be a great in-between bike for all 3 of our kids..and a fun bike for adults around camp as well!

We took a bit of video of Brayden driving it around the front yard that I'll post up later. This bike sounds mean! We are so happy with the final product. Other upgrades could include a 4 speed shift drum to utilize the 4th gear already in the bike, performance cam, big bore kit, rear disc brake...the skies the limit. Even on a practical budget there's real upgrades that can make this bike grow with it's user.


  1. ...SHEESH! Sell the old frame and parts on ebay and that ~$1500 price tag becomes less!

  2. Looks awesome, cheaper than buying a new bike. Does it sound like a scalded dog now? Will Brayden let me ride it a little bit?

  3. Wow awesome! Thanks for the post.

    Great Site

  4. Runs like a hot popsicle. It was fun till he outgrew it. :)

  5. did you have to stop the centrifugal clutch from moving when taking the nut off? Do you need a aluminum washer to put on if you get rid of the centrifugal clutch?

  6. did you have to stop the centrifugal clutch from moving while taking it off? after removing the centrifugal clutch did you have to put an aluminum washer before the primary gear?