If you asked Bill Whitacre the right questions about Backcountry Discovery Routes you would find that he is passionate about the work that BDR does for the ADV riding community. He is a director for BDR and believes that BDR plays a huge role in the opportunity for all of us to enjoy riding in the backcountry. No doubt, he feels that Idaho is his very favorite, but he has ridden 8 of the 11 routes and he says that it is really hard to choose one over the other.
His passion for ADV motorcycling began after decades of riding dirt bikes and cruisers. The Long Way Round film inspired him to buy his first ADV bike in 2004. Bill has ridden on five continents and over 30 countries. Traveling in unique and remote foreign areas of the world provides him with perspective beyond just riding a motorcycle.
Bill describes being retired as “chronically unemployed” and is active with BDR and an advocate for the ADV community. Bill and his wife Joan live in McCall, Idaho where they and their border collies enjoy the many backcountry sports that Idaho has to offer.
Bill took notice of the 2021 Husqvarna FE501 ADV-lite bike build project featured in Upshift Issue 60 and asked the guys at Upshift to build a dual-sport for riding BDR and BDR-type tracks. He loves being on the bigger bikes but this one is purpose built for shorter dual-sport riding.
The modern 500cc dirt bike is an incredibly versatile platform. Thanks to an extensive aftermarket, a 500 can be built to work well for so many different types of riding. With some armor and lower gearing, a 500 can be built into a torque monster of a single track machine that can climb mountains with the best of them. With a different setup, a 500 can be turned into a lightweight adventure bike that is perfect for tackling everything from long dual sport rides to BDRs and the new BDR-X routes. Upshift recently had the opportunity to work with Bill Whitacre to create a 500 for ADV use.
Starting with a 2021 FE 501, our first move was to set the bike up for Bill who stands over six feet tall. We sent the suspension off to Carl’s Cycle Sales in Boise, ID where their WP certified suspension techs re-valved the suspension for Bill’s weight and the bike’s intended use as an ADV bike. To help make the bike fit Bill better, we added Fasst Company anti-vibration foot pegs and a set of their Flexx handlebars. Pro Grip Foam Rally Grips round out the vibration management for the big thumper and also happen to be outstanding grips.
The biggest change on the 501 is the MotoMinded Rally Moto Kit V3, which offers several key benefits for this build. The windscreen and air dam provide a real serving of wind and weather protection, and the two Ruby Moto R4 lights provide plenty of light for riding at pace at night. The tower is designed to host a full Roadbook setup, but it also provides a great spot to put a Trail Tech Voyager Pro GPS unit and the stock computer where they’re easily viewed from both the seated and standing positions.
To add range to the 501, we fit a 3.9 gallon Acerbis tank, adding 1.6 gallons of fuel over stock while still using the bike’s OEM shrouds. A Seat Concepts Comfort Seat was a no-brainer add on to round out rider comfort on the build. The bike received a set of nardo gray plastics and custom Upshift-created graphics to give the bike a unique look. To make the 501 sound as good as it looks, we fit a Yosh RS12 full exhaust system.
The stock Husqvarna wheels are wrapped in Dunlop 606 Rubber, and a 45T DDC Rear Sprocket will ensure hundreds of hours of trouble-free performance. An Acerbis chain guide and skid plate provide protection to the bottom of the bike. Cycra Pro Bend handguards protect the levers and the rider’s hands. A MSC Moto Vector MX Steering Damper with MSC’s awesome active return to center damping system provides protection from hidden trail obstacles.
A 500 setup like Bill’s FE 501 is a wonderful bike to ride. It’s able to cruise at speed for hours on end, so whether you’re making a big push on a BDR, or having to contend with a few dozen miles of slab to get to more dirt – this bike does great. Thanks to the fact that it’s still a full on dirt bike, no matter how gnarly the trail gets, you can still charge through all of the rough stuff thanks to the proper suspension and real off-road tires. All this bike needs to tackle a BDR or a couple of nights of fast and light camping is some luggage like a Mosko Moto R40, and a rider.
HUSQVARNA FE501S PROJECT BIKE SPECS
Motorcycle: 2021 Husqvarna FE501S
Rally Tower: MotoMinded
Headlights: Ruby Moto
Handlebars: Faast Flexx
Footpegs: Faast Impact Moto Peg
Custom Graphics: Upshift
Seat: Seat Concepts Comfort
Tires: Dunlop 606 Front and Rear
Clutch: Rekluse Radius CX Auto Clutch
Suspension: Carl’ s Cycle WP XPLOR 48 Forks with WP XACT Rear Shock
Exhaust: Yoshimura RS-12 Stainless Full Exhaust with Aluminum Muffler
Front Turn Signals: Yoshimura LED
Sprockets: DDC Delaney Drive Components (Gearing 15-45)
For all Husqvarna FE parts and accessories availible in the Upshift Store: CLICK HERE