Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum

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-   -   Help needed, at my wits end (https://www.klrforum.com/1987-2007-wrenching-mods/30529-help-needed-my-wits-end.html)

pbrady73 03-21-2014 11:43 PM

Help needed, at my wits end
Hi everyone! I apologize for the length of this.

I have a 2003 KLR650 with 22k on the clock. I've owned it since it was new. I stay on top of it's maintenance, valve adjustments, etc. At 15k I replaced the Doo with the eagle unit, the torsion spring, the balance chain, and guides. Nothing was broken with the original, but the stock spring stretched badly and i caught it in the nick of time.

Here's the problem:

I was leaving work recently when a crunching /growling noise came from the balancer side of the engine. Not wanting to risk anything, i decided to just haul the bike home instead of riding it. This noise is intermittent. At idle the engine sometimes sounds perfect and when you rev it, the noise kicks in and stays there even after it settles back down to an idle. Sometimes, it just disappears and idles quietly once again. When the engine is put under a load/ revved up off of idle, it comes back.

I can tell you that this noise is not normal. It's loud and it sounds ugly. I thought there might have been a balancer malfunction, but before taking it apart, I decided to look at lot of simple things to see if i could track down the problem. So, i removed my aluminum skid plate, still there. Checked the motor mounts, fine. Drained the oil, and checked both filters, nothing - filter and screen are spotless oil looked great for 1200 miles of use. Pulled and inspected the cam chain tensioner - reset it and it was perfect. chain guide moves freely. did the adjustment on the Doo, no change. clutch engagement makes no difference.

So last night i pulled the covers off on the flywheel side, pulled the flywheel, and i honestly can't find anything wrong. The chain looks wonderful, the tension spring is doing it's job, everything is spotless in there. Just for kicks i ran a magnet around in the oil pan and it turned up nothing. i reassembled it and like clockwork the noise came back, this time with a vengeance, it's much worse, but still intermittent. At times during idle, it sounds perfect, other times during idle and when throttle is applied, it makes the hair stand up on your neck.

The best i can tell, the location of the noise is right below the starter. You can hear it and you can feel it. For the life of me, i can't seem to figure this one out, and i'm at a loss as to what my next step should be.

If it would help, i could post a video of it.

Thank you so much!

Tom Schmitz 03-22-2014 12:01 AM

Turn it off and leave it off.

Read this post.

Pull it apart and check the upper balancer bearing. That bearing is right up there by the starter motor. If it goes, this will likely happen.

If it is on it's way out, you may have gotten lucky. If it's not going out, at least you can cross that off your list.

Another possible suspect is the KACR. They've been known to blow up, but the KACR is on the right side. While the valve cover is off you can check the condition of the camshafts and sprockets.


justjeff 03-22-2014 01:34 AM

Good answer Tom, I was thinking about that bearing too. pbrady said he checked for metal in the screens and oil and found none, so as you said he may have caught it in time if he doesn't run it anymore. I would DEFINITELY look for a failed bearing. Nomadgal on ADV had a similar sound in the engine and it turned out to be the main crank bearing if I remember correctly.

pbrady73 03-22-2014 03:40 AM

This gives me something to go on and i wont run it anymore. I will have avlook at the KACR first, and if that ain't it, well, the cases have to get split! Thank you for your help, I'll let you know what i find!

flash 03-22-2014 08:58 AM

Something else to consider.......http://www.klrforum.com/showthread.php?t=16785

Ah, probably not. Re-read your post and you didn't mention any vibration, just noise.

pbrady73 06-27-2014 01:40 PM

An Update:

I haven't had much of a chance to play with this thing as of late. I have not started the engine since the last post.

I was able to score every single bearing in the balancer system (high quality Japanese) for less than $20. They were cheap enough, so why the heck not ;-) The needle bearing that's in the chain's idler sprocket I had to order from Kawasaki. My gasket set came in mail the other day, so I am ready to do the teardown.

While doing research on this known problem, I found a new type of tensioner spring from an outfit called happy-trail. It looks like it's designed to fit behind the doohickey. Has anyone ever used it? It's tempting for $14 bucks.

According to the local Kawasaki dealer, the balancer chain is no longer available. Is this even remotely true? I replaced the chain at 10,000 miles when I did the doohickey upgrade. I will see if there is a wear limit listed in the manual and try to determine if it's still in spec. Just trying to be thorough with it.

The KLR650: The greatest love/hate relationship in the history of the known universe....

Once again, thanks for your advice and help. I will post what I find when it becomes available.

GoMotor 07-04-2014 06:24 PM

I have the chain spec, but the system here will not let me post it.

Damocles 07-04-2014 10:17 PM

Generation 1 balancer chain specifications:

20 links, 21 pins: New, 7.50 inches; service limit: 7.61 inches.

GoMotor, when you have enough posts (15?), you can post images.

If you have a MUST image posting situation, before that time, we can exchange e-mail addresses by PM and I'll process, host and post 'em for you.

GoMotor 07-04-2014 10:37 PM


Originally Posted by GoMotor (Post 322234)
I have the chain spec, but the system here will not let me post it.

They don't wear fast. On my 2008 at 97,000 miles 20 links measured 191mm. Still in spec.

Damocles 07-05-2014 09:47 AM


Originally Posted by GoMotor (Post 322330)
They don't wear fast. On my 2008 at 97,000 miles 20 links measured 191mm. Still in spec.

If you're goin' metric on me, GoMotor, the new spec is about 190 mm, to a 193.4 mm service limit. Not surprising, the eccentric idler shaft can accommodate considerable chain stretch, I imagine.

Agree; balancer chain should seldom wear out; it's "heavy-duty" and not under great load.

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