Lots of maintenance questions - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
1987 to 2007 Wrenching & Mods For maintaining, repair or modifications of Generation 1 KLR's. 2007 and earlier.

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  • 2 Post By DPelletier
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post #1 of 8 Old 07-17-2016, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Lots of maintenance questions

I hate piling a bunch of questions in one thread, but I also hate posting a half-dozen different threads. I just picked up my '03 KLR last friday, and the dealer had the oil changed and everything lubed and ready to go, so for awhile I'll enjoy my honeymoon with her. Of course there was no owner's manual. But I've got to look ahead at maintenance issues. For now, all my riding is going to be on pavement, and not a whole lot at that. I won't be riding it in the rain. With that in mind, first, I guess I'm going to need some kind of manual for it. Would I be better off with a factory owner's manual or a Clymer's or something else? I am not mechanically inclined, so I'm not going to be doing anything complex to it. Now the chain. With my riding habits in mind, how often should I lube the chain? Is there a particular chain lube that you would recommend? I'm sure I'm going to have to keep an eye on the chain tension, but how many miles, generally, can my KLR go before the chain starts stretching enough to start watching it? How many miles between oil changes? I saw somebody on here mentioning having to adjust something else on the bike regularly, maybe the doohickey, or what all do I have to adjust. Don't need to be told how to on here, my manual and good 'ol Youtube will show me how. I just need an idea of what I've got facing me maintaining my "new" bike. Thank you for your patience...aj
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post #2 of 8 Old 07-17-2016, 03:01 PM
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You can download a free Owners Manual with service interval recommendations here:

Google for an aftermarket service manual (more detail than the factory one).

Chains should be good for 10k to 20k miles. I spray mine with WD40 every 500 miles or so.
Adjust it on the side stand so you can just push the bottom center up to touch the end of the black rubber slider on the swingarm. Pull the chain away from the rear sprocket at the 3:00 position. If you can see daylight between the chain and sprocket, start thinking about a new chain. Any good x-ring or o-ring type 520 chain is good. I use DID or EK brand, but Rocky Mountain ATV seems to have a good house brand.

I and many others use Rotella 15W40 oil. I run about 2,500 to 3,000 miles on an oil change. Others like to do it sooner. The new oil will turn black quickly, so don't let the color bother you.

Every other oil change is good for adjusting the "doohickey"
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post #3 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 08:39 AM
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You can also get the owner's manual on the Kawasaki website for free, but a service manual (aka workshop manual) is so much better than an owners manual. The level of detail in the service manual is useful even for owners who don't do a major amount of their own service.

We're not supposed to link service manuals in this forum 'cuz of copyright law, but if you look around you'll find downloads of the factory service manual and Clymer for free or real cheap. I have a Gen 2 but needed a Gen 1 Service Manual to look at valve clearances from those years. I found what I needed pretty quickly.

If you bought your bike from a dealer, odds are they went over it fairly well. I used to work for a powersports dealer and they were good about doing that. Nonetheless, it seemed like a lot of what they did was careful visual inspection, operation and ride inspection, so you may want to take a peek at things like the air filter (condition and oiling) and quality of the brake fluid. Coolant maybe. I think they look for hose leaks; for a 13 year old motorcycle, might want to look for wear/cracking.
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post #4 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys....WD40...no sh*t? I used to use a premium brand of chain lube many years ago, and I forgot what kind it was. Thought it might need some silicone in it or something. Thanks for the URL too...aj
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post #5 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 02:57 PM
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Here's some chain lube info from watt-man for you. He is very thorough in his tests:

Last edited by GoMotor; 07-18-2016 at 03:12 PM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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I'll take your word for it, Motor. I'm definitely not against saving a little money...thanks again
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-18-2016, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by medford2 View Post
I'll take your word for it, Motor. I'm definitely not against saving a little money...thanks again
'Ah come on!
Wattmans info is a 'good read'! It deserves your attention!
It is best to understand the issue, rather than just 'agree' with party line!

What is a "Thermo-Bob"?
Why do I 'endorse' IT?

Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 85,000+ miles & counting
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-19-2016, 10:49 AM
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1) Get the Clymer. The Owner's manual is fairly useless. The factory service manual is good but I think the Clymer is written for the layman whereas the service manual assumes you know what you're doing.

2) Ditto on the no lube, just WD40 for periodic cleaning and preventing rust on the outside of the chain. O ring chains are sealed and no fancy lube is getting inside - wattman's testing is proof enough for me. Do NOT overtighten the chain. This and overtightening the oil drain plug are two of the most common newbie mistakes. Having the chain too tight is hard on the wheel bearings and output shaft bearing and seal.....best case is a leak, worst case and you're taking your bottom end apart. A quick check is that you should be able to touch the chain to the front underside of the rubber slipper (where the slipper ends on the bottom) on the swingarm but NOT be able to touch the aluminum itself.

3) The counterbalance adjuster lever (fondly known as the "doohickey") is a known weak link on the KLR, particularly the Gen1. I strongly recommend NOT adjusting the doohickey until you've taken the cover off and verified that the lever is still in one pce and the spring is intact and has tension.....if you adjust it without checking there is a strong possibility that these parts have failed and instead of taking slack out of the chain, it will increase the slack......sometimes to catastrophic levels. Replacing the factory doohickey lever and spring is the only modification that NEEDS to be done to a Gen1 KLR IMO. Eagle Mfg & Eng for a replacement c/w torsion spring so the problem is dealt with forever. I keep the broken lever from my 2001 on my keychain as a reminder.....

Have fun and keep the shiney side up, :-)

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