Inverted Forks and Other Goodies That Will Work? - 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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post #1 of 22 Old 10-12-2017, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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So...I want to start by apologizing for spamming the forums. I had too much down time at work today to think about things I should not be doing.

Anyways, since I know our bikes are not the best dirtbikes due to the weight, are the KX500 or KLR650 frames aluminum? If so, somewhere down the line I might try to find a bare frame to make my 93 a bit lighter.

Also, do any Kawasaki bikes have inverted forks that would work in our triple trees? If not, what front end would fit our bikes?

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post #2 of 22 Old 10-13-2017, 10:08 AM
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Daniel,

Weight; The frame isn't what makes a KLR heavy, it's the 125lb engine. Occasionally people try to pare the bike down to nothing but frankly it's a waste of time 'cause it can never be truly light. That said there is some "low hanging fruit" that can make a difference without wrecking the bike for the purpose it's intended: silencer can save 6 lbs, LiFePo battery can save 9 lbs and there is 5 - 10 lbs in misc "stuff" (passenger pegs and brackets, chain guards, licence plate holder, rear inner fender, etc.) All in all, I've taken off about 20 - 25 lbs off my Gen1's. I also use an IMS 6.6 and JNS rad guard which gives me good rad protection without adding 11lb crash bars.

There are no inverted forks that are a direct fit. Emig racing makes KXF conversion clamps KLR650 - EMIG Racing but they aren't cheap! You can also have a machine shop press your KLR stem into the donor fork triples.

BUT

It's kinda a waste of time and effort IMO; the KLR's weight and chassis prevent it from using or needing a full on MX fork anyhow. Plus there are several issues to be addressed with the conversion; the biggest is a new front wheel/hub and brake system.When I did the math prior to making the decision to stick with the stock forks and go with Cogent's DDC's, my total came to $2,000 - $2,500 for the USD fork conversion vs. about $350.00 and less than an hour for the Cogent stuff.

After the additional expense, fork rebuilding, respringing, revalving, dealing with the rear suspension travel issue, gauge cluster, speedo, turning radius issues......you still have a smaller hub with a smaller axle, smaller bearings and when compared to the SV caliper 320mm rotor mod, a much smaller brake caliper, pad and rotor......all of which are fine for MX use and less fine for dual sport use.

There is no doubt as to the superiority of the modern MX fork.....but unless you have it resprung and revalved properly, it isn't going to work as good as a set of DDC's and springs in the stock forks.......and even if you do those things, the rest of the KLR isn't up to making full use of them anyhow.

This is all just my humble opinion; I'm not against modifying KLR's, in fact, mine are extensively modified for my use. Usually people trying to "make the KLR into something it's not" by swapping motors, suspension, and other major surgery, end up dissappointed and eventually selling their KLR's for a different bike. By the time you do a frame and fork swap (and all the frame surgery to fit a KLR engine in an alum mx frame) you'd be far better ahead to sell the KLR and buy a DRZ, WRR, 500EXC, etc. ....but it's your bike.

Cheers,
Dave
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post #3 of 22 Old 10-13-2017, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
This is all just my humble opinion; I'm not against modifying KLR's, in fact, mine are extensively modified for my use. Usually people trying to "make the KLR into something it's not" by swapping motors, suspension, and other major surgery, end up dissappointed and eventually selling their KLR's for a different bike. By the time you do a frame and fork swap (and all the frame surgery to fit a KLR engine in an alum mx frame) you'd be far better ahead to sell the KLR and buy a DRZ, WRR, 500EXC, etc. ....but it's your bike.

Cheers,
Dave
Thank you for telling me that. As I've stated in other posts, I got used to a DRZ400, where stuff from the enduro swapped to the supermoto and to the dirtbike.

I'll probably end up getting some good progressive springs for the front forks and possibly look into a new shock for the rear...that is if I feel like dumping the money into the rear shock setup.

The bike was only $800, so the more I think about it, I can't realistically see myself putting $3000 into a bike that really isn't worth too much.
Sure, I like the bike, but I got it cheap, so I'm mainly just addressing the main issues for now. If it sticks around for the next year or so, perhaps I'll look into refreshing everything with some newer parts. A resto-mod if you will.
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post #4 of 22 Old 10-13-2017, 11:56 AM
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The value proposition is something you need to decide for yourself; no right or wrong answer IMO. For me, it was worth it to spend some money on the KLR's as it was still far cheaper than buying a KTM690R and the KLR's have their own advantages (regardless of price), namely longevity, reliability, simplicity and plentiful parts....everywhere. I'm not your typical KLR Owner as I chose the bikes for these advantages, not because of the price point.

As far as suspension goes, here's my post on that;Stock KLR suspension is 1980's tech with a damper rod fork and emulsion shock with weak damping and springrates which MAY be marginally acceptable if you weigh 160lb or less and stay on graded gravel roads at worst. 2014.5 NE and up have better spring and damping rates but are the same crappy old design.
The bandaid (cheapy) fixes are;
- many use progressive springs for the forks and heavier oil. This will help with bottoming, wallowing and brake dive but the suspension will be overly harsh and not compliant. Better than stock though. Rather than using heavier oil, I’d recommend trying an increased oil level first which reduces the “air spring” and can stiffen it up a bit without all the harshness of heavier oil…..especially on high speed damping.
- Eaglemike's raising links; these change the geometry and reduce leverage on the shock which raises the effective spring and damping rates. Hopefully you aren't short! Easy and cheap but it's a "one size fits all" deal and it doesn’t deal with the inherent quality issues with the stock shock body and emulsion design.
or
- a stiffer shock spring. While you likely need a stiffer spring to properly set sag, adding a stiffer spring exacerbates the damping issues and creates an unbalanced (oversprung and underdamped) suspension, particularly as the oil becomes contaminated.

Proper suspension fixes;
- forks: cartridge emulators from Racetech, DDC's from Cogent or Ricor Intiminators all with the proper wt springs. The DDC's are my choice because they work at least as good as the RT emulators AND have the simple install of the Ricor Valves.
- shock; a proper aftermarket decarbon shock. Available from Progressive, Cogent, Ricor, Elka, etc. Again, I think the Cogent shocks offer the best value and use top quality, made in the USA components.
While usage, budget and expectations are different for everyone, spending money on the stock shock is false economy IMO and the more you do, the less sense it makes.....better to spend the money on a decent shock. Many people have done the shock rebuild and spring only to replace it later anyway. I've yet to hear a single regret from anyone upgrading to a good shock.
2 cents,
Dave
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post #5 of 22 Old 10-13-2017, 11:58 AM
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post #6 of 22 Old 10-13-2017, 11:59 AM
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a bit of what it took to get it there:
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post #7 of 22 Old 10-24-2017, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
The value proposition is something you need to decide for yourself; no right or wrong answer IMO. For me, it was worth it to spend some money on the KLR's as it was still far cheaper than buying a KTM690R and the KLR's have their own advantages (regardless of price), namely longevity, reliability, simplicity and plentiful parts....everywhere. I'm not your typical KLR Owner as I chose the bikes for these advantages, not because of the price point.

As far as suspension goes, here's my post on that;Stock KLR suspension is 1980's tech with a damper rod fork and emulsion shock with weak damping and springrates which MAY be marginally acceptable if you weigh 160lb or less and stay on graded gravel roads at worst. 2014.5 NE and up have better spring and damping rates but are the same crappy old design.
The bandaid (cheapy) fixes are;
- many use progressive springs for the forks and heavier oil. This will help with bottoming, wallowing and brake dive but the suspension will be overly harsh and not compliant. Better than stock though. Rather than using heavier oil, I’d recommend trying an increased oil level first which reduces the “air spring” and can stiffen it up a bit without all the harshness of heavier oil…..especially on high speed damping.
- Eaglemike's raising links; these change the geometry and reduce leverage on the shock which raises the effective spring and damping rates. Hopefully you aren't short! Easy and cheap but it's a "one size fits all" deal and it doesn’t deal with the inherent quality issues with the stock shock body and emulsion design.
or
- a stiffer shock spring. While you likely need a stiffer spring to properly set sag, adding a stiffer spring exacerbates the damping issues and creates an unbalanced (oversprung and underdamped) suspension, particularly as the oil becomes contaminated.

Proper suspension fixes;
- forks: cartridge emulators from Racetech, DDC's from Cogent or Ricor Intiminators all with the proper wt springs. The DDC's are my choice because they work at least as good as the RT emulators AND have the simple install of the Ricor Valves.
- shock; a proper aftermarket decarbon shock. Available from Progressive, Cogent, Ricor, Elka, etc. Again, I think the Cogent shocks offer the best value and use top quality, made in the USA components.
While usage, budget and expectations are different for everyone, spending money on the stock shock is false economy IMO and the more you do, the less sense it makes.....better to spend the money on a decent shock. Many people have done the shock rebuild and spring only to replace it later anyway. I've yet to hear a single regret from anyone upgrading to a good shock.
2 cents,
Dave
I'm 6' even and 260lbs, so I think the ride height is absolutely perfect for the KLR. It's tall enough that my friends can't decide to "throw a leg over" if we are messing around in the garage with something, but still short enough so I can flat foot it.

Now I do need to replace my fork seals, springs, and dust boots for the front forks.
Would would you suggest so I don't get the hard, yet bouncy front I have right now. It's actually tiring to ride any long distance because the front suspension is kind of doing whatever at this point, and I know a lot has to be from the fork seals being totally shot.

Also, is there a way to eventually "refill" the rear shock? I don't think mine is bad yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does go eventually.

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post #8 of 22 Old 10-24-2017, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Kavcak View Post
I'm 6' even and 260lbs, so I think the ride height is absolutely perfect for the KLR. It's tall enough that my friends can't decide to "throw a leg over" if we are messing around in the garage with something, but still short enough so I can flat foot it.

Now I do need to replace my fork seals, springs, and dust boots for the front forks.
Would would you suggest so I don't get the hard, yet bouncy front I have right now. It's actually tiring to ride any long distance because the front suspension is kind of doing whatever at this point, and I know a lot has to be from the fork seals being totally shot.

Also, is there a way to eventually "refill" the rear shock? I don't think mine is bad yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does go eventually.
As far as the forks go, I recommend Cogent Dynamics DDC kit which comes with the valves, springs, oil and precut spacers; http://www.motocd.com/product/ddc-complete-package/ without getting into the technical details (unless you want to! ;-) ) they transform the 1980's tech damper rod fork to a more modern setup with proper damping characteristics.

You can rebuild the shock; change the oil, recharge the nitrogen, etc.....probably would change the seal head at the same time but honestly, I think it's a waste of time and money. By the time you do all that and add a spring, you've spent a good chunk of what it costs for a good shock and you still have the POS non-hardened body, emulsion design and cheezy preload adjuster. ....there just isn't much good to say about the stock KLR shock. The good news is that there are many options for replacement for a wide variety of budgets and the rest of the Uni-Trak suspension system is very good.

Cheers,
Dave
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post #9 of 22 Old 10-24-2017, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
As far as the forks go, I recommend Cogent Dynamics DDC kit which comes with the valves, springs, oil and precut spacers; DDC Complete Package for Suspension and front fork upgrade - Cogent Dynamics without getting into the technical details (unless you want to! ;-) ) they transform the 1980's tech damper rod fork to a more modern setup with proper damping characteristics.
Oh please do. It makes me hot and bothered

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post #10 of 22 Old 10-24-2017, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel Kavcak View Post
Oh please do. It makes me hot and bothered
Not sure if I want to contribute to that!

Oh well, heres my DDC vs RT emulator post;

In the interest of providing a bit more information regarding the original question for those using the search function, I've spent a bit more time researching both the RT gold valve emulators as well as the Cogent DDC's and offer the following;

DDC Advantages:
- no drilling of the damper rods make the DDC's much easier to install
- installation is reversible should you want to return the bike to stock (to sell for eg.)
- the deflective disk damping is said to have more initial plushness and compliance than the spring poppet valve used on the Emulator for compression dampening
- ....and finally the one most people seem to miss: the DDC controls compression AND rebound damping whereas the Emulator completely relies on the stock rebound orifice for rebound. The DDC has to control both since the lighter oil which is used to bypass the compression orifices does the same to the rebound orifices so it was a design necessity but it allows for more flexibility on the rebound damping.

RT Emulator Advantages;
- it is easier to replace/adjust the poppet spring to change compression damping than it is to replace the shim stack.
- you can change oil weight to change rebound damping (though you would need to make the appropriate change/adjustments to the poppet spring or you would likewise change the compression damping at the same time).


The Emulator is a great product designed by a suspension genius that has literally transformed thousands of forks since it's introduction in the early '90's. The RT valve works very well and personally, I wouldn't replace them with DDC's on a bike that was already equipped with the gold valves. That said I think the DDC's are an improvement on the RT valve.


Dave
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