Yeah, you're going to want to open it up; the Gen1 doohickey lever and spring are notoriously prone to failure. I have a 2000 and a 2001 and the 2001 was opened up at 12,000 miles and the lever was in three pces and the spring in two.....the 2000 was intact but it had only 600 miles on it.
My doohickey post:
I have spent significant time reading and researching this issue over the years as have others......my opinion is thus:
- Gen1: failure of the stock lever and/or spring is highly likely.......the people "in the know" guesstimate around 33% though I'd suggest the figure is somewhat mileage dependent with the 33% being around 20,000 miles.....higher mileage = higher percentage of failure.
- Gen2: doohickey lever failure is almost non-existant.......the issues of loose fit on the shaft and loss of spring tension are real and are said to occur around 6,000 miles though some have zero tension from new and some still have tension at 20,000 miles.
So is this all an internet myth? No, it's real enough IMO. There are several reasons that I believe contribute to the lack of even more documented failures:
- A great many people never adjust there counterbalance system. If the adjustment is never attempted, the system doesn't get the huge slack that an attempt with a broken spring or lever would introduce. I always tell new owners NOT to adjust the system without physically checking to see it's intact first.
- Most grenaded doo and spring bits float around harmlessly in the bottom end without causing catastrophic failure. My 2001 was opened up at 15,000 miles to find the typical broken doo (three pces) and spring (two pces). I found all the pces in the bottom end and oil screen and the bike was likely ridden for some time in that condition.
- the "upgrade" in 2008 significantly reduced the likelihood of a broken doo lever.
- a large percentage of bikes die of old age, crashes and neglect long before they can be considered high mileage units.
- many failures are never diagnosed......i.e. bike is "broken" and parted out or otherwise discarded.
- Sometimes other failures (i.e. 2008/2009 low oil level/oil burning) takes out the engine before the counterbalance system has the opportunity to.
At the end of the day, I believe that the stock counterbalance adjustment system is problematic but the vast majority of KLR owners are ignorant of the issue and it doesn't come up on their radar for the aforementioned reasons.
On a Gen1, I believe replacement is critical to longevity. On a Gen2 you could get along fine by just periodically checking the spring to ensure it is intact and has tension. Due to the loose fit on the shaft, the springs are put under significantly increased duty cycles, EM's superior lever with better fitment and the torsion spring design completely eliminate this concern.
A KLR, especially a Gen2 can live for quite awhile without even acknowledging the counterbalance adjuster.....but it's still a weak link that is worth replacing if you want some piece of mind.