Rear shock replace vs rebuild - 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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Old 11-10-2017, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Rear shock replace vs rebuild

After neglecting my bike (2006) for too long I'm slowly getting it back in shape. The latest thing to go is the rear shock. I've watched the rebuild videos and I just don't think I have the right tools or patience to do it right.

So the question is - should I send it out to have it rebuilt, or just buy a used one? I'm also interested in a 1" lowering as I'm only 5'9". What's an expected rebuild price?


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Old 11-11-2017, 01:09 AM
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You'll certainly get a lot of opinions. Anyhow, here's mine:

I rebuilt mine. Actually I bought a used one through eBay and rebuilt it. Then I rebuilt the one I took off the bike as well, just because. It's a very basic shock absorber. I've been through more than a few shocks in my day. it's certainly not the crudest I've seen and then again it's not the most sophisticated either. For what I use the bike for, it works just fine for me. I'd be a bit suspicious of any "used" shock I was buying. How would I know it was actually any better than the one I was taking off my bike?

I bought the following pieces (listed below) from Rocky Mountain ATV and followed their YouTube video. In retrospect I could have used a piece of PVC Pipe instead of the "Shock Seal Head Seating Tool." A local shop did the dry Nitrogen charge for $10.

Tusk KLR650 Shock Bumper - Part # 1514640001 / $10.99
All Balls Rear Shock Seal Kit - Part # 1196950009 / $34.49
Tusk Shock Spring Compressor - Part # 1493410001 / $34.99
Race Tech Shock Seal Head Setting Tool 40-50 mm - Part # 1059630002 / $35.99 (A piece of PVC pipe would have worked just as well)
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Old 11-11-2017, 11:23 AM
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@Natedlee. Couple of questions. Do you have a budget figure that you are working with for the rear shock repair? What type of riding do oyu do and are you satisfied with the rear shock?

I'm no expert. I'm sure @Tom Schmitz or @DPelletier will step in here and share their wisdom. My impressions of the stock rear shock is that it is just barely adequate, at least for my riding style. The only thing that I have done to it thus far is to replace the spring with one from TopGun. If I was in a position as yours I would likely consider a replacement from Progressive as a minimum versus rebuilding the stocker.
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Old 11-11-2017, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Bluehighways View Post
You'll certainly get a lot of opinions. Anyhow, here's mine:



I rebuilt mine. Actually I bought a used one through eBay and rebuilt it. Then I rebuilt the one I took off the bike as well, just because. It's a very basic shock absorber. I've been through more than a few shocks in my day. it's certainly not the crudest I've seen and then again it's not the most sophisticated either. For what I use the bike for, it works just fine for me. I'd be a bit suspicious of any "used" shock I was buying. How would I know it was actually any better than the one I was taking off my bike?



I bought the following pieces (listed below) from Rocky Mountain ATV and followed their YouTube video. In retrospect I could have used a piece of PVC Pipe instead of the "Shock Seal Head Seating Tool." A local shop did the dry Nitrogen charge for $10.



Tusk KLR650 Shock Bumper - Part # 1514640001 / $10.99

All Balls Rear Shock Seal Kit - Part # 1196950009 / $34.49

Tusk Shock Spring Compressor - Part # 1493410001 / $34.99

Race Tech Shock Seal Head Setting Tool 40-50 mm - Part # 1059630002 / $35.99 (A piece of PVC pipe would have worked just as well)


Thanks! That list is also golden in case I decide to rebuild. I do sort of have an interest in doing the rebuild, but I'm afraid I won't find the time soon enough.


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Old 11-11-2017, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by klr4evr View Post
@Natedlee. Couple of questions. Do you have a budget figure that you are working with for the rear shock repair? What type of riding do oyu do and are you satisfied with the rear shock?



I'm no expert. I'm sure @Tom Schmitz or @DPelletier will step in here and share their wisdom. My impressions of the stock rear shock is that it is just barely adequate, at least for my riding style. The only thing that I have done to it thus far is to replace the spring with one from TopGun. If I was in a position as yours I would likely consider a replacement from Progressive as a minimum versus rebuilding the stocker.


Thanks! I was hoping to stay under or around $200-$300.

My riding has really been commuting, all while dreaming of doing the TAT. I've done some trails, but not enough to justify a super special rear shock. That being said, it is a tad too high for me and a bit squishy. I'm not opposed to doing this right if I doesn't break the bank.


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Old 11-12-2017, 08:09 PM
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I just finished rebuilding the rear shock and putting in a Top Gun spring on my 2002 and it's working perfectly (as well as a stock KLR shock can anyway). If you decide that you can muster the patience and have access to some basic tools it's probably the least expensive route.
As Bluehighways suggests, I used the AllBalls seal head and followed the Rocky Mountain ATV video exactly except for the special tools they are trying to sell. You don't really need the seal bullet either. I wrapped electrical tape around the end of the shaft to make it the same diameter as the rest of the shaft and the seal slipped on easy.
I did make the mistake of using fork oil. We will see how big a mistake that actually was. They say that the rear shock gets hot and requires an oil with higher viscosity index. Probably true. Just a 20 minute ride on a bumpy dirt road and the shock was hot to the touch but it was still working well enough that I couldn't tell the difference in performance. Jury is still out on that.
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Old 11-12-2017, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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I just finished rebuilding the rear shock and putting in a Top Gun spring on my 2002 and it's working perfectly (as well as a stock KLR shock can anyway). If you decide that you can muster the patience and have access to some basic tools it's probably the least expensive route.

As Bluehighways suggests, I used the AllBalls seal head and followed the Rocky Mountain ATV video exactly except for the special tools they are trying to sell. You don't really need the seal bullet either. I wrapped electrical tape around the end of the shaft to make it the same diameter as the rest of the shaft and the seal slipped on easy.

I did make the mistake of using fork oil. We will see how big a mistake that actually was. They say that the rear shock gets hot and requires an oil with higher viscosity index. Probably true. Just a 20 minute ride on a bumpy dirt road and the shock was hot to the touch but it was still working well enough that I couldn't tell the difference in performance. Jury is still out on that.


Thanks. I'm starting to think I might try this.

In your opinion what falls under the "basic tools" list?

How did you compress the spring?


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Old 11-13-2017, 10:06 AM
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Ya, "basic" tools is pretty ambiguous. I probably should have said access to all of the tools used in the Rocky Mountain ATV video. The grinder is probably the most expensive thing if you need to buy tools. Also should have a torque wrench, but you could take your chances I suppose. You can probably get away without using compressed air. Also, you do really need a bench vice or some solid way to hold the shock.

I bought the Tusk spring compressor that they used in the video. It worked like a charm. Really easy. There is youtube video out there of somebody using ratchet straps, but I decided to buy a proper tool for it.

Also, be sure you know where you can get a nitrogen fill locally! It would suck to do all the work and then find you need to drive many miles or send the shock out to be filled with nitrogen. By the way, I compressed the shock before the fill to reduce the air volume and installed the spring after.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:10 AM
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Oh, one more thing;
You need an accurate way to measure the oil. I bought a plastic graduated cylinder off Amazon for about $8.00
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Old 11-13-2017, 02:08 PM
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@Natedlee,

Rebuilding the stock shock has to be a personal choice based upon a number of factors. Riding style, rider weight, rider budget, rider expectations all play a part.

I can only offer comment based upon my set of factors.

Look at these two riders:


These two riders have similar riding styles. Both ride KLRs, both are similar in height, both spend time on twisty back country roads, rural highways, and slabs, and both ride some pretty good off-road at some pretty good speed.

The one on the left, the good looking one, weighs a buck sixty and finds the stock shock to be quite adequate. The one on the right, the slightly goofy looking one, slabs in at almost another hundred pounds and finds the stock shock to be completely inadequate.

I would never bother to rebuild the stock shock, even with adding a stouter spring to carry the extra weight. After the stock shock is rebuilt it is still made from un-hardened materials, is of an ancient design, has limited pre-load capabilities, and limited damping control. For me, rebuilding the stock shock would be throwing good money after bad. I tried to make the stock shock work for me and even got it so that it didn't pack up on washboard roads, but I couldn't get it not to be harsh on the pavement and couldn't get it to offer good control off-road.

As Bluehighways points out, the stock shock can be rebuilt quite inexpensively if you have the tools and access to a nitrogen charge. You can even send it off and have it rebuilt, with a new spring, for about $200. Realistically speaking, rebuilding it yourself will run $200 if you need some of the tools and a new spring.

I think one of the best shock builders in the country is Cogent Dynamics. They offer the Adventure shock for the KLR at about $500. If you want something a bit more tailored to your needs you can call them and talk to Rick who knows his stuff. He'd do you right setting up a Moab.

True, the Adventure is going to cost 2 1/2 times what a stock rebuild would cost. It won't be 2 1/2 times better than stock, though. I'd have to guess that it would be 10 times better.

I got a Moab shock from Cogent and had it built an inch longer than stock. I was dealing with Cogent quite a while ago, long before they came out with their newer stuff. I couldn't be happier with it. Good suspension transforms the KLR and is probably the best money you can spend on the thing.

If, at 5'9", you weigh in the 150 pound range then rebuilding the stock shock might be a good option. Respringing it and adding lowering links is a good way to drop it, too. But if you are much over 175 I'd say you'd be throwing good money after bad to rebuild it.
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Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 11-13-2017 at 03:01 PM.
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