Gen 2 front & rear suspension on a Gen 1 - 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 12-04-2019, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Gen 2 front & rear suspension on a Gen 1

Has anyone posted up a "how-to" to swapping Gen 2 forks on to a Gen 1 frame? I've been puttering away on my latest project bike, have it pretty much together. I like to putter away in my spare time fixing up and overhauling KLRs, and this is number 6 or 7 I've done, and maybe the last. Prices for used KLR parts on eBay are really getting up there, and this will be 4 KLRs hanging around, and I've sold 3. Hard to part with 'em after building them up.

Current state of progress, mostly together and running. This one has the Wossner 2mm OS (678cc) HC piston, ported head, the standard airbox mods, and a Vance & Hines pipe. Sounds sweet. I had that top end on a different bottom end - the high compression adds snap!



One of the problems in swapping a Gen 2 front end, on to a Gen 1 frame, is that you no longer have a means of mounting the stock instrument cluster to the top triple. I installed a JNS LED headlight (NOT DOT compliant BTW), and made my own mount for a Trail Tech Vapor display:





I'll talk a bit more about the Trail Tech Vapor unit further along in the thread.

The steering stops are very different between Gen 1 & 2. I have a friend that's a master metal fabricator, is an amazing welder. I cut the Gen 2 stop out of a frame I scrapped, and had him weld it on (beautiful job):



The back fender mounting lugs, on the underside of the lower triple, contacted the Gen 1 stop prematurely, so I cut it off with an angle grinder cut-off disk:



The Gen 1 ignition cylinder isn't as tall as Gen 2, and sits down inside the casting, so I flushed it:





The Gen 2 rear suspension bolts right on. I did however use a Gen 1 Unilink, and E-M raising links to raise the ride height. On the front fork, I made 1 1/2" preload spacers to increase ride height and stiffen up the (very soft IMO) springs.

I used a Gen 2 subframe, because I like the nicer looking rear rack & fender. The upper subframe bolts are 10mm on Gen 2, 8mm on Gen 1s, so it's necessary to make some kind of hat bushing to reduce the hole in the subframe mount to 8mm dia. I used a pressed steel hat bushing I had on hand, on either side. I believe they are the bushings between the rack mount and fender plastic. I did the drill thru mod, used a long grade 10.9 or 12.9 bolt to pinch it all together - worked great. I robbed the rear tail light, license plate light, and turn signal connectors off an old Gen 2 wire harness, soldered 'em on to a new Gen 1 harness.

Any questions, or want more pics I'd be glad to help.

Daryl

Last edited by GreatWhiteNorth; 12-27-2019 at 01:12 PM. Reason: fix typo
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post #2 of 22 Old 12-04-2019, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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I haven't used Photobucket for some time... I see they are playing silly bugger, blurring some pics! If you click on the image, it should take you to the Photobucket site where the pic should be clear.
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Last edited by GreatWhiteNorth; 12-04-2019 at 08:28 PM. Reason: fix typo
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post #3 of 22 Old 12-04-2019, 03:01 PM
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Nice work. I stuck with the Gen1 forks because it's easier and because I couldn't deal with the loss of 1.2" of suspension travel.

Photobucket is a PITA.....they have all my pics held for ransom unless I pony up for a subscription...

Dave
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post #4 of 22 Old 12-04-2019, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
Nice work. I stuck with the Gen1 forks because it's easier and because I couldn't deal with the loss of 1.2" of suspension travel.

Photobucket is a PITA.....they have all my pics held for ransom unless I pony up for a subscription...

Dave
I got two seasons riding on my Gen 2 before I parted it out, have Gen 1s too, so easy for me to compare. I prefer Gen 1 myself, for a variety of reasons, but do find the larger diameter Gen 2 fork stiffer. Also better brakes on Gen 2, but upgrading the Gen 1 brake rotor to 320mm, with stainless steel brakeline, sure closes (eliminates?) that gap in braking performance.

Hey, shouldn't this thread be in the Gen 1 section?
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post #5 of 22 Old 12-04-2019, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by GreatWhiteNorth View Post
I got two seasons riding on my Gen 2 before I parted it out, have Gen 1s too, so easy for me to compare. I prefer Gen 1 myself, for a variety of reasons, but do find the larger diameter Gen 2 fork stiffer. Also better brakes on Gen 2, but upgrading the Gen 1 brake rotor to 320mm, with stainless steel brakeline, sure closes (eliminates?) that gap in braking performance.

Hey, shouldn't this thread be in the Gen 1 section?
haha; half and half maybe?

With my forks setup, I don't notice any undo flex despite spirited offroad riding. I do have Cogent springs and DDC's. I ran the EM fork braces for awhile but took them off. As far as brakes go, I run the 320mm rotor, ss line and SV caliper so I've blown right past the stock Gen2 brake's performance.

Dave
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post #6 of 22 Old 12-04-2019, 07:10 PM
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GWN,
I've swapped Gen2 forks to a Gen1 a number of times. Two biggest issues is Gen2 triples are steel vs Gen1 aluminum. There are aftermarket triples available. Ex MX racer Jeff Emig's dad is a huge KLR fan and builds lots of custom pieces for KLR's. EmigRacing website had links to some of his triple clamps. The other is loss of suspension travel with Gen2 forks. I tried to get EagleMike to make me some extenders but he got busy and frankly, not that big a market. I use a company (google forking by frank) to send me replacement tubes (longer) and I swap out the lower stantions.
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post #7 of 22 Old 12-04-2019, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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GWN,
I've swapped Gen2 forks to a Gen1 a number of times. Two biggest issues is Gen2 triples are steel vs Gen1 aluminum. There are aftermarket triples available. Ex MX racer Jeff Emig's dad is a huge KLR fan and builds lots of custom pieces for KLR's. EmigRacing website had links to some of his triple clamps. The other is loss of suspension travel with Gen2 forks. I tried to get EagleMike to make me some extenders but he got busy and frankly, not that big a market. I use a company (google forking by frank) to send me replacement tubes (longer) and I swap out the lower stantions.
Hi Chuck. I see you made the move over too! Yes, heavy front end the Gen 2 has. It's a dubious upgrade, but I had the parts. The Gen 2 swingarm to me is just looks (better :^)

Did you install Vapor displays too? If so, how did you mount it?

Daryl
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post #8 of 22 Old 12-04-2019, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by GreatWhiteNorth View Post
Hi Chuck. I see you made the move over too! Yes, heavy front end the Gen 2 has. It's a dubious upgrade, but I had the parts. The Gen 2 swingarm to me is just looks (better :^)

Did you install Vapor displays too? If so, how did you mount it?

Daryl
I can understand upgrading to Gen2 front forks. Most common reason was stiffer forks but in my experiences its really not the forks but the frame itself that flexes. As you know I run motards quite often and on occasion take my KLR to the track when I'm teaching. On the track it becomes playfully obvious just how flexi the frame really is lol.

As for the rear swap. Certainly some nice advantages. Biggest to me is the axle adjuster. I had made up axle blocks that were offset which allowed me to run say 15 and 42 rear sprocket but if I swapped in say a 16 front sprocket all I had to do was flip the axle spacers and my chain was perfectly adjusted. I first did that with my CRF450X. It had to go hwy then switch to single track. I converted my Gen1 back to Gen1 swingarm a couple years ago...just to keep the Gen1 original look. If you do swap to a Gen2 make sure you use the Gen1 Unitrak knuckle and Gen1 dog bones. Both are slightly different on the Gen2...due to less suspension travel.

Yeah, I decided to no longer participate at .net. Too bad with direction Glenn chose to go. But, I hope it works out for him.
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post #9 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 11:00 AM
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GWN,
Two biggest issues is Gen2 triples are steel vs Gen1 aluminum. There are aftermarket triples available.
I think it's just the lower triple; I have Duane's bike hostage here so I took the oportunity to try to prove or dispel the myth of the steel Gen2 triples. Using a magnet, it appears the upper triple is still alloy but the lower one is steel. I'll check it again.

Dave
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post #10 of 22 Old 12-05-2019, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
I think it's just the lower triple; I have Duane's bike hostage here so I took the oportunity to try to prove or dispel the myth of the steel Gen2 triples. Using a magnet, it appears the upper triple is still alloy but the lower one is steel. I'll check it again.

Dave
The triples are indeed aluminum upper, steel lower. Aluminum, or aluminium?
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