Some major upgrade advice - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
2008+ KLR650 Wrenching & Mod Questions For repair, maintaining or modifying discussions related to the newly updated 2008 and beyond, Generation 2 KLR650 Motorcycle.

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post #1 of 152 Old 10-20-2019, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Some major upgrade advice

I recently purchased a 2009 KLR650 used with the goal to rebuild it to suit my needs. I am a kidney transplant patient, so minimizing vibration is one of my goals. The other is to increase horsepower & torque. Hopefully, these are not mutually exclusive goals.

Let me take a few minutes to list what I had planned and perhaps you can tell me if you can improve upon my solution with a better plan. Please don’t suggest buying a KTM, BMW, etc. as I know I could do that and choose not to because they do not suit my needs. At a very basic level, I was the older 30 year technology with no excessive electronics and complicated technology. The current engine has 14000 miles on it. I have already ordered a full Cogent DDC kit for the front and the Moab Ultimate Pro rear shock. Should becready in another couple of weeks.

The motorcycle already has a 19” front wheel - I have a spare 21” & 17” already, progressive springs - I’ll be passing these on to someone after I replace them with the DDC kit, SS brake lines, dohicky replacement, Happy Trails, skid plate, engine guard, highway pegs, nerf bars, KLRDASH & Zero Gravity Sport Touring windshield I just finished installing, EM fork brace, lowered front fender, radiator guard, and theirs probably more. It was nicely farkles before I bought it.

So the rest of the plan is:

∑ Rebuild the engine using the Eagle Mike 719cc piston kit. https://eaglemike.com/719-forged-piston-kit-719pk.htm
∑ The above kit uses a custom cylinder liner. https://eaglemike.com/aftermarket-cy...0-cylliner.htm
. Might use the Schnitz Racing 705cc Kit as it has reliefs for the oversize pistons. I’m not sure the EM kit has relief pockets for the oversize valves I plan to install.
∑ Balance the crankshaft, create a stroker rod, and install it. http://crankworks.com/
∑ Head port polishing and regrinding for the oversize valves and verification using their flow bench. https://www.racetech.com/
∑ M-Tech oversize valves. http://www.mtechmotorcycles.com/serv...bore-kits-etc/
∑ Viton valve seals. https://eaglemike.com/Viton-valve-st...ngine-vvss.htm
∑ May need new valve guides.
∑ New intake & exhaust (163 grind kit) cams. http://www.webcamshafts.com/pages_ve...saki/2525.html
∑ Web Cam spring & titanium retainer kit (VC-K07). http://www.webcamshafts.com/pages_ve...saki/2525.html
∑ Manual chain tensioner. http://www.webcamshafts.com/pages_ve...saki/2525.html
∑ Potentially replace consumable components (cam chain, cam sprockets, various seals, various bearings, etc.) as while I’m in there I might as well make sure I don’t have to go back in anytime soon.
∑ A fuel injection system to replace the current carburetor would be a significant plus factor. I have a line on a custom electronic ignition system that will allow me to modify the timing advance curve, but that’s about it. FI system are outside of my knowledgebase so don’t know where to turn for this issue. Lecturing carburation is also a possibility.
. A Thermobob 2 kit to improve the heating/cooling system.
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post #2 of 152 Old 10-20-2019, 06:52 AM
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Ride it for awhile before you go into recreating a new bike... adventure! You might find that most of those changes are not needed.....just wanted! Farkle slowly is my advice, i have learned through the years riding a new bike for awhile changes your prospective of it.
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post #3 of 152 Old 10-20-2019, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, that’s good advice, but it’s an oil burner so one way or another it needs a new piston at a minimum.

I’ve also been riding on and off for over 40 years so have a good idea of what I want out if it as a street bike. The only real questionable options for me is stroking the engine out. I’m going to be splitting the cases to balance the crank anyway - I’m serious about minimizing vibration for my transplanted kidney - so a few hundred more into the build could add a good amount of torque and be worthwhile.

I’m just not sure if my list of parts is a good fit. I’m not familiar with all the brands. Or the KLR. it’s my first dual sport.

I’m in my late 50’s now and to go the places and do the things I want to do requires a dual sport. Mostly for fire roads, dirt roads, and occasional trails just to get there. Trails are probably about 1% though. I’m mostly talking about camping, fishing, or just taking in the view.
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post #4 of 152 Old 10-20-2019, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Let me take a few minutes to list what I had planned and perhaps you can tell me if you can improve upon my solution with a better plan.
Can't offer a better solution, although I can think of an alternative I think more likely achieving your design goals.

Won't suggest acquiring alternate bikes you mention, but . . . why not a Versys 650?

Reducing/eliminating vibrations on a single remains a hard row to hoe; the Versys as a twin naturally has the advantage. Plus, you get road manners the KLR never heard of; factory fuel-injection; more power than you'll likely get from your KLR hop-up, ABS, 6-speed transmission . . . I could go on!

Regarding, "balance the crankshaft;" ain't it balanced already? You mention, "stroker rods." What about the, "stroker crank" accompanying them? Custom build? Kit commercially available?

With reducing vibration as a priority goal, I question the choice of platform (single cylinder); even some of the mods (trick cams you mention lope a lot) seem to run counter to your design goal, my opinion only. Increasing torque doesn't reduce vibration, AFAIK, nor does a stroked engine.

About, "no excessive electronics and complicated technology;" your ambition for fuel injection; even the electronic adjustable timing you mention; seem contradictory, to me.

Regardless, your bike, your choices; best wishes toward modifying the KLR to fulfill your goals, if you must use that machine as your platform.

ďYou better put down that gun. You got two ways to go, put it down or use it. Even if you tie me, youíre gonna be dead.Ē "John Russell" (Paul Newman), Hombre
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post #5 of 152 Old 10-20-2019, 06:51 PM
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I am going to be as candid as I can, but no offense is intended.

One and all here will support the notion that I'll do wild, crazy, and questionable things to a KLR. I'll carry coals to Newcastle. Hell, I'll carry carbon dioxide to Newcastle, separate the carbon from the oxygen, and make my own damn coal right on the streets of Newcastle.

But I wouldn't do what you are proposing.

There just isn't that much potential for increased power or reduced vibration in the KLR motor.

To the level of purity of Ivory soap (“99 44/100% pure", they say), what you are looking for can be gotten by installing a 685 kit and a KLX needle.

The predecessor of the KLR650 was the KLR600. Kawasaki designed the balancer system specifically for the 600. When they built the 650 in '87 it required a heavier piston. They did not change the weights in the balancer system at that time, nor at any time right up to 2018, because it was 'good enough'. Any aftermarket piston is going to be lighter than the OEM piston and the balance will be better and the vibrations much less. I have a Wossner 678 piston in my bike and I swear that it vibrates less than my BMW flat twin.

The KLX needle and the appropriate (smaller) jet will solve the AFR issues and provide about as much more oomph as you're likely to get. Going beyond that is running into seriously diminishing returns.

If you are hard over on building a motor for the KLR I strongly suggest that you get ahold of KLRChris. He has built an injected KLR with revised cam timing and small-port heads. It was done at considerable expense and effort; he's made a career of dragging obscene horsepower out of cars and knows a thing or two. His is a better plan.

You did mention suspension mods and that is spot-on. Money destined for engine hop-ups would be better spent on suspension. The vibration, jolts, and shocks you are going to encounter off-road will be far greater than the vibrations you'll feel from a stock KLR engine. The KLR is poorly suspended and building good suspension for it will be far more beneficial. My KLR's suspension was built about 10 years ago; the damn thing floats over washboard and is exceptionally compliant in the rough. If you are going to be riding unpaved roads you're going to be riding over washboard surfaces. There are even better options today from Cogent than when I built mine.

Setting aside money for a decent seat from the likes of Corbin would be money well-spent, too. The stock KLR seat (at least prior to the '14.5 model) is an ass-hatchet.

The advice here is free and I suppose it is worth every penny you have given for it but, as William Mulholland so famously said, "There it is. Take it".
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Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 10-20-2019 at 06:55 PM.
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post #6 of 152 Old 10-20-2019, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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The Versys, well I considered it. Really, but don’t want it. Pretty much for the same reasons I don’t want a F800GS. Don’t want ABS, electronic suspension, or anything that must have a computer to work on it.

I know, FI kinda says otherwise, but in all honesty that’s not a requirement. More if a maybe as I hadn’t found another way to do much with the fuel air mapping or ignition advance curve. Plus RPM limiter. If I balance the crank assembly and use high performance valve springs with titanium retainers and keeps I know the RPM limiter will be way lower than is needed and I’d like to be able to use those extra RPMs. Maybe. It would need to be dyno tested and adjusted to know.

As for the whole stoker thing, that’s what Crank Works Inc. does. They provide a new rod, radius the corners so it fits with the current crank assembly, and lengthen the stroke. They can do this for just about any engine.

I’d have gone with EM 672cc stroker kit, but he told me it’s not available. So I can build my own if I want one.

As for vibrations, again I know it’s not the optimal platform. I just want to minimize what I can with the platform I’ve chosen. I know it’s not perfect, but I like the KLR. I just think I can modify it to be better for within certain boundaries limited by its design.

Yeah, I know it’s not cost effective. That’s not an issue for me. It’s not even an issue for me with my wife. And no matter what I do with the KLR it will be cheaper than a new $25,000 motorcycle. To be honest, I hate chains. I was going to buy a BMW 1200/1250 GS but didn’t want the weight thought about the F650/800/850 as I’ve driven them and owned many BMWs. Don’t want the complexity. Don’t want the weight. Don’t want the oh my god it fell over and now I have to ... worries/mentality.

I want a tank. Or maybe I should say VMW Bug. That platform has been around it seems like forever. Doesn’t do anything really well, but just keeps on going. And you can make it do anything you want with some money, some ingenuity, some labor, and sometimes some crazy tossed in there too. 🙂
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post #7 of 152 Old 10-20-2019, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the post Tom crest assured I’m not taking any offense with your - or anyone else’s - reply. I’ve done quite a bit of research. Spoke to Mike too. He agrees with you and doesn’t think the changes I want to make are worth the money or effort either. I wish he didn’t feel that way as then I could get his assistance in rebuilding the engine, but that just doesn’t appear to be an option. So, if I want to get it done I’ll just have to do it myself.

Some people, myself included, follow the philosophy it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters. That’s where I am now. Mapping out my plan to get what I can out of the engine. Mike had a stroker in the works and from what I’ve read it produced additional power & torque so I know it’s possible. Been on other stroked out thumpers so I know it works.

I know that larger valves on a cc upgrade can also be beneficial. Not sure if the cams I’m looking at will match up to an appropriate power/torque curve though. That’s part of why I am looking for FI or after market EDI/CDI or different carburetor too.

And I forgot to mention I already have the KLX needle upgrade and resetting of the stock carburetor. It’s going to be too small though if I upgrade the cc to a 700+ piston and/or stroke it too.

I’m also looking at another seat. Not from Corbin though as theirs is too rigid for me. I bought a used seat pan to be modified. Just haven’t decided who’s going to build it. I want it a bit narrower up front so I can get better foot placement, soft enough for commuting, but still rigid enough for some off road riding. Don’t want a premise seat though. I want a custom one. Got a couple of ideas on who’s going to make it, but nothing pinned down yet. I’ll probably wind up with a drive in service to get it just right. I should also note, it will need dual heating pads. That and heated grips are two items I really do miss from my BMWs.

FWIW if I can get 10-20 more usable horsepower out of the engine I’ll be very happy with that alone. The KLR - as it stands today - is just too underpowered for my highway driving style. I’m in southern CA and we cruise at 80 on the highway. I usually drive a few mph faster than surrounding traffic so I’m visible as a moving object rather than stationary and therefore attract the human eye rather than be invisible. Plus, that extra power will come in handy when fully loaded.

I compared the KLR to a Volkswagen Beetle, but don’t want to be crawling up hills in traffic. So I need more from the motor than it is stock. And I don’t see a reason to ever put in a smaller piston than is possible unless I’m after a high rev engine. I don’t think the KLR is suited for that, so larger pistons with an increased stroke and maybe - just maybe - an extra 1000 RPMs is doable safely.

And yes, I could be a nut job. Just comes with the territory. I will see if KLRChris has any suggestions, but NOS is not going to happen on my ride. That’s one step too far even for me. 🙂
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post #8 of 152 Old 10-20-2019, 10:47 PM
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Nah, no crazy involved. A reliable bike tricked up because the journey is as much fun as the destination.

I'll quote the OP (some of it out of context but it fits IMO):
'The KLR platform "has been around it seems like forever. Doesnít do anything really well, but just keeps on going."'
"Donít want ABS, electronic suspension, or anything that must have a computer to work on it."
"Donít want the complexity. Donít want the weight. Donít want the oh my god it fell over and now I have to ..."
"...older 30 year technology with no excessive electronics and complicated technology."
"Iím mostly talking about camping, fishing, or just taking in the view. "

The KLR sounds ideal. It isn't a horsepower monster and never will be but that can be increased, it is heavy for its size but it is possible to lift it up again, all the bugs are known so can be easily fixed, it handles like a dead fish in stock configuration but that can be fixed, etc. Plus it is really great to ride.

It does vibrate a lot but I have found that it doesn't affect the rider as much as it just works all the bolts loose with amazing regularity.

IMO the new-fangled CDI ignition stuff is a bit whizz-bang high-tech but I bought the bike anyway, so I guess I'm just an early-adopter!

Great choice, let us know how it goes.
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post #9 of 152 Old 10-21-2019, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by ILove2Ride2Wheels View Post
FWIW if I can get 10-20 more usable horsepower out of the engine I’ll be very happy with that alone.
You're talking an extra 25%-50% of rear wheel horsepower. Easier said than done, IMHO.

Further . . . none of the modifications you propose address significantly the VIBRATION issue you mention, as far as I know. I'd think some of the modifications, like stroking, might INCREASE vibration; certainly, trick cams will.

As Tom mentioned, the counterbalancer system was not changed between the KLR600 and KLR650 models, although the change in mass and geometry might suggest it should have been. Stroking? The center-of-mass location and magnitude of the rotating weights might want some sophisticated adjustment, given the change in dynamics consequent to stroking.

A supercharger or turbocharger might satisfy your increased power ambitions.

Regardless, please keep us advised on your hop-up progress; ideally, with before-and-after dyno runs and/or quarter-mile drag strip timing slips.

Again, best wishes, good luck!

ďYou better put down that gun. You got two ways to go, put it down or use it. Even if you tie me, youíre gonna be dead.Ē "John Russell" (Paul Newman), Hombre

Last edited by Damocles; 10-21-2019 at 02:34 PM.
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post #10 of 152 Old 10-21-2019, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by 89a3 View Post

IMO the new-fangled CDI ignition stuff is a bit whizz-bang high-tech but I bought the bike anyway, so I guess I'm just an early-adopter!
A minor detail, 89a3: Generation 2 KLR650s (2008 and later models) have no CDI (capacitive discharge ignitions); rather, the latter-day bikes have what Kawasaki once called, "Fully-Transistorized Breakerless Ignition," a great leap backward, IMHO, to an inductive discharge ignition system.

Although Kawasaki marketing literature may claim, "electric CDI," in specification sheets, they ain't got no stinkin' CDI!
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