OK-Weigh in,please.......... - 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 15 Old 10-21-2010, 09:44 AM Thread Starter
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Question OK-Weigh in,please..........

.........Over on that other KLR forum,there is an ongoing brouhaha over the cam chain balancer,AKA"The DOO".......Popular opinion there is either ya change it with one that someone makes,or its just a matter of time before that balancer comes un-glued,and eats the entire engine.Also,its said that Kawasaki knows about this, and ignores it.ON THE OTHER HAND,more than one dealer Ive talked to have told me"Do you know how many of these KLR'S weve sold??TONS!!!-Do you want to know how many we've had come back for that problem??NONE"-I had a service manager tell me that at one of the dealers,with absolutely NO reason to lie to me about it.Ive heard stories of KLRs with 100,000 miles on them,and still goin'...........SO:Can I hear both sides of this??BTW:I haven't done mine,at almost 13000 miles its still as quiet as when new....................I had mine in for the 3 recalls way last year(My dealer told me "we dont just do the check and see if its bad @#$%;if its a recall,we order the parts and get on with it"......Thats when I asked him about the 'doo.he said a LOT of folks have come in asking about this issue,because of whats been said on the 'net................
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post #2 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 10:50 AM
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I would also like to hear some stories or experiences either way about the doo-hickey
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post #3 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 10:56 AM
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On the Gen II ['08-newer] bikes, I have yet to run across a verified account of a balancer lever [doohickey] failure. There are plenty of reports of weak springs that tension the balancer lever. In order to adjust the tension on the balancer chain, the balancer lever will require some tension, and this can't happen with a weak / broken spring.

This is not a mythical legend on the Gen I bikes. Many broken doohickey's and springs have been found, and have been the source of catastrophic failure. It is more of a precautionary procedure on the Gen II bikes to replace the spring, IMHO. As you noticed, some folks get pretty fanatical about not only replacing the doohickey parts, but who to buy the replacements from. It is like the initiation ritual from "Prospect" to full fledged membership into the KLRista Brethren. Wrong doohickey on your ride, you're out, dude. It is said by the fires and on the internet that the "other" doohickey's and springs are made by Al-Qaeda from bubblegum, and will lead to erectile dysfunction.

I understand your confusion on this issue. On one hand, there is a manufacturer that may be deflecting some liability issues. On the other hand, you find bizarre parts marketing methods, which imply that questioning the need for this product or who to buy them from indicates that you don't love Jesus or the troops.

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post #4 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 11:26 AM
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Frankly, I would agree with the dealer's account. At one time I had heard that, worlwide, the KLR is Kawasaki's #3 selling bike. That means that they've sold a ton of them.
We must understand that motorcycles are not like cars. The average car gets driven 100K miles (I made that fact up, but believe it's probably accurate). The average bike gets ridden 5K miles. Made that up, too, but we're talking averages for one that is a utility item and one that is a rercreational item in the grand scheme of things.
Things get amplified on the internet. Those of us who frequent these forums are well outside the norm - we ride these bike far beyond the average mileage and expose faults that the average user won't.
It is true that a doohickey failure can be catastrophic. If you're gonna ride the bike a lot, replacing the doo is pretty cheap insurance.
I also believe that doohickey failures can be instigated by over-tightening the bolt, deforming the lever and leading to failure. I would also propose that some people adjust them more frequently than required, exacerbating the problem.
Kawasaki listens to reports from dealers to decide what needs attention; they don't base their actions on what a very minor percentage of users report on the internet.
Think about it - they've probably made a quarter million of the things. There are a few thousand people on these forums. EM, Sagebrush, and Eldon have probably sold a couple thousand doos. That said, Kawasaki must have heard something from dealers over the course of 25 years, as they attempted to rectify the sitch on the Gen2s.
I say, if you have a Gen1, replace the doo and spring 'cuz it's cheap insurance. On the Gen2s, at least consider the spring replacement, as they didn't quite get it right.

Donning my flameproof suit now...

Tom

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post #5 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Schmitz View Post
Frankly, I would agree with the dealer's account. At one time I had heard that, worlwide, the KLR is Kawasaki's #3 selling bike. That means that they've sold a ton of them.
We must understand that motorcycles are not like cars. The average car gets driven 100K miles (I made that fact up, but believe it's probably accurate). The average bike gets ridden 5K miles. Made that up, too, but we're talking averages for one that is a utility item and one that is a rercreational item in the grand scheme of things.
Things get amplified on the internet. Those of us who frequent these forums are well outside the norm - we ride these bike far beyond the average mileage and expose faults that the average user won't.
It is true that a doohickey failure can be catastrophic. If you're gonna ride the bike a lot, replacing the doo is pretty cheap insurance.
I also believe that doohickey failures can be instigated by over-tightening the bolt, deforming the lever and leading to failure. I would also propose that some people adjust them more frequently than required, exacerbating the problem.
Kawasaki listens to reports from dealers to decide what needs attention; they don't base their actions on what a very minor percentage of users report on the internet.
Think about it - they've probably made a quarter million of the things. There are a few thousand people on these forums. EM, Sagebrush, and Eldon have probably sold a couple thousand doos. That said, Kawasaki must have heard something from dealers over the course of 25 years, as they attempted to rectify the sitch on the Gen2s.
I say, if you have a Gen1, replace the doo and spring 'cuz it's cheap insurance. On the Gen2s, at least consider the spring replacement, as they didn't quite get it right.

Donning my flameproof suit now...

Tom

I remember Eagle Mike saying that he thinks there's a 20% failure rate on the Gen 1 doos. So you've got an 80% rate of non-failures. It's probably not much of a stretch to believe that 10-15% of the bikes ever sold have had major engine failures and a good percent were never repaired/taken off the road.

Before the internet how many KLRistas even knew what the doohickey was? It's not mentioned in the owners manual even now. You have to get the shop manual to know about it and even then the adjust procedure is not correct.

I replaced the doo on my '08 @ 18K miles. The spring still had tension and I had adjusted it several times by then. So mine probably would have been OK for the life of the motor, but it's a known weak spot so why not deal with it?

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Cor 2:9

Last edited by Spec; 10-21-2010 at 12:11 PM.
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post #6 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 12:46 PM
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I replaced the doo on my '08 @ 18K miles. The spring still had tension and I had adjusted it several times by then. So mine probably would have been OK for the life of the motor, but it's a known weak spot so why not deal with it?
Regularly checking and readjusting the doo is the key. You are far more likely to experience failure from spring failure due to improper tension from not readjusting the tensioner. Many I know have origional doos at +20,000 miles because of proper maintance.

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post #7 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by vatrader View Post
On the Gen II ['08-newer] bikes, I have yet to run across a verified account of a balancer lever [doohickey] failure. There are plenty of reports of weak springs that tension the balancer lever. In order to adjust the tension on the balancer chain, the balancer lever will require some tension, and this can't happen with a weak / broken spring.

This is not a mythical legend on the Gen I bikes. Many broken doohickey's and springs have been found, and have been the source of catastrophic failure. It is more of a precautionary procedure on the Gen II bikes to replace the spring, IMHO. As you noticed, some folks get pretty fanatical about not only replacing the doohickey parts, but who to buy the replacements from. It is like the initiation ritual from "Prospect" to full fledged membership into the KLRista Brethren. Wrong doohickey on your ride, you're out, dude. It is said by the fires and on the internet that the "other" doohickey's and springs are made by Al-Qaeda from bubblegum, and will lead to erectile dysfunction.

I understand your confusion on this issue. On one hand, there is a manufacturer that may be deflecting some liability issues. On the other hand, you find bizarre parts marketing methods, which imply that questioning the need for this product or who to buy them from indicates that you don't love Jesus or the troops.
This made me laugh. That is all I have to add.




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post #8 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Spec View Post
I remember Eagle Mike saying that he thinks there's a 20% failure rate on the Gen 1 doos. ...
I can understand that from his perspective, but wonder if it is complete in context. He's not seeing all the bikes that are produced, but rather OUR bikes, as we ride the snot out of them, hang out on forums, and show up at tech the days.

So, to put words in someone's mouth, 20% of OUR bikes have doo failures, which is to say that 20% of the bikes the we, a group probably two standard deviations to the right of normal, put a lot of miles on. What's that, 1% of ALL the bikes?

Even in that context, though, swap the damn thing out and adjust it correctly, with the right torque on the bolt. If you're going to ride it more than 5K miles it's cheap insurance, it's easy to to, and there are scads of people who will loan tools and help with the job.

I think that if 1 in 5 bikes were coming back to the dealers with crapped doos Kawasaki would have taken notice along time ago. But 1 in 5 don't show up at the dealer. 1 in 5 of 1% of the total bike population show up at tech days and have crapped doos, and WE fix them. The vast majority of KLRs are happily running around with a doo that's never been adjusted, rattling away, or are leaning against the garage wall and haven't been ridden much in the past few years - like most bikes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to defend Kawasaki's weak design. It should have been perfectly robust from day one, either as a proper lever or as a gear-driven balancer. Or, hell, a nicely balanced parallel twin. I'm just trying to offer fleet-level perspective.

Still the heretic in the flameproof suit...

Tom

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post #9 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by KLR STEVE View Post
.........Over on that other KLR forum,there is an ongoing brouhaha over the cam chain balancer,AKA"The DOO"
Just for clarity's sake it is the balancer chain tensioner and not the cam chain. The balancers have their own chain which is seperate from the cam chain.
As Tom stated most KLR's are not ridden enough for the doo to become an issue. If they do mange to put enough miles on the bike the problem arises well outside of the warranty period so there is no need to take it to the dealer.
What constitutes a failure? In my mind the balancer tensioning system was designed to do just that, keep the balancer chain properly tensioned. If it does not perform this simple function it is a failure even if the parts are fully intact. The motor can and will run for many thousands of miles with this system not operating, the chain will slowly stretch and will begin to make a little more noise as the balancer chain begins to rub on parts it was not meant to come into contact with. For the 07 and earlier models there are plenty of documented broken levers and springs. Take a look at the owner surveys below. Most of these bikes had just a few thousand miles on them yet many their owners have found broken or nonfunctioning parts. Take a look at he percentages, they are much higher than the 20% mentioned earlier. My 05 had a broken spring with only 5000 miles on it. I had no idea it was broken nor did I even suspect it was broken.
http://klrworld.com/forums/index.php/topic,962.0.html
http://klrworld.com/forums/index.php/topic,4906.0.html
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post #10 of 15 Old 10-21-2010, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by SLO-KLR View Post
Just for clarity's sake it is the balancer chain tensioner and not the cam chain. The balancers have their own chain which is seperate from the cam chain.
As Tom stated most KLR's are not ridden enough for the doo to become an issue. If they do mange to put enough miles on the bike the problem arises well outside of the warranty period so there is no need to take it to the dealer.
What constitutes a failure? In my mind the balancer tensioning system was designed to do just that, keep the balancer chain properly tensioned. If it does not perform this simple function it is a failure even if the parts are fully intact. The motor can and will run for many thousands of miles with this system not operating, the chain will slowly stretch and will begin to make a little more noise as the balancer chain begins to rub on parts it was not meant to come into contact with. For the 07 and earlier models there are plenty of documented broken levers and springs. Take a look at the owner surveys below. Most of these bikes had just a few thousand miles on them yet many their owners have found broken or nonfunctioning parts. Take a look at he percentages, they are much higher than the 20% mentioned earlier. My 05 had a broken spring with only 5000 miles on it. I had no idea it was broken nor did I even suspect it was broken.
http://klrworld.com/forums/index.php/topic,962.0.html
http://klrworld.com/forums/index.php/topic,4906.0.html

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I agree that us KLR riders are over represented in the 20% failure rate because of the reasons Tom states.

The problem with a broken doo or spring is that pieces can migrate and cause damage. Sure the bike can run without the balancer system functioning. It will vibrate more but most probably don't notice a gradual increase.

As far as Kawasaki taking notice (and caring) I have 2 words for you...

Oil burning!

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Cor 2:9
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