KLR commuter...I think I can, I think I can, I think I can - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 05-26-2011, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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KLR commuter...I think I can, I think I can, I think I can

I've recently started motorcycle commuting (gas prices and all) rather than for occasional fair weather recreational riding I had been doing.
I already own an 06 KLR but have been considering a Versys. I only commute about 15 miles and can avoid interstates (max speed 65) so either bike would work just fine but Im a huge fan of "right tool for the job". While the KLR isnt the "wrong tool", there are certainly better tools out there. When cruising down the road at 65 on the KLR I feel a bit like Im using an adjustable wrench on a 1/2" nut, it works fine and will eventually get the job done but I would feel better with a ratchet and 1/2" socket, but its not as bad as using a pair of vise grips on the nut.
That said, the only reason I am commuting is to save money. I have problems with investing a couple-a-grand just so Im not riding an adjustable wrench. So I decided to spend a few hundred and turn the KLR into a 1/2" box end wrench. It'll be better than an adjustable but may require a little more work than a ratchet.
Ive got a large JC Whitney trunk, EBC front rotor, Happy Trails fork brace and Ive got a TCI windshield on the way, Im accumulating a nice riding wardrobe and looking into lighting improvements and more streetable tires. A shorter fatter seat will be in the future at some point. Am I missing anything?

Shiiit, by the time Im done with the KLR, I couldve bought a nice Versys. Oh, well, too late now, I guess Im stuck with it.

I should trademark that.
(KLR....The adjustable wrench of motorcycles)

Last edited by ray h; 05-27-2011 at 11:44 AM.
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post #2 of 23 Old 05-27-2011, 12:59 AM
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I wish I was in a situation where I could ride my KLR 15 miles to work avoiding Interstates on roads at max speeds of 65mph or below. I'd be in hog heaven. I can see the trunk and windshield to carry clothes and work stuff and ward off bug strikes and possibly different tires for a 30-mile round trip on pavement, but do you really need a new front rotor, fork brace and better seat for a 15-mile-at-a-time ride?

Just being the devil's advocate here. IMO, your "adjustable wrench" (love that term, by the way) would do me just fine if I were in your situation.



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post #3 of 23 Old 05-27-2011, 06:43 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planalp View Post
I wish I was in a situation where I could ride my KLR 15 miles to work avoiding Interstates on roads at max speeds of 65mph or below. I'd be in hog heaven. I can see the trunk and windshield to carry clothes and work stuff and ward off bug strikes and possibly different tires for a 30-mile round trip on pavement, but do you really need a new front rotor, fork brace and better seat for a 15-mile-at-a-time ride?

Just being the devil's advocate here. IMO, your "adjustable wrench" (love that term, by the way) would do me just fine if I were in your situation.
You're right. The bike had the EBC brake on it when I got it. I probably wouldnt worry about it if it wasnt already there. I agree, the seat can wait. Comfort isnt my main concern with the seat, my short legs are of more concern. Everyone should have a fork brace, the bike feels more crisp at speed.
Its true that I have a pretty much ideal ride. Nice country two lane with the sun at my back. I am fortunite. It beats the commute I had last year (before we moved). It was all interstate, into the sun, heavy truck traffic where you get ran over if you're going slower than 70.
I had a Honda Shadow that I rode back then. When we moved I decided that I no longer needed the Shadow because the KLR is more than capable of the commute I have now.
Im not whining about my situation at all, Im actually pretty happy that Ive decided to put a little $$ into the KLR. It's going to make a sweet rain or shine 3+ season commuter for me. It still think something along the lines of a Versys would be the perfect tool for the job though.

Last edited by ray h; 05-27-2011 at 11:45 AM.
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post #4 of 23 Old 05-27-2011, 07:14 AM
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You need to remember this one thing
The KLR need very little up keep, and when something is needed, the KLR is so easy to work on.
Though I love the Versys, and the BMWs and the KTMs, When something is needed on those bikes Its SOOO much harder to work on. Its just my opinion of coarse.
Its like playing really good golf, and thinking if you get a new set of PING clubs ($$$$) you would be a pro.

I just think you would miss the KLR more than you would like the Versys..
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post #5 of 23 Old 05-27-2011, 07:20 AM
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I once sold my Llama .45, because I wanted a Colt .45 Dumbest thing I ever did
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post #6 of 23 Old 05-27-2011, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy Jake View Post
You need to remember this one thing
The KLR need very little up keep, and when something is needed, the KLR is so easy to work on.
Though I love the Versys, and the BMWs and the KTMs, When something is needed on those bikes Its SOOO much harder to work on. Its just my opinion of coarse.
Its like playing really good golf, and thinking if you get a new set of PING clubs ($$$$) you would be a pro.

I just think you would miss the KLR more than you would like the Versys..


Its true, added maintenance expenses and headaches with the Versys, although from what Ive read, not bad by street bike standards.
If I got a Versys I would probably opt to carry full coverage insurance which would be an added expense over the basic liability I carry on the KLR.
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post #7 of 23 Old 05-27-2011, 07:04 PM
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Having used a KLR to commute 120 miles a day, in heavy traffic with about 60 miles of interstate, to where I now live and commute 60 miles a day, (20 of which are my personal mountain race-track), here are my recommendations for the bike. (Good, protective, water-proof gear is a given)

Headlamp modulator - the one time I got hit, I did not have the high beams on because it was over-cast and raining and I thought the high beam would be obnoxious to other traffic. Naturally the guy who ran the red-light making a turn into me said "I did not see you!" Hind-sight is 20/20. Screw them, burn the high beams and a modulating beam is better, IMO. Over 100K miles on a Gold Wing with a modulator and plenty of experience to KNOW that it makes a difference.

Flashing brake light upgrade - I also have a modulator that flashes the rear turn signals when braking and not signalling a turn.

Good low vibration mirrors.

Heated grips.

Comfortable seat.

Good brakes. I run an over-sized front rotor with Galfer Greens, Golds on the rear, braided steel lines front and rear.

Experiment with different weight fork oils until you find what works best for you. My preference is for heavier weight oils - I prefer to limit fork dive under braking, and my commuting bike isn't my off-road bike, so I run a stiff front suspension, with 30w fork oil and progressive springs. I also run this bike over-loaded, so what works for me may not work for others, blah blah blah.

Stebel Nautilus Horn. 139db of "put the cell phone away and wake the f**k up!"
And a habit of covering the horn button any time I predict other traffic may encroach on my line of travel.

The above would be what I consider "Must Haves" for my commutes.

Road tires really comes down to what kind of coin you want to spend. I absolutely love Continental TKCs, and they have awesome grip in all weather and road conditions but are expensive and last about 5000 miles +/- before they get too choppy and all the snuggy is worn off of them. I liked Shinko 705's for the price, and the paved road grip was very good. Kenda 761s are growing on me, good wear, pretty inexpensive, and the damp road squirreliness has actually become amusing - they slip enough to get your attention but haven't completely let go and the weird part is that in torrential rain they actually grip pretty good.

I have a good deal more farkles and "steroid mod" upgrades (planalp would hate me) that I enjoy and they make my motor MINE, but don't necessarily fall into a requirement catagory for all-weather commuting.

I don't subscribe to the 'loud pipes save lives' mind-set as much as I do believe that my loud pipe sounds cool to me, and it provides a certain amusement to be able to rattle the windows of the cage that has annoyed me with their "la-de-dah doop-de-doo 15mph speed variences while never quite achieving the actual speed limit" zombiness once I can safely blow past them.

"If you simply take up the attitude of defending a mistake, there will be no hope of improvement."
Winston Churchill

http://www.ridingwv.com/ (not my site)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lockjaw View Post
Oh, and I ran two quarts of hot oil through before filling her up cause I'm anal.

Last edited by Some Mook; 05-27-2011 at 07:07 PM.
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post #8 of 23 Old 05-28-2011, 12:44 AM
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Hah! I saw that. Naw, I don't hate you. In fact, while I don't commute on my KLR or ride in a lot of traffic, I'm definitely planning on upgrading my horn and I think your habit of covering your horn button is sage advice. Really got a kick out of your description of the purpose of the horn. The horns in both our 4-wheeled vehicles have saved us from maybe not a nasty wreck, but at least a fender-bender in the Wally World parking lot when it woke up a daydreaming/distracted driver.



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post #9 of 23 Old 05-28-2011, 05:31 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by planalp View Post
The horns in both our 4-wheeled vehicles have saved us from maybe not a nasty wreck, but at least a fender-bender in the Wally World parking lot when it woke up a daydreaming/distracted driver.
This being the biggest problem with a motorcycle. A Wally World fender bender in a cage may easily become a weeks stay in a hospital and months of rehab if you were on a bike.

I like the modulating brakelight but Im on the fence with the modulating headlight. No doubt the mod. headlight stands out and is easier to see then a standard headlight but I worry about sending mixed signals. Its a common signal for people to flash their high beams as a signal to "go ahead and pull out". I dont do it but I have seen it done alot and know other people who do do it. Im concerned that the modulating headlight, at a quick glance, could be construed as "go ahead and pull out" by the other driver.
And I do like having mildly irritating exhaust, just enough to plant that mental seed in another drivers head, a constant reminder to the drivers around me that there is someone else around. Its kind of like riding around in traffic with your horn duct taped down. Its true the exhaust isnt heard as well from the front but thats ok because I can easily control whats in front of me in traffic, its the sides and to the rear I have less control over. Anyway, my .02 on loud exhaust, your .02 may vary.

Last edited by ray h; 05-28-2011 at 06:43 AM.
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post #10 of 23 Old 05-28-2011, 07:44 AM
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A good (legal) headlight modulator doesn't flash the headlights, it modulates the current flow so that the light is rapidly dimming and increasing in intensity, better ones change the frequency of pulse when the horn is being used.

Odds are that a driver at an intersection or a cross street will notice your headlight long before you would be close enough for them to interpret it as a signal for them to proceed into your right-of-way, and since you should be predicting that your right-of-way is about to be encroached and have a plan for reaction anyway....

I have commuted in heavy traffic on motorcycles for several decades, and been using headlight modulators on all of my motors once I became aware of their existance.

I have had a couple of people react by pulling over, but I have never had anyone make a move that suggested to me that they interpreted my headlight as a "GO" signal to them. I have had red light runners crank the wheel harder and get onto the shoulder when they turn into my lane and the modulating headlight grabbed their attention.

Anything you do to make yourself and your motorcycle stand out from the background so that other drivers become aware of you sooner is a smart move. It doesn't guarantee anything, but it is more likely to help you than to hurt you.

Commuting amongst people who are focused on pretty much everything but driving can be an interesting chess game. The repetition of commuting has many people driving in their sleep, and it is very possible for a rider to become unfocused on the HERE and NOW as well.

Stack the odds in your favor, no matter what you decide to ride.

Be as visible as possible, and never let your guard down.

Easy to say that, but it takes a lot of focused concentration to do that and it is normal to start thinking about what you need to do at work or at home during your commute, and that can be very dangerous.

Commuting is very different than taking a pleasure ride.

Having your motor automatically standing out with increased indicators of your existance and presence can save your bacon if/when you have a momentary lapse in focus.

I have made a habit of saying to myself every time that I pull a strap through the D rings that "I can die today" but I would be lying if I didn't admit that there have been times where I have found myself at a certain point in the commute suddenly realizing that I have no memory of passing through a previous intersection.

Ride safe.

"If you simply take up the attitude of defending a mistake, there will be no hope of improvement."
Winston Churchill

http://www.ridingwv.com/ (not my site)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lockjaw View Post
Oh, and I ran two quarts of hot oil through before filling her up cause I'm anal.

Last edited by Some Mook; 05-28-2011 at 07:48 AM.
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