What do I need to know about these bikes? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 01:41 AM Thread Starter
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What do I need to know about these bikes?

Howdy.

I'm new and don't yet own a KLR650 but might be about to. What should I know about these bikes before buying one? Are there any years to avoid, should I wait one more year because they will be fuel injected, which color is faster, any parts notorious for breakage, etc? What would you do different if you could go back in time and buy this bike all over again?

Some background: I'm familiar with offroad riding (two strokes and four strokes) and have my street endorsement. Things I've ridden include 2005 Honda XR650L, BMW G 650 GS, '78 Yamaha IT400, and various ATVs.

Please and thanks in advance. If I buy one of these, it will be my first modern bike. I'm looking to avoid rookie mistakes.

Last edited by Headrope; 10-30-2012 at 01:44 AM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 08:03 AM
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If you've ridden a Honda XR650, you'll have no problem with the KLR's height, which is an issue for some. The Generation2 KLR's (2008 and up) have more breakable plastic. I've never ridden a Gen1 much, but the Gen2's fairings offer a little more protection from the elements and the headlights are greatly improved.

The component(s) (slang term: "doohickey") that adjust the engine's chain-driven counterbalancer are considered by most to be the KLR's "weakest link."

I would steer you here to learn more about the doohickey and other mods and issues that riders have had with the KLR:

http://www.klrforum.com/showthread.php?t=12596

Some model years, 2008-2009 are known to burn through amounts of engine oil that most consider excessive. As far as I know, this problem has been corrected. Knowing what I've learned on this forum, I would be hesitant to purchase a used KLR in those model year ranges. Some people take steps to correct the problem, others just keep an eye on their oil level, add oil as needed and keep riding with no problems. Some people with these model years have no problem at all.

Aside from the "styling," I wouldn't consider the KLR a "modern bike." It's fundamental elements and capabilities have remained largely unchanged since it came out in the late 1980's. Nobody foresees any major changes for the future. I would imagine if and when Kawasaki ever stops selling this bike, it will remain pretty much as it is now.

But, I consider that a good thing. KLR's have been around so long that there's a wealth of knowledge about them available on sites like this one. Parts are largely interchangeable and there are tons of aftermarket parts and accessories to tailor the bike to the way you ride it.

It's very dependable and easy for either experienced or shade-tree mechanics to work on and maintain. In the event of a problem, the machine's simplicity and the knowledge of other riders online make troubleshooting much easier. If you have a problem, there's a very good chance not one, but several people have been down that road before and can save you a lot of hassle figuring out what's wrong.

I guess it all depends on what you're going to use it for. I'll compare it to your XR since I also used to ride one of those. The KLR is much nicer to ride on the highway and the water-cooled engine will likely last a lot longer than an XR engine ridden in the same manner. At least for my riding skills, the KLR is just about as capable as the XR off-road, but it's kind of like sitting on a cow instead of a horse. The XR is a very lean and skinny bike while all the plastic in front of your legs on the KLR makes it seem very bloated. With the big gas tank, although a definite plus in my book when it comes to riding range, it will be harder to pick up if you dump it and the handguards and fairings/shrouds around the bank break very easily and are expensive to replace.

I'd been off motorcycles for a few years when I bought the KLR. I already knew I wanted another DS bike and looked at the Honda and Suzuki offerings before choosing the KLR. I use mine for a 60-mile round trip commute as well as lots of gravel road riding and the occasional foray off into the dirt and mud. I'm glad I chose the KLR over the other two because it's worked out to be my favorite. Given my 'druthers, I'd own the KLR and an XR, but I can really only get away with one bike so the KLR it is. There's no way I'd sell the KLR and go back to owning just an XR.



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post #3 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 08:55 AM
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Well said above....I would have to say that the KLR is closer to the smaller BMW than an XR though.....I have never riden either but did have an 600XL way way back in time and it was nowhere near the KLR performance wise or comfort wise. The KLR is slower out of the box and it's way more comfortable than the 600XL Honda. So, I bet it's nowhere near the off road capabilities of the XR but the same thing for comfort when against the BMW.
Now after saying all of this crap...I would never give my KLR up for one of the other offerings either! The KLR can be molded into whatever you desire due to the huge after market suppliers out there for this bike. Which as stated hasn't changed that much since day one.
As for the mechanical issues that are well documented on all KLR sites, imho, they are very few and not worth getting worried about. I have just bought a Honda CX500 and have found out that this bike has the very same tensioner issues that the KLR suffers from but the fix means taking the engine out and splitting the rear cover off of the engine.......a much bigger job than the side case cover we need to remove to get to the Doohickey as we call it. Plus the fix is $40 for us partswise.......I just spent far more than that to fix the same thing on this CX500!!!
As for the oil issues....08's are not the year of choice....unless they have been fixed in one form or another. They need to have a new set of rings and at least a good hone job done or better yet a 685 type kit installed. I have an 08 and it has 30,000kms on it and it is slightly drinking oil, I'm going to guess1 1/2 litres in that time and distance span. So, they are out there. Good ones that is. But few and far between. If you get it cheap enough, then the cost of a 685 kit isn't much to spend to permanantly fix the oil burning issue....imho.

If I were in the market for a new KLR these small issues wouldn't stop me from buying one by any means! I don't mean to scare you off buying one......

Willys

Last edited by willys; 10-30-2012 at 09:04 AM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 10:19 AM
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Doohickey problem?

I've recently purchased a 2010 KLR and since I have joined this forum I have read various threads about this problem but was under the impression that the doohickey had been strengthened with the second generation starting in 2008.
Should I still be concerned with this on my 2010 year model?
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 10:20 AM
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I am an owner of the aforementioned oil burners (2008) but i still love the bike. I have been over the last summer monitoring the oil usage until i install the 685kit. I have to say even with that issue, I am going to keep the bike because it is cheap to run, can go a long distance on a tank of gas, pass cars on the highway or tear up a gravel road, nothing stops this machine except a tired body....

Enough said....
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dousta View Post
I've recently purchased a 2010 KLR and since I have joined this forum I have read various threads about this problem but was under the impression that the doohickey had been strengthened with the second generation starting in 2008.
Should I still be concerned with this on my 2010 year model?
It's my understanding (I could be wrong) that the Gen II has an upgraded doohickey, but the spring may still be an issue.

Headrope: Everybody knows the red ones are faster
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 11:46 AM
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If you inspect the new DOO and how it sits on the balancer shaft you will see it is a sloppy fit and the new spring will have maybe enough tension for one adjustment and then it's slack. I personally have changed many new DOO's to the better aftermarket DOO and the tension spring. The difference is night and day in fitment and tension capabilities.
Will your bike operate without changing the DOO....sure, without question....but it won't operate long IF the spring comes loose and gets into the cam or balancer chain systems. Just saying.
I wouldn't ride my new KLR for very long before swapping them both out. The aftermarket DOO is clocked on the shaft at a better setting too and the torsion spring won't work well with a stock DOO either.
The concequences are really bad if you do not swap them out and they go bad. It is your decission to make ......there is enough information out there to say that you should.

Willys
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NH Thumper View Post
It's my understanding (I could be wrong) that the Gen II has an upgraded doohickey, but the spring may still be an issue.

Headrope: Everybody knows the red ones are faster
Hey now. It is common knowledge that the blacked out bikes are fast even when they are parked. They LOOK fast.

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post #9 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dousta View Post
I've recently purchased a 2010 KLR and since I have joined this forum I have read various threads about this problem but was under the impression that the doohickey had been strengthened with the second generation starting in 2008.
At the most excellent Santa Rosa tech day, there were 3 doohickeys done.
  • 1995: doo warped but intact, spring intact and under tension (I guess they used a softer metal in the earlier years)
  • 200x-ish: All OK
  • gen2: doo intact, spring already loose
I don't remember the exact mileages, but my 1995 had 16K, and the gen2 under 10K.

There are enough vids on Youtube of gen2s with loose springs and plenty of forum posts about them that I'd change it out on a gen2... maybe after it was out of warranty. Never heard of a gen2 doohickey breaking, though.
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post #10 of 11 Old 10-30-2012, 03:08 PM
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I have a gen 2, my spring had zero tension. The doo was intact. I replaced it with EM anyhow since i was in there. A
T-bob is nice if you run in cooler temps, but more of a personal choice. The bike isn't going to blow up if you don't have one. I would jump the clutch safety switch, mine has failed and if you accidentally stall, finding neutral to restart can be a bi***. However, the safety switches are there for a reason so choose at your own risk and after research.

As they say: the KLR isn't great at any one thing but is great at doing everything. I wouldn't trade mine for the world.

BTW, the Blue ones are the fastest.
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