Why does it handle like a shopping cart? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 08-08-2007, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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Why does it handle like a shopping cart?

Greetings,

I bought a used '05 KLR in December. I've put 3 or 4 thousand miles on it, and find it to be, in some respects, one of the worst bike I've ever ridden. On the freeway with cross winds in excess of 20-25 mph, it is very nearly impossible to keep in a single lane. On the freeway at speeds over 65 mph, the wake from other vehicles induces extremely unsettling head shakes. After some suspension adjustments, it is better, but still handles like a shopping cart on the freeway. However, it is much more managable at speed on open two lane roads. It is a freaking blast on tight roads with bad pavement. I think some of my handling problems may relate to that sail that Kawasaki calls a front fender.

Any advice?
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post #2 of 26 Old 08-08-2007, 07:40 AM
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Wind and the KLR don't get along very well. The front fender has had several things done to it in hopes of improvement by several people. )it has been lowered, cut down, holes drilled in it,and some have even changed it. Everyone has said their mods did help, but mine is still stock and I just battle the wind on the big roads. I do try to avoid the big roads as much as possible.

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post #3 of 26 Old 08-08-2007, 08:08 AM
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KLR+Big Roads = no no
If you have too, just be careful. I got enough weight to hold the front end down, but I still get the pucker factor with semi's in front, back or beside with the wind wash.

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post #4 of 26 Old 08-08-2007, 08:16 AM
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Carson City is the windiest place in the country. Since I bought my '08 klr a month ago I've had to face winds and gusts up to 50 mph. So far, although it gets old, I don't think I've been pushed more than a couple feet of my line of travel. It could be a hefty ticket here, but, if you could try a stretch of road in the wind without the fender you would know if it is the cause.
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post #5 of 26 Old 08-08-2007, 10:30 AM
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Yep, the KLR was never designed or intended for interstates.

It's not just one feature causing the overall problem. Handguards have to go, windshield isn't appropriate, fairing is hardly aerodynamic for high speed, and the fender is way to flimsy.

There are lots of posts about how to make the KLR an interstate bike, especially on that other net site. It would serve you well to do some research because you won't get all the solutions in one post.
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post #6 of 26 Old 08-17-2007, 09:55 PM
 
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An awful lot of it comes down to the skill of the rider, too. If you are in a crosswind and you tighten up your grip and tense your forearms, the bike will react more severely.

I make sure my grip is loose and my upper body is loose, and let the bars turn naturally. It automagically countersteers itself to compensate for the wind. The same technique worked really well on my Honda XR650L, another tall (even taller and a little lighter than the KLR) DP bike.

If you fight it, you'll only make it worse.
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post #7 of 26 Old 08-17-2007, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeln View Post
If you fight it, you'll only make it worse.
Yep, well said.

Another thing that new riders need to keep in mind is that a motorcycle wants to go straight if you just let it do it's thing. The most basic physics of a motorcycle is it's gyroscopic force that keeps the bike upright. New riders tend to feel it's their duty to keep the bike up, but a rider is just a nuisance to the bike and really shouldn't be doing much to assist it in staying upright.

Offroad is a different matter of course!
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post #8 of 26 Old 08-19-2007, 12:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by TheWanderer View Post
The most basic physics of a motorcycle is it's gyroscopic force that keeps the bike upright. New riders tend to feel it's their duty to keep the bike up, but a rider is just a nuisance to the bike and really shouldn't be doing much to assist it in staying upright.
I recall reading much about this matter in Keith Code's Twist of The Wrist II book, which is a great read for any rider to me.

the more you try to fight the headshake, the more problems you get. but from what I can see of the KLR, it is really not built for anything beyond general in town and trail riding. highway is possible I think, but you'd have to get some major stuff done to improve it before going there.
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post #9 of 26 Old 08-19-2007, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BobTheBiker View Post
but from what I can see of the KLR, it is really not built for anything beyond general in town and trail riding. highway is possible I think, but you'd have to get some major stuff done to improve it before going there.


I've done a bunch of 300-500 mile days on mine, and the only improvements for this I've made were adding highway pegs.. (and getting rid of the stock seat)

I've got a 1000 V Strom and a 95' Goldwing in the garage, and still take the KLR for solo touring all the time..
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post #10 of 26 Old 08-19-2007, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by BobTheBiker View Post
highway is possible I think, but you'd have to get some major stuff done to improve it before going there.
Highways and Interstates are definately doable on a stock bike, no question. It's just a matter of how long any particular person can put up with it both mentally and physically. Some people don't seem to have any problem busting ass for 4-5 hours at 80+ on a stocker..... NOT ME!!

There isn't much the KLR can't do and that's it's appeal, but most of everthing it can do is based on rider ability and their willingness to do so. Like the highspeed interstate runs for hours and hours, or extreme offroad hills, or extreme curvy roads at faster speeds. It's not a full blown sport bike, cruiser, tourer, or dirtbike, but it does have a little bit of all of these abilities in it.

Goldwings and big tourers aren't exactly curve dwellers at speed and definately won't be hitting any dirt trails. Although I've seen video proof of the new goldwing being flicked around like it's 600cc sport bike on deals gap, this is simply not the case for your average rider.

Sport bikes don't care for interstates much and they won't be hitting any dirt. I did a 200 mile interstate run on a sport bike back when I was 20ish and would never do that again, just had no appeal and not a comfortable riding position for extended periods of straight line runs.

Cruisers aren't the best interstate bikes in stock form either. They won't be seeing any dirt and don't exactly like twisty roads at faster paces either.

But the KLR.... even beginners can enjoy spirited runs in the twisties, it will do interstates for some random period of time, it loves 2-lane 50/60mph highways and will go just about anywhere off-road, especially if you are riding in a group where some assistance could be helpfull here and there. It will do it all on demand even though it may not do it all perfectly.

Where I live, it's a tough battle for me to want to keep the KLR. One day I'm ready to sell it, the next day I realize it's an amazing all around bike. Plus, the bike I want (Concours 14) is $13,000. I found some places to ride around here, but the few other KLR riders I know in town never ride. So I'm always way to cautious to have much fun on these trails. Plus, they aren't exactly LBL quality or length. Like I said.. it's a battle!
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