2,200 miles later...
Just hit the 10,200 mile mark on the 2000 KLR I bought less than two months ago with 8,200 miles on it, and I've ridden the bike in the rain, on gravel, dirt, pavement, grass and sand.
My first task after bringing the bike home was to replace the factory tires. I put on Avon AM24 Gripsters. A bit pricey, but 2,100 miles later I'm glad I chose them. They do have a bit of highway howl, but not as bad as knobbies. They handle just about any surface with ease, but I have found them to be a bit slippery on wet grass when riding with my son (he has a 100 cc dirt bike) at his grandpa's farm.
I also replaced the front and rear brake pads. At 10k miles I replaced the doohickey and checked the valves. Changed one shim from a .275 to a .270, but I suspect I could have gone another 10,000 miles and not had any problems with it.
I think I've been on the bike enough now to form some solid opinions that I'll share for the sake of posterity.
First, the stock windshield was just high enough that the buffeting on my helmet was like going 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, so I cut about a inch and a half off the top: problem solved.
One the highway, the bike is extremely smooth and comfortable ó even more so than my '81 Yamaha 850 Special was. It's light, nimble, and I've scraped the pegs on more than one occasion. Plenty of power even for hauling my 6'2" 290 lb frame.
The factory seat is comfy for about 10 minutes, so I'm glad the PO had just bought a dished Corbin seat before he sold me the bike. I highly recommend it. The Corbin is much firmer than the factory seat, but the shape, as well as the support it offers, makes for very comfortable long trips. It is not, however, very conducive to two-up riding. I'd like to give the flat Corbin seat a try, if it weren't $400.
I have noticed a tiny bit of front end wobble on the highway in certain wind conditions. I have also found that any winds over about 25 mph cause the front fender to act as a giant sail, and in crosswind gusts over 35 mph the bike becomes nearly uncontrollable. I learned that one day while riding at 70 mph on an Interstate, and the wind gusts would push the bike clear across the lane, no matter how much I compensated. But I don't see that as a serious problem for a 400+ lb bike as tall as the KLR. It's just something to be expected.
One accessory I have really come to appreciate, especially as the weather gets colder up here in northern Iowa, is a set of tank panniers I got from an ATV dealership. I can use them in conjunction with my tank bag (which always holds my rain gear). They're fairly good sized bags, and are held down by strips of heavy duty velcro fastened to the sides of the tank. The really, really help keep the wind off my legs, and so far, I haven't seen any decrease in handling or gas mileage. Best of all, they were only $35, and are still built to withstand the hardest use. They carry a spare quart of oil, spare spark plug and clutch cable, binoculars, insulated waterproof gloves, maps, spare socks (for those wet days), metric ratchet set, first aid kit, and my trusty .45, which came in quite handy for dispatching a coyote I saw while riding along a level C road a couple of weeks ago (yes, Iowa is a carry state).
So after 2,200 miles, I can say I absolutely love the KLR! The key is understanding its strengths and weaknesses. It's like the Swiss Army knife of motorcycles. I have no desire whatsoever to go back to standard/cruiser bikes. In fact, after riding mine, my closest friend is thinking of trading off his '01 Honda Shadow 1100 cruiser for a KLR next spring.
Ray, Hampton, Iowa
Big Ray in North Iowa
1972 Yamaha DT250 (my first bike)
1975 Honda CB360 (my college ride)
1976 Yamaha XS750D (burned, may she R.I.P.)
1980 Yamaha 850 Special (went to new home)
1981 Yamaha 850 Special (former daily ride)
1982 Kawasaki KZ250 L-1 CSR (sold)
1996 Suzuki DS80 (my son's first bike)
2000 Kawasaki KLR650 (my new love)
2008 Honda CRF100L (my son's first "real" motorcycle)