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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday I noticed that when I'm heading in a straight line my handlebars are just ever so slightly off-center and that, you know, bugs me.

Since I basically know zero about the steering system, I was wondering what you guys think.

I believe this may imply that I need to look at tire alignment, so I've looked at the "string" method for aligning rear and front tire, and that seems simple enough. However, I am curious if there is somewhere I should be starting "before" that — i.e., making sure the handlebars are lined up with the front tire, etc.

You'll probably remember that I talked in a "tires" thread about handling issues, and I received some good advice for checking out the movement of the handlebars (i.e., making sure they can sit still at center, and testing the resistance when moving them back and forth). I haven't done any of that yet, but I will check that out before getting into aligning stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
By "slightly," I'm talking (hopefully) minor in terms of real distance. There's a physical feature on the steering assembly that lines up with a similar feature on the other assembly in front of it. It's by looking at the relative positions of these two features that I'm drawing my conclusion. Here's a photo sourced from the interwebs (and scrawled upon by yours truly) that shows the parts I'm referencing:



(This is not my dash), but the two features circled in red don't line up exactly when I'm tracking straight. On mine, the part attached to the handlebars is about 1/4 of the way to the right. In other words, they're about like this:

 

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top two most likely issues;

- your handlebars are bent; the stock steel bars combined with them being extra wide and the KLR's ample girth = bent bars in even a minor get off.

- forks tweeked in the triples; follow the proceedure in the manual to re-align....basically have to loosen off the triples, cycle the suspension and retorque

....as long as your rear axle is mostly straight and the frame isn't bent then these two things should fix your problem. Worse issues like bent forks or triples are rare but certainly possible.

Dave
 

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samuel, The fairing Mount of the KLR650's is NOT welded (perfectly straight) to the Center of the steering neck! If you attempt to align your triple clamp / ignition switch with That Bracket you will truely have a Gross Mis-Alignment Issue!

You better have a better look at things.

(My brothers 09 in shop, has reverse mis-alignment of yours.)

ps, My '87 bracket is not perfectly straight either.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
samuel, The fairing Mount of the KLR650's is NOT welded (perfectly straight) to the Center of the steering neck! If you attempt to align your triple clamp / ignition switch with That Bracket you will truely have a Gross Mis-Alignment Issue!

You better have a better look at things.

(My brothers 09 in shop, has reverse mis-alignment of yours.)

ps, My '87 bracket is not perfectly straight either.

That's exactly the kind of thing I need to know, thanks!
 

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What Paul said; these things aren't swiss watches. Hold your handlebars straight and see if the wheel is straight.....if not, check the things I mentioned.

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I did the "string method" wheel alignment yesterday, with good results. The front tire was off from center when aligning it front-to-back to a benchmark point on the rear wheel, and the rear wheel was out of wack. Interestingly, the out-of-wackness coincided with its deviation from the marks on the swingarm. Bringing it back into alignment brought it much closer — within 1/16" — to the same setting on both sides. And, it made the bike ride nicer.

Here's the link to the page where I got the instructions for the string deal.

It's interesting to see these subtle changes play out. For example, while the handling now feels better, some of the stuff that has been bothering me is still there. When i replace the tires I'm looking forward to seeing the specific effect.
 

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My 14.5 is the same. Been that way since new. Not real noticeable but if you look closely the bars are slightly left. Been that way for 38,000+ miles.
 

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Also check your rear brake pads, if they are wearing crooked the rear wheel may be out of alignment and the front is adjusting for it. Don't ask how I know this. I really thought I measured the adjusters correctly.
 

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Also check your rear brake pads, if they are wearing crooked the rear wheel may be out of alignment and the front is adjusting for it. Don't ask how I know this. I really thought I measured the adjusters correctly.
Surfersami, I'll dis-agree with you about rear brake pads being Able to wear oddly (in any way) because of possible rear wheel mis-alignment. Why?

Because the rear brake caliper mounting Bracket is affixed to the rear axle and is always going to be in that exact alignment with that axle, regardless if the whole assembly is mis-aligned to the Left or Right or is perfectly straight ahead with the swingarm and frame. Does this sound correct?

Your tires might wear differently, but not the brake pads.
 

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If you adjust your rear axle adjusters unevenly the rear tire will not track straight with the center-line of the bike, this will also cause your brake disc to be misaligned to the caliper. If not corrected the pads will wear in a wedge pattern. Also, since the rear tire doesn't follow center, the direction can be compensated for by the handlebars showing an out of alignment to the frame as pictured. To far out of alignment the brake disc doesn't want to fit in the caliper, but it can be just enough to cause problems when the alignment was set in too much of a hurry and measured improperly. To my red faced admission I have a set of wedge shaped pads to prove it.
 

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If you adjust your rear axle adjusters unevenly the rear tire will not track straight with the center-line of the bike, this will also cause your brake disc to be misaligned to the caliper. If not corrected the pads will wear in a wedge pattern. Also, since the rear tire doesn't follow center, the direction can be compensated for by the handlebars showing an out of alignment to the frame as pictured. To far out of alignment the brake disc doesn't want to fit in the caliper, but it can be just enough to cause problems when the alignment was set in too much of a hurry and measured improperly. To my red faced admission I have a set of wedge shaped pads to prove it.
Again I must dis-agree with the bolded portion of your statement.

The Steel caliper mounting bracket of the rear brake system is bolted to the Aluminum caliper Holder, which is Indexed by the rear axle, not the chain adjusters.

The distances and angles between the brake pads and the disc are controlled by these 4 very ridged parts. The drive chain adjusters will Only be able to move the aluminum Holder, steel Bracket, aluminum Caliper & steel backed brake pads as one aligned assembly because of the Axle passing thru the aluminum caliper holder.

If the Bracket was ridgedly attached / bolted to the Swingarm it would be too easily possible to align Improperly. But the Bracket is only guided by the swingarm & prevented from rotating by the guide.
 

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I’ve had to check the alignment of rear to front on others bikes. What I use is (2) bicycle ceiling lifts. They are Slime brand, and made to support (pick up/raise/a bicycle up in your garage to store under/hanging from the ceiling). Harbor freight also has similar. Buy (2). Attach to ceiling joices per instructions into the ceiling joices ( usually 2x6, 2x10, or 2x12s). Put 32” apart (the same distance the ceiling joices are x 2 on 16” centers). Drop a plumb bob from the Joist in between and mark the floor. Place front tire here. The lifts are rated for 40 lbs each. They easily hold a mc straight up right and level., but don’t try to pick up off the floor. Just attach the hooks from each to right and left grip and use to hold bike up straight and level.With (2) pieces of 1/8” x 3” x10 foot pieces of aluminum angle, (Home depot) put on either side up against the rear tire. Note -front tire distance on either side of the aluminum angle pieces. if not exactly parallel (measure from front tire to each aluminum angle piece. Easy to tell what’s off. For more accuracy- also use a 2ft framing square. Set every thing as perfect as possibly and everything should run true/straight. Hope this helps. NOTICE- DO NOT try to lift mc off of center stand to up right position. Sit on the bike,hold up straight with your legs, put hooks on right and left grips, pull cords taught enough to hold bike. Proceed with checks.
 
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