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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All. This is my first post. I'm a new rider, new KLR owner and love the KLR community. I bought a 2009 KLR 650 with 37,000 miles on it 3 months ago. Got a flat tire this week and upon taking it in was told the chain was "very old and in terrible shape."

Had new tires put on as well as a chain and sprockets. About 30 miles in a bizarre sound has begun. A high whine that is extremely infrequent and erratic. It sounds almost airy/squeaky rather than grinding.

-It's very infrequent (happens once or twice on my 20 mile, 40 min commute through LA).
-Appears to happen only after high speed and then slow descent in speed (but does not do this consistently)
-Does not appear to be related to the engine (when it does happen the engine can be at idle or high rpms)
-Appears to be related to speed (the pitch changes slowly as speed decelerates and the sound disappears once stopped or close to stopping)

I've got a video up on Vimeo but I can't post it as there is a 15 post requirement to list a url and this is my first post.

Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. I've talked to a few motorcycle friends who are guessing: a bearing? Tach or speedometer cable where it attaches to wheel?

Again, thank you for any thoughts. This group is clearly a powerhouse of knowledge and experience.
 

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There are a couple of possibilities.

Easiest is that the chain is too tight. Happens often with mechanics who don't understand that the KLR looks like a crotch rocket but has a lot of suspension travel. It needs a lot of chain slack. You should be able to lift the chain and have it touch the swing arm at the point on the swingarm where the back of the plastic chain slider is.

The other possibility is that the rear wheel was not assembled properly when the tire was replaced. There are spacers that need to be there. Look at this to see the spacers; it's easier than explaining: https://www.souperdoo.com/stuff that i think about/rear-wheel-bearing-replacement

Both of these can damage the bike. The tight chain will hurt the countershaft seal and bearing and the missing spacer will chew up the swing arm.

I'd like to hear @pdwestman's opinion on the noise.

If both of these things look OK and you feel OK riding it you're more than welcome to come over to my place and we'll try to sort it out.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Tom! Thank you for your thoughtful reply and generous offer to help me out. Let me take a look at what you've said and get back to you. Thanks again!
 

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I’m with Tom’s suggestion on the chain being too tight.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for taking the time to respond. When I get home from work I'll be able to look at the chain and use Tom's description to tell if it's too tight.
 

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This is a common enough issue that I should make a picture with circles and arrows, but I'm on a Chromebook and photo editing is not its strong suite.

I believe that the picture below shows the proper chain slack. You should be able to easily lift the chain to touch the underside of the swingarm right at the point where the screw that secures the plastic chain slider goes into the swingarm.

 

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Thank you for taking the time to respond. When I get home from work I'll be able to look at the chain and use Tom's description to tell if it's too tight.
You need to remove & straighten your gear shift pedal. haha. Thats not what is causing the noise though, thats nuts.

And my possible solution may be even nuttier sounding, but possible.

It could be a voltage regulator failure and the over voltage could be causing the Pressure Relief Vent on an AGM battery to Squeal.
Can you connect a digital voltmeter to the bike and ride it? Charging system is RPM & Time dependant and affected by Temperature of voltage regulator components.
 

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Actually Tom, I'll suggest that the lower run of the drive chain needs to be loose enough to be able to be Lifted Up and Touch the Rear Tip of the rubber underslider, but Not bend around the rubber slider and touch the metal of the swing arm.

But there is an exception to this, does the bike happen to have lowering links? Then the chain can be a little tighter, say 1/8 - 1/4 inch from touching rubber.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thank you pdwestman. Regarding gear pedal: is it on wrong? Again, this is my first klr and I'm wanting to invest in my knowledge and skill.

Regarding your thought on voltage regulator failure: very interesting you say that. The sound makes me think of a faint/lame horn. I couldn't describe that aspect. Also kind of like a car alert. Can you point me to something I could read on how to connect a voltage tester so I can do this?
 

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It's not on wrong, it's bent. It got mangled at some point in the past. The previous owner may have had big feet and bent it to extend the reach.


It should look like this (I think it is a BikeMaster):
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Tachometer cable????

Just wanted to follow up on this with more info. Would love your thoughts on the following:

I now feel it's somehow related to the gearbox/clutch. My tachometer started doing crazy things this morning: jumping up to a 5,000rpm reading and then dropping to 0 all while idling. For the first 5 min of warm up and my commute it was completely erratic (Jumping, falling, showing steady but completely inaccurate readings) before finally operating in a normal fashion for the next 30 min of my commute.

To recap some previous info/thoughts:

Chain slack appears to be accurate. The guys that put on new chain and tires are Kawasaki guys and double checked all of their work. Also, since it only happens briefly after riding at 60+mph for a good 20-30 min I can't see it being the chain or tires as it would be more consistent. It doesn't even happen every commute now.

When it does happen the clutch can be in or out and once I slow the bike down to between 10-30 mph it stops. It then doesn't appear to happen again even if I get the bike up to speed. Although I don't know that for sure as my ride is usually over not long after I've slowed down from the higher speeds.
 

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I still think it is similar to a chain or gear noise. There was a problem that affected a group of '08 and '09 bikes where an idler shaft hole was drilled too deep. That allowed a starter gear to be poorly supported. Let's see if we can eliminate that as a potential cause. Three questions.

Has the balancer lever been replaced?

Have you ever had any issues with starting the bike, such as a grinding or unusual whirring sound?

What are the last 5 digits of your VIN?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I very much appreciate your time and help Tom!

1) I don't know if the balancer lever has been replaced. I bought the bike 3 months ago with 33,000 miles on it. It's a 2009.

2)Yes, the bike will often make an unusual whirring sound when starting. It usually doesn't stop the bike from starting up but it is a sloppy start. I can record that and upload if that would help. It has the most trouble if I try to start it in Neutral. Sometimes that can be a real problem. But starting in 1st with the clutch pulled in, it starts fine.

3) 22672 are the last 5 of the VIN
 

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It also seems to happen when you pull in the clutch lever and goes away when you let the lever out. This I get from watching the video; would you concur?

That suggests a bad throw-out bearing, something I have never heard of on a KLR. But let's keep it in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I that particular video that does seem accurate. However, the noise typically starts while in gear. I tend to only notice it as my speed is starting to diminish to 50mph at which point I usually freak out and pull the clutch in. I then keep it in until I slow down and need to start to speed up. Yesterday on the way home, I let the clutch back out at 30 mph and started lane splitting and it continued while in gear for a little while before finally stopping. It then did not come back for the next 20 min of late splitting nor after when I sped back up to 55mph for the final 5 min of my commute. It's very hard to pin down.
 

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With that VIN you should be in the clear for the deep hole issue.

If the balancer lever has been replaced there is still a potential for some lost or misplaced thrust washers for the gear set. I'm not sure how probable it is that the whine in the video would come from that. Those gears should be driven only by the starter, though the sprag clutch could drag them around a bit. I can't see that making a loud noise though. Still, the sloppy starting is a concern.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
It couldn't be related to clutch plates not properly engaging and disengaging and spinning when they shouldn't be, could it?
 

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I hate intermittent stuff. I have to let this percolate for a bit...
 
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