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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last week I was riding back from work on a wide open 3 lane interstate and decided to do some lane surfing without any traffic around. Went from right to left, then back to middle lane. On the return to middle lane, as I reversed direction the front wheel wobbled something awful until I straightened out. Feel really odd in the hands, and much like the wheel was flexing around. Haven't tried to replicate as losing control at 70 mph doesn't sound fun to me. Would this be the sort of thing the fork brace was intended to solve? As an aside, I see a lot of lowered fenders, which I'd like as my engine stays caked with mud at the current height. Seems everyone always chucks an aftermarket fender on. Any reason not to use the stock fender in a lower application? Looks like it may be a bit long over the top, but shouldn't rub if spaced right.
 

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SOP: first check your tire pressures and keep them high for road use: 34 psi front, 32 psi rear. Then search for and read other discussions here about wobbles, weaves, and other (not so good) vibrations. Fork brace won’t make any difference on this problem.
 

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It sounds like your "race sag" is not set properly.

My 2012 KLR did that until I installed a stiffer rear shock spring and adjusted the sag to about 33% of total travel.

A better solution would be to upgrade the front and rear suspension components; Cogent is the popular choice.

Jason
 

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What year of bike, how many miles, is the rear tire worn square, is the front axle not Tight, are the steering bearings dry & dented, can you feel/hear a 'click' in the steering bearings when you ride thru a pot-hole or suddenly apply the front brake, is the top nut just under the handlebar loose, are the wheel bearings worn on either wheel, etc....?

Don't just install a brace which might mask other issues!
 
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my wobble post:

Way too many people think that addressing the symptoms by dealing with handguards, fenders, fork braces, etc. are the answer rather than dealing with the real issue which is related to suspension setup and loading. I'm not convinced that the KLR is any more susceptible to instability than any other bike with long travel, lightly damped suspension and the Owner's have a propensity for severe and uneven loading.



There are some problems that need to be checked;

- bad/lose head bearings

- condition of wheel bearings and suspension bushings

- wheel and tire condition and appropriate tire pressures.



.....beyond that, It's settings;

- proper sag settings and adequate damping

- proper bike loading

- avoiding inappropriately un-aerodynamic loads



addressing the symptoms rather than the cause can help but IMO shouldn't be done until all the aforementioned items are checked and corrected if necessary. Nonetheless these can help stability;



- fork brace

- smaller fender or lowered fender (I use a polisport as I hate both the supermoto and low mounted fenders)

- consider tank bags instead of putting everything in huge panniers which affects both weight loading and aerodynamics.





My 2001 had some high speed issues that went away as soon as the sag was set properly....and after my Cogent suspension was installed, both my KLR's have been rock steady.....even with full knobbies and low tire pressures (20 - 22PSI). Lastly, as others have mentioned, the rider also plays a part; keep a relaxed light grip on the bars and don't tighten up. Changing your position (move forward/lean forward) can help too.



2 cents,

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Bike is a near stock 03. Has a 9750ish miles on it. Tires are 705's, still plenty of life left in them.
Front tire is 34psi, rear at 32psi.
Bearings are good, everything is nice and tight, at least
Gonna be honest and say it very well might be suspension/set up issues. I know that is Dave's favorite subject. Is there a base level set up guide for getting the stock suspension lined out before I start diving into swapping it out. Keeping my mods and upgrades on a schedule as to not outrun my pocketbook.

Known challenges to the suspension: It has 3 position adjustment links. The holes appear to be spaced as 1" up, stock, and 1" lowered based on measuring the holes and comparing to measurements I've seen on posts here and there. PO had it it 1" up. He was a big ole dude, I am not. I dropped it to the 1" lower. Front forks haven't been touched because I did not know how to "zero" them to get an accurate judgement. The original owner had it lower and I'm pretty sure he adjusted them as the forks aren't flush. But I have know idea in reality. I know Dave is heavily against lowering, but that's where I'm keeping it until my seat gets in. Then I plan on bringing it up to stock.

In all honesty, this was the only time I have felt anything of this nature in the coming up on 1000 miles I've put on it in the last month. It may very well have been rider error. I don't white knuckle the bars, typically resting 2 fingers on the levers on each side and just using palm pressure to roll the throttle and maintain it. It was also the first and only time I have attempted that long a sweep at that kinda speed. It really felt like the damn front end twisted for just a moment before I straightened back out. Keep in mind, this is my first street bike, and my last time on 2 wheels was running through mud, dirt, and gravel back in my youth. Very possible I'm just still coming into form. I tend to use open stretches of traffic free good pavement(a rarity down here in LA) to push my comfort boundaries and see what the bike does and how I should react.
 

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Be sure to check the the nut behind the handlebars isn’t too loose. 😉

More seriously, it could be that you are not used to the long travel front and rear suspensions on these bikes, which are flexy compared to street bikes, especially sport bikes. I had the same issue with my Gen2 when I bought it last summer. I gradually chased down various adjustments and quelled it. The biggest thing was air pressures, and the next biggest effect was installing new tires. Even though your tires may look good, the tread blocks on motorcycles tires wear unevenly, which can contribute to the weave.

Front head bearing adjustment: be very careful that it is not too tight. When you lift the front end off the ground, it should rotate absolutely freely. People here talk about being able to push the handlebar with your pinky fingernail. But it should not be loose enough that the bearing has play, or clicks when you push against it. If you have to err one way or the other, a little loose is better than a little tight.

A dead giveaway that the steering bearing is too tight: when you go into a turn, the motorcycle wants to keep falling into the turn instead of balancing in the turn; and you have to steer it back upright to exit the turn, instead of just relaxing pressure and the bike naturally straightening up. It’s “very disconcerting” the fist time you experience this behavior.
 

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. Is there a base level set up guide for getting the stock suspension lined out before I start diving into swapping it out. Keeping my mods and upgrades on a schedule as to not outrun my pocketbook.
Known challenges to the suspension: It has 3 position adjustment links. The holes appear to be spaced as 1" up, stock, and 1" lowered based on measuring the holes and comparing to measurements I've seen on posts here and there. PO had it it 1" up. He was a big ole dude, I am not. I dropped it to the 1" lower. Front forks haven't been touched because I did not know how to "zero" them to get an accurate judgement. The original owner had it lower and I'm pretty sure he adjusted them as the forks aren't flush. But I have know idea in reality. I know Dave is heavily against lowering, but that's where I'm keeping it until my seat gets in. Then I plan on bringing it up to stock.
- if you are using lowering links at 1" drop, the forks should also be dropped 1" in the triple clamps in order to maintain stock geometry.
- set suspension sag at around 30 - 33%. On a Gen1 that's 2.75" - 3". If you can't get the sag in that range, you'll need springs.
- the lowering links are longer and increase leverage on the shock, effectively reducing both springrate and damping. You'll need to reset if/when you change the links

Stock Gen1 suspension is set up for a (largely mythical) 160lb rider and I find it undersprung and underdamped even at that weight. I'll post my typical suspension post separately but if you want to bandaid it for now, stiffer fork springs, 15w oil and/or slightly higher level will help the forks at the expense of high speed (suspension action, not bike speed) harshness. On the back, all you can do is change the spring if you plan on using your links at the 1" drop but be advised that it will be oversprung and underdamped so far from ideal. You could change the weight of the oil in the shock too but by the time you mess around rebuilding and respringing the shock, you are better off saving up for a Cogent Adventure or the like.

Cheers,
Dave
 

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my suspension post:
Stock KLR suspension is 1980's tech with a damper rod fork and emulsion shock with weak damping and springrates which MAY be marginally acceptable if you weigh 160lb or less and stay on graded gravel roads at worst. 2014.5 NE and up have better spring and damping rates but are the same crappy old design.

The bandaid (cheapy) fixes are;

- many use progressive springs for the forks and heavier oil. This will help with bottoming, wallowing and brake dive but the suspension will be overly harsh and not compliant. Better than stock though. Rather than using heavier oil, I’d recommend trying an increased oil level first which reduces the “air spring” and can stiffen it up a bit without all the harshness of heavier oil…..especially on high speed damping.

- Eaglemike's raising links; these change the geometry and reduce leverage on the shock which raises the effective spring and damping rates. Hopefully you aren't short! Easy and cheap but it's a "one size fits all" deal and it doesn’t deal with the inherent quality issues with the stock shock body and emulsion design.

or

- a stiffer shock spring. While you likely need a stiffer spring to properly set sag, adding a stiffer spring exacerbates the damping issues and creates an unbalanced (oversprung and underdamped) suspension, particularly as the oil becomes contaminated.



Proper suspension fixes;

- forks: cartridge emulators from Racetech, DDC's from Cogent or Ricor Intiminators all with the proper wt springs. The DDC's are my choice because they work at least as good as the RT emulators AND have the simple install of the Ricor Valves.

- shock; a proper aftermarket decarbon shock. Available from Progressive, Cogent, Ricor, Elka, etc. Again, I think the Cogent shocks offer the best value and use top quality, made in the USA components.

While usage, budget and expectations are different for everyone, spending money on the stock shock is false economy IMO and the more you do, the less sense it makes.....better to spend the money on a decent shock. Many people have done the shock rebuild and spring only to replace it later anyway. I've yet to hear a single regret from anyone upgrading to a good shock.

2 cents,

Dave
 

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One last thing; if you get a set of fork springs and have any inclination to use the Cogent DDC's or Racetech Emulators in the future, I'd go for thier straight or dual rate springs now over the usual Progressive springs. The Progressive springs are a bandaid for the stock damper rod's "too mushy, transitioning to too harsh" damping curve.

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One last thing; if you get a set of fork springs and have any inclination to use the Cogent DDC's or Racetech Emulators in the future, I'd go for thier straight or dual rate springs now over the usual Progressive springs. The Progressive springs are a bandaid for the stock damper rod's "too mushy, transitioning to too harsh" damping curve.

Dave
I will eventually be going that way. For now I'm trying to get it set up correctly. I'm almost inclined to trash this thread and just gather data and then accumulate it into a separate post for future reference for others. Quick coupla questions.
Is forks flush with clamps what would be considered a stock "zero" setting?
Do you run stock height links and if you do can you get a measurement of the distance between the holes(center of bolts) at some point?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Awesome Dave, thanks.

I was way off. My links are at 5 7/8", which shows to be a 2 5/8 drop, but the forks 3 and some change, and seat is sitting at a hair over 32 1/4th. Sag is 2.5" measured at helmet lock. What the hell...
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Holy crap; I'm surprised the tire doesn't hit the bottom of the front fender at that much drop! ......I can't tell you how bad I think it is to lower the bike that much and the extra leverage on the shock would have it bottoming on it's own weight :oops: (Hyperbole, but not by much!). With only 2.5" of sag (with you geared up on the bike, right?) the springs must have already been changed.

At the very least, I'd immediately lower the fork distance to match the drop due to the links (2.5" or so) as right now you are riding nose down which increases the rake and can cause some instability but ultimately I'd be returning the bike to stock link length and fork settings or 1" drop at the max.

2 cents,
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I measured the sag from the helmet lock to ground. First free strandin, then with me on. Is that a correct method or am I doing it wrong? Going to sort this out once I make it back home this evening.
 

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You have to measure the suspension height with the rear end off the ground (or zero load). The helmet lock is as good a reference point as any. Then again with you and your usual load on it. It should be between 65 and 70 percent of the unloaded height.

I’m also surprised that you are not bottoming the front tire against the fender. Maybe you’re just not riding it hard enough!!
 

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Holy crap; I'm surprised the tire doesn't hit the bottom of the front fender at that much drop!
I’m also surprised that you are not bottoming the front tire against the fender.
I've been telling all of you guys that the fork boots pack up and PREVENT the front forks from achieving full stroke for some time now. Even with a mere 1" of fork tube above the top clamp! On BOTH Gen of older bikes.

Thank goodness that the front tire Can Not contact the front fender in a big dip or 'G' out at speed when the forks are 'pulled-up' (unless the fork boots are removed)!
 

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Paul, yes, you have said that and I hear you. Even with the suspension bottoming against the fork boot, I think that would feel pretty close to a hard bottom-out. Even if the tire doesn’t hit the fender.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
OK, got called back into work today, so I figured I use the chance to get my suspension as correct as possible in it's current state.
First, jacked it up and retook my measurements for sag. After properly getting my baseline measurement, turns out I was sitting at around 3.25-3.725." Luckily, moving the preload to position 5 got me to 2.75" of sag.

Got the front up and set the forks to 2.5" above clamps. I know, I know. Higher is better. But I'm not going to move the links back up to a higher seat height. Need to get a lower seat and more seat time. I will be moving it back up as I get my skills up. For now, I like how it sits.

As far as not bottoming out or hitting the fender, I'm pretty light, around 169lbs, plus or minus 5 depending if I was splitting firewood the day before or just left the buffet. I also don't hit much hardline riding. Is soft mud and clay or gravel around these parts. Though, to be fair, Louisiana roads are about as rough riding and some of the rougher trails I've seen. :p

And, for reference as to where the forks were raised to, they literally couldn't have gone any higher. The boots were at the clamps.

How it got so off, I have no idea. The Original owner likely dropped it with the links and raised the forks, but the second guy had it higher and I guess never messed with the front. That's the best I can figure. Thanks for the help gentlemen.
 
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