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Relatively stock KLR and attained 50k miles w/o oil consumption or balancer chain troubles?

  • Have a stock KLR w/o oil consumption or balancer chain troubles at 50k miles.

    Votes: 1 33.3%
  • No such thing. Major engine/trans work will be required by/at 50k.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Got 100k+ miles on my KLR, very little oil consumption, no major engine/trans work.

    Votes: 2 66.7%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am considering buying a new KLR, and have been studying the machine for many months and wish there was good answers to these 2 main troubles.

1) I never had a car or bike with oil consumption problems, and the cylinders of a 650 are not any bigger than those of other big twins such as 1250s. I have a theory that the problem is due to low detergent low quality oils which plug the orfices in the oil ring and piston. Thus, oil is pushed up into the combustion chamber instead of dropping back down into the sump from inside the piston.

2) I can't imagine that the engineers behind the Ninjas are so stupid that they keep a failed doohickey design for 30+ years. I think people are not understanding something about the balancer chain assembly and how tension is maintained. As I understand from reading, the spring is only relevant when adjusting the tension, and it isn't necessarily a problem if it is without tension otherwise. There are also many complex factors when thinking about the system such as wear on the chain guides, rotation of the crank, wear on sprockets, lengthening of the chain, etc. And I have read so many theories and fixes that my brains are a mess. Is there no definitive maintenance spec for that system in the service manuals? Does wear of the guides cause slack in the chain which gets blamed on the doohickey/spring? Is it possible to take a link out of the chain if it gets too long? Some people never seem to have a problem with the doohickey/spring, so does anyone know why some do and some don't? I can't imagine that after 30 years, there is no official Kawi service instructions for maintaining proper functioning if the balancer chain system, or that such instructions would be ineffective. Is this really the case? Has anyone read the service manuals?
 

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You may want to adjust the 100k miles in your poll question. Not that it isn’t possible but there are few KLR’s with that kind of mileage. It’s not exactly a Goldwing.
 
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Is there no definitive maintenance spec for that system in the service manuals?
There is a maintenance spec in my owners manual for the doohickey adjustment. Supposed to adjust at each oil change.
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I think people are not understanding something about the balancer chain assembly and how tension is maintained. As I understand from reading, the spring is only relevant when adjusting the tension, and it isn't necessarily a problem if it is without tension otherwise.
I think you might want to revisit your understanding of the balancer system. The spring is what adjusts or moves the lever to adjust the chain tension. A bolt is then tightened against the lever to hold it in position. If there is no spring tension the lever will not adjust the chain tension.
There isn’t much to understand, IMO, unless you are trying to re-engineer it. The balancer adjustment system works, Kawasaki just chooses to use lower quality parts.

There are people on here with near 35 year experience with KLR’s. They have a pretty good understanding of the balancer system.

You are over thinking the purchase. Go out and buy one, ride it and have fun.
 

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I can't pick either of your poll choices! ;-)

This topic is something most of us here have been dealing with for years.....sometimes decades.....there isn't much more to know.

My "doohickey" post:
I have spent significant time reading and researching this issue over the years as have others......my opinion is thus:

- Gen1: failure of the stock lever and/or spring is highly likely.......the people "in the know" guesstimate around 33% though I'd suggest the figure is somewhat mileage dependent with the 33% being around 20,000 miles.....higher mileage = higher percentage of failure.

- Gen2: doohickey lever failure is almost non-existant.......the issues of loose fit on the shaft and loss of spring tension are real. Loss of tension is said to occur around 6,000 miles though some have zero tension from new and some still have tension at 20,000 miles.

So is this all an internet myth? No, it's real enough IMO. There are several reasons that I believe contribute to the lack of even more documented failures:

- A great many people never adjust their counterbalance system. If the adjustment is never attempted, the system doesn't get the huge slack that an attempt with a broken spring would introduce. I always tell new owners NOT to adjust the system without physically checking to see it's intact first.

- Most grenaded doo and spring bits float around harmlessly in the bottom end without causing catastrophic failure. My 2001 was opened up at 15,000 miles to find the typical broken doo (three pces) and spring (two pces). I found all the pces in the bottom end and oil screen and the bike was likely ridden for some time in that condition.

- the "upgrade" in 2008 significantly reduced the likelihood of a broken doo lever.

- a large percentage of bikes die of old age, crashes and neglect long before they can be considered high mileage units.

- many failures are never diagnosed......i.e. bike is "broken" and parted out or otherwise discarded.

- Sometimes other failures (i.e. 2008/2009 low oil level/oil burning) takes out the engine before the counterbalance system has the opportunity to.

At the end of the day, I believe that the stock counterbalance adjustment system is problematic but the vast majority of KLR owners are ignorant of the issue and it doesn't come up on their radar for the aforementioned reasons.

On a Gen1, I believe replacement is critical to longevity. On a Gen2 you could get along fine by just periodically checking the spring to ensure it is intact and has tension. Due to the loose fit on the shaft, the springs are put under significantly increased duty cycles, EM's superior lever with better fitment and the torsion spring design completely eliminate this concern.

A KLR, especially a Gen2 can live for quite awhile without even acknowledging the counterbalance adjuster.....but it's still a weak link that is worth replacing if you want some piece of mind.

2 cents,
 

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I am considering buying a new KLR, and have been studying the machine for many months and wish there was good answers to these 2 main troubles.

1) I never had a car or bike with oil consumption problems, and the cylinders of a 650 are not any bigger than those of other big twins such as 1250s. I have a theory that the problem is due to low detergent low quality oils which plug the orfices in the oil ring and piston. Thus, oil is pushed up into the combustion chamber instead of dropping back down into the sump from inside the piston.

2) I can't imagine that the engineers behind the Ninjas are so stupid that they keep a failed doohickey design for 30+ years. I think people are not understanding something about the balancer chain assembly and how tension is maintained. As I understand from reading, the spring is only relevant when adjusting the tension, and it isn't necessarily a problem if it is without tension otherwise. There are also many complex factors when thinking about the system such as wear on the chain guides, rotation of the crank, wear on sprockets, lengthening of the chain, etc. And I have read so many theories and fixes that my brains are a mess. Is there no definitive maintenance spec for that system in the service manuals? Does wear of the guides cause slack in the chain which gets blamed on the doohickey/spring? Is it possible to take a link out of the chain if it gets too long? Some people never seem to have a problem with the doohickey/spring, so does anyone know why some do and some don't? I can't imagine that after 30 years, there is no official Kawi service instructions for maintaining proper functioning if the balancer chain system, or that such instructions would be ineffective. Is this really the case? Has anyone read the service manuals?
1) It has nothing to do with the oil......other than not enough of it will starve the cam bores and cause catastrophic failure. There are two kinds of oil usage; the normal high rpm consumption that all KLR's (and most other singles) will exhibit when used on the highway at sustained high RPMs for long periods of time. this is normal and not an issue but the consumption may be able to be reduced by using Paul's Oil Mods ( OIL Pressure, How much Ya got? ). Severe oil burning takes place when the oil ring can no longer control the oil flow into the combustion chamber due to wear, bad rings, broken ring lands or a damaged or out-of-round bore. Early Gen2's had ring issues which were resolved by early 2010. Any year of KLR CAN end up as an oil burner due to the propensity of the bore to distort based on the design, thickness of the sleeve and the fact it's unsupported at the bottom. Proper maintenance, break in and avoiding overheating can help ensure the bore stays round.......and a Thermobob has been opined (by knowledgeable people) to likely lessen the likelihood of bore distortion as it greatly reduces "cold shocking" of the cylinder due to the delta T between incoming and outgoing coolant. Read: http://watt-man.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Art_TB_Testing.pdf

2) See my post above. If you have a broken spring or one without tension, when you go to adjust they system you can introduce a catastrophic amount of play. Also see my above link to Bill's longevity data but NO, the guides or chain are not the issue.


Dave
 

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I have a theory that the problem is due to low detergent low quality oils which plug the orfices in the oil ring and piston. Thus, oil is pushed up into the combustion chamber instead of dropping back down into the sump from inside the piston.
The 3 main causes of High RPM oil consumption in the KLR650 engine are the Lack of size & Quantity of the oil return holes in the oil ring land of the OEM pistons. Combined with the Extreme Excess of oil Volume coming thru the needle bearing of the bottom rod bearing at higher RPM's required to keep pace on modern highways.

One must remember that the KLR650 engines were primarily designed for the USA & during the 55mph National speed limit days.

Souperdoo, aka Tom Schmitz has the best write up about my oil flow mods which DPelletier referred to.
 

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I am considering buying a new KLR, and have been studying the machine for many months and wish there was good answers to these 2 main troubles.

1) I never had a car or bike with oil consumption problems, and the cylinders of a 650 are not any bigger than those of other big twins such as 1250s. I have a theory that the problem is due to low detergent low quality oils which plug the orfices in the oil ring and piston. Thus, oil is pushed up into the combustion chamber instead of dropping back down into the sump from inside the piston.
You probably never had a car with a 100mm diameter piston that was designed to turn at 2-3K RPM and ran it at 5-7KRpm. Try revving a 350 Chevrolet to 5K RPM for a few hours. I would guess that most of your cars have ~75mm pistons.

2) I can't imagine that the engineers behind the Ninjas are so stupid that they keep a failed doohickey design for 30+ years.
Like any other manufacturer, they fix things that cause warranty issues at the macro level. The balancer chain adjuster does not cause them warranty issues. Very few people keep any motorcycle for much more than 10K km before leaving the sport or getting a different bike.

I think people are not understanding something about the balancer chain assembly and how tension is maintained.
Nope, we have a very good understanding. Encyclopedic, in fact.

As I understand from reading, the spring is only relevant when adjusting the tension, and it isn't necessarily a problem if it is without tension otherwise. There are also many complex factors when thinking about the system such as wear on the chain guides, rotation of the crank, wear on sprockets, lengthening of the chain, etc. And I have read so many theories and fixes that my brains are a mess. Is there no definitive maintenance spec for that system in the service manuals?
Yes, every 10K km or so. We have a better procedure, known as the "PDW GOAT How Ya Do A DooJustment". Simply put, that method is at every 10K km, but the enigne is set at TDC before doing the adjustment.

Does wear of the guides cause slack in the chain which gets blamed on the doohickey/spring?
No, that is a red herring and the originator of the video should be flogged. The message in the video has since been retracted in a second video, but the first crap video is still on YT.

Is it possible to take a link out of the chain if it gets too long?
No, and the chain's life expectancy is greater than 200K km.

Some people never seem to have a problem with the doohickey/spring, so does anyone know why some do and some don't?
The KLR engine sounds like a tin box of nuts and bolts being dragged behind a donkey. It sounds worse than ton onc's 1950 Citroën deux Chevaux. A maladjusted balancer system makes a bit more noise that isn't noticed and may grind away a bit of the case but that goes unnoticed as well. And, again, most motorcycle owners simply don't keep their bikes that long before they wind up out in the barn, leaned up against the shed, or passed along to a myriad of subsequent owners.

I can't imagine that after 30 years, there is no official Kawi service instructions for maintaining proper functioning if the balancer chain system, or that such instructions would be ineffective. Is this really the case? Has anyone read the service manuals?
I think the above is your misunderstanding of the owner's and service manuals.
Here's the deal. Kawasaki is not going to 'fix' this issue. They are just not going to do it. We simply accept this and install a fix-it kit. All in, it costs us the equivalent of 100 euros. It might cost you more with shipping, but if you can source a better spring to install in place of the OEM spring you would be fine. In fact, you can simply set the piston to top dead center, remove the alternator cover, loosen the adjustment bolt, push the lever to the left and tighten the bolt, and put everything back together. Do this every 10K km and you will be fine.

Newbies consider it a big deal and throw their hands in the air and bang their spoons on the table and say we should all band together and file a class-action lawsuit (this is America where we sue each other as a friendly greeting. I find your habit of a peck on the cheek to be much more civilized) and otherwise get all up in arms. The rest of us simply yawn, nod our heads, and move to the next topic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I

There is a maintenance spec in my owners manual for the doohickey adjustment. Supposed to adjust at each oil change.
View attachment 32216
Thank you. That seems sensible, so what is the big problem, and why do so many complain about it? And why does everyone seem to ignore the fact that the chain and guides wear out and likely need replacement at some point? And what is that point? I don't think I've ever seen that aspect of maintenance discussed. And I don't see what an aftermarket doohickey/spring is supposed to correct. In fact, it may just give the false illusion that everything is Ok, when actually the guides and/or chain need replacement.
 

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And I don't see what an aftermarket doohickey/spring is supposed to correct. In fact, it may just give the false illusion that everything is Ok, when actually the guides and/or chain need replacement.
The balancer Chain and Guides will NOT wear-out if the chain is kept properly adjusted!
Since 2008 + models, the TOO long OEM spring has been the biggest issues.
You REALLY need to READ/VIEW the links that have already been provided. Left click on them.

And this one also,
 

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Also, Scroll to the Very Bottom of this page and others to read other similar topic threads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Here's the deal. Kawasaki is not going to 'fix' this issue. They are just not going to do it. We simply accept this and install a fix-it kit. All in, it costs us the equivalent of 100 euros. It might cost you more with shipping, but if you can source a better spring to install in place of the OEM spring you would be fine. In fact, you can simply set the piston to top dead center, remove the alternator cover, loosen the adjustment bolt, push the lever to the left and tighten the bolt, and put everything back together. Do this every 10K km and you will be fine.

Newbies consider it a big deal and throw their hands in the air and bang their spoons on the table and say we should all band together and file a class-action lawsuit (this is America where we sue each other as a friendly greeting. I find your habit of a peck on the cheek to be much more civilized) and otherwise get all up in arms. The rest of us simply yawn, nod our heads, and move to the next topic.
every KLR owner needs to see that video. I knew that things were not so simple as a bad doohickey/spring. The reason the spring loses tension is because the chain is worn, stretched too far. And this also damages the guides. It appears that the 'upgrade' is still worthwhile because the extra tensioning ability of the spring may give more life to the chain. But it is worthy to note that the old man in the video explained more and better than a million KLR riders in 30+ years.
 

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This is the video to which I was referring in my response to you. It is wrong in its conclusions. I guess you're going to believe someone who tells you what you want to hear, even though there is no basis in fact for what is being said.

Bon chance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
There is also a part 1 to the video on his channel if anyone is interested. At least, everything makes sense now, and this ought to put an end to all of this doohickey nonsense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
M
This is the video to which I was referring in my response to you. It is wrong in its conclusions. I guess you're going to believe someone who tells you what you want to hear, even though there is no basis in fact for what is being said.

Bon chance.
Please explain why it is wrong? It seems perfectly sensible to me, but I am open to learning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This is the video to which I was referring in my response to you. It is wrong in its conclusions. I guess you're going to believe someone who tells you what you want to hear, even though there is no basis in fact for what is being said.

Bon chance.
If the spring is too tight, then the doohickey/chain will wear too fast. You have to strike a balance somewhere between a spring with a lot of tension and tension-length, and a spring with so much tension that the doohickey or chain has an early failure. At least that's how I see it.
 

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One has to have a spring with enough serviceable travel to accomplish That!

The balancer Chain and Guides will NOT wear-out if the chain is kept properly adjusted!
There is also a part 1 to the video on his channel if anyone is interested.
Please explain why it is wrong? It seems perfectly sensible to me, but I am open to learning.
Mr. Murray NEEDS to DELETE his Part 1 video COMPLETELY. Because too many people Never even look for part 2!

You have got a lot more reading & video viewing to do, to learn about the KLR650 engine balancer system.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I can't pick either of your poll choices! ;-)

This topic is something most of us here have been dealing with for years.....sometimes decades.....there isn't much more to know.

My "doohickey" post:
I have spent significant time reading and researching this issue over the years as have others......my opinion is thus:

- Gen1: failure of the stock lever and/or spring is highly likely.......the people "in the know" guesstimate around 33% though I'd suggest the figure is somewhat mileage dependent with the 33% being around 20,000 miles.....higher mileage = higher percentage of failure.

- Gen2: doohickey lever failure is almost non-existant.......the issues of loose fit on the shaft and loss of spring tension are real. Loss of tension is said to occur around 6,000 miles though some have zero tension from new and some still have tension at 20,000 miles.

So is this all an internet myth? No, it's real enough IMO. There are several reasons that I believe contribute to the lack of even more documented failures:

- A great many people never adjust their counterbalance system. If the adjustment is never attempted, the system doesn't get the huge slack that an attempt with a broken spring would introduce. I always tell new owners NOT to adjust the system without physically checking to see it's intact first.

- Most grenaded doo and spring bits float around harmlessly in the bottom end without causing catastrophic failure. My 2001 was opened up at 15,000 miles to find the typical broken doo (three pces) and spring (two pces). I found all the pces in the bottom end and oil screen and the bike was likely ridden for some time in that condition.

- the "upgrade" in 2008 significantly reduced the likelihood of a broken doo lever.

- a large percentage of bikes die of old age, crashes and neglect long before they can be considered high mileage units.

- many failures are never diagnosed......i.e. bike is "broken" and parted out or otherwise discarded.

- Sometimes other failures (i.e. 2008/2009 low oil level/oil burning) takes out the engine before the counterbalance system has the opportunity to.

At the end of the day, I believe that the stock counterbalance adjustment system is problematic but the vast majority of KLR owners are ignorant of the issue and it doesn't come up on their radar for the aforementioned reasons.

On a Gen1, I believe replacement is critical to longevity. On a Gen2 you could get along fine by just periodically checking the spring to ensure it is intact and has tension. Due to the loose fit on the shaft, the springs are put under significantly increased duty cycles, EM's superior lever with better fitment and the torsion spring design completely eliminate this concern.

A KLR, especially a Gen2 can live for quite awhile without even acknowledging the counterbalance adjuster.....but it's still a weak link that is worth replacing if you want some piece of mind.

2 cents,
Thank you. Seems valid to me. But for someone investigating a KLR purchase and reading all the stuff in the internet, the video I posted should help clarify what is being discussed. My memory isn't perfect, but that chain can elongate several centimeters over time. Quite a bit. I am concerned about these things because I am interested in putting 50k+ milers on an ADV type bike as I near retirement, cross continental stuff, so I am interested in the various preparations and maintenance a bike requires. And I'm not rich, and will have to do my own work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You may want to adjust the 100k miles in your poll question. Not that it isn’t possible but there are few KLR’s with that kind of mileage. It’s not exactly a Goldwing.
Thank you, and I agree that you are probably correct. But that is my interest because I am planning several rides that will easily go beyond 50k miles in the 1st few years. So I am interested in how well the bike will perform at least that far, but preferably even longer because I need to plan for on the road maintenance. I even care about cylinder and transmission life. Mainly, I am looking at the KLR 650 and F850GS (2x more expensive). It's my before I die adventure that I always wanted to do my whole life, to go up, down, and around all of the Americas. I never had time or vacations in life to see anything, but did do a lot of travel to remote places for work in my 20s on bikes and have experience living cheap on the road, which is not easy or always fun, but better to burn out than to fade away IMHO.

I have had Honda and BMW twins that went over 100k without engine or transmission problems, and from what I understand the mfr technology has greatly increased engine performance and longevity in the last decade or so. Back in the 70s, 100k miles was a lot for an engine, but now, it is considered low mileage on many models, and I would guess that some of that technology applies to motorcycles now also.
 
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