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Discussion Starter #1
After neglecting my bike (2006) for too long I'm slowly getting it back in shape. The latest thing to go is the rear shock. I've watched the rebuild videos and I just don't think I have the right tools or patience to do it right.

So the question is - should I send it out to have it rebuilt, or just buy a used one? I'm also interested in a 1" lowering as I'm only 5'9". What's an expected rebuild price?


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You'll certainly get a lot of opinions. Anyhow, here's mine:

I rebuilt mine. Actually I bought a used one through eBay and rebuilt it. Then I rebuilt the one I took off the bike as well, just because. It's a very basic shock absorber. I've been through more than a few shocks in my day. it's certainly not the crudest I've seen and then again it's not the most sophisticated either. For what I use the bike for, it works just fine for me. I'd be a bit suspicious of any "used" shock I was buying. How would I know it was actually any better than the one I was taking off my bike?

I bought the following pieces (listed below) from Rocky Mountain ATV and followed their YouTube video. In retrospect I could have used a piece of PVC Pipe instead of the "Shock Seal Head Seating Tool." A local shop did the dry Nitrogen charge for $10.

Tusk KLR650 Shock Bumper - Part # 1514640001 / $10.99
All Balls Rear Shock Seal Kit - Part # 1196950009 / $34.49
Tusk Shock Spring Compressor - Part # 1493410001 / $34.99
Race Tech Shock Seal Head Setting Tool 40-50 mm - Part # 1059630002 / $35.99 (A piece of PVC pipe would have worked just as well)
 

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@Natedlee. Couple of questions. Do you have a budget figure that you are working with for the rear shock repair? What type of riding do oyu do and are you satisfied with the rear shock?

I'm no expert. I'm sure @Tom Schmitz or @DPelletier will step in here and share their wisdom. My impressions of the stock rear shock is that it is just barely adequate, at least for my riding style. The only thing that I have done to it thus far is to replace the spring with one from TopGun. If I was in a position as yours I would likely consider a replacement from Progressive as a minimum versus rebuilding the stocker.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
You'll certainly get a lot of opinions. Anyhow, here's mine:



I rebuilt mine. Actually I bought a used one through eBay and rebuilt it. Then I rebuilt the one I took off the bike as well, just because. It's a very basic shock absorber. I've been through more than a few shocks in my day. it's certainly not the crudest I've seen and then again it's not the most sophisticated either. For what I use the bike for, it works just fine for me. I'd be a bit suspicious of any "used" shock I was buying. How would I know it was actually any better than the one I was taking off my bike?



I bought the following pieces (listed below) from Rocky Mountain ATV and followed their YouTube video. In retrospect I could have used a piece of PVC Pipe instead of the "Shock Seal Head Seating Tool." A local shop did the dry Nitrogen charge for $10.



Tusk KLR650 Shock Bumper - Part # 1514640001 / $10.99

All Balls Rear Shock Seal Kit - Part # 1196950009 / $34.49

Tusk Shock Spring Compressor - Part # 1493410001 / $34.99

Race Tech Shock Seal Head Setting Tool 40-50 mm - Part # 1059630002 / $35.99 (A piece of PVC pipe would have worked just as well)


Thanks! That list is also golden in case I decide to rebuild. I do sort of have an interest in doing the rebuild, but I'm afraid I won't find the time soon enough.


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Discussion Starter #5
@Natedlee. Couple of questions. Do you have a budget figure that you are working with for the rear shock repair? What type of riding do oyu do and are you satisfied with the rear shock?



I'm no expert. I'm sure @Tom Schmitz or @DPelletier will step in here and share their wisdom. My impressions of the stock rear shock is that it is just barely adequate, at least for my riding style. The only thing that I have done to it thus far is to replace the spring with one from TopGun. If I was in a position as yours I would likely consider a replacement from Progressive as a minimum versus rebuilding the stocker.


Thanks! I was hoping to stay under or around $200-$300.

My riding has really been commuting, all while dreaming of doing the TAT. :) I've done some trails, but not enough to justify a super special rear shock. That being said, it is a tad too high for me and a bit squishy. I'm not opposed to doing this right if I doesn't break the bank.


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I just finished rebuilding the rear shock and putting in a Top Gun spring on my 2002 and it's working perfectly (as well as a stock KLR shock can anyway). If you decide that you can muster the patience and have access to some basic tools it's probably the least expensive route.
As Bluehighways suggests, I used the AllBalls seal head and followed the Rocky Mountain ATV video exactly except for the special tools they are trying to sell. You don't really need the seal bullet either. I wrapped electrical tape around the end of the shaft to make it the same diameter as the rest of the shaft and the seal slipped on easy.
I did make the mistake of using fork oil. We will see how big a mistake that actually was. They say that the rear shock gets hot and requires an oil with higher viscosity index. Probably true. Just a 20 minute ride on a bumpy dirt road and the shock was hot to the touch but it was still working well enough that I couldn't tell the difference in performance. Jury is still out on that.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I just finished rebuilding the rear shock and putting in a Top Gun spring on my 2002 and it's working perfectly (as well as a stock KLR shock can anyway). If you decide that you can muster the patience and have access to some basic tools it's probably the least expensive route.

As Bluehighways suggests, I used the AllBalls seal head and followed the Rocky Mountain ATV video exactly except for the special tools they are trying to sell. You don't really need the seal bullet either. I wrapped electrical tape around the end of the shaft to make it the same diameter as the rest of the shaft and the seal slipped on easy.

I did make the mistake of using fork oil. We will see how big a mistake that actually was. They say that the rear shock gets hot and requires an oil with higher viscosity index. Probably true. Just a 20 minute ride on a bumpy dirt road and the shock was hot to the touch but it was still working well enough that I couldn't tell the difference in performance. Jury is still out on that.


Thanks. I'm starting to think I might try this.

In your opinion what falls under the "basic tools" list?

How did you compress the spring?


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Ya, "basic" tools is pretty ambiguous. I probably should have said access to all of the tools used in the Rocky Mountain ATV video. The grinder is probably the most expensive thing if you need to buy tools. Also should have a torque wrench, but you could take your chances I suppose. You can probably get away without using compressed air. Also, you do really need a bench vice or some solid way to hold the shock.

I bought the Tusk spring compressor that they used in the video. It worked like a charm. Really easy. There is youtube video out there of somebody using ratchet straps, but I decided to buy a proper tool for it.

Also, be sure you know where you can get a nitrogen fill locally! It would suck to do all the work and then find you need to drive many miles or send the shock out to be filled with nitrogen. By the way, I compressed the shock before the fill to reduce the air volume and installed the spring after.

Hope this helps.
 

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@Natedlee,

Rebuilding the stock shock has to be a personal choice based upon a number of factors. Riding style, rider weight, rider budget, rider expectations all play a part.

I can only offer comment based upon my set of factors.

Look at these two riders:


These two riders have similar riding styles. Both ride KLRs, both are similar in height, both spend time on twisty back country roads, rural highways, and slabs, and both ride some pretty good off-road at some pretty good speed.

The one on the left, the good looking one, weighs a buck sixty and finds the stock shock to be quite adequate. The one on the right, the slightly goofy looking one, slabs in at almost another hundred pounds and finds the stock shock to be completely inadequate.

I would never bother to rebuild the stock shock, even with adding a stouter spring to carry the extra weight. After the stock shock is rebuilt it is still made from un-hardened materials, is of an ancient design, has limited pre-load capabilities, and limited damping control. For me, rebuilding the stock shock would be throwing good money after bad. I tried to make the stock shock work for me and even got it so that it didn't pack up on washboard roads, but I couldn't get it not to be harsh on the pavement and couldn't get it to offer good control off-road.

As Bluehighways points out, the stock shock can be rebuilt quite inexpensively if you have the tools and access to a nitrogen charge. You can even send it off and have it rebuilt, with a new spring, for about $200. Realistically speaking, rebuilding it yourself will run $200 if you need some of the tools and a new spring.

I think one of the best shock builders in the country is Cogent Dynamics. They offer the Adventure shock for the KLR at about $500. If you want something a bit more tailored to your needs you can call them and talk to Rick who knows his stuff. He'd do you right setting up a Moab.

True, the Adventure is going to cost 2 1/2 times what a stock rebuild would cost. It won't be 2 1/2 times better than stock, though. I'd have to guess that it would be 10 times better.

I got a Moab shock from Cogent and had it built an inch longer than stock. I was dealing with Cogent quite a while ago, long before they came out with their newer stuff. I couldn't be happier with it. Good suspension transforms the KLR and is probably the best money you can spend on the thing.

If, at 5'9", you weigh in the 150 pound range then rebuilding the stock shock might be a good option. Respringing it and adding lowering links is a good way to drop it, too. But if you are much over 175 I'd say you'd be throwing good money after bad to rebuild it.
 
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:) If I had been dressed in white, like a lab technician, I could have shown you my 'good side'. LOL ;)
 

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@Natedlee,

Rebuilding the stock shock has to be a personal choice based upon a number of factors. Riding style, rider weight, rider budget, rider expectations all play a part.
Completely agree. :thumb:
Another factor is simply the desire to do it. I enjoy learning through doing and find DIY projects rewarding. :nerd:

@Natedlee,
I would never bother to rebuild the stock shock, even with adding a stouter spring to carry the extra weight. After the stock shock is rebuilt it is still made from un-hardened materials, is of an ancient design, has limited pre-load capabilities, and limited damping control. For me, rebuilding the stock shock would be throwing good money after bad. I tried to make the stock shock work for me and even got it so that it didn't pack up on washboard roads, but I couldn't get it not to be harsh on the pavement and couldn't get it to offer good control off-road.
Hmm, Thanks for the heads up.
For me, the jury is still out on my rebuilt shocks performance. I need to put more miles on under various conditions. I weigh 220 + gear and am lucky to still be in one piece with the stock spring, so the Top Gun spring is definitely an improvement for me, even if not great. I'm hoping for at least acceptable (safe) performance given the price point.



@Natedlee,
As Bluehighways points out, the stock shock can be rebuilt quite inexpensively if you have the tools and access to a nitrogen charge. You can even send it off and have it rebuilt, with a new spring, for about $200. Realistically speaking, rebuilding it yourself will run $200 if you need some of the tools and a new spring.
Absolutely. Depending on what tools you need to buy it could cost quite a bit more than $200. You probably figured that out already. If it's going to cost you a bunch of money for tools that you won't ever use again then it probably doesn't make sense to rebuild it yourself unless you want the tools. I justify buying tools for DIY projects if the cost is a wash or even a little more than paying somebody to do it because I have the time and interest in it and will probably use the tools again.

Again, personal choice.

I'll be interested to hear what you decide to do and how it works out for you..
 

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:) If I had been dressed in white, like a lab technician, I could have shown you my 'good side'. LOL ;)
Eh, you don't need to be dressed in white to show us your good side, Paul. You've showed us your good side for 3,412 posts.
 

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Thank you Tom.

What I tried to infer with that comment was that I would have blended in with the white sign post.
About 8" thick.
 

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I echo Tom's comments....particularly about not bothering to rebuild the the stock, crappy shock. .....just isn't worth the effort IMO. If you are on a really tight budget a Progressive 465 can be had for as little as $379.00 or a better Cogent Adventure for $489.00.

My KLR shock post;

The stock shock is a budget emulsion design without hardened internals. It also has inadequate compression damping and springrate for the majority of KLR riders. The 2014.5 and up bikes have stiffer springs and damping but still maintain the 1980 emulsion design.

The problem with the stock shock is that the combination of the soft body and emulsion design means that under hard or long term use the oil turns to a nitrogen entrained mess contaminated with aluminum wear particles (grey foamy sludge) and the damping goes to crap.

Many people put heavier springs on the stock shock and while that helps set the sag properly (which is necessary, read: Suspension and Springs ) the stiffer spring overwhelms the already weak compression damping making the shock "pogo" and the damping situation even worse…particularly as the shock degrades.

Raising links are an option if your tall enough; the shorter links decrease leverage on the shock which effectively increases both springrate and damping. You still have the quality issues with the stock shock and the effect isn't adjustable (without changing links) but it's something to try for those on a budget.

The best solution is a quality aftermarket DeCarbon shock. There are many shocks available; Progressive, Touratech, Ricor, Cogent, Elka, etc. ....they range from $379.00 to $1000.00 plus. For reference a stock Kawi shock is around $800 from the dealer. The best value IMO is Cogent's Adventure; it's a high quality shock, hardened body, DeCarbon design, deflective disk damping and an Ohlins spring. www.motocd.com

I have the full Cogent set up (DDC's and springs up front and an Adventure and Moab on the rear ) of my two Gen1's and the difference in performance and capability is massive. Easily the most drastic functional change of the 50+ mods I've done to my bikes.

Dave
 

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And while I'm at it, here's my KLR 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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Thank you Tom.

What I tried to infer with that comment was that I would have blended in with the white sign post.
About 8" thick.
Oh, I get it now. I'm a bit slow sometimes!
 

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Dave's information re the shock and suspension are spot on. I want to talk a bit about your height issue.

You want to lower the bike an inch or so to better fit your inseam. Links have been offered as one way to do that. The lowering links are available to accomplish that, but they do that by changing the geometry of the rear suspension and what they do is reduce the effective spring rate.

Now let's say that you have the current shock set on a preload of 5 to achieve proper sag. You install lowering links which lower the bike but also reduce the spring rate, and now your sag is too much. What you want to do is turn it up to 6 to reduce your sag, but there ain't no 6. Now what you need to do is install a stiffer spring so that you can get your shock to the point where the preload can be set to 2 or 3 for proper sag so that you've got room to add more preload if you increase your load. This is why I said you may need to re-spring with lowering links.

But the stiffer spring raises the bike! Do you see where this is going and why Dave refers to the links as a band-aid? Lowering the bike with links puts you into a battle with geometry and physics and geometry and physics always win.

I played that game because I wanted to raise mine an inch. I got raising links and they did raise the bike, but they reduced the sag. I lowered the preload, which dropped the sag, but also lowered the bike. Those raising links increased the effective spring rate and, coupled with setting the damping so that it didn't pack-up on washboard roads made for a very harsh ride.

What you want is the bike at the correct height so that you are comfortable riding it, but you also need to have the sag set right so that the suspension will work right, and the only way to do that is to build a shock that is shorter or longer than stock to either lower or raise the bike as you need.

Without doing that you will have to compromise either the bike's height, the proper sag, or both. If you have to go the links route I'd suggest compromising both, with the bike a bit higher than you might like and the sag a bit more than optimal

Another thing to consider is getting used to the bike's height. I don't mean to be snarky on that comment! It is said that a man needs only be tall enough that his feet reach the ground. You only need to be tall enough for your feet to reach the pegs! Experience and skill can help you deal with reaching the ground from the saddle. You really don't need to be able to flat-foot both feet on the ground to ride; one foot or even one toe is enough. Plenty of folks do it.

I saw a video of a very small guy riding a sport bike in traffic. Believe it or not, he dismounted the bike at every stop, then hopped back on after stopping, and he seemed to cope very well.

The stock suspension on the KLR is designed for a rider weight of about 150 pounds plus normal bring-along stuff. The stock shock can work very well for a rider who fits that design parameter, but quickly becomes less than optimal as the load on the suspension goes up, be it from rider weight, luggage, or a combination of the two.

If the stock spring isn't going to work for you then trying to make it work by adding a stiffer spring, different links, or changing the fluid viscosity is throwing good money after bad. There is no better dollar spent on the KLR than the dollar spent on good suspension components.
 
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It seems I'm doomed to continually agree with Tom! :) The sag needs to be set properly in order for the suspension to work as designed; way too many KLR owners compromise and run too much sag just to lower the seat height. Please don't compromise your suspension just to get a foot closer to the ground. My suggestions are always; taller boots, lower seat or just get used to it rather than using lowering links.

My son is 5'9" and rides a stock height Gen1 KLR with sag on the minimal side because he's an aggressive rider; but he's been riding and racing motorcycles offroad since he was 5 years old and has adapted. Likewise my ex-wife rode a stock height Gen1 KLR and she is 5'4.5" tall.....but again, she was the PNWMA women's offroad racing champion for 4 years in a row. I did lower her KTM 200XC race bike (properly) by professionally lowering and revalving the forks and shock by 1.5".....but it wasn't cheap and it was only because of the extreme terrain she was riding.

Cheers,
Dave
 

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Just got back from a short (40mile) ride with my rebuilt shock and top gun spring. The ride included uphill gravel with a little wash board, broken/patched pavement, perfectly engineered and paved canyon twisties, and up & down a fairly steep rocky, muddy, bumpy, pot holed dirt road. (I'm fortunate to live where all of these roads are near by).
Maybe I just don't know any better, but I'm satisfied with the performance of the shock and spring based on this short outing. No pogo stick, no bottoming, not overly harsh, handles dirt ok, the tire stays in good contact with a bumpy dirt or paved road. Washboard performance isn't perfect but definitely not unusually bad. No issues at all on the pavement leaning hard into the tight twisties.

I'm sure I'd appreciate an upgraded after market shock but I'm satisfied with the repaired shock and upgraded spring given it was under $200 and a few hours in the shop. It works.
Of course, I won't have long term results for, ... well...., a long time....
 
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