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1999 KL650A
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95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello again, KLRforum.

Was riding down the road when my rear tire locked up & engine died @ 55mph. Stayed upright somehow and pulled over. It appears a 6”x3” piece of tree bark got stuck between my rear tire and the swingarm.

Now the bike won’t start. When I hit the start button, it almost sounds like a car door being unlocked. Sounds/feels like it’s coming from the little black starter motor.

I’ll be taking it apart in a couple hours once my buddy can help me get the bike back home. But I’ve never messed with the starter system, so any advice or thoughts are appreciated. I’ve got a Clymer manual and good old YouTube but you guys have never led me astray so I always start with this forum when I’m unsure.

thanks!
 

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1999 KL650A
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@Reveille Bike rolls in neutral and does not roll in gear unless i disengage clutch so that seems good. I'll check things more carefully when I get the bike moved in an hour. Sidestand switch was removed by PO. The chain did seem pretty loose to me afterwards but I must admit I hadn't checked it in a couple months so it's unknown whether that's a new issue.

@Six8five You're both giving me a lot of hope with all this battery talk! That would be pretty great honestly. I even have a spare on hand lol. Will definitely check it. But can a battery die from your rear tire seizing up and your engine stalling out?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Trickle charger shat the bed earlier this year. Guess I’ll be walking to the store to pick up a new one tomorrow!

Battery voltage at rest = 12.8v
Ignition switch + brights = 12.7v
Starter button engaged = 6.5v (and my lights droop like a cartoon trombone)

Extra battery I have is about the same, minus roughly 0.5v for all results, so it’s no help at the moment. (Unless it’s worth trying to jump one with the other?)

I did go ahead and test the starter relay & starter circuit relay for continuity. Everything’s good there.

Looks like another classic case of AUPTP, @Tom Schmitz. Or a case of Idiot Leaves Lights On While Inspecting Bike Roadside—Wonders What Happened to Battery (I honestly don’t remember, so it’s pretty likely).


If I didn’t need the help I’d probably be annoyed at how right you guys are all the time.
 

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1999 KL650A
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I hope you guys are wrong too lol but on my own limited instinct I don’t think you will be. I should’ve clarified in the original post that the starter button “clicking” is really more of a “knock.” I can feel the vibration of it by placing one hand anywhere around the starter motor while pushing the button in/out with the other hand, and to me it feels like a gearwheel that won’t turn another gearwheel (I’m hoping the starter clutch got knocked off its axis a tiny bit or something). I looked on YouTube yesterday for low battery issues and I’m not having the electrical “buzz” that seems to be the symptomatic sound there. The starter seems to be engaging, but not turning the motor.

I’ll pick up a charger anyway because of course I will, and I’ll charge both batteries for the sake of being thorough, but while I wait for the nearest farm store to open I’ll be draining the oil and gettin all up in there.

I’m going in.
Pray for me.
 

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1999 KL650A
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks Kool-Aid, I appreciate that! I’m shocked I stayed upright lol, I’m still a pretty new rider (1.5 years of daily riding) but I do try to set aside time for continuous safety practice (braking/swerving drills, etc.)

Never even saw the bark on the road. Just riding along & suddenly my tail was up near my left side. Fully resigned myself like “welp, this one’s gonna hurt.” Didn’t hear the tire screeching or realize the motor was dead until the 3rd or 4th fishtail.

It’s all good though! As they say in aviation, “Any landing you walk away from is a great landing.”
I can always fix the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Update: Drained the oil. Crankshaft is extremely hard to turn via rotor nut so I think something’s up. About to remove the alternator cover (and most likely LH crankcase cover). Will update again soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Update: I’m no psychologist, but I don’t think my cam chain looks very happy
(Edit: cam chain or timing chain?)
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Bicycle tire Motor vehicle


Any tips for safest way to approach this? Is there anything I should know before removing the rotor bolt with the chain scrunched up like that? (I have all the necessary tools) Will I have issues later (with setting up timing, lower end, and/or cams) since I’m unable to set to TDC before opening it up?

Thanks everybody!
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I texted my pops and he’s got me reassessing the root cause. My initial diagnosis of “tree bark between the rear tire and swingarm” was born of several assumptions that I made, on the scene, still shaking a bit.

Here’s my on-scene assumptions:

1. I only noticed the tree bark as I was assessing the bike after I stopped. It was at the end of my skid mark rainbow, split in two. I picked it up and it was hot, but it was also laying on pavement in the sun. In hindsight, it could’ve just been an innocent bystander.

2. I assumed it had been lodged between my rear tire and swingarm for the dumbest reason of all—when I looked, the patch of melted knobbies on my tire happened to be lined up in exactly the spot where the swingarm is. But that’s just silly because obviously the pavement caused that patch, and then I probably rolled the bike backward a bit while inspecting it. Which makes me really question the tree bark as a suspect at all.


My dad thinks the balancer chain simply snapped and caused my engine & rear tire to seize up. Which, of course, would beg the question—What the f*ck?

However, I could swear I pulled the clutch lever as soon as the skid mark on the ground (and in my pants) began to take shape. And since clutch lever or neutral still currently allow my rear wheel to spin freely, one would think that the skid mark wouldn’t have followed me all the way off into the shoulder like it did. I would’ve been able to roll to a stop rather than skid, unless my rear wheel and/or drive chain were independently seized. Which brings us back to Professor Treebark…

If the tree bark was involved, I’m leaning back toward the idea that it might have gotten lodged in my drive chain/counter sprocket for a few seconds. Because idk I guess that just seems more like something that could snap the balancer chain to me? But honestly I have no idea. It all happened fast, as it sometimes does, and I’m not all that knowledgeable. Plus I didn’t find any bark remnants in the sprocket guard when I removed it.

And yes, I am very much looking forward to hearing from The Panel on this one! @pdwestman is definitely someone I’d like to hear from, as well as @Tom Schmitz again and a few others.

So far I’m hoping I’ll be able to replace the balancer chain & starter gear and keep on thumpin. But I’m unsure if replacing the balancer chain requires replacing the sprockets too. And I’m unsure if there’s some other damage spots I’ll need to look out for.

Regardless, it’s gonna be a while and I’m gonna have to figure out how to get to work this week lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
@Tom Schmitz I’ll take your educated & experienced conjecture over my blind guessing any day!

What you’re talking about sounds ugly. I’m intrigued.

If the “upper balancer sprocket” is the one in the upper sort-of RH corner, in a little hidey hole behind where the rotor & starter clutch would usually be, then here is a photo of it in its current place (although I’m assuming the bearing will only be visible once I remove the sprocket, along with the others)

Automotive tire Gear Wheel Bicycle part Auto part
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
@Restless lol my username has stayed accurate for almost a year & I’m sure will continue to be accurate for many years to come. Always more to learn!

The annoying part is that, while I was still swiveling on the bike, I vividly remember thinking “oh shit my [drive] chain snapped.” And I was going over it in my head when all the battery talk was happening, because I kept thinking “why was I so sure it was my chain?”

At this point I’m fairly confident I heard the balancer chain go, but was too preoccupied with not dying to really register it. With more experience I probably could’ve saved us all some time/confusion there lol. I really appreciate your input though. I’d never tried turning the engine with 5th gear before, so when it didn’t turn I figured I was doing it wrong and just went back to opening up the alternator cover. But it’s a great trick to add to my list for next time!
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
@Six8five thank you so much dude! Rotor seems fine from what I can tell but a replacement starter clutch would be… clutch. (Why am I like this)

Once I know for sure that it’s all do-able I’ll PM you. I appreciate it more than you know! I was literally just doing the math to figure out how much I could budget out per paycheck and how many paychecks it would take to order each part, and it was looking pretty grim lol. So that would be a massive help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
@PeteK I haven’t removed the balancer chain yet. Going to attempt that tomorrow. Honestly I’m apprehensive since I’ve never messed with the balancing system outside of removing/examining the doohickey once. I have essentially zero understanding of how the system truly functions, which other systems it’s intertwined with, and what I need to watch for during the process. So it should be a learning experience.

I can try what you’re asking and report back once the chain is out! But then is there anything left to turn? By then, I’ll have removed everything from the alternator cover down to the rotor, starter clutch, and balancing system. I don’t know how to try to turn it over by hand from that point—would the rotor need to be back in or something? Or just the rotor bolt maybe? I have no clue on that one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
@Reveille That’s not a bad idea! I know a few locals who helped me with the basic stuff last year but once my camshaft sprung a freeze plug I was in territory they weren’t comfortable with lol so I had to figure it out on my own (with the help of this forum, of course). But I’ll see what’s up over in the PNW thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
@tdf-texas thanks for the heads up! I’m not sure if it’s an interference engine as I’m unfamiliar with the term, but the whole “don’t let the piston come up unless your cams/valves are in the correct position” thing sounds pretty familiar from my busted valve experience last year.

Either way I’ll be opening the valve cover. The cam chain appears unscathed but the balancer chain did get jammed all up in the cam chain’s business so I want to visually inspect the whole system to make sure nothing else got thrown off up top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Thanks Dave! If you don’t mind me asking, how would you approach this? So far, my plan is to follow Clymer manual instructions for balancing system removal as if the chain is still intact.

But a few concerns:
1. Will I necessarily need to replace the balancer sprockets along with the chain, or can I keep these if they’re not worn?

2. I only know how to set TDC the normal way, using the rotor while all the internal components are functioning properly. Is it possible/advisable to do another way? (In this case, with the balancing system removed)

Or let’s say I crack open the valve cover and find out I’m not at TDC. Will I run into issues with setting the alignment/timing of cam chain and balancing system upon rebuild?

Thanks!
 
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