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Here is my list of "common new KLR owner mistakes to avoid"


1) Oil drain plug overtightening: it is relatively common for people to overtighten the oil drain plug.....usually to stop a leak after the gasket/washer has inadvertently fallen into the used oil or left stuck to the bottom of the engine! best case is stripped threads, worst is a cracked case. Make sure the washer is in place and use a torque wrench Note; my manual says 17 ft lbs, Eaglemike recommends 15 ft lbs with his low profile drain plug which is what I use. Some Gen2 manuals specify 21 ft lbs but there has been no change in the plug or case which would affect the drain plug torque and people have stripped their drain plugs at this setting: beware!

- 2) Chain tension: many owners and some shops overtighten the KLR's drive chain; due to the long travel suspension and geometry the KLR needs more slack than other bikes people may be used to. If the chain is too tight you risk damaging the countershaft seal and bearing as well as possibly the wheel bearings along with premature wear of the drive chain and sprockets. Quick check; with the bike on the sidestand, you should be able to touch the chain to the bottom rearmost portion of the chain slipper but not the metal swingarm itself.

- 3) Speedo drive: it is common for people to post problems with their speedo after they've had the front wheel off. If you don't make sure the drive slots in the hub are aligned with the speedo drive tangs you risk bending the drive tangs and worse, breaking the hub. Time consuming to repair, expensive to replace, easy to avoid!

- 4) Oil Level: the factory KLR oil level sight glass is arguably too low....additionally some KLR's burn oil at various rates so it is imperative that the oil level is constantly checked. Luckily the sight glass makes this very easy to do. My suggestion is to keep the oil level at the very top of the sight glass with the bike level and to check it before every ride and at every fuel stop. The first failure from low oil levels is likely to be the cam bores in the head......and used KLR heads are getting difficult to find and are expensive. Keep an eye on that oil level!

- 5) Overtightening of other fasteners; similar to the oil drain plug there are a few other fasteners that cause significant problems if overtightened; the valve cover bolts are one such fastener - the manual calls up 69 inch lbs (NOT ft. lbs!) but Eaglemike suggests 55 in lbs which is a safer value. Another problem fastener is the footpeg mounting bolts; the factory nuts welded in the frame box are very thin with only 3 or 4 threads catching......these often strip out necessitating a repair. To avoid the problem, consider not using accessories that bolt to the bike using these bolts (i.e. centerstands) and torque them properly. I've heard that some manuals show 45NM (33 ft lbs) and some versions show 25 Nm (18 ft lbs)......I will suggest that the 33 ft lbs is a mistake and too much; I go with the 18 to avoid stripping the nuts and because this value falls in line with the recommended torque for generic 8mm fasteners in the manual. Safety wiring the bolt heads is also a wise precaution as loose bolts take the threads out quickly.

- 6) Throwing away the tube when changing the oil filter. People often mistakenly toss the metal tube that is inserted in the oil filter when they throw the old filter in the trash....make sure it's there and put it back in the right way.

- 7) attempting a counterbalance lever (doohickey) adjusting bolt adjustment without first ensuring the lever and spring are both intact and the spring has tension. Failure to do so can introduce a catastrophic amount of play into the counterbalance chain system.

-8) Not checking fasteners for proper torque at least at every oil change. Especially foot pegs and sub-frame bolts. The fasteners that Kawasaki put in place are adequate, but once torque falls below spec vibration can loosen the fastener. A loose fastener will quickly fail if it is under load.

-9) Not properly oiling your air filter. I prefer foam filter oil but regardless of what you choose to use, ensure your foam filter is thoroughly oiled and seated or dust will destroy your engine.

- 10) Not checking to make sure your clean side airbox drain tube and plug are present and accounted for; This tube often gets pulled off (some people shorten it to help with this) and if it does your engine will ingest non-filtered air which can dust out and destroy your engine. ….while you’re in the area, also check to make sure your header to mid pipe junction is tight otherwise you can melt your airbox causing much the same problem.

If you are wondering about 'which KLR to buy' you may find the following useful:

Here's some info on Gen1's.....basically all very similar up until 2008 with some notable changes on the '96 and up bikes compared to earlier ones. KLR650 FAQ

Short version is that the most desirable Gen1's are the '96 - 2007 bikes with colors being the only major difference. Colors are a bit nicer 2000 - 2007. 2007's got a revised shift lever. production shifted from Japan to Thailand in 2002 so there is some thought that the earlier Japanese bikes were put together a bit better (all parts came from Japan regardless) but I personally don't think it's a big concern. Pre-96 bikes can be upgraded with the balancer sprockets, thinner cylinder and the countershaft sprocket retention system being the main changes.

Basically, the Gen2 was modified to change the marketing focus towards "adventure riding" from "Dual Purpose".

Gen2 changes;
- better brakes
- better headlights
- more wind protection
- slightly larger forks
- increased wattage for aux. gear
- and a number of minor items like larger spokes, better chain adjusters, etc.

Early Gen2's unfortunately had a host of issues; bad rings, cylinder bores, deep hole issue, deteriorating rubber bits, wiring harness rub through. Mostly resolved by 2010.

- the weight also increased (17 - 24 lbs) and suspension travel decreased (from 9.1 front and rear to 7.9 front and 7.3 rear)

- in 2014.5 the suspension received a welcome increase in both spring rates and dampening....though it is still the 1980 tech budget stuff that Kawi used on these bikes since 1987.

Other than the suspension stiffness upgrade, it's basically been BNG's for the past 5 years thought there's been a clutch change (possibly not for the better) and they've changed the forged alum brake lever to a stamped steel one along the way.....cheaper I guess.

With regards to Gen2's; again some early issues as mentioned in the previous posts. 2008's were the worst offenders with 2009's following close behind......starting to get better in mid 2010. If you buy an early Gen2 I'd budget for an Eaglemike 685 kit.....should run you about $500 - $600 if you do the work yourself and around $1,000 - 1,200 if you have a shop do it. 2014.5+ bikes have a welcome increase in spring and dampening rates though if you don't mind used, a Cogent suspension upgrade is head and shoulders better than the "updated" Gen2 stock stuff and should be around $800.00 - $1,000.00.

Best? well that depends..... best stock KLR? I'd give the nod to the 2014.5+ bike. Basically if your use is pavement biased and/or you intend to keep the mods to a minimum then the Gen2 will appeal to you. ....If you ride more offroad and plan on changes, then the Gen1 starts to look better for the longer travel suspension, lighter weight, more robust bodywork and the ability to run with a completely dead battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
....I posted this on one of the KLR facebook pages and thought it might be useful to have it here too. I didn't want a comprehensive "FAQ" or list of mods/farkles but just a list of things that get new owners into trouble......I compiled it after responding to threads/posts many, many times with the same issues. Let me know if this is useful or not as well as any other feedback.

Cheers,
Dave
 

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Spot on, Dave!

I would add:

8) Not checking fasteners for proper torque at least at every oil change. Especially foot pegs and sub-frame bolts. The fasteners that Kawasaki put in place are adequate, but once torque falls below spec vibration can loosen the fastener. A loose fastener will quickly fail if it is under load.


BTW, the 33 foot-lb torque value for the foot peg bolts in the first Gen 2 manual is one of Mother Kawi's boo-boos and, as Paul pointed out, will strip the bolts right quick.

Tom
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Good one; thanks Tom. I'll add it to my list. I'll also modify the wording to make a stronger case for the 18 ft lbs on the footpeg mounting bolts.

I've just heard another case of someone stripping their oil drain plug at the 21 ft lb torque setting that (IIRC) some manuals specify....that might be another clarification that could be more strongly emphasised.....thoughts?

Cheers,
Dave
 

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Absolutely! There was no change to the drain plug area going from Gen 1 to Gen 2 that I am aware of, nor any widely reported incidents of drain plugs falling out. Yet Kawasaki increased the value from 17 to 21 (IIRC).

Truth be told, not much torque is required at all if a proper aluminum washer is in place.

I'm an odd duck, I know, but I use a neoprene washer that is tightened to just a few foot pounds. I have no idea what the torque is, as it is too low to measure. Just a quarter turn or so past making contact with the washer. It has never come loose. I did add a lock wire just for peace of mind.

That's a bit extreme for most people, but let's just say that there is no reason to use more than 17 ft-lbs of torque; half a flat past snug would probably be enough!

I also think that inexpensive torque wrenches that have not had their calibration checked should either be calibrated or chucked into a big field of tall grass.

Tom
 

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UPDATED

1) Oil drain plug overtightening: it is relatively common for people to overtighten the oil drain plug.....usually to stop a leak after the washer has inadvertently fallen into the used oil! best case is stripped threads, worst is a cracked case. Make sure the washer is in place and use a torque wrench Note; my manual says 17 ft lbs, Eaglemike recommends 15 ft lbs with his low profile drain plug which is what I use. Some Gen2 manuals specify 21 ft lbs but there has been no change in the plug or case which would affect the drain plug and people have stripped their drain plugs at this setting: beware!

- 2) Chain tension: many owners and some shops overtighten the KLR's drive chain; due to the long travel suspension and geometry the KLR needs more slack than other bikes people may be used to. If the chain is too tight you risk damaging the countershaft seal and bearing as well as possibly the wheel bearings along with premature wear of the drive chain and sprockets. Quick check; with the bike on the sidestand, you should be able to touch the chain to the bottom rearmost portion of the chain slipper but not the metal swingarm itself.

- 3) Speedo drive: it is common for people to post problems with their speedo after they've had the front wheel off. If you don't make sure the drive slots in the hub are aligned with the speedo drive tangs you risk bending the drive tangs and worse, breaking the hub. Time consuming to repair, expensive to replace, easy to avoid!

- 4) Oil Level: the factory KLR oil level sight glass is arguably too low....additionally some KLR's burn oil at various rates so it is imperative that the oil level is constantly checked. Luckily the sight glass makes this very easy to do. My suggestion is to keep the oil level at the very top of the sight glass with the bike level and to check it before every ride and at every fuel stop. The first failure from low oil levels is likely to be the cam bores in the head......and used KLR heads are getting difficult to find and are expensive. Keep an eye on that oil level!

- 5) Overtightening of other fasteners; similar to the oil drain plug there are a few other fasteners that cause significant problems if overtightened; the valve cover bolts are one such fastener - the manual calls up 69 inch lbs (NOT ft. lbs!) but Eaglemike suggests 55 in lbs which is a safer value. Another problem fastener is the footpeg mounting bolts; the factory nuts welded in the frame box are very thin with only 3 or 4 threads catching......these often strip out necessitating a repair. To avoid the problem, consider not using accessories that bolt to the bike using these bolts (i.e. centerstands) and torque them properly. I've heard that some manuals show 45NM (33 ft lbs) and some versions show 25 Nm (18 ft lbs)......I will suggest that the 33 ft lbs is a mistake and too much; I go with the 18 to avoid stripping the nuts and because this value falls in line with the recommended torque for generic 8mm fasteners in the manual. Safety wiring the bolt heads is also a wise precaution as loose bolts take the threads out quickly.

- 6) Throwing away the tube when changing the oil filter. People often mistakenly toss the metal tube that is inserted in the oil filter when they throw the old filter in the trash....make sure it's there and put it back in the right way.

- 7) attempting a counterbalance lever (doohickey) adjusting bolt adjustment without first ensuring the lever and spring are both intact and the spring has tension. Failure to do so can introduce a catastrophic amount of play into the counterbalance chain system.

- 8) Not checking fasteners for proper torque at least at every oil change. Especially foot pegs and sub-frame bolts. The fasteners that Kawasaki put in place are adequate, but once torque falls below spec vibration can loosen the fastener. A loose fastener will quickly fail if it is under load.
 

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I'm new to KLR's and this is a really good stuff to know..
I found some out the hard way..

I put some blue threadlocker on the foot peg bolts after I noticed that they were loose just before a 20 mile dirt ride, most of which was standing on the pegs. Could have ended real bad if I hadn't noticed. I certainly will be checking these often.

Also, when I bought my bike the oil drain plug leaked. Replacing the plug and crush washer didn't fix it. Well, you guessed it, its got a really fine crack in the case, probably from over torque. ?? Not a bad leak, hope it doesn't get worse.
 

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I've got a newbie question. When my KLR is on the side stand it looks like no oil is
in the sight glass. Its full when its upright. Is this normal?
 
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New 650...

Hello
The dealer recommended to keep rpms under 3000 for the 1st 500 miles, then an oil/filter change.
Does that sound reasonable?

Good tips on the other items...thanks!
 

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This one is a couple updates behind the other 3 or 4 sub-forums.
 

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Hello
The dealer recommended to keep rpms under 3000 for the 1st 500 miles, then an oil/filter change.
Does that sound reasonable?

Good tips on the other items...thanks!
It sure can't hurt, but seems a little slow to me. I kept my 2008 under 4,000 for the first 500 miles. It now has about 95,000 miles.
 

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Great post. Im new/used klr owner. the simple chain check really helps me out. thanks
 

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Stupid question, but I sent my 03 away to get tuned up and asked my buddy to put new bars and GRIPS on it. He kept the stock grip on the throttle tube because he said its permanently glued to the throttle tube..... Been racing motocross my whole life and that really didn't make sense to me. Figured I would run it past you guys before I went ahead and put a new one on myself. Any thoughts?
 

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From what I've heard, you have to slice those off. They are glued, but they come off with the razor (be careful of your hand and the surrounding plastics).
 

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The OEM plastic throttle tube has ribs on it. The OEM grip is molded right onto the ribs. No company seems to want to make a non-ribbed plastic throttle tube to fit either Gen 1 or 2 of KLR650!

So one has to take the brand new oem throttle tube & grip assembly to a Very Aggessive stationary wire wheel to eat the grip off of the plastic twister. Then use a Double Cut file to dress down the ribs or one will have a lumpy grip.

All it takes is TIME & sometimes that time is costing more money than a customer wants to pay for. May be a lot quicker & cheaper to just install Both oem grips.

But surely you can do it.
 

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The OEM plastic throttle tube has ribs on it. The OEM grip is molded right onto the ribs. No company seems to want to make a non-ribbed plastic throttle tube to fit either Gen 1 or 2 of KLR650!

So one has to take the brand new oem throttle tube & grip assembly to a Very Aggessive stationary wire wheel to eat the grip off of the plastic twister. Then use a Double Cut file to dress down the ribs or one will have a lumpy grip.

All it takes is TIME & sometimes that time is costing more money than a customer wants to pay for. May be a lot quicker & cheaper to just install Both oem grips.

But surely you can do it.
ok thank you! I have anti vibe inserts but wanted to put those Gel Pro Grips on there to help even more. oh well!
 
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