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Discussion Starter #1
Given the limited selection of tires available in 130/80/17 size range. Why did Kawasaki go with a 17" rear wheel? Why not an 18?? Was there a reason why they went smaller?
Has anyone heard of anyone lacing an 18 onto the KLR hub?
 

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WHAT???????? Change to 18????????????

The PO of my KTM690 went from stock wheel diameters of 21 (front) 18 (rear) to 19 (front) and 17 (rear). Did he go in the WRONG direction??????????

I don't think so. The 690's a really tall bike to start with; smaller-diameter wheels lower the bike yet keep the excellent OEM suspension characteristics.

Don't know why Kawasaki chose 17-inch rear rims. KLR650s are pretty tall bikes, themselves; Japanese, demographically, might not be as tall on average as other populations. Maybe the 17-inch rear rim fit Kawasaki's seat height design goal more conveniently than an 18-inch would.

That said, unless you're riding alone in somewhere of mostly-unavaiable re-supply (for example, Lower SlobBovia), suitable 17" rear casings for the KLR650 seem reasonably attainable.

I'd hope replacement tires are available on inmates' rides; I'm not a fan of the Jed Clampett Beverley Hillbillies style of spare casings lashed to the vehicle. But, I've never been in a situation where I NEEDED a ride-along spare tire; YMMV! :)

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By the way; changing wheel sizes is VERY (un-KLRista characteristically) EXPENSIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bring money, if you want to implant a different-sized wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sure I can find tires. It's just that there's more off road tires in 18 and very few in a 17" dia. Maybe my question should've been , "Why so few 17" Knobbies?"

Yea, a wheel assembly is too pricey. I was thinking more on the order of lacing a 18" rim to the stock hub.. Much cheaper.
 

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Yea, a wheel assembly is too pricey. I was thinking more on the order of lacing a 18" rim to the stock hub.. Much cheaper.
Right.

Using stock hubs, the rims and lacing only cost $ 1,170 (for front and rear wheels combined). New hubs would have raised the cost considerably.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Right.

Using stock hubs, the rims and lacing only cost $ 1,170 (for front and rear wheels combined). New hubs would have raised the cost considerably.
Man, I sure would like to know where you came up with that figure for a set of spokes and a rim. If you or ANYONE is paying that much to lace a rim to a hub you already own you're just plain nuts.
 

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Man, I sure would like to know where you came up with that figure for a set of spokes and a rim. If you or ANYONE is paying that much to lace a rim to a hub you already own you're just plain nuts.
"Nuts?" My, are we not JUDGMENTAL, PaddyD? :)

Your most prominent curiosity regarding the price reported shall now be satisfied!

Check out the first line item on the list at Page 51 of this feature article (from the world's largest-circulation adventure motorcycle magazine):

Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto) Jan/Feb 2016

Labor is included in the price, of course.

Oh, just noticed! Article was published in 2016. Price may have increased through inflation.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
"Nuts?" My, are we not JUDGMENTAL, PaddyD? :)

Your most prominent curiosity regarding the price reported shall now be satisfied!

Check out the first line item on the list at Page 51 of this feature article (from the world's largest-circulation adventure motorcycle magazine):

Adventure Motorcycle (ADVMoto) Jan/Feb 2016

Labor is included in the price, of course.

Oh, just noticed! Article was published in 2016. Price may have increased through inflation.
While these may not be the exact items required for adaption to the KLR hub the prices are similar to what you would spend.

https://www.denniskirk.com/moose/aluminum-18-x-2-15-rear-rim-0210-0203.p559061.prd/559061.sku

https://www.denniskirk.com/moose/mx1-stainless-steel-spoke-set-8-gauge-0211-0182.p5502464.prd/5502464.sku

I figure this + tire and tube and you would be under $300.00 to convert a KLR rear wheel. Whether it would be economically viable or even practical is another debate. All I'm saying is you quote almost $1200 for the pair. The KLR already has a 21 front so it was not even considered by me for modification. Half of that is almost $600. I think you can do it for much less than that by doing the disassembly and lacing at home. Then the only labor involved might be to true the rim if one is not capable to do it too.
 

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There is only 7/8" clearance on mine now between the tire and the swingarm saddle. That is with a new Kenda 270 50/50 knobby and a new chain with 1,000 miles on it. There is only 1/2" or so in the chain adjusters to move the axle back for adjustment and that is needed as the chain wears.

An 18" wheel would cut the front clearance to 3/8" or so. I already get any slightly sticky mud scraped off the tire and balling up on the front of the swing arm. Half an inch less clearance would make it worse.

That is why I wouldn't consider an 18" wheel. But, your question was why Kawasaki didn't design it for an 18" wheel and I don't know why.
 

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While these may not be the exact items required for adaption to the KLR hub the prices are similar to what you would spend.

https://www.denniskirk.com/moose/aluminum-18-x-2-15-rear-rim-0210-0203.p559061.prd/559061.sku

https://www.denniskirk.com/moose/mx1-stainless-steel-spoke-set-8-gauge-0211-0182.p5502464.prd/5502464.sku

I figure this + tire and tube and you would be under $300.00 to convert a KLR rear wheel. Whether it would be economically viable or even practical is another debate. All I'm saying is you quote almost $1200 for the pair. The KLR already has a 21 front so it was not even considered by me for modification. Half of that is almost $600. I think you can do it for much less than that by doing the disassembly and lacing at home. Then the only labor involved might be to true the rim if one is not capable to do it too.
You asked, "Man, I sure would like to know where you came up with that figure for a set of spokes and a rim." Did I answer your question satisfactorily? Documenting the actual price paid for re-sizing a pair of motorcycle wheels with quality components, professional assembly?

In value judgment, you posted: "If you or ANYONE is paying that much to lace a rim to a hub you already own you're just plain nuts." Maybe so, but . . . we're in good company! Check out what Woody's wants for re-sizing your rear KLR650 wheel.

No doubt, you can buy the components (the rear rim you suggest seems a little narrow, to me, but what do I know) and lace the wheel yourself in a few minutes of your spare time. Congratulations on upholding the honor of KLRista frugality!

Now . . . given the unassailable geometrical limits of an 18-inch rear wheel on a KLR650, as pointed out by GoMotor above . . . what is the MAXIMUM price you'd pay for an 18-inch rear wheel?

Regardless, go for it, if that's what you want. Just . . . keep us informed of your progress on the website, in text and images. Best wishes on your project.
 

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There is only 7/8" clearance on mine now between the tire and the swingarm saddle. That is with a new Kenda 270 50/50 knobby and a new chain with 1,000 miles on it. There is only 1/2" or so in the chain adjusters to move the axle back for adjustment and that is needed as the chain wears.

An 18" wheel would cut the front clearance to 3/8" or so. I already get any slightly sticky mud scraped off the tire and balling up on the front of the swing arm. Half an inch less clearance would make it worse.

That is why I wouldn't consider an 18" wheel. But, your question was why Kawasaki didn't design it for an 18" wheel and I don't know why.
Well, given that the KLR was introduced in, what, 1987, maybe 17” wheels were more popular back in them days. :grin2:
 

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Nope; the 17" rear was an odd size even back then.

Why? probably/maybe because the larger sidewall offered higher load ratings and increased protection from pinch flats? ....it wasn't just Kawi, the XR650L and DR650 also use a 17" rear wheel.

As far as the rest, a couple comments;

- people often swap to a smaller front wheel but for the intended use of the bike, I think it's a big mistake. There is a reason that every real offroad bike has a 21" wheel

- I haven't done it (yet) but an 18" rear wheel swap wouldn't be likely to have space problems because the tire would have a smaller profile making up for the larger rim size.


Generally speaking, motorcycle wheels and tires behave much like automotive wheels and tires; the smaller rim, larger profile makes the bike less succeptible to road (trail) hazard s and the larger rim, shorter profile makes the bike handle better (like a sportscar). Most MX bikes use(d) 19" rear wheels for better handling and Enduro/offroad bikes typically used 18" for increased flat resistance.


Cheers,
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Nope; the 17" rear was an odd size even back then.

Why? probably/maybe because the larger sidewall offered higher load ratings and increased protection from pinch flats? ....it wasn't just Kawi, the XR650L and DR650 also use a 17" rear wheel.

As far as the rest, a couple comments;

- people often swap to a smaller front wheel but for the intended use of the bike, I think it's a big mistake. There is a reason that every real offroad bike has a 21" wheel

- I haven't done it (yet) but an 18" rear wheel swap wouldn't be likely to have space problems because the tire would have a smaller profile making up for the larger rim size.


Generally speaking, motorcycle wheels and tires behave much like automotive wheels and tires; the smaller rim, larger profile makes the bike less succeptible to road (trail) hazard s and the larger rim, shorter profile makes the bike handle better (like a sportscar). Most MX bikes use(d) 19" rear wheels for better handling and Enduro/offroad bikes typically used 18" for increased flat resistance.


Cheers,
Dave
I generally agree that the taller aspect ratio offered in the 17 might offer more sidewall movement prior to the rim making contact with the edge of a pothole and causing a flat etc. But by that logic, why not MX and enduro bikes which are ridden 10X harder in all sorts of rough terrain? They run 18 and even 19" rears with the lower sidewall aspect ratios.
I do believe the Honda XR650L runs an 18" rear. At least the one I was checking out the other day at work has one. Not sure about the Suzuki.
Lastly, my ONLY reason for "possibly" thinking about the "possibility" of lacing an 18" rim to my stock hub was to be able to take advantage of the many more tire options available in an 18" size. At least from where I've been looking for a 90/10 tire the options are few in a 17
 

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I generally agree that the taller aspect ratio offered in the 17 might offer more sidewall movement prior to the rim making contact with the edge of a pothole and causing a flat etc. But by that logic, why not MX and enduro bikes which are ridden 10X harder in all sorts of rough terrain? They run 18 and even 19" rears with the lower sidewall aspect ratios.
I do believe the Honda XR650L runs an 18" rear. At least the one I was checking out the other day at work has one. Not sure about the Suzuki.
Lastly, my ONLY reason for "possibly" thinking about the "possibility" of lacing an 18" rim to my stock hub was to be able to take advantage of the many more tire options available in an 18" size. At least from where I've been looking for a 90/10 tire the options are few in a 17
1) Because the MX and offroad bikes are much lighter.....BUT the logic holds; MX bikes are set up for handling and run on groomed tracks; they use 19" rear wheels. Enduro/hare scramble/cross country bikes use the 18" rear with a taller sidewall because they routinely hit stuff that is much more likely to cause pinch flats like rocks, roots, stumps, etc.

2) Sorry,you're right about the XRL (at least some years) but the DR definitely uses a 17" rear https://www.suzuki.ca/en/2018-dr650se the BMW F650/700/800GS also uses a 17" rear. I'm not mentioning this as a reason to stick with a 17" only that Kawi wasn't unique in deciding to use them;

Ultimately I agree with you; I'd prefer the KLR came with an 18" rear both due to the increased tire options as well as the fact that I could then use a Tubliss system (they don't make them in 17")


Cheers,
Dave
 

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17 vs 18

If you look at enduros from the 80's all of them came with a 17 rim. Back then you had a huge variety of 17" tyres to choose from. Nowadays with evolution moving on to 18 becoming the norm the choice in 17 tyres is getting smaller. Same with car tyres. I was struggling to find a decent 14" AT tyre for my VW Syncro. Only one manufacturer had one tyre on offer. It sucks but that is the reality. 17 is out of fashion.
 

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Nope; the 17" rear was an odd size even back then.

Why? probably/maybe because the larger sidewall offered higher load ratings and increased protection from pinch flats? ....it wasn't just Kawi, the XR650L and DR650 also use a 17" rear wheel.

As far as the rest, a couple comments;

- people often swap to a smaller front wheel but for the intended use of the bike, I think it's a big mistake. There is a reason that every real offroad bike has a 21" wheel

- I haven't done it (yet) but an 18" rear wheel swap wouldn't be likely to have space problems because the tire would have a smaller profile making up for the larger rim size.


Generally speaking, motorcycle wheels and tires behave much like automotive wheels and tires; the smaller rim, larger profile makes the bike less succeptible to road (trail) hazard s and the larger rim, shorter profile makes the bike handle better (like a sportscar). Most MX bikes use(d) 19" rear wheels for better handling and Enduro/offroad bikes typically used 18" for increased flat resistance.


Cheers,
Dave
17” is an odd size numerically, but not odd as in unusual. Look at the current adventure bikes offered by BMW. They have 17” rear wheels from the GS1200A down to the little GS310 and they are currently some of the most popular bikes in the world.

I suspect Kawasaki selected 17” wheels as they simply work well on this type of bike that will see both road and off-road.
 

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If you look at enduros from the 80's all of them came with a 17 rim. Back then you had a huge variety of 17" tyres to choose from. Nowadays with evolution moving on to 18 becoming the norm the choice in 17 tyres is getting smaller. Same with car tyres. I was struggling to find a decent 14" AT tyre for my VW Syncro. Only one manufacturer had one tyre on offer. It sucks but that is the reality. 17 is out of fashion.
I don’t think 17” wheels are out of fashion at all. Maybe for dirt bikes, but not for bikes in general. As I mentioned earlier, all of the BMW GS and F series bikes have 17” rear wheels (well, all that I checked this morning, I didn’t check every single model in those series).

I have three bikes in my stable currently: K1200LT, KLR650, and my daughter’s Ninja 300. Of the six wheels on these bikes, only ONE is NOT 17” and that is the 21” front on the KLR. The LT and Ninja are 17” front and rear. I realize they are street bikes, but the GS and F series BMWs are very close in mission to the KLR and they have 17” rears and fronts ranging from 19 to 21.
 

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Given the limited selection of tires available in 130/80/17 size range. Why did Kawasaki go with a 17" rear wheel? Why not an 18?? Was there a reason why they went smaller?
Has anyone heard of anyone lacing an 18 onto the KLR hub?
Where do you get that the selection is limited? At my favorite online tire supplier, they list 6 TIMES more 130/80x17 tires than 130/80x18.
 

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The only significant and tangible difficulties regarding the availability of appropriate 17" rear tires I've read of (on the Internet; must be true!) have been: Long-distance riders, in remote areas, where 17" tires aren't particular popular or populous, are frustrated when none of these ties are found on the shelves of the few motorcycle shops in the region. This regional slow-moving merchandise may be in low inventory status with the local merchants.

As to the performance difference between 17" and 18" rear tires, don't know fully what the magnitude and character of that difference might be. Considering only a half-inch (nominally) difference in rolling radius, each rider evaluates the significance of this delta to his riding style and environment.
 
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