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Thread: KLR 650 questions...

  1. #1
    Flirting With The Redline 6000 Posts! Afflo's Avatar
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    KLR 650 questions...

    OK... Many of you probably know I've been weighing swapping the Ninja for one of these for a while. Taking a test ride over the weekend on one really hit it home... I want it! Will probably make my move in the next 2-3 months.

    I have some questions about them though.

    - The Doohickey: Is it fixed on the '08+ models? I still see people talking about them, but a part of me wonders if it's the makers of the aftermarket doohickey replacements trying to stir things up.

    - Oil Burning: What's the story here? Is it a serious issue (i.e. engine is slowly killing itself - er, prematurely killing itself, since all engines are slowly killing themselves, amiright?) Is it just an annoyance, i.e. make sure to check the oil, because they're known for burning it.

    - Carbs: The only part that really makes me say "hmmmm." Part of it is that the 250R was so finicky about any temperature under 65. Are these as cold natured as the 250R?

    - Lots of tricked out, low mileage bikes on CraigsList: Why do I keep seeing these things with 2000-3000 miles, with lots of aftermarket toys, hard cases, corbin seats, doohickeys and battle-cages, up for sale? Do they quickly lose their luster for most riders?

    - Any particular things I should consider in switching from a modestly-powered sport-tourer/faired standard/entry level sportbike/whatever the heck a 650R is? My test ride told me a lot, and I was able to take it out for about a 20 mile spin that included residential, freeway, and some 2-lane sweepers, and it seemed more than competent for everything I want to do (aside from the Cee Bailey turbulence generator where the windshield should have been). Just wondering if there's anything I may not have considered?

    - How are they on insurance? Do insurance companies see the word "SPORT" and plastic fairings and consider them to be sportbikes, or are they dirt cheap like smallish cruisers to insure? State Farm is pretty reasonable with the Ninja, but they apparently think I'm Burt Reynolds in the tC. Would love to switch back to USAA, but USAA was NOT the way to go on the motorcycles.

    - Anyone ever taken one on multi-day trips? Yes, I know the engine is not going to give me that smooth Gold-wing feel, but the riding position feels all-day comfortable, and there's no need to exceed 75 for those who don't like performance awards. It really seems like a great do-it-all-very-cheaply sort of bike, and I LOVE the ergos (like a custom tailored suit).

    Anything else I should know about them?

    (PS, Nobody tell me that they're tall. )

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be drooling.

    2011 Triumph America, made perfect with another Corbin Seat.
    (sold) '08 Ninja 650R with super-comfy Corbin seat
    (sold) '06 Ninja 250R, possibly best learning-bike ever.

    "For me it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
    - Carl Sagan - "The Demon-Haunted World" - fantastic read!

  2. #2
    RiderCoach 10,000 Posts! NoCo Gal's Avatar
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    I did an iron butt ride on the BMW 650 thumper. You'll need something to make the seat comfier, maybe a dead sheep or some such, but it's completely worthy of long rides. I have never ridden the KLR, but know someone who had a Connie and every time he took the KLR out he grinned like a damn school boy. And he would ride hard and fast around the corners, riding the heck out of it. He would take it on long day trips without a second thought.

    Quit overthinking it. Doooo eeeeet.
    ~Teri
    Quote Originally Posted by LadyCruiser
    I don’t want to beat any record, I want to soak up the world which becomes more clear at lower speeds...Besides, you can’t buy adventure, you can only experience it – “Ride Your Own Biography”. From Triumphratnet
    2013 Triumph Tiger 800


  3. #3
    Contributor We've stopped counting... MsPotatoPotatoHead's Avatar
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    Mike (Bull1189) rode about a 3000 mile round trip on his KLR one year, including the rally. When Derick drove out here when his Connie flaked at the last minute, he took hubby's KLR on the 236-mile, 8-hour loop. At the first gas stop (about 100 miles in), he was complaining that his butt hurt. But by the time he got back at the end of the day, he said it actually wasn't that bad. Hubby used his Airhawk when he was going to be doing a longer ride.

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    Contributor We've stopped counting... Overcaffeinated's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Afflo View Post
    OK... Many of you probably know I've been weighing swapping the Ninja for one of these for a while. Taking a test ride over the weekend on one really hit it home... I want it! Will probably make my move in the next 2-3 months.
    One of us! One of us!

    - The Doohickey: Is it fixed on the '08+ models? I still see people talking about them, but a part of me wonders if it's the makers of the aftermarket doohickey replacements trying to stir things up.
    '09 plus have a better quality doohickey, but the spring is still known to fail. A company... or, a guy with a shop, rather, called Eagle Mike, manufactures a super-high-quality doo + torsion spring that is fail-proof. If you take a look at KLR650.net, folks who have the tools to make the swap will do tech days and walk you through it if that's deeper into the engine than you're otherwise willing to go (I'd get the tools no problem but the deepest into an engine that I've been was for a valve adjustment so doing the doo is not something I want to try alone). This is on my to-do list, but since I have an '09 it's not like I'm just waiting for my doo to fail any second now and have to do it ASAP.

    - Oil Burning: What's the story here? Is it a serious issue (i.e. engine is slowly killing itself - er, prematurely killing itself, since all engines are slowly killing themselves, amiright?) Is it just an annoyance, i.e. make sure to check the oil, because they're known for burning it.
    If you are going to ride a lot of highway, swap out the front sprocket to help with this problem. The bike is capable on the highway, but they have been known to use oil if you're pushing it at 80 all day. The engine will only kill itself if you ignore it and don't keep the oil topped up and/or never change it. Neither of mine seem to have a serious issue anyway.

    - Carbs: The only part that really makes me say "hmmmm." Part of it is that the 250R was so finicky about any temperature under 65. Are these as cold natured as the 250R?
    But on the bright side, there's only the one - you don't have to synch carbs. I've not had a problem with it and have ridden down into the high 20's on this bike. Keep in mind I did not have intervening experience on a fuel injected bike. It might bother me if I did, but I don't know what I'm missing because I never owned a FI bike.

    - Lots of tricked out, low mileage bikes on CraigsList: Why do I keep seeing these things with 2000-3000 miles, with lots of aftermarket toys, hard cases, corbin seats, doohickeys and battle-cages, up for sale? Do they quickly lose their luster for most riders?
    I have no idea. I love mine so much I intend to ride it until it dies, and then I might salvage it with a 685 kit and ride it until THAT dies. Some things I can think of: Too tall, fell over, got scared; don't like the single and decided to get an F800GS; bought the bike primarily as a second ride for taking off pavement and then never used it.

    - Any particular things I should consider in switching from a modestly-powered sport-tourer/faired standard/entry level sportbike/whatever the heck a 650R is? My test ride told me a lot, and I was able to take it out for about a 20 mile spin that included residential, freeway, and some 2-lane sweepers, and it seemed more than competent for everything I want to do (aside from the Cee Bailey turbulence generator where the windshield should have been). Just wondering if there's anything I may not have considered?
    The farkle list is endless. I've seen the KLR described as the cheapest platform upon which to build your ideal adventure tourer, but you'll blow a ton of money in farkles accomplishing that. New rear shock, etc. None of these things are NECESSARY. I'm a n00b to dual sporting and find the totally stock bike to be completely suitable for my wimpy attempts at riding off pavement. I do have engine guards on there, and before I get much more vigorous in my off-road attempts, will put on a real metal skid plate and something to protect the radiator. These are not cheap.

    Two other things: Unless you are content with tiny little enduro saddlebags, you'll need racks to have saddlebags, and that can get pricey unless you know someone who welds and can build you something which you can bolt some ammo cans onto; Also, the bike does not come stock with a center stand and there have been complaints about the aftermarket ones available, which use the foot peg bolts, weakening those bolts and potentially making them unsafe to stand on while riding in the dirt. It's suggested that you find something other than a center stand to service your chain.

    - How are they on insurance?
    Cheap! Way cheaper than my ninjette, actually. Part of this may be that I have a few years of motorcycle ownership during which I have not crashed, but it seems like the KLR is reasonably cheap to insure.

    - Anyone ever taken one on multi-day trips? Yes, I know the engine is not going to give me that smooth Gold-wing feel, but the riding position feels all-day comfortable, and there's no need to exceed 75 for those who don't like performance awards. It really seems like a great do-it-all-very-cheaply sort of bike, and I LOVE the ergos (like a custom tailored suit).
    I keep meaning to, but my ear infection has not yet cooperated; I don't want to camp and sleep on the cold ground while still battling an ear infection so I keep delaying my planned trip. I know that plenty of people do it. In spite of the single cylinder, I find this bike so amazingly comfortable, though. The vast swaths of leg room make it so.

    Anything else I should know about them?
    Sometimes they've been known to slowly shake loose their fasteners. You'll need a torque wrench so you can check it over every couple thousand miles. Other than that, they are quite possibly the easiest things on earth to maintain?

    Re: What Jo said about Derick's assessment of the seat: I'd agree with this. There's a point early in my long rides where I get grumpy about the seat, but then it doesn't get any worse like it did on my ninjette. I don't have specific complaints about the seat. I do have a sheepskin-covered gel pad on there. It adds height, but it also adds enough comfort that it's worth it to have to tip-toe.
    This space intentionally left blank.

    Quote Originally Posted by kwjones View Post
    You squeed before 7am. That ain't right.

  5. #5
    Contributor We've stopped counting... Overcaffeinated's Avatar
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    Oh, one more thing: The combination of the hand guards and the fender have been known to catch the wind on the highway, if the wind is hitting at just the right angle or when you're passing a truck, and cause the front end to shimmy ever so slightly. It doesn't cause a tank slapper - if you experience THAT, there's something wrong - but there are things you can do to cut down on it. Some people change the front fender, some people change the hand guards, and some people air up the tires to the maximum level and then air them back down before pulling onto the dirt road. I have a nice little foot pump that can air up/down tires easily at the side of the road with no other tools needed, so I'm in this camp - I LIKE the hand guards and the shimmying never bothered me. I believe you said the one you rode had some aftermarket clamps on the forks, too? That is another thing people do to cut down on the shimmy. It's on my maybe list as far as future farkles go.
    This space intentionally left blank.

    Quote Originally Posted by kwjones View Post
    You squeed before 7am. That ain't right.

  6. #6
    They're tall!
    --
    M.I.T.G.C #11

    Current bike: '11 Ducati MTS1200S, '08 WR250X
    Bikes I have owned: '06 Sprint ST, '06 KTM 950 SM, '03 KLR 650

  7. #7
    Contributor We've stopped counting... Overcaffeinated's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by expatbrit View Post
    They're tall!
    Yes. Yes they are.

    To the point that they can be tricky to dismount if you have a rear bag. The only thing I genuinely dislike about mine is that I can't get off the godsdamned thing without an embarrassing little dance.
    This space intentionally left blank.

    Quote Originally Posted by kwjones View Post
    You squeed before 7am. That ain't right.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Afflo View Post
    OK... Many of you probably know I've been weighing swapping the Ninja for one of these for a while. Taking a test ride over the weekend on one really hit it home... I want it! Will probably make my move in the next 2-3 months.

    I have some questions about them though.

    - The Doohickey: Is it fixed on the '08+ models? I still s
    ee people talking about them, but a part of me wonders if it's the makers of the aftermarket doohickey replacements trying to stir things up.
    My belief is that it is not, mainly because that would heave meant admitting it was bad in the first place.

    - Oil Burning: What's the story here? Is it a serious issue (i.e. engine is slowly killing itself - er, prematurely killing itself, since all engines are slowly killing themselves, amiright?) Is it just an annoyance, i.e. make sure to check the oil, because they're known for burning it.
    My '03 burned oil at highway speeds. The newer ones are reputed to do it more, in some cases. (I met a guy with an '09 who had installed a 685 kit in order to get around that particular issue, since his was 'a burner'. I checked my oil pretty often, and it was worth it -- especially if I did anything at the 75mph are. Re-gearing would probably have been smart, but I didn't understand about doing that then.

    - Lots of tricked out, low mileage bikes on CraigsList: Why do I keep seeing these things with 2000-3000 miles, with lots of aftermarket toys, hard cases, corbin seats, doohickeys and battle-cages, up for sale? Do they quickly lose their luster for most riders?
    I think a LOT of people see them as what they want, add all the bits, then realise they don't do that sort of riding. To be honest, that's what happened to me. I didn't do even fire roads, and didn't have any particular desire to do so and it was going to be tough to build the KLR into what I wanted (which was a sportier bike). I wanted hard luggage, I was a n00b, and I didn't figure out how to change all the bits out and farkle.

    Maybe that's losing the lustre; I think it's as much people not judging their own expectations correctly when they buy a 'toy'. If they're 'serious' off-roaders the KLR is said to be a big heavy, and I hear folks going to the lighter/more powerful KTMs (for far more money). The people who dig them -- DIG them.

    - Any particular things I should consider in switching from a modestly-powered sport-tourer/faired standard/entry level sportbike/whatever the heck a 650R is? My test ride told me a lot, and I was able to take it out for about a 20 mile spin that included residential, freeway, and some 2-lane sweepers, and it seemed more than competent for everything I want to do (aside from the Cee Bailey turbulence generator where the windshield should have been). Just wondering if there's anything I may not have considered?
    Front end dive. The front end will DIIIIIVE. It also won't stop like what you're used to, though adding stainless brake lines will help there. Nothing earth-shattering, but it's going to be a different riding experience -- which is what you're looking for.

    Also, as OC said, they seem to be the farkle capital of the world. You can add a ludicrous amount of stuff to them, since they've been around so long.

    Anything else I should know about them?

    (PS, Nobody tell me that they're tall. )
    They're still tall. That's a GOOD thing.
    --
    M.I.T.G.C #11

    Current bike: '11 Ducati MTS1200S, '08 WR250X
    Bikes I have owned: '06 Sprint ST, '06 KTM 950 SM, '03 KLR 650

  9. #9
    Flirting With The Redline 6000 Posts! Afflo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Overcaffeinated View Post
    Yes. Yes they are.

    To the point that they can be tricky to dismount if you have a rear bag. The only thing I genuinely dislike about mine is that I can't get off the godsdamned thing without an embarrassing little dance.
    The one I rode had a three piece luggage "set.". I swung my leg over and climbed on and did the opposite to get off. I hope I was doing it right. I'd hate to know that there was a requisite dance that I failed to do.

    (The owner showed me his technique of using the peg as a step while it's on the stand. I just shrugged and got on normally)

    I noticed the front end dive... It felt a lot like the 250 under hard braking. it took a LOT of squeezing - the twofinger bit didn't work as well. Also, that thing has a LOT of engine braking. Noticed that as well.

    The vibes weren't that bad - nowhere near as shaky as a Ulysses or Sportster. There were some vibes at highway speed, but not bad.
    2011 Triumph America, made perfect with another Corbin Seat.
    (sold) '08 Ninja 650R with super-comfy Corbin seat
    (sold) '06 Ninja 250R, possibly best learning-bike ever.

    "For me it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."
    - Carl Sagan - "The Demon-Haunted World" - fantastic read!

  10. #10
    Contributor We've stopped counting... Overcaffeinated's Avatar
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    I do not have any complaints about the front brake's stopping ability. You really do need to squeeze the hell out of it, more so than on most bikes, but it's not as weak as the whiners would have you think. I don't consider it a danger, anyway. I practice braking, so that may have something to do with it, but when I took my ERC I was out-performing other bikes easily. The dive can make the bike hard to "catch" when you're practicing quick stops. It stops and then bounces back up and tries to knock you off your feet. At the same time, your body is being thrown forward. Something to practice and prepare for.

    I can't master the whole standing on the peg while dismounting thing. I don't like the side stand. Don't trust it. I've seen a few different theories on what to do - some folks shorten the side stand so that the bike leans further and settles onto it easier (it's really hard to un-compress the suspension and let the bike settle before beginning to dismount because the seat is so tall) but others note, accurately, that it's actually MORE topple-prone with the shorter side stand because a greater amount of the already top-heavy weight is out beyond the third "leg" of the tripod, where it's unstable. The correct solution would be to rebuild the whole thing and create something with the same length as the stock side stand but more angle out away from the bike when it's down (hope that makes sense - I don't know how else to describe what I mean) but that's just a ridiculous amount of effort. Point is, I always feel like it's about to topple over until it's settled onto the side stand, but it's not settled onto the side stand until I'm most of the way off of it, therefore I want one foot on the ground, hence my embarrassing little dance.

    ...you're not missing much, not having to do that.
    This space intentionally left blank.

    Quote Originally Posted by kwjones View Post
    You squeed before 7am. That ain't right.

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