I have a KLR with the Sputnik combination and an 01 Dakar unhacked. I think the Dakar will be a fine bike. As to the steering, it is heavier but not unmanageable. It is a light bike. You could swap to a regular GS front wheel which will steepen the steering angle if you wanted and make it a little easier to steer. In theory it would also handle the side forces better than a 21" wheel.
But that is all just theory. I just ride the hell out of mine and haven't done much to it. This winter I would love to respring everything so it doesn't wallow, and do the steerite (or similar) conversion.
Enjoy your rig.
I wonder where that road goes?