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Old 11-25-2012, 11:36 AM   #1
Parepin OP
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Resurrecting Janis - Creating the indestructible KLR

I'm gonna throw this on here in hopes that this whole experience I've been going through over the past year or so might help or inspire my fellow KLR owners to improve on what is already a fairly solid machine. I've owned my KLR, affectionately known as "Janis", for several years now. She's surprised me more than once on what this pig of a dirtbike can do, where she can ride, and just how much of a beating she can take while thanking me and asking for another serving. However, I reached a point in my travels when she just couldn't take it any more. "Enough is enough" she told me. I didn't listen. And so she sent a message that I hard a hard time ignoring.

"I quit"


So, yeah. Kinda hard to coax the old steed back to life when you're thrown clean off into the thorny desert landscape. The backbone had broken in half just in front of the upper engine mount, and the downtube sheared off between the two radiator mounts.



I still can't figure out what led to this, or how I hadn't noticed anything up until the moment of self destruction. I had heard of a few frame issues here and there through the forums. Cracks forming along various factory joints, a cracked backbone here and there. Well, I've now dealt with them all, plus a few. The only thing I can figure is, simply enough, she's lived a hard life. I flipped 'er end over end a few summers ago, destroying everything from the seat up, amongst many other unnecessary get-offs, not to mention I simply keep this bike loaded down. Fully loaded and with me in the saddle, we rang in at damn near 760lbs. This weight doesn't seem to slow me down, however. I find myself crossing boulder strewn creek crossings, flying up and down embankments, and getting airborn much more often than I really should be.



So I guess it's no real surprise that, after nearly a hundred thousand miles, Janis would throw her hypothetical hands in the air, scream at the heavens as I pound on the bars before dropping to her knees and throwing me into the desert, some 14 miles from camp. Alright, Janis, I get the message.

And with that, I began formulating a plan. One that wouldn't come to pass for nearly another year. I hitchhiked back into town and found a man with a truck. Several days later, I would pay him to cart me back out into the desert to pick up the pieces that a local farmer was nice enough to store for me in a shed out behind the goat pasture. We grabbed every bit of Janis, tucked her away neatly in a four foot truck bed and meandered through the mountains and back into town. By the next afternoon, she would be suspended from a steel I-beam by chain and stitched back together with sliced chunks of scrap sewage line. I really wanted to be there for the reassembly, and insisted that the mechanic wait for me, but he did what he wanted to. In the end, I got a rideable machine, but the frame was far from straight and the engine never went back in quite the same way again.











I even managed to find a man to weld my radiator back together, which I thought was absolutely amazing. The crash had shredded the bottom of the radiator clean off, leaving a two inch hole. The man was able to fill it in, spending entirely too much time and effort making sure that it was water tight. I truly appreciate the effort put into this, seeing as I had few alternatives.

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Old 11-25-2012, 12:24 PM   #2
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How many miles on the bike when this happened?
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:02 PM   #3
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The bike handled fine on the road, despite the crooked backbone. You wouldn't even know it was tweaked except for a few factors. With my hands off the bars, it liked to drift a bit. The engine REALLY didn't want to line up with the engine mounts, and apparently when riding behind me, you could see the front wheel offset from the rear pretty obviously. This didn't really slow me down much, as I was still able to drag pegs through corners and maintain high speed travel without too much instability. As the months continued on, however, the stress on the frame was becoming increasingly evident. In Lewiston, Idaho, I noticed that my upper engine mounting plates had broken in two. I remade them with much thicker steel and wedged everything back into alignment. I also noticed a few cracks in the powdercoat where the two rear vertical members hooked up with the tail end of the backbone. Now these were just cracks in the powdercoat, as far as I could tell, but this surely signified some movement in the frame. So I took this chance to go in and add some welds to the frame here and there. I called it good.

I continued on for a few more days, making a run from Lewiston, Idaho to visit my buddy in Vernal, Utah. Slab nearly the entire way, I ended up pushing through on one of the hottest days I've experienced. 860 miles in one day, and I was absolutely fried. As was my rear tire.





As I sat on the curb at a rest area, pondering my predicament, I took the opportunity to drain my airbox hose of the remainder of it's collected blow-by, which had been dripping for several miles now and coated my rear brake disk, essentially disabling my rear brake. It's here that I noticed a few more cracks along the welds just below the footpegs, where several framing members joined together and were reinforced with a crudely stamped gusset. The crack extended along the weld and up around the upper frame member. Well... shit. I pushed on into Vernal and stopped by a local welding shop the next morning for a quick $10 fix.



Several weeks later I would find myself riding the mountain passes of Silverton, Colorado with my good buddy Jettin Jim. The RMAR rally had just packed up and I was left in the far corner of a nearly vacant campground. With the traffic greatly reduced on the high altitude trails, we took this opportunity to thrash. We crossed several passes, sometimes four in one run. I attacked terrain I had never seen before, and chased high mountain sheep through alpine territory. I railed as hard as I dare, and then even harder still. 'If things aren't failing, I can ride harder' is the mentality I seemed to take in.

Back at camp, I borrowed some shop time from the owners of the camp ground to address some electrical issues. That's when I made a discovery.



Yup


So I managed to pull Janis apart just enough to get some solid access to the broken member. The subframe came off in one piece, with the exhaust and airbox included. And then I see this...



The owner of the Campground happened to be a retired structural welder, and gave me a lesson on the thought behind how he was going to attack this problem. How he would tack it, then fill, and extend some welds across any existing fractures to keep them from expanding further. Ugly welds, but appearance isn't exactly what I'm going for.... in case you couldn't tell. The more I searched, the more I found cracks in nearly every weld and joint.















Some of these were just cracks in the powdercoat, while others were obviously a separation of the welds. Either way, some preventative measures were needed and so I simply went to town with the welder. Well... I didn't.... the dude did (Jim?)

A day spent in the garage and I was back on the road while the fumes of burnt powdercoat were still dancing in the rafters above. We're good for now, but I'm gonna hafta keep tabs on this. A plan was formulating. A plan of attack. I would just need the right time and the right place.
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myfuture_yourdebt View Post
How many miles on the bike when this happened?
I would have to estimate somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60K
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:49 PM   #5
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Awsome, interesting thread.Keep it going.
I counted 14 teeth on your front sprocket, tell me your not pounding out big slab miles with the 14 tooth sprocket ?
Anyway, keep it up, this is what the Klr is all about.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:40 PM   #6
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No weld that works and stays stuck is ugly, it's just not pretty.
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parepin View Post


Wow!! I did that to my old XR600r. Still dont know how it happened as I didnt hit that hard but the bike buckled under me, sending me off into the cactus! Nothing feels as bad as that moment when you stand back up and start to walk back to you bike and see that!

I'll give you one thing, you dont give up. That is a truely unique trait that alot of people, no matter how long they try, can not gain. Keep it up man, good travels.
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:18 PM   #8
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Are you the guy in that famous pic walking his front end down atrail in Baja? It looks like the same bike.
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:35 PM   #9
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Yes and the one taken in the bathroom at a motel.







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Old 11-25-2012, 07:37 PM   #10
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Fucking doo hickeys!


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Old 11-25-2012, 08:10 PM   #11
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Wow, what an adventure, Once those frames get brittle, they are telling you it is time for a replacement. I would bet that you will soon start to see fractures right next to each or most of the welds.

I have had a number of kawasaki products that have broken their frames , and after repairing them is was like clockwork that another crack or break would pop up.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:25 PM   #12
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If you don’t get it strait it will continue to tear its self apart
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GAS GUY View Post
Awsome, interesting thread.Keep it going.
I counted 14 teeth on your front sprocket, tell me your not pounding out big slab miles with the 14 tooth sprocket ?
Anyway, keep it up, this is what the Klr is all about.
You, sir, impress me with your powers of observation. NORMALLY, I bounce between a 16 and 14 tooth. This was, indeed, a 14 tooth used in the mountains around Silverton, Co. Currently, I'm using a 15 tooth as it's all I had available to me at the time. It works out well, though. Revs a little higher than I'd like, but I'm comfortable with it. Just a few days ago I made a 6 hr run along I-10. I just set the throttle lock at 5500 RPM/ 70ish and lounged for a while.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RalphyDo View Post
Wow!! I did that to my old XR600r. Still dont know how it happened as I didnt hit that hard but the bike buckled under me, sending me off into the cactus! Nothing feels as bad as that moment when you stand back up and start to walk back to you bike and see that!

I'll give you one thing, you dont give up. That is a truely unique trait that alot of people, no matter how long they try, can not gain. Keep it up man, good travels.
Heh, thanks. I guess I don't know how to give up in some instances. It can be a good and a bad thing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Reposado1800 View Post
Are you the guy in that famous pic walking his front end down atrail in Baja? It looks like the same bike.
Yeah... that's me. That's gotta be my second most popular photo...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Treadless View Post
Yes and the one taken in the bathroom at a motel.
Second only to this one.

You know, I've done other things with my life. Great things. Fantastic things. I'm drawing a blank right now, but things were done. Awesome things......

Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzzly View Post
If you don’t get it strait it will continue to tear its self apart
Stay tuned...
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:29 PM   #14
GoNOW
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That frame is done for. Vibration, stress, and time will weaken it and it will keep cracking and breaking. No amount of welding and patching will keep it fixed. Time to swap the frame out.

Or weld up your own out of appropriate steel. This looks about right for a KLR.
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:55 PM   #15
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with the weight of the bikes i thought the frames would be solid. would it not be a good idea to get a new frame and then brace it.
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