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Old 05-30-2003, 05:08 PM   #1
Stephen OP
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KLR: Crap or Junk?

What with all (or should I say "both") the recent threads about catastrophic failures suffered by new KLR 650s, it seems appropriate to share a few thoughts I've had on the matter.

First off, I'll add my voice to the outrage over the level of service offered by the dealers and Kawasaki. Disgraceful. Contemptful and contemptible, and utterly without excuse. Pissed me off and I didn't even have a dog in that fight.

On to the bikes, and to the question, "Crap or Junk?" After spending a little over a year and 13,000 miles on my KLR, I can say that it is definitely crap. Or maybe junk. I mean, the KLR is an odd beast, even for a dual sport. It is certainly, by heritage and form, a dirt bike at heart. The frame is dirt; the geometry is dirt; the ergos are dirt. But the bike is way to big and heavy for real dirt, and it's got all these streetly parts and styling accents.

Its second greatest flaw is the key to its best feature. As it is not optimized, it is quite versatile, and so, in the real world, it serves quite well. Its number one flaw, however, yields real pain at only slight advantage. As it is very economically engineered and built, it is relatively cheap, but it is simply not a very well-thought-out bike. The parts are crude and the assembly haphazard. And so we are sold a bike that is too heavy and sloppy to perform its nominal mission, and too tall to do what it's actually used for very well. Add to that the complete lack of development of the bike since it came out (okay, they did two bug-fixes) twenty years ago, and all we are left with is very low unit costs that are largely not passed on in savings to the buyer. Kinda pathetic, what?

On the plus side, it's the only reasonably priced midsize bike out there that can do 600-mile days and then hit the dirt with any degree of comfort. A few inexpensive and simple modifications transform most of the way to what it should have been in the first place--a 1967 Triumph Daytona that doesn't shake itself and its owner to bits. It should have been a midweight road bike that wasn't confined to pavement. It should have carried its weight lower, it should have had six inches of suspension travel, it should have had a wide flat saddle and a 19-inch front wheel, regular fenders, a less-grotesque tank, and a whole lot less plastic junk on it.

Now, instead of trying to improve the bike, Kawasaki moved production to an inexperienced (I'm trying to be nice here) facility in order to widen their already substantial margins on this model, and Bad Things have happened. And now the prevailing wisdom is shifting the Venerable KLR from the junk category to the crap slot.

What's the wannabe adventure rider to do? Will his feeble voice be heard? Is the situation hopeless? The answers are "plenty", "no", and "of course not." I am startled that amidst all the hand-wringing and reticence about a first year bike that is the product of a GP-caliber engineering effort--I speak of the KTM 950--I've not heard anyone apply analogous logic to the KLR. The problem with a first-production bike is that the model is untested. The problem with a poorly engineeered or assembled model is that the individual bikes are untested. The solution is the same: let some other fool go first.

I can't imagine buying a new KLR. Five grand for a bike like that is not cheap. But look at what they bring a year and a few thousand miles later--there's always one for sale for $3500 that's practically new, and perfectly good ones that don't even need a valve adjustment yet for a grand less than that. Half price for bike that you know won't blow its mains or big end or clutch. And you obviate the whole dealer problem, too, because you're not dependent on his and Kawasaki's warranty policies and parts pipeline.

So, the KLR is cheap junk, but only if you buy used. Otherwise, its crap, or at best a crapshoot.
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Old 06-01-2003, 09:59 PM   #2
Roadwarrior
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If you find a good used one for $2500 then by all means. Especially a made in the USA 99 or older. I cannot recomend buying a new, or near new one though. You would be better off with an XR650, or a DR650. Sad thing is the KLR could be an awsome tourer, but it isn't. Read StrikingVikings problems. He had a KLR grenade on him in south america, and give electrical problems back home. He now rides a BMW.
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Old 06-01-2003, 10:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Said Roadwarrior:
Read StrikingVikings problems. He had a KLR grenade on him in south america, and give electrical problems back home. He now rides a BMW.
not to mention the fact that he wouldn't get the bitchin' babes with the KLR like he does with the BMW







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Old 06-02-2003, 08:48 AM   #4
Stephen OP
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Quote:
Said fish:
not to mention the fact that he wouldn't get the bitchin' babes with the KLR like he does with the BMW
Troo dat, Icthus. Maybe even worse than you think: a SYT came up to me at the grocery store and said, "Oh, what are those little plastic hand things? They look cute."

That's great. Bloody cute handguards. Cute. Yeah, that's the look I'm tryin' for. In rare fit of vanity, I took'em off.

Fortunately, I got babe already, so I can afford a disgustingly practical bike. Cute. Take me now, jeebus.
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Old 06-02-2003, 08:59 AM   #5
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?

Do you have one of these problem bikes or are you just Kawasaki Bashing?
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Old 06-02-2003, 09:24 AM   #6
AndrewH
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Re: ?

Quote:
Said digbum:
Do you have one of these problem bikes or are you just Kawasaki Bashing?
He Chris, let me entroduce you to my bro in Austin, Stephen.
You ought to get a dialogue going with him regarding all the mods hes done to his KLR...simple stuff which has greatly improved the performance.

How's the baby doing?
I've got Boddington's in the fridge if your ready for that beer.
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Old 06-02-2003, 10:39 AM   #7
scorch
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Oh I dunno. I kinda like the klr :)


Kawasaki really needs to get off their ass and upgrade and revise the klr. It has so much potential.
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Old 06-02-2003, 11:12 AM   #8
Stephen OP
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Re: ?

Quote:
Said digbum:
Do you have one of these problem bikes or are you just Kawasaki Bashing?
Neither.

I have a 97 KLR that's only suffered tire and chain failures, both entirely attributable to the saddle/handlebar interface. I like it pretty well. It is amazingly competent.

Kaw has been doing a fabulous job of bashing themselves, so I wouldn't dream of butting in.

On the one hand, the KLR just is what it is, which ain't a KTM or a BMW, which is fine. On the other hand, it ain't what it is, cuz what it is don't do what it almost does. In other words, it fails to manifest its dharma-nature. Dig?

I'm probably mostly bashing the notion of buying new motorcycles, though I'm necessarily glad somebody does. I mostly hear three reasons folks buy new:
1. I gotta have latest/greatest.
2. I want a bike that I know will be reliable.
3. I want a warranty.

Number one is perfectly legit, and most who feel this way know about the bleeding edge and accept it. Number two is a fantasy that just doesn't match up with history. Number three is equivalent to relying on conspicuity for to keep from getting in a wreck.

This is not jihad; there is no moral issue for the buyer here. I'm just talkin' about what happens. There is a moral issue for manufacturers and dealers; yes, a new bike should be usable, and a warranty should be honored--and done damn quick. Is this the way it happens?
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Old 06-02-2003, 11:36 AM   #9
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I had a 1997 KLR 650, put 13k on it before I sold it. Never standed me, it "Tumbled" down a steep hill I wiped out on, road it home ( had to replace most plastic, tank, handlebars). I did add a better skid plate, radiator guards, disabled sidestand, replaced glass fuses with relays, 1 tooth smaller front sproket, braided front brake line and upgraded pads. There is a weakness in the cam chain tensioner, I heard there is a kit to fix it. Mine did everything I wanted to do, Any bike made has lemons, a person usually only hears about the lemons on ther internet.
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Old 01-14-2015, 07:19 AM   #10
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You just dredged a 12 year old thread.
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Old 01-14-2015, 07:20 AM   #11
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Why is this in "Beasts"? The KLR is a thumper!
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Old 01-14-2015, 07:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GtiKyle View Post


You just dredged a 12 year old thread.
Seems he's on a dredging mission...

http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...=126103&page=9
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Old 01-14-2015, 08:03 AM   #13
Nessman
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Originally Posted by brucifer View Post
Seems he's on a dredging mission...

http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...=126103&page=9
Up late, a few beers...start researching using the search feature....a few more beers and forget that the posts you're reading are crusty....BOOM, you've poked a zombie.

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Old 01-14-2015, 08:17 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by randomride View Post
Why is this in "Beasts"? The KLR is a thumper!
Similar weight???
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Old 01-14-2015, 08:43 AM   #15
VikB
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Originally Posted by lorraine78 View Post
its a very poorly made and poorly designed bike i totally agree, this new edition klr has been shockingly made, yes its a heavy old donkey that is underpowered and needs to be put down.
You forgot to mention it's one of the best selling donkeys.
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