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Old 01-05-2014, 12:30 PM   #1
c-m OP
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Considering a KLE500

I'm currently ride a F650 Dakar, yet I've recently found myself thinking about a KLE500.

I've had the Dakar just over 6 months and done two tours (one 2-up) and some 6,000 miles. It's more than i've done on any of my other bikes over such a short time period. I like it well enough but the KLE has caught my eye.

I used to own a GPZ500 back in 2008 and did over 5,000miles on that (some of it 2-up) to the black sea coast and back. It was a ball, and the bike was good fun.

As I'm into a bit of dirt these days the KLE seems like an interesting choice. Firstly it's the same (wet) weight as the Dakar (+/- 5kg) The later holds more fuel but the KLE hold more oil and have longer service intervals (more than double on the valves) and from what I remember of the GPZ servicing is easier and cheaper.

Going back to carbs would be a drag, but the KLE once properly sorted would give similar fuel economy (the GPZ was magnificent in this regard).

My riding at the moment is 95% street, 5% dirt, but that dirt portion is growing, and will grow even further when I venture outside of Europe.

I often ride with a pillion (50kg), and she really loves the comfort of the Dakar, but I find it so-so at 80mph on the motorway.

I don't really see any point in modding the Dakar. Might as well buy an xChallenge (if you can find one), but the KLE seems highly mod-able, and it doesn't seem that hard to get some extra power out of it too.

So a couple of questions.

1) Am I mad? (haha don't answer that)
2) Is it difficult to get hold of a full replacement exhaust for the KLE?
3) Have you guys managed to add a little more fuel capacity to the KLE?
4) Any other thoughts?
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Old 01-05-2014, 01:44 PM   #2
Lion BR
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4) Any other thoughts?
Yes, what about Honda's CB500X?
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Old 01-05-2014, 02:25 PM   #3
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Well it's at least 2,000 more expensive than an 05+ KLE and would still need modding. 17" cast wheels would be a problem, and the lower seat height.

It's pretty similar on weight as stock, but a modded KLE would be more powerful and lighter, and still cost less.
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:09 PM   #4
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I love my KLE for what I use it for, 70/30 60/40 road/dirt. You can't find a cheaper more capable bike that ticks a lot of the boxes it does. It does nothing great, it just does it all well and I ride around pinching myself that I got such a great bike for the price. Parallel twin, six speed, good suspension travel, good ground clearance, can carry plenty of gear, 21" spoked front, it ticks all those boxes. I call it my poor mans GS800.

I also like like it cause it's a bit rare in Aus, and also has a bit of nestalger being both a Aus Safari and Dakar bike, albeit without much success. If only the manufactures would bring out a budget twin adventure now that has the KLE's sort of specs.

But, I think you may be overestimating how well it performs. I think it would take a lot of work to make it more powerfull than a 650, they heavily detune including cams down from the GPZ500.
I think the modern CB500X motor would always be smoother and more powerful.

I can't see the KLE being any better at 80mph on the motorway 2 up, in fact I don't really even enjoy 80mph one up.
Exhausts are easily fitted and there is a couple purpose built, I would say that alone added up to 5 hp on mine, 4kg lighter and sounds heaps better.
A rear tank or carry bladder or bottle seems only way to add fuel.

I think you need to ride one to see if you think it better than the Dakar, but I'm saying it would be marginal.
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BygDaddee screwed with this post 01-05-2014 at 05:39 PM
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:15 PM   #5
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Yes, what about Honda's CB500X?
No, An NC750X
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:32 PM   #6
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1) No
2) No
3) No
4) See below

The KLE500 is an excellent adventure bike, certainly very capable on dirt/trails and great on the highway too.

The six speed gearbox and twin cylinder engine make it nicer to ride than any of the similar size thumpers (such as the KLR650/DR650).

The fuel capacity issue can be overcome with the installation of Rotopax or PegPacker jerry cans, I am going to look at adapting a 20-25 litre after market fuel tank off something else at some stage in the future (my 7.5 litre Rotopax does the job for now though).

I've had blokes on Beemers following me who have commented on how well the KLE rides over the rough stuff, one even said he thought it was doing better than his GSA..

Putting 10 psi in the front fork legs made a big difference to the ride on mine, got a mate who puts 15 psi in his.... just make sure you only use a hand pump, not a compressor or service station gauge.

The KLE runs spoked rims and has a 21" front wheel, there is an excellent range of tyres from full tar to full knobbies available ( I run Mitas E07's or Mefo Explorers on mine, very good for the 50/50 riding I do, and I also run the E07's on my Wee-Strom).

Crash bars and luggage racks can be found for them as well, so setting up for touring can be done fairly easily too.

I have found my KLE handles dirt noticeably better than my KLR650 did, and capable of keeping up with the 650 class bikes on the road.
Handling on winding roads is excellent (and fun ).

Overall they are a very underrated bike and it is a shame Kawasaki didn't continue them and upgrade to a 650 capacity engine with fuel injection in basically the same frame/wheels format.
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:18 PM   #7
Lion BR
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No, An NC750X
You got me there. I thought you would recommend the 1200GS.
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:19 PM   #8
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Too bad we don't have the KLE here...
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Old 01-06-2014, 02:59 AM   #9
Ockrocket
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Packed for a weekend away....


And I kept up with these guys on the tar and the dirt.


At the start of the weekend they ragged me for not taking my Wee-Strom instead of the KLE500.
By the end of the weekend they were commenting on how good the KLE performed and handled.


Racks [stainless steel made by another KLE owner for his bike, which he subsequently sold minus the racks, alloy bash plate and StainTune muffler- that I've not yet fitted to my bike].



Bash plate.
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Old 01-06-2014, 04:35 AM   #10
c-m OP
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It's kind of a sideways move that's for sure. I've got a 2001 F650 Dakar. If I had a 2004+ then I probably wouldn't even consider it, but the 01 is a bit long in the tooth these days. If I did it I'd be looking a newer 05-07 model though they don't come up for sale too often.

The KLE seems a lot more customisable, and the parts seem much cheaper. Aftermarket BMW parts seem to command a premium for some reason. Servicing the BMW is a pain. To add coolant you have to start by removing the left indicator (WTF?)


They share the same front end as the Z1000 meaning there's a ton of aftermarket screen options and the lights are decent. One of the main complaints of the Dakar is buffeting and turbulence mainly due to the wind coming in around the sides of the screen.

A full exhaust system (no cats) would save at least 5kg (probably a bit more). A DNA filter along with a drilled airbox and jetted accordingly should see close to a 15bhp increase. Giving it slightly more power than a stock Dakar. More importantly the weight is lower.

The seat would have to go. The GPZ seat was woeful after 200miles and this seat appears worse.

I wouldn't be that concerned about the tank size. My GPZ (19litres) often ran to over 286 miles two up.

I'd need also need to add a centre stand
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