cheap skate KLR build for long distance touring

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Flys Lo, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. Flys Lo

    Flys Lo cool hand fluke

    May 4, 2009
    between my last drink and my next one
    Ok, fellow tight-ass KLR owners (yes, I am talking to you :D ), I have purchased a 2008 KLR w/ around 27k miles on it.
    Has a number of farkles already.
    • Doohickey done...Eagle Mike kit
    • Happy Trails OSR racks
    • Happy Trails Paris Dakar Nerf Bars
    • Happy Trails Highway pegs
    • Happy Trails engine guard
    • Moose offset foot pegs
    • Heavy duty shift lever
    • Risers
    • ABS tool tube

    Maintenance wise:
    • New battery
    • TKC-80's with 50% left
    • Oil changed at least every 2K
    • Kawi recall work done...wire harness/muffler bolts/turn signals
    • Rings changed under warranty and cylinder polished @ excessive oil burn
    • New chain and sprockets. 16 tooth front 43 rear.
    • Brake pads changed and still plenty left
    • Hasn't had valve clearances checked yet (which I guessing... not familiar with KLR's... but assume given the miles they need to be checked)

    Now, I am willing to spend ~2500 on this bike to get it to the following task (although lesser is betterer!)
    Next Fall I am doing a 6-8month trip through Central/South America with a buddy. I will be buying/building a 2008+ KLR for him to. Probably going to do lots of miles as we zigzag our way down (and back up to Rio). We (well, particularly him) aren't the most experienced off-road, but what we lack in experience, we will attempt to overcome with exuberance and arrogance :D
    Aim for the build:
    • Reliable
    • Cheap
    • Reliable
    • Practical
    • Reliable

    I am humbly seeking all of your fine folk's advice when it comes to:
    a. What I should spend my hard-earned on
    b. Little tricks that may result in less single syllable words rhyming with truck being uttered on the trip. I am a firm believer in the PPPPPPP principle.

    Things I am thinking I need to get/do on the bike(please advise if wrong):
    • New tires (what would you recommend for a 70/30 road/off-road split? - longevity would be key here)
    • Both front and rear wheels look straight, should I look towards going tubeless, particularly in the front?
    • Tank bag (the one on my beemer fits!)
    • GPS
    • Replacing the OSR racks with Pelican cases/mounts - soft bags on the OSR might mean that teeving locals (or fellow tight-ass KLR owners) might nick my stuff!
    • Check valve clearances
    • Alarmed disk brake lock and U-Bolt to lock the 2 bikes together
    • Inverter

    Parts/tools to carry with:
    • Clutch cable
    • Spark plug (and tool)
    • Vice grips
    • Tire spoons
    • Multi-grips
    • Adjustable spanner
    • Fuses
    • Bulbs
    • Spare oil
    • Screw drivers
    • Tire repair kit (tubeless and tube kits)
    • Spare tire tubes
    • Spare chain
    • Chain links (x3)
    • Chain breaker
    • Duct Tape
    • Cable ties
    • WD-40

    Right - have at it!
  2. hoyks

    hoyks Tightass KLR rider

    Jan 11, 2008
    I too like stock as much as possible, makes sourcing parts easier.

    It has had the ring work done, but I'd ride it at highway speeds for 1000km or so and see if it uses oil. Some do a bit, some a lot. Best fix is to get the cylinder off and bored out to a 685cc and drop in a forged piston. I'm told it also reduces the vibration a tad.

    Tyres, Dunlop D606 are good on all surfaces, long wearing, cheap and easy to come by. Tublis in the front is my long term plan, but they don't make one for the back so I sick with heavy duty tubes and a patch kit.

    A good H-duty bash plate is a good idea. Catching the drain plug on a rock or even a gutter will crack the case, possibly both halves and cut the trip short. The plastic one is a joke.

    Suspension: I'm a big fan of Ricor intiminators with stock springs in the front. Around the $300 mark and simple to fit. If you are tall enough, I would also go with some raising links as the give a bit more clearance as well as changing the rear shock/spring action, firming it all up so you can run a lower preload without bottoming out. They also let the bike sit on the side stand better so it is less likely to fall over.
    Fork braces are also a good idea I'm told.

    For screens, some will recomend all sorts, but none work 100%. Probably best to stick with the little one and learn to live with it.

    Centre stands. I have one and like it, but there have been a few stories of the attaching bolts shearing off...which also happen to be the bolts that hold the foot pegs on. Maybe skip one of those and come up with a plan B or use larger better quality bolts to fit it all.

    Valves are a shim type so the tank will have to come off, then the valve cover so you can measure it all and then swap the shims out. take care not to drop stuff into the engine. There are a few how to articles around on this one. A workshop manual would be handy too, there are some getting flogged on Ebay on CD which would make transporting it easy.

    12V outlet- run a lead from the battery to a 12v socket somewhere, makes charging phones or running GPS's easy. Don't expect too much from the system though, it only has a few amps to spare.

    Parts/tools to carry with:

    * Clutch cable Run the spare cable now and zip tie it in place, if the old one breaks then hook it up. Pack a spare brake and a clutch lever too.
    * Spark plug (and tool)
    * Vice grips
    * Tire spoons
    * Multi-grips
    * Adjustable spanner
    * Fuses
    * Bulbs
    * Spare oil
    * Screw drivers
    * Tire repair kit (tubeless and tube kits)
    * Spare tire tubes
    * Spare chain Fit new continuious quality chain and sprokets before leaving and carry only a few links and pins. New chains very rarely die.
    * Chain links (x3)for emergencies, never had much luck with them.
    * Chain breaker
    * Duct Tape
    * Cable ties
    * WD-40
    * Visa card
    add a small roll of 2.5mm fencing wire. Can be used to tie up all sorts of stuff. wire
  3. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi

    Nov 12, 2007
    South Texas
    -Fuses -both mainfuse and for under the seat - relocate the underseat ones if you can - saves taking the seat off and all that goes with that.
    -Clean and re-oil the front suspension.
    - Re-grease the swing arm.
    -Replace or take a spare set of 08+ throttle cables- had mine go out at 26k. A dual set - not the same as for the pre 08.
    - Definitely get the valves checked - mine had one at min at 2K.
    - Check/replace wheel bearings.
    - Uprgade the frame bolts.
    - Seat ok for you?
    - Definitely a good bash plate.
    - Spare handle bar levers
    - Spare brake pads if a lot of dirt riding is anticipated.
    - Check the right case/cover to see if they had not over machined the hole for the one idler gear shaft from the starter motor.
    - Consider by-passing the kickstand and clutch lever switches.
  4. cway

    cway Been here awhile

    May 1, 2009
    Metamora, Mi
    Run the crap out of it at extended highway speeds to see if it's going to use oil. I would probally at that milage go with a 685/705 kit.

    My 08 had new rings and piston at 3300mi and again at 30,000mi and you are cloce to that.
  5. XDragRacer

    XDragRacer Long timer

    Mar 25, 2009
    By all means, carry:

    You can even repair a radiator with this stuff.

    While spare clutch/brake levers seem prudent, handguards to protect same would be a good idea. Tusk products (with spoilers) meet your cheapskate criteria, and appear serviceable and effective.

    Moose markets a motorcycle-specific "multi-tool" with many useful gadgets, including the Allen keys you might need, plus valve stem tool. About $ 20 from Rocky Mountain ATV-MC.

    I'd throw in a 3/8"-drive ratchet, extension and sockets to fit common nuts/bolts.

    Haven't checked your list thoroughly; my recommendation may be redundant but--you'll need an air source in addition to your tire repair tools and expendables, including a patch kit, lubricant (e.g., dish soap).

    Kenda K270's remain, IMHO, the KLR cheapskate's dream tires. I'd FORGET ABOUT TUBELESS conversion myself; even under the best of conditions, I think running tubeless on spoked rims invites disaster for the travel you propose. HEAVY-DUTY tubes might increase your survivability, however.

    As mentioned by Tsotsie, a proper bash plate is essential, if any rocks may appear in your path.

    Don't know the duration or direction you have in mind; other than approaching RTW, the spare chain, sprockets, etc., may be wretched excess, IMHO. But, YOUR trip; only your peace-of-mind matters.

    Bon voyage!
  6. perterra

    perterra -. --- .--. .

    Sep 6, 2010
    A seat, spend some money on a seat. :lol3
  7. East Coast Rider

    East Coast Rider Just Me...

    Nov 8, 2007
    Stuck somewhere in motorcycle Purgatory
    :lol3 No kidding! No matter how nicely you have that bike set up, if your arse is screaming in pain 300 miles into 10,000 mile trip, everything sucks. And it will only get worse. Whatever you do to the seat, add an alaska leather sheepskin buttpad....and a vista cruise throttle lock to give your wrist a break on the long straight stretches.

    Unless your bike DRINKS oil, I wouldn't carry a bunch extra. Maybe half a quart, or a quart at the most...keep the wieght as low as possible.

    Here is what I have done/things I carry on trips:

    -Eagle Mike's doohickley
    - +1 tooth on CS for better highway RPMs
    -Thermobob installed
    -320mm brake rotor/dual piston caliper upgrade
    -vista cruise throttle lock
    -spare clutch and throttle cables zip tied to the cables already installed
    -RT emulators up front/stock fork springs up front, Cogent Dynamics MOAB Adventure shock for the rear
    -Blade fuse harnesses for main fuse, headlight & fan relay.
    -I leave on a fresh oil and filter change. If the trip is gonna be 6K or more, I carry a spare filter.
    -Also leave on freshly cleaned and oiled air filter. If I know I'll be in a lot of dust, I carry a spare freshly oiled filter in a double ziploc bag.
    -full compliment of tools in tool tube bolted to front of the frame. (including liquid steel/JB weld, eletrical tape, spare chain links and master link clips, zip ties, and a few spare nuts and bolts)

    I use soft luggage (wolfman at the monent, but getting a Giant Loop Coyote rear bag for future trips). IMHO, all those panniers and hard racks just add more weight to bike that is already a pig. Plus, the idea of getting my leg caught under a hard aluminum pannier if I go down does not appeal to me.
  8. CA Stu

    CA Stu Steer with your face! Super Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    Riverside, CA
    Avon Gripsters for tires.
    More expensive initially, but when you work out cost per mile, they are hard to beat.
  9. MotoBoss

    MotoBoss Bad Influence

    Apr 15, 2009
    Mid South Indiana
  10. Flys Lo

    Flys Lo cool hand fluke

    May 4, 2009
    between my last drink and my next one
    Ok, thanks for the suggestions!
    Not a bad idea. I am sure my bum will appreciate it later!
    Any suggestions?
    Good stuff there :)
    I like soft luggage - my concerns are that someone can just take a knife to it... given we are the "adventurous" type, this means we might be traveling in some unsavory areas.
    The former owner (also an inmate said that it would use oil, but not excessive).
    That said, the big-bore kit has some merits. Any recommendations for shops in the Los Angeles region that qould do it.
    That was what I was thinking too :)
    It already has the Happy Trails guard - I hope that should be sufficient.

    On the short ride I have had on the bike, the stock one seems fine. I have 2 spare screens for my beemer that I can fab some mounts up for though.
    I have a paper copy of the manual, but plan on getting a digital one to put on my usb stick for the trip.
    Will do.
    Can one re-wind the generator to get a few extra amps?
    I like your suggestions :)

    I will put a few miles on it and see how I go. There will be a proper "shakedown" test.

    Some great suggestions there!
    Solid suggestions there.

    I was thinking a Tublis on the front. Still no go in your opinion?
    My peace of mind will easily be fixed by a beer and some hot latino women - so it won't matter if I have to walk there :D
    Thanks. I will probably ship some tires out to the half-way point of our trip. Will keep these in mind :)
    Seat seems to be a common theme here.... what do you guys do with your asses that makes them so sore? :evil

    Thanks for the link though. Seems like some good bed-time reading.
  11. Trooper

    Trooper Been here awhile

    Oct 20, 2009
    Land of Fruits and Nuts.
    First aid kit with sutures for temp stitches. Bottle of rubbing alcohol for disinfecting wounds especially in the jungle.

  12. XDragRacer

    XDragRacer Long timer

    Mar 25, 2009
    We may have a nomenclature disconnect here; HT calls the piece mounted in front of the engine (upon which the road footpegs are attached) the "engine guard."

    The bash plate (or skid plate) is of solid aluminum and mounts underneath the engine cases; OEM version: plastic.

    Higher-output stators are available for KLR's; the later generation ('08 and later) have higher-output alternators than the previous models stock.
    I wouldn't go tubeless myself, with a spoked rim. YMMV!
  13. danketchpel

    danketchpel Long timer

    Jun 1, 2010
    Camarillo, CA
    I have been checking and the stators for the earlier bikes won't work as the ignition trigger is different.

    I did contact RM Stators and they told me they are working on a high output stator for the Gen 2 bikes. I indicated that it should be in 400w range to make sense.

    As for seats, I am pretty happy with my Sargent "flat" seat and would recommend it. There is NO way I'd take off on a long trip with the stock seat on that bike, period.

    I would definitely recommend bypassing the kickstand and clutch interlocks, especially the kickstand one as it gets all gunked up and when it quits, no starting it.

    I would also go through and retorque the bolts and use loctite on the critical ones, like motor mounts, the sub frame, exhaust mounts, and footpegs. The torque values on these bikes from the factory is all over the board so don't assume they are tight. Mine have varied from uber tight to nearly falling off.

    I agree, forget about tubeless, period, not worth it. Just run HD tubes and good pressure.

    Something else on these bikes, the radiator fan is not very well protected. If you dump it on the left side there is a good chance the fan will get hung up, F'd up, or whatever. Just be aware of it as they can be a bit fragile if crunched.
  14. mxh

    mxh Adventurer

    Nov 7, 2010
    Canadian Prairie
    I would change front sprocket back to OEM 15 tooth, with all the extra gear you won't regret it.
  15. Flys Lo

    Flys Lo cool hand fluke

    May 4, 2009
    between my last drink and my next one
    Got it - thanks for the clarification.
    We only need a high-output stator on one bike.
    One of my buddies is an electrical engineer, I will most likely get him to re-wind it for me.
    Great point.
  16. ShooterDave

    ShooterDave Adventurer

    May 30, 2009
    Do NOT use the 12volt outlet. Wire both the cell phone charger and the GPS plug directly into the bike. Run a separate cable from the battery, and install it with the ignition circuit so it goes off when you turn the bike off. If you have a compressor for your flats, then cut the wires and put some wire plugs on the end. Then put the mating plugs on the end of wires coming off your battery. That way you can still use the pump and not have an iffy connection.

    Trust me when I did my 8 month, 35,000 miles trip around the lower 48 on my XRL, I started with the whole 12 volt plug thing, thinking it was the way to go. After having to replace it 3 times, and mess with it numerous times. I finally just hard wired them in. It way way worthit. Besides there isn't any real reason not to.

    Those 12volt outlets are junk. Especially when you really need it.
  17. spacekadet

    spacekadet Been here awhile

    Jun 28, 2006
    Sydney, NSW
    If you get water in the fuel system you will wish you had some methylated spirits. I did :cry It was impossible to obtain in that country (Indonesia). Perhaps not so hard in other countries. And if things get really bad you can always mix it with some orange juice.
  18. XDragRacer

    XDragRacer Long timer

    Mar 25, 2009
    The "automobile dashboard socket-type" arrangement can be a source of misery and pain, sure enough, even with the genuine Wal-Mart "weatherproof" auxiliary 12-volt outlets, especially on a KLR, with its relentless vibration.

    Water/mud/etc. contamination's possible, and the vibration constantly seeks to fling the plug from the socket, disrupting electrical contact. I've used rubber bands as a countermeasure, but--even then, vibration's been severe enough to separate internal electrical components from their soldered connections in my Garmin electrical regulation and conditioning circuitry within the power plug.

    One could hard-wire known high-use accessories (like GPS receiver/phone), and have a separate automotive-type outlet for occasional use, as for air compressors, etc.

    The BMW-type Powerlet connectors are another approach, offering more reliable connections, but . . . maybe not within a KLR/cheapskate budget.

    Regardless, finding a lower-vibration zone for mounting electrical/electronic equipment's a good idea; sharing your own long-distance travel experience contributes significantly to the discussion, ShooterDave!
  19. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Oct 12, 2004
    Auburn, CA

    I ran Gripsters for the first two years I had my KLR, then switched to the Shinko 705's. Same traction, half the price, and the Shinko's have lasted longer than the Avon's.


    I recently installed a 685 kit, and the difference in how the bike feels is fantastic. It's less fatiguing on long highway stretches, has a bit more zip, and the fuel economy went up about 10%.

    I can't agree enough with the recommendations for replacing the seat. There are several options available, and some can get spendy, but your ass will thank you down the road.
  20. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi

    Nov 12, 2007
    South Texas
    The most important upgrade you need is between your ears.

    There is no substitute for bike knowledge in the middle of no-where and possibly in the rain. Know the bike and how to take it apart down to the frame with the tools you are carrying, on the side of the road.

    Know the electrical system, wiring, carb, wheels and tires.

    Seats - Russel day-long - tops! Tried Corbin and Sargent, they did not work for me - the S is far better than the C.