KLR 650 Suspension upgrade

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by fourbuds, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. fourbuds

    fourbuds Mr Bud

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    Palo Alto, California
    I am a 150# rider that is looking for some suspension improvement for a bike that sees some washboard and rocky dirt roads in the west and occasionally something more technical. How can I get the most bang for the buck?
    Jerry
    #1
  2. Stephen

    Stephen Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,202
    Location:
    Austin, Texas, USA
    RaceTech Gold Valve Cartridge Emulators.

    Very high bang/buck.

    Renthal (or similar) bars do more than you might think.
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    57,309
    Location:
    Toronto

    How easy is it to install those RaceTech cartridge emulators?
    #3
  4. holycaveman

    holycaveman Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Oddometer:
    14,388
    change to 20wt fork oil and a fork brace, you will think its a different bike:wink:
    #4
  5. R_W

    R_W wannabe

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,126
    Location:
    Kansas
    He's only 150#, 15 wt or ATF might be a better choice. :evil

    5 psi in the forks is free, not recommended as the fork seals aren't made for pressure and could blow, but haven't heard of any issues. use at your own risk.

    You can try all three oil weights for like $20.

    new alum bars are anywhere from $20 to $100.

    Progressive front springs are $70.

    fork brace is about 130

    racetech's are 150-200 (I haven't looked lately). It is like changing fork oil plus drilling a hole in each fork to disable the existing valve.

    Do it all and you have an awesome front end, but way more than needed for washboards and limited technical.
    #5
  6. maroast

    maroast Official Daropiscanian

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    86
    I weight ~175-180 (5’9”) and would bottom out my fork ALL the time! Two days ago I put in 15wt oil and made two 6 inch #40 PVC spacers to replace the stock 5.5in spacers. WOW!!!!! What a HUGE difference! It's a whole new bike in my eyes. This mod is a MUST!

    I rode it hard on some dirt on the way home yesterday and I couldn’t get the front to bottom out. I rode fast washboards, caught air, hit a curb going pretty fast and went down steep inclines. Best 11 bucks I've spent on this bike....other than a tank of gas.

    As for the rear, I'm looking into eaglemikes raising links (RL-2)...if those don't do it, well see from there.

    Do a search on klr650.net. You'll find all this info over there.

    -Tom
    #6
  7. kdxkawboy

    kdxkawboy Mr. NVKLRGirl

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,631
    Location:
    Gardnerville, Nv
    You might think about going about this in stages and learning a little something about suspension tuning ...

    Start with the springs. Get the PS fork springs. They will make a difference. Ideally, you would want to set the spacers so the front forks sag around a quarter inch with just the bike's weight on the tires. Then play with different fork oil weights. Try 5W, 7W, 10W, 12W (a 50/50 mix of 5W & 7W) and 15W. As you increase the weight you will feel the dampening in the forks slowing down. At your weight I think you'll find the 7W be a nice compromise. You need to get several 100 miles under your belt over varied terrain to get a good feel for the type of dampening each step in W provides.

    At your weight, this may stiffen things enough to fill your needs. If not, add the Race Tech valves and repeat the test with different oil weights/pre load settings on the valve's springs and the oil height. The last thing to do, when the OEM shock finally blows, and it will if you ride hard, it costs over $700 and you can get a Works Performance unit for less than that.

    Once you have the dampening figured out add the fork brace. In the technical stuff you will appreciate it. It makes a significant difference in how true the front end tracks.
    #7
  8. holycaveman

    holycaveman Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Oddometer:
    14,388
    well everyone has some good advise. As already said, expierment with differant things. I personally would not suggest progressive fork spring, unless you are shorter. I have expierence with thease, they are ok for the street, but not realy for off road, thats probably why they are the same spring for a vn1100 cruizer.

    But some have them and swear its the best thing since suggerd cornflakes:puke1 Opinions varry.

    If you are remotely even attempting offroading, the forkbrace makes a huge difference in the way your front end handles.

    And just as a note the stock fork oil is 10wt. The rear end is ok for most it definatly outdoes the stock front end. So as you assumed the front needs the work first. Then after you start jumping doubles a new shock might be in order:lol3 :eek1
    #8
  9. timdog

    timdog a.k.a. Josh

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Oddometer:
    628
    Location:
    Troy, MI
    I just replaced the springs with progressive in my '05. Not really impressed with the improvements. (I am 190lbs and like to jump the bike over small jumps, maybe I am asking for too much) I was thinking about changing to 15wt. My question is this: Do you just use regular motor oil? And can you measure the amount as you add it? Or do you have to remove the springs and use a dipstick to measure it?
    #9
  10. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    57,309
    Location:
    Toronto
    I was reading an article on Fred's site (www.arrowheadmotorsports.com) about the cartridge emulators and how you really have to fine tune the installation of these emulators to get the best setup. I'm afraid to plunk down the money and not be able to optimize the installation..

    Does anyone have a link to a detailed installation, preferably with pics? :ear
    #10
  11. a16tony

    a16tony Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    557
    Location:
    Everett, WA.
    I've been running the Progressive LR springs with 15w Bel-Ray fork oil. 5'8, 190lb, have never bottomed the front end. Definitely abused it though.:D
    If you drain the forks and replace the amount that you remove, you should be fine. Off the top of my head, I believe the book says: 430ml/cc per side, dry.
    #11
  12. freeflow

    freeflow get in or go in

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2004
    Oddometer:
    16,381
    Location:
    GB-Wisconsin
    FYI...good prcedures here http://www.klr650.marknet.us/forkoil.html

    ""<TABLE width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD align=left colSpan=2>Changing oil: 355mL</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left colSpan=2>Disassembly and completely dry: 420 +/- 4mL</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left colSpan=2>Oil rating: Kayaba G-10</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left colSpan=2>Viscosity: SAE 10W20 </TD></TR><TR><TD align=left colSpan=2>Fork oil Level: 190 +/- 2mm below the top end of the inner tube</TD></TR><TR><TD align=left colSpan=2>NOTE: The weight specification comes from the service manual, and is apparently only sold as an "official" Kawasaki item. I use PJ1 Fork Oil, and have chosen 15 H.V.I. as the right weight for my style of riding.</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    #12
  13. NJCapoNut

    NJCapoNut Dirty Boy

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    257
    Location:
    Vero Beach, Fl
    Just did mine....I think it really improved the bike on and off-road.

    I used 15w Bel-Ray and set the level 170mm from the top.
    (Im 6' 2" - 204 lbs.)
    #13
  14. timdog

    timdog a.k.a. Josh

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Oddometer:
    628
    Location:
    Troy, MI
    Has anyone tried longer spacers than what comes with the Progressive LR kit?
    #14
  15. Krabill

    Krabill Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,901
    Location:
    Tulsa, OK
    I've got 2 3/4" spacers made out of 3/4" pvc in mine.

    Started with 10wt - too soft, now I have 20wt - a little harsh. I've got some 15wt sitting on the work bench, but I'm gonna ride with the 20wt a couple more weeks before I try the 15wt.
    #15
  16. goswiftly

    goswiftly Got tubes?

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    164
    Location:
    Nickel City
    I'm 5'11" about 220lb. I just did the progressive springs yesterday, I used 15wt fork oil. I have to say that so far it feels really good. I cut my stock spacers at 2-1/8". Now the rear feels a bit soft. Its going to have to do for now, I've spent waaay too much on farkle this winter!:ricky :super
    #16
  17. Rattletrap

    Rattletrap When in doubt-Gas it

    Joined:
    May 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Heart of Dixie
    I really disliked the front-end on my 07, and run with 10lbs of air in the forks to keep them from diving. I ordered the progressive springs and wound up putting the air back in, so I have the emulators ordered and should be in next week, I'll post up how they do.

    Ordered the Race tec emulators from Cogent Dynamics, the price was $149.
    Supposedly they have a killer rear shock, thats next on the list, $600 though.
    #17
  18. dieinthedirt

    dieinthedirt Arctic KLR

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    Dawson City, Yukon, Canada
    i've been running 25-30 psi in the forks for the past 2 years, jumping and riding hard offroad. also 15w fork oil as well, just to convince anybody that ait in the forks does not blow seals. only way that can happen if the suspension is completely bottomed out hard! the longer spacers can be a pain to install since the caps are very fine thread.::puke1
    #18
  19. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    6,005
    Location:
    Anchorage, formerly Spenard (hub of the universe)
    As was said before.... set the oil level to 170mm from the top.... that will improve things as much as anything else. Remove the springs & collapse the forks.... add oil to get 170. I ran 165mm (10 wt. Belray) and 10 psi with a fork brace.... works good & I'm a big guy.
    #19
  20. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,403
    Location:
    Spacecoaster FL
    Trade it for a dirtier D/S.
    #20