Klr oil burning question.

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by g23.40sw, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. g23.40sw

    g23.40sw Adventurer

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    First I have searched and read not only all I found on klr oil burning issues, but have read about other bike burning oil as well. I have a 2011 with 6600+ miles on it. I have the caribou luggage system as well as the appropriate offroad and crash protection. I'm on a trip from Colorado. With a stop in Tucson to meet my grandfather I noticed next to no oil in the site glass. I did battle head and cross winds most of the way through New Mexico and had on several occations the throttle wide open just to maintain the speed limit. So I let it cool as much as I could over night and ended up adding 2/3 of a quart to bring it up to the appropriate level. Set out to make the final trek to California. Once arriving on the 3rd, having spent 11+ hours in the saddle with LA all the way to Malibu equalling 1-1/2 hours of stop and go traffic. I again saw very little oil in the site glass. I then added the remaining 1/3 of a quart and it brought the lever to a little above half in the sight glass. Now the question. Is this an acceptable amount of oil consumption. 1400+ miles and over a quart burned? I have been running Mobil 1 10-40 motorcycle oil and changed oil every 2000-3000 miles. But if if it's just gonna burn it away wouldn't it be better to run conventional oil? I have owned the bike since new and tried to adhere to proper break in and changing frequencies. I had up till this trip used the bike for commuting and small trips around Colorado. Is there a reason synthetic would be better in this instance? $11 a quart vs $3 or so. I'm used to using synthetic in my cars and trucks but never had to add between changes. Thanks for the input.
    #1
  2. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Moto Fotografist

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    KLR brother,

    I have a 2009, and represent two others in my 'hood with the same bikes. We ride many weekends, have taken trips, ride some off road, and they tease me cause my bike weighs 540 pounds dry (I carry too much shit), and I am an old fat basterd on top of that.

    I hear your scenario, I really do. Have taken long ass trips on my fat ass KLR, and when you are making miles at highway type speeds, carrying a load, fighting a wind, "trying to get somewhere", please plan on letting your bike rest in the middle of the day, at a lunch break perhaps, and allow it to cool a bit and settle down to CHECK YOUR OIL.

    You really dont want to wait till the end of the day, if you are running 350-500 mile days, to be adding that much juice...

    And the other thing, you need to be COVERING THE OIL GLASS or "goats eye", it's not a "Half way or see some oil is good enough thing".... you want the window totally black with texas tea (oil, remember the Beverly Hillbillies?)

    Forget what the book might tell you, my KLR manual says i have SIX GEARS. While I find myself looking for it often, I bet I never find it....

    I change my oil around 2500-3000 miles. I check it OFTEN. OFTEN I say. .

    I buy the Kawi oil by the jug, and use Kawi filters, just me. Part of the equation is, the oil you add is also the lube for your transmission. I am sure the synthetics are great for that, bla-bla-bla, but my bike works well on Kawi oil, Kawi filters, no carb or exhaust mods, and I put on long miles. I do check my OIL OFTEN.

    In a vertical tool tube on my Pelican, I have an Agri-Supply tool tube. I carry spare oil in there in one of the aluminum drink bottles menards has 2 for 7 bucks. Works great. I carry a spot of extra fuel in the other (red one) I have.

    I managed to rig three agri-supply tool tubes on my KLR....like I said, I carry too much shit.

    Dont just check the oil at the end of the day, PLEASE.... and get it covering the sight window.... I dont know about your choice of oil, just saying what works well for three of us here, and we are all approaching 20,000 miles and having NO ISSUES with anything. I might add a tablespoon or two here and there, but I check it often, did I say that I check my OIL OFTEN YET?

    :evil

    I run two massive Pelican Storm cases and a rigid large ass tail bag, btw.. we try to pick routes where we are not grinding at 75 MPH too. It does sometimes come up, but I am happier at 55-60.
    #2
  3. g23.40sw

    g23.40sw Adventurer

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    Thanks for the reply and info. I do check often and forgot to mention I stopped in Albuquerque for the night on he first and it was lower but still had some visable in the glass. This is my first long adventure and am still learning the how too's and how's. This won't be the last thats for sure.
    #3
  4. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Moto Fotografist

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    Understood Sir.

    Did you do your Doo Hickey yet? :deal
    #4
  5. byways

    byways byways

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    KLRs consume inordinate amounts of oil, among many other defects. Schnitz Racing's 685 overbore kit is the solution.
    #5
  6. g23.40sw

    g23.40sw Adventurer

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    Been looking at that too. A little more pony's is always a good thing. That'll have to wait till I get back home.
    #6
  7. sparkymcgee

    sparkymcgee Been here awhile

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    I also have a 2011. I had the rings replaced under warranty. Not sure if it has made a difference as I am only a few hundred miles in on the new rings. I was burning about what you described when doing fast highway miles at 70+. I was also using Mobil 1 prior to the new rings and I noticed that the oil burning seemed much worse when I first switched to Mobil 1. I have since gone back to Rotella as it is cheaper. We'll see if it makes a difference. I'm now in the habit of checking every time I stop for any period of time. Just a good habit to have on any bike. I have to say that the KLR is the first bike I've owned that needed any oil between changes and I have had a Harley and many Jap bikes. I guess we just have to live with it or go overbore (which I might have to...you know for the oil burning :D)
    #7
  8. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil

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    While my KLR is an '02, it shares most of the engine parts with your '11. Hopefully, however, your '11 has a stronger piston. Since my '02 broke a piston ring land 3 years ago, I have witnessed at least 3 more doing the same thing just here in Alaska. As long as it is caught before any further damage occurs, that can be a blessing in disguise as it usually forces a person to go with the 685 kit, making the KLR into a new bike.

    Although I was using Rotella 5W-40 synthetic before, I have more recently switched to Mobil 1 15W-50, and with the 685 kit installed the engine uses no oil whatsoever between changes, no matter how hard I push it (and I enjoy moving along at a respectable clip :D).

    As Unstable Rider suggested, check your oil frequently and keep it well up in the window, since you know the engine is going to be throwing it out the exhaust. And as soon as you can - go for the overbore, you'll be glad you did.
    #8
  9. g23.40sw

    g23.40sw Adventurer

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    Yep. Any reason for more power is good. I don't remember what the warranty is or was. 12 mo or so and how many miles? Anywho it's been good for commuting and I don't know that the stresses for luggage,windy days and atmospheric conditions, the suns gravitational pull would be cause for warranty work but I'll check into it. Thanks. :norton
    #9
  10. byways

    byways byways

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    By 11,000 miles, my 08 was on its fourth top end (cyl, piston, rings), including what it came with new. I tried the Schnitz kit, but found that they have the piston pin made .001 in. larger than stock (this from my micrometer, confirmed by Schnitz). For some crazy reason, that pin would not go into the rod. No way; just would not fit. Sure, I could have frozen the pin and heated the rod, inserted the pin (this was suggested by some) ...and when the two parts equalized temperature, guess what would have happened?

    Schnitz was good enough after many months to take the kit back and refund my money. They are a very good outfit; I just wish they had the pin made the same as stock. The kit was later sold, and the new owner was able to insert the pin without any problem (he sent me a video).

    So, in addition to everything else wrong with that bike, apparently there is some discrepancy in the diameter of the hole for the piston pin. In the end by happenstance I was able to acquire an 09 cylinder, had the head rebuilt, and the problem was greatly alleviated for about 9k miles. Just this summer, tho, at 21k miles, oil consumption has returned, tho not nearly as bad as it originally was when new (a quart ea. 500-600 miles). So I still carry oil, check it often, and continue to regret buying a KLR.

    Kawasaki's response? "KLR? What KLR?"
    #10
  11. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi

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    There are several basic issues;
    1. Piston and ring design changes over the years by Kawa to address the oil burning issue - pre and post 08. Some pistons and rings are good, some not despite the basic designs that have been tried
    2. Some barrels/bores do not remain round, but go oval. Several reasons being how the bores was originally cast and bored to heat changes. Some are good, others not.

    Without dismantling and measuring your parts it is not possible to say what the cause really is.

    Bad quality control applies to all manufacturers - some more than others. This is not an oil type related or break-in ritual issue. It is the design and quality of the basic parts themselves. No reason to blame yourself here.

    Kawa consider 1qt in 1000 miles as 'acceptable'. I do not. Some hacks claim that it is a staple of thumpers to burn oil. I do not agree. They have to, my knowledge, replaced many pistons and rings. If yours is still under warranty or not, go talk to your dealer - you might get lucky. Go prepared with when how and why details - they and Kawa might make you a deal if you talk nicely.

    I have a 685 and now have 30k+ miles on that piston and bore - very happy. JT supply their pistons to Schnitz. They are a high quality product - forged not cast. Also, their compression ring pressures are designed to be in the 11lb range - some of Kawa's designs were in the 3 lb range. There have been a few in the 1000 plus already in service that hav ebroken - small %.

    Good advice already given- if it is using oil - check it often. The only known, non 'tribal' and verifiable issues with oil is if it is you let it go too low. Use whatever brand makes you (and your pocket) happy
    #11
  12. byways

    byways byways

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    Machinist who bored my cylinder for the 685 kit said, in a tone of disbelief, that he measured the interior prior to boring and found that it was oval.
    #12
  13. doogiepooch

    doogiepooch Been here awhile

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    This answer isn't nearly as technical as some but I'm no engine internals expert so I'll stick with what I know. Are you running a 15 tooh sprocket? With tons of interstate 16 tooh is a must. My 88 saw many all day interstate runs and it never burned a drop, with that said, I only went above 5,000 rpms if I had to pass so only for a couple seconds then back under 5,000, I ran Spectra Gold 20-50 in it. The new 2012 model I just got, I'm getting ready to head to Yellowstone, so bascailly 7 days of 10 hr a day super slab and about 2-3 days in the park. I'm hoping the rule of 16 tooth sproket and keeping it under 5,000 rpms works for this trip. If I bought a brand new bike that eats oil like that....I'm gonna be pissed. But yeah basically every time you stop for fuel you need to be checking your oil.
    #13
  14. Xcuvator

    Xcuvator Justa Venturer

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    The other thing that needs to be mentioned is that modern engine designs now incorporate a plated cylinder bore to reduce wear and improve seal. Unfortunately our KLRs still use a steel bore.
    I was one of the first to go to battle with Kaw to get warranty work for my 07 because of excessive oild consumption. The warranty got me a new piston and ring and the bike still used a fair amount of oil. Finally at 24000 the oil consumption jumped back to old levels and the Schnitz kit went in. I should have done it to begin with.
    #14
  15. coolerthanethan

    coolerthanethan Non-human

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    so i just picked up a 99 with 5,400k last week being my 5th kawi in 10 years thinking i was getting a bullet proof machine capable of traversing over any terrain. A week later and the petcock has died engine flooded with gas and the carb needs a rebuild. Now i'm reading around here learning that there is a dohickey which if i don't spend $100+ on can blow my engine, cylinders go oval, people burn more than a quart of oil in between changes, pistons crack, race overbore kits and engine rebuilds for reliability, subframe bolts snap and so on. So why does everyone rage about the KLR even though it seems to be plagued by problems? what the F was kawi thinking? what did i get my self into?

    Seems like i should have stuck to what i know and gotten an inline 4. :huh
    #15
  16. Xcuvator

    Xcuvator Justa Venturer

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    On the internut all you hear about are the problems. If it an't broke, ride the SOB till the wheels fall off or you die of old age.
    #16
  17. XDragRacer

    XDragRacer Long timer

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    AFAIK, if you're puking fuel and have an OEM vacuum-activated petcock, you have two failures:

    1. Petcock.
    2. Float valve (and/or float valve seat).

    An operational, functional float valve will not leak overflow fuel, even if the petcock fails to shut off with no intake vacuum.

    Further, AFAIK, the stock Generation 1 doohickey (flawed as it might be) has NOTHING to do with the cylinder bore cross-section configuration, nor with excessive oil consumption. Still, replacement of OEM doohickey on Generation 1 KLR's remains sound maintenance, as well as spring tension examination and replacement as necessary for both generations.

    Aftermarket subframe bolts, 4-piece or 3-piece retrofit kits, aren't a bad idea.

    Countermeasures exist for some KLR weak points; yet . . . some muddle through, as-built.
    #17
  18. bigdon

    bigdon Long timer

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    Does it have 5,400 miles on it or 54,000 miles on it?

    The gas that we use is very hard on rubber parts. It eats them up. If let to sit it will gum up the carb.
    If I bought a 13 year old bike , I would expect it to need a little TLC.

    My 03 has 35,000 miles on it. I would/do ride it anywhere. I've been through quite a few Thumpers and one, that cost 4 times as much as my KLR.
    My bike is more comfortable and just as reliable as any thumper on the road. If I drop it I pick it up. If it stops working I fix it. It is as simple as a hammer.
    Oh and it's sooo pretty too! :rofl

    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. RoberTx

    RoberTx Blind man ridin'

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    A load of bullshit. My '08 has 36,000 miles on it and has never burned any oil. My '06 KLR was exactly the same with 14,000 miles, it never burned any oil at all.
    #19
  20. VikB

    VikB Been here awhile

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    Victoria, BC, Canada
    I'm on my 2nd KLR first was a '97 and I'm on a 2010 now. Great bike for the price.

    Some people want to sell you shit and others want to justify their own purchases. The internet is great at building fear/paranoia. So beware of people trying to freak you out to buy stuff from them or their friends. Also be aware of people freaking out themselves who are stuck in the better do "X" mod or else you bike will spontaneously explode.

    The tens of thousands of KLRs that are out there running stock without problems make no "noise" online. The few that have issues get all sorts of coverage especially when folks can sell you a kit to fix the problem.

    Does that mean the KLR has no problems = no. It means that you shouldn't let people freak you out and you should look at the situation dispassionately and assess what to do as best you can.

    I never did done the Doo on my '97 when I sold it and I doubt the new owner did either. Most of the KLRs I see on the street probably ain't got a done Doo neither. There are lots of high mileage KLRs out there without done Doos. OTOH the pre-2008 models definitely did have some Doos break. First thing to keep in mind is the torque spec on the Doo bolt is low and I suspect some folks broke their Doos by over tightening them. For a '99 I'd probably consider a Doo upgrade at some point. I wouldn't worry about it today or tomorrow. Find a time when you can mess around with the bike without cutting into your riding season.

    My 2010's doo ain't been done neither. I just looked and it hasn't exploded - so far anyways.

    My KLR doesn't burn oil. I wouldn't worry about it unless yours actually does. Ride it and see what happens before you spend any time thinking about engine rebuilds and such.

    Breaking sub-frame bolts is a matter of how hard you ride and how much weight your bike carries. It's also not something you have to panic about.

    Beyond that it's all personal choice if you want to farckle the crap out of your bike or not. Just read up in the BMW forums what sorts of problems folks are having with bikes that cost up to $20K. You'll appreciate the affordability and reliability of your KLR.
    #20