KLR650 Lightening Project

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by SamM, May 15, 2009.

  1. SamM

    SamM Jeep Overlander

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    When I first got my '08 KLR650, my plan was to just ride it. I didn't want a bike that I had to work on. I just wanted to ride. Looked at and considered both the DR and KLR. The KLR did it for me. My last bike was very expensive. I racked up 15k miles on that bike in a couple years. It had problems. Enough said! The plan was to get a new bike and just ride. I wanted simple, easy and inexpensive!

    Then, I joined the KLR Forums and the standard farkles were next. SW-Motech crashbars, a Big Gun exhaust (everyone said it would fail and it did), SW-Motech pannier racks, Pelican cases, a taller windscreen, etc, etc...! I replaced everything I didn't like which included: the handlebars, mirrors, shifter, footpegs, airfilter, battery, handguards, grips, brakelines, and the turnsignals. Most of the replacement parts where purchased from Moose Racing. The bike cost me $4895 OTD and I spent another $2000 or so on it. I even had Woody's Wheel Works build me a new set of 19/17" wheels. The bike did everything I wanted. There was only one problem. It was still too heavy for real dualsport use.

    At the same time that I was farkling out the KLR, I thought to myself this bike could be so much better. Kawasaki really needs to update the KLR. Here's the problem with that. The bike is built to a price point. They did a few upgrades with the 2008 model but the bottomline is the price. This bike sells and any upgrades that would raise the price significantly defeat the purpose.

    We jump ahead to the new version of my KLR. What I really wanted was an offroad capable dualsport motorcycle that could do everything. I try to stay off the interstates and most of my riding is two-lane blacktop. Gravelroads, dirtroads, and light trail riding is where I want to be. The TAT is something that I'm interested to try someday. My KLR needed to be lighter with this type of riding in mind. The plan is to get it down to around 300lbs. Not sure it can be done! Everything that wasn't necessary would be removed. Lighter means faster to me. Remove weight and the bike has to be quicker and should handle better. I also found that I rarely used all the room in my Pelican cases during trips. The extra room meant I carried more than I needed and the bike was much heavier. I had experience with a rack from cycleracks.com on another bike. I have decided to make my own custom rear rack. A couple of drybags will go on it. The stock tank shrouds were useless. GONE! Same with the fairing! I found that the fairing did little to protect me from the weather anyway. Removing it was not a hard choice. Don't need the passenger pegs, so those came off too. The inner fender, steel fuel tank, steering lock, helmet lock, barends, etc, were removed. The bike went on a serious diet. The biggest reduction came when I decided to replace the stock forks, trees, front wheel and brakes. The new Kayaba 48mm inverted forks, 21" wheel, trees and brake parts are all from a 2008 'Monster Energy' Kawasaki KX450F. The KX450F USD forks were sent to MX-Tech for a rebuild. The bike uses no custom parts. Anyone could build a bike like this. An Emig Racing KX/KLR conversion steering stem was purchased and the stock KLR bearings work to adapt the KX trees onto the KLR frame. In total, I have just over $1425 in all these parts. My stock frontend parts yielded $950. I'm right at $475 for the USD fork conversion. Most of the stock parts that you don't see and all the listed farkles have been sold. I still have a few things leftover. The total cash that I've made back is right around $3000, give or take.

    The bike is about half finished. There is still wiring to do and some fab work to get the '07 IMS fuel tank to fit. I'll try to keep the thread updated as I move forward with the build. I'm not in a big hurry, as I have plenty of time to ride later. Yesterday, I added a new KX front brakeline from Moose Racing and new fork protectors from Kawasaki. A new fender and assorted parts from Kawasaki should be here in a few days. New Flex fatbars, contour handguards, KX axle spacers, a KLR aluminum throttle tube and control cam from Moose Racing are on the way. Should have updated pictures next week. The new headlight will be from Trail Tech and I still need a pipe. The stock pipe may go back on for awhile, until I find something I like.

    Feel free to comment on the bike, ask questions, call me crazy, say I could have bought a KTM, or whatever! :lol3

    EDIT: This original post has been revised to reflect the changes that I have made to the motorcycle.

    SamM

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    #1
  2. LILBIT

    LILBIT Ride you must.

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    There is a black fender available. $35 more seems fine at this point.
    #2
  3. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

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    :thumb

    Good call.

    Wait, no. No.
    #3
  4. SwitchThrottle

    SwitchThrottle Bring da amber lamps

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    So what is the real cost on this project? The KLR is a fairly cheap starting point, then you have your original build up cost, then you parted out that build up and reclaimed some/most of that money, then started a 2nd buildup. I am also curious what the current wet weight is.
    #4
  5. BigCanoe

    BigCanoe Scooterati

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    I hardly recognize the KLR in there!
    #5
  6. BillyD

    BillyD Been here awhile

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    This thread makes me laugh simply because I came very close to sliding down the same slippery slope.

    Despite being accused by my riding buddies of being a KTM bigot, I very seriously considered a KLR in my quest for a longer range, off-pavement focused adventure bike.

    In the final analysis, however, I decided that if I purchased a KLR, I would end up doing exactly what SamM has done and I might as well have bought a KTM 640 Adventure in the firstplace. Of course, what is different in my analysis is that I had a bunch of 640 farkles left over from my previous LC4s so there were actually some favorable economics for me to stay KTM.

    SamM, more power to you on your KLR quest. I understand completely even though you are violating one of the tenants of KLR ownership: spend as little money as possible.
    #6
  7. newride

    newride Been here awhile

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    "Feel free to comment on the bike, ask questions, call me crazy, say I could have bought a KTM, or whatever! :lol3 "

    SamM

    Oh beat me too it, I was going to call you crazy. :rofl
    Its your money.
    #7
  8. fixer

    fixer KLR-riding cheap bastard

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    with what you've done, starting with an older model would have drastically cut your costs.

    could have saved $3000 or so by getting a 2000 or so KLR with a few miles on it for roughly $2000.
    #8
  9. Off the grid

    Off the grid Unsmooth Operator

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    I made a determination that I wasn't going to try and make a bike do something that it is not intended to do.

    What you end up with is a very expensive, unsellable project.

    Hence my road bike is strictly road.

    And my dirt bike is barely street legal, light, fast and not comfortable on the road. If a dirt bike is comfortable on the road, it ain't a dirt bike.
    #9
  10. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    The bike actually looks pretty cool,lotso work but if you must have a KLR motor then your on your way. Of course there are a few other bikes that are closer to what you want off the showroom and would be turn key to a point.Every bike needs farkling to suit every rider.
    Ive probably dumped 2K into my DR650 but luckily it has all mostly worked for what I do. If I changed out the forks I would put on the WP 50mm conventional style forks,I had some on a 98 620KTM and they really take rock hits and stutter bumps well with little or no flex.Ive also heard that Garden variety XR600 forks slide right in the stock clamps on a DR.
    Projects are cool and always a learning experience even if they are flops like a few Ive tried.

    I dont think there is anyway a DR or KLR could approach the handling,snap,general go power of a good running KTM/Husky 610 in the dirt,now on the street or cruising all day on average dirt roads, I like the reliability,mileage,smoothness and lack of anything going wrong or needing replacing on my DR, Just hit the button and go.
    #10
  11. Lizrdbrth

    Lizrdbrth Wackjob

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    This old thread...

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=172734&highlight=lizrdbrth

    ....was the object of both joy and scorn :D . But I had fun doing it, and ditched 40 pounds from a stock bike essentially without spending a dime or even radically changing its appearance.

    Most of the pics have timed out, but if you suffer through it you might find some ideas for even more weight loss in varying increments.
    #11
  12. carburated

    carburated Been here awhile

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    I like the fork swap and longer rear shock! But that rack :eek1

    Is it really that much more useful than the stock rack? It's gotta be heavier, and is (arguably, I suppose) much less aesthetically pleasing, to be nice about it... :huh

    I look forward to seeing what you end up with for the headlight, that will really influence the overall look of the bike. Thanks for sharing the pictures. :thumb
    #12
  13. SamM

    SamM Jeep Overlander

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    All good points gentlemen!

    As I said, I paid $4895 for the bike new. I paid cash for the bike, so it was mine from day one. I sold farkles from another bike to put the first $2000 into the KLR. Made $3000 selling all that off along with all the stock parts that you no longer see. I have put another $2500 into it. I have $6400 in the bike. Right now, I'm waiting for the new 'Monster Energy' KX 450F black front fender and some of the Moose Racing parts that I need to finish it up.

    Here's the thing. I had a KTM LC4. Sold it! Nice bike but wasn't for me. Too vibey, too complicated! The oil changes were a pain to do. Sure it was doable but why go through that? It didn't make any sense. Standard blah, blah, blah! My last bike was a KTM. Seriously, I'm all KTMed out. Been through the wringer with those. Bought the KLR as the anti-KTM bike. I WAS a KTM bigot! Great bikes, not happening. Looked at everything available and nothing jumped out at me. I KLR was CHEAP or inexpensive if you prefer. It was an easy choice. Parts are inexpensive right now. I have $250 in the fuel tank. Compare that to $600 for Touratech tanks for an X-CH for example. I looked seriously at that bike for awhile. It was over 8k and was going out of production. I guess they dropped the price and kept making them.

    My WR250F could have been plated. It's a 250 why bother and had a 5-speed tranny. Any 250 that you ride on the street needs a 6-speed. Bottomline! Down the road it went. My TT-R250 which was a great bike and had the required 6-speed lacked the upper end and was out of production. I still have a shop full of spare parts that I need rid of. It was a great bike and would do almost 70mph with off-road gearing. Probably should have kept it.

    I love the KTM 690. It's over 10.5k. Closer to 12k really. I already have an expensive KTM. Drop the price to 6k and I'm in.

    The KLR stays. I have no plans to sell it. Could careless about the resale value. It hasn't cost me much compared to other bikes I've owned. It starts right up and is great to work on. I love to tinker and this has been fun for me. The older version did nothing for me. I liked the updated parts of the '08 model. Rarely do I buy used. If I find something else that I like better. The KLR can be used as an extra bike for family and friends. It's always nice to have a spare bike.

    Almost forgot. I don't have a wet weight yet. There is still much to do. I'm hoping to get in the 300 to 340lb range. Not sure if that's possible. Still trying to drop as much as I can off it.

    SamM
    #13
  14. SamM

    SamM Jeep Overlander

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    BillyD,
    That's one of the reasons that I did it. I don't think I'd ever see someone just change everything they didn't like about the KLR. May people have said, "if it only had better this or that." I decided to just do it. I paid $600 for the KX inverts and sold the stock forks for $500. That started the ball rolling downhill and the slide, as some have pointed out. :evil

    The MX-Tech KX forks and Cogent Dynamics long-travel rear shock are great. These parts really change the bike. All I've done is bounce in the yard with it but it has a completely different feel to it now. Can't wait to ride it.

    The rack is very heavy-duty and weighs a good bit. You can jump on that thing and it's not going anywhere. It has a dual purpose for me. I can haul a large drybag (probably 2 of them), and it's wide enough to protect the rear of the bike in a fall. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I like function over form!

    The headlight will be from Trail Tech. I'm going for the X2 Eclipse Halogen unit. May add a small windscreen.

    SamM
    #14
  15. BucketHead

    BucketHead Would-Be Camel Man

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    Good on you for building what you want your bike to be.

    I think yours is just a more extreme example of what almost all KLR owners go through. Despite what you read on certain forums, the truth is that KLR is a fundamentally limited machine. It has all kinds of great qualities and uses, but in the end most people seem to find that it's design and performance is simply too far out of date and it doesn't perform up to reasonable expectations, especially off road. This isn't to say that it can't be ridden fast - I rode the bag off of mine - but the weight, lack of power and crappy suspension don't leave much margin for error or the unexpected. We then end up spending $$$ trying to make it better. (Ever notice how farkled the average KLR is?)

    In my case, I bought a used one, and after two years and spending as much as my purchase price on upgrades I realized that I was better off cutting my losses, selling my KLR and buying a DRZ. I couldn't be happier with my choice.
    #15
  16. Camas

    Camas Rooster Bastid

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    "worth having"? I guess if you never ride the streets and need a long range heavy trail bike then you did good.

    Why rear turn sigs, tail light and mirrors though? :norton
    #16
  17. Django Loco

    Django Loco Banned

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    The basic KLR motor will out live the 640 and as a long distance adventure bike, the KLR has a better record. Look at KTM's track record. Go back to the mid to late 90's and early LC-4's. Lots of engine melt downs and most were not racing. The KLR is crude and primitive compared to the KTM in many ways but the basic power plant post Doo Hickey fix, is quite robust and long lasting.

    Long Distance riders on KLR's number in the thousands. Not so many on LC-4's. The KTM will out perform the KLR at every turn. But when it comes to loading up a bike heavy and riding to S. America or Mexico .... I would take the KLR every time.

    YMMV, IMO yada yada yada! :clap
    #17
  18. Django Loco

    Django Loco Banned

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    Good analysis!

    I owned a DRZ400E. I'm assuming you've got the S. The E is far superior in every way but not street legal. As a short haul Adv bike the DRZ is plenty good. But for longer tours, heavily loaded no DRZ will match the comfort and LD ability of a KLR. And by the look of Sam's bike .... my bet is it's off road performance is far and away better than any stock KLR.

    In fact, I'd wager Sam's KLR is no heavier than your DRZ. We'll have to see what Sam's KLR weighs once he gets the headlight on. The beauty of the DRZ is it's toughness and easy maintenance. My '01 "E" model never missed a beat in three years of hard desert riding and a long Baja ride. :clap
    #18
  19. SamM

    SamM Jeep Overlander

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    I suppose the "worth having" comment is to justify the modifications to myself. Remember, I am a recovering KTM bigot. The KLR is a worthwhile bike as proven by it's sales numbers. That comment wasn't a slam on the bike.

    The bike will be streetridden. It will do commuter duty when it's finished. I ride 20 miles to work. It won't be ridden everyday but I'll still ride it. The plan is to do more dualsport riding instead of slab and pavement. The bike is being built with the TAT in mind. With a 6.6 gallon tank on the bike, I can ride all day on backroads and never worry once about fuel. No need to carry any extra fuel.

    A few of my buddies are looking at getting DR350 and DRZ type bikes. Hopefully, the KLR will fit right into the mix. I looked seriously into buying a new '09 KLX250S and swapping a KLX300R cylinder and piston onto it. Someday I may get one.

    SamM
    #19
  20. CodyY

    CodyY ADVenture Capitalist

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    :rolleyes
    #20