I was at a point where I needed to go;
and so I bought the motorcycle, and I went...



Chain Lube

Chain Tension

Oil Change


Year Review
First Motorcycle Pages: Getting Started | Choosing a Bike | Selecting Gear | Cost of Ownership | Wind & Rain | Theresa Wallach |
Stories and Maps: Ride America 2005 | American Southwest 2005 |
Picture Sets: Arkansas - Texas | Austin | Chicago | New Mexico - Arizona | Santa Fe | Thorndale |
About Paul: Bio | Chicago Guide | Taxi Driving |
Engine Oil
Air Filter
Spark Plug
Gas Tank
Maintenance Log
Tool Kit
Pre-Ride Checklist
KLR650 On-Line
Women in Motorcycling
Contact Information

KLR650 - Lost in the fog: Highway 79, Texas.

KLR650 - Edge of the Painted Desert: Highway 160, Arizona, Navajo Territory.

KLR650 - Cathedral of Saint Francis: Santa Fe, New Mexico.

KLR650 - Bridge over the Arkansas River: Litle Rock, Arkansas.

KLR650 - Jerome: Highway 89A, Arizona.

KLR650 - Gas stop: Thorndale, Texas.

KLR650 - In the desert: Highway 285, New Mexico.

KLR650 - The Pacific Ocean.

KLR650 - Mission Beach: San Diego, California.
Kawasaki KLR650: Basic Maintenance
The basic maintenance required by the Kawasaki KLR650 motorcycle is relatively easy to perform. Only a few simple hand tools are required - and most of those tools can be found in the bike's own Factory kit. Furthermore, the parts that require frequent attention are very easy to access. Having written that, there isn't any reason to neglect the work. Quite to the contrary: Even as riding skills ought to be practiced on a regular basis, so too the mechanical state of the motorcycle should be considered before every ride.
This document was prepared on May 11, 2006, after, roughly, 8 months and 10,000 miles of life with a 2006 Kawasaki KLR650. Updated on December 28, 2006, after, roughly 15 months and 14,000 miles. Not a substitute for the Factory's Owner's Manual, or the publications in the Clymer series, the information contained herein is intended to serve as companion for the aforementioned works - sharing experience with other owners, potential owners, and novices undertaking the daunting task of familiarizing themselves with mechanical work. This document is evolving...
never ride your motorcycle without first checking the oil! when the oil in a warmed engine has been allowed to settle, and the motorcycle has been held upright on level ground, the oil level ought to fall between the top and bottom hash marks around the oil level sight glass.

recommended change interval: every 1000 miles (1600 km) using conventional oil; every 2000 miles (3200 km) using synthetic oil - or after operation in extremely wet/dirty conditions, or after prolonged idle.

tools & parts: 17mm hex-type box-end wrench, 8mm socket w/ drive, filter, crush-metal gasket, 3 quart containers of oil, gloves, waste oil pan.

recommended engine oil type: API SE, SF, SG, in addition to SH and SJ with JASO MA.

recommended engine oil viscosity: 10-40 between 14 and 104 degrees F (-10 to +40 C), 10-30 between 14 and 86 F (-10 to +30 C), and 20-50 between 32 and +104 F (0 to +40 C).

engine oil capacity: 2.6 quarts (2.5 L) if filter is removed; 2.3 quarts (2.2 L) if oil only is changed.
KLR650 Oil Filter Location
(1) oil fill - plug and gasket removed
(2) oil filter canister - 2 (8mm) bolts, canister cover, mounting spindle and oil filter removed
(3) oil level sight glass with max/min level indicated
KLR650 Oil Change Tools and Parts
(1) 8mm socket mounted on spinner handle, pictured above 1/4 inch-drive socket wrench with extension bar mounted
(2) 17mm combination wrench
(3) oil fill plug above gasket
(4) oil filter mounting spindle
(5) oil filter
(6) oil filter canister cover above 2 (8mm) bolts
(1) engine wiped clean, run till hot, then stopped;
(2) motorcycle rolled onto level ground, over waste oil pan placed on paper/plastic, with side stand down and ignition locked;
(3) oil fill plug loosened;
(4) 17mm wrench used to remove oil drain plug - releasing most used oil into waste oil pan;
(5) motorcycle rocked from side-to-side after flow of oil ceases - releasing remaining oil;
(6) 8mm wrench used to remove 2 bolts on oil canister cover;
(7) oil canister cover, oil fiter, mounting spindle removed and seperated;
(8) used filter disposed of - new filter lubricated and installed (checking for grommets) on mounting spindle;
(9) mounting spindle, oil filter, canister cover and 8mm bolts reinstalled;
(10) 17mm drain plug reinstalled - with new crush metal gasket;
(11) 2 quarts oil poured into engine - fill plug (checking for gasket) reinstalled;
(12) engine run, allowed to cool - oil level checked, carefully adjusted till between max/min levels indicated around sight glass.

thoughts: i have used spectro and valvoline motorcycle-specific conventional oils, castrol gtx conventional automotive oil, and castrol syntec and mobil-1 fully-synthetic automotive oils. the motorcycle has run quite nicely, regardless of the type of oil used.

qualifications: (1) i have noticed that the motorcycle always runs better after an oil change, and (2) the motorcycle always runs smoother, quieter and stronger with synthetic oil. now, i can't say that any oil will work "fine" in any bike. but, the KLR650's design dates to 1984, with no significant modifications since 1987. so, changing the oil every 1000-2000 miles seems more important than the type of oil used in the change. inasmuch as it employs a "wet sump" and "wet clutch" the KLR650's oil suffers from contamination by metal particles produced by the transmission gears and clutch plates. change the oil; get rid of the metal.

conclusion: it appears to be a myth that a particular type of oil will "destroy" the engine. every other time, oil only - leaving the filter intact - can be changed "on the fly" using exactly 2 quarts of oil. change the oil.

please view the whole procedure illustrated, step-by-step, here:
motorcycle oil and filter change
A I R   F I L T E R
every combustion engine depends upon receipt of a proper mixture of air and fuel. a dirty air filter tends to result in the delivery of an air-fuel mixture that's too rich, i.e., fuel heavy. as a result, fuel efficiency and performance diminish. the motorcycle runs smoother, stronger and more efficiently when the air filter is clean. a clean air filter pays for itself. you need one phillips head screwdriver and 5 minutes to inspect the air filter. do it. if it's dirty, clean it. don't worry too much about the solvent or the oil, e.g., turpentine will not "gum up" the CVK40 carb. just clean the filter on a regular basis. expect the side of the air filter opposite the air box access panel to be dirtier than the side you see when the air box access panel is removed.

recommended interval: at least every 6000 miles (10,000 km) - or after operation in extremely wet/dirty conditions. dusty riding conditions? check the air filter.

tools & parts: phillips head screwdriver, solvent, oil, container, gloves
KLR650 Air Filter
(1) foam air filter element - plastic cover removed from air box
(2) idle speed adjusting screw
(3) rear brake fluid resevoir - plastic cover intact
(1) right plastic side cover removed from motorcycle, using phillips head screwdriver;
(2) air box side cover removed from motorcycle, using phillips head screwdriver;
(3) wing nut removed by hand, freeing foam air filter element;
(4) foam air filter element removed from plastic support - placed to soak in solvent;
(5) foam air filter element removed from solvent, rung dry, soaked with motor oil, rung dry again - remounted on plastic support;
(6) air filter element and plastic support remounted in air box using wing nut;
(7) air box cover reinstalled;
(8) side cover reinstalled.

thoughts: at 14,990 miles, i replaced the air filter element with another identical stock part. kawasaki suggests said replacement after the cleaning and re-oiling procedure has been repeated five times.

i have used both mineral spirits and also turpentine to clean the foam air filter element. i have not been selective about the type of oil used to saturate the air filter element.

it's a great idea to have a second clean, oiled air filter ready and waiting in a plastic bag - if you're on a long trip.
the motorcycle operator's chief concerns are that the battery is capable of receiving and holding a charge, that the battery is re-charged on a regular basis, and that fluid levels are maintained. the battery, like the carburetor, benefits from daily, or near-daily, use of the motorcycle - as the motorcycle's own charging system is capable of replenishing the battery. long periods of inactivity, operation for long periods in hot weather, or tip-overs, might indicate extra attention to the battery. do not let the fluid levels fall too low - for whatever reason.

tools & parts: phillips head screwdriver, slot head screwdriver, 10mm socket w/ drive, distilled water
KLR650 Battery
(1) battery with max/min electrolyte levels indicated - plastic cover removed
(2) air box intake port
(1) it is necessary to remove both of the motorcyce's plastic side covers, using a phillips head screwdriver;
(2) then, using a 10mm wrench/socket remove the motorcycle's saddle;
(3) the battery hides behind a plastic cover that must be removed;
(4) always disconnect the negative (-) terminal from the battery first - and reattach it last;
(5) disconnect vent tubes as needed;
(6) if the stock battery contains a charge sufficient to start the motorcycle, the goal of accessing the unit is to determine if its electrolyte fluid levels are between the max/min levels indicated on the side of the battery's housing;
(7) add distilled water only, as needed;
(8) reverse steps above.
learn more from the manufacturer yuasa, here:
understanding motorcycle batteries
S P A R K   P L U G
KLR650 Spark Plug
(1) spark plug socket (motorcycle's tool kit) mounted on spark plug with 17mm socket on breaker bar used to apply torque - gas tank removed
(2) idle speed adjusting screw
tools & parts: thin-wall 18mm spark plug socket from the motorcycle's tool kit, 17mm socket, breaker bar, wire-type spark plug gapping tool, spark plug (NGK DPR8EA-9).

recommended spark plug gap: 0.8 - 0.9 mm (0.032 - 0.36 inches).

recommened interval: clean and gap plug every 3000 miles (5000 km).

thoughts: don't strip the parts! never touch the spark plug when the engine is warm. never over-torque the spark plug. use of a penetrating lubricant prior to removal of the plug might be in order. it is possible to leave the gas tank's hose connections intact, removing only the mounting hardware, saddle, surrounding plastic, and obtain sufficient clearance to change the spark plug.

inasmuch as the spark plug is exposed to the harsh environment of the combustion chamber, and it (the spark plug) ought to be relatively inexpensive ($3 U.S.), I prefer to install a new part.
KLR650 Rear Brakes
(1) rear brake; single piston caliper
(2) rear brake caliper carrier; two 6mm allen head bolts connect the caliper to the caliper carrier
(3) rear brake hose
(4) rear brake disc
KLR650 Rear Brake Pads
(1) rear brake pad; removed from rear brake, inside disc. note missing pad material.
(2) rear brake pad; removed from rear brake, outside disc.
view the service illustrated, here:
brake pad replacement
KLR650 Headlight Bulb
(1) sylvania silverstar motorcycle headlight bulb. H4 type, 12 V, 55/60 W. roughly, twice as bright as the stock bulb.
KLR650 Headlight
(1) headlight bulb power supply cord
(2) headlight reflector mounting bracket
KLR650 Headlight
(1) headlight bulb power supply cord
(2) black rubber grommet - shields bulb/connection
(3) headlight reflector
(4) headlight reflector mounting bracket
tools & parts: an H4 type bulb rated at 12 V, 55/60 W.

thoughts: at 13,372 miles, the motorcycle's low beam (55 W) headlight element failed. i upgraded the part, choosing a sylvania silverstar replacement unit. $15-20, U.S. the silverstar appears to be superior to the stock bulb - almost doubling the area viewable by the motorcycle's operator, at night.
G A S   T A N K
KLR650 Gas Tank
(1) gas tank cap
(2) epoxy patch on gas tank
thoughts: at 13,479 miles, the motorcycle's gas tank developed a small leak. after runing the fuel level below the perforation, i hand sanded and cleaned the area. i mixed a small amount of permatex brand epoxy gast tank patch, and applied it to the tank, according to the maufacturer's directions. after the patch dried, i sanded and painted the area of the repair. so far, so good.
learn more about the fuel tank and petcock, here:
How does the "reserve tank" work?
read even more at dan's mc:
gas tanks
C H A I N   C A R E
KLR650 Side Stand
(1) 2x4 lumber
(2) rear swingarm
tools & parts: 24mm wrench, 19mm wrench, tooth brush, "centerstand," WD-40 -or- kerosene, chain saw bar oil -or- gear oil, rag

recommended chain tension: 50 - 65 mm (2.0 - 2.6 inches) of play, when the motorcycle is resting on its sidestand, unmounted.

recommended interval: drive chain cleanliness, lubrication and tension should be checked at least every 400 miles (600 km).

thoughts: chain saw bar oil works surprisingly well as a motorcycle chain lubricant. Using WD-40 to clean the motorcycle's drive chain will not harm said chain's o-rings (Kawasaki suggests that kerosene be used to clean the chain.)

chain cleaning and chain lubing are two distinct operations. applying a heavy oil to a chain - without removing accumulated grit - will result in the creation of an abrasive paste that will accelerate the wear of both the chain and also the chain sprockets.

if the chain is taught - while the operator has his/her full weight in the motorcycle's saddle - it is probably not a good idea to increase chain tension, regardless of the chain's length of play in the motorcycle's unmounted state.

need more? view both procedure illustrated, step-by-step, here:
motorcycle chain lube
motorcycle chain tension
(1) balancer chain tension: on the operator's left side, to the rear of the shift pedal, a small black rubber cap hides a bolt in the engine's side cover. said bolt ought to be loosened, and snugged tight again. there is no "magic" sound or sight to indicate that this operation has been performed correctly. BE GENTLE. you're most likely to have a problem if:
(a) you loosen the bolt too much;
(b) you re-tighten the bolt too much after having loosened it;
(c) you never make an effort to perform the adjustment;
(d) kawasaki's parts - balancer lever or spring - fail.

(2) bolt tightening: the KLR650 vibrates. things come loose. the handlebar mounted controls, the exhaust system and the footpegs seem to be particularly vulnerable. possession of a variety of 8, 10, 12mm wrenches will help.

(3) tire pressure/wear: check pressure when cold. i have followed the Factory's recommendation of 21 psi front and 28 psi rear with good results. understand the following:
(a) less air in the tube results in better traction, but also increases the rate at which the tire/tube heat as a result of increased friction;
(b) more air in the tube results in less rolling resistance and greater load carrying capacity, but traction is diminished.
- as load, speed and road conditions improve - increase air pressure, but never beyond tire rating;
- as load, speed and road conditions diminish - decrease air pressure, but not below ~15 psi without risking pinch flats.

(4) idle speed: when the engine is warm, the tach needle should fall roughly between the 1100 and 1500 r.p.m. marks. expect idle speed creep with elevated engine temperatures. expect a new bike to run a bit hot.
Year 2006
Model KL650A6F
Factory Specifications
Stock Parts, Dimensions and Capacities

Headlight: H4 type, 55/60 watts, 12 volts
Tail Light: 1157 type, 5/21 watts, 12 volts
Battery: 14 Ah, 12 volts, 6 cells
Battery Size: 6 9/16 x 5 11/16 x 3 9/16
Battery #: Yuasa, YB14L - A2

Spark Plug: NGK DPR8EA-9 or ND X24EPR-U9
Spark Plug Gap: 0.8 - 0.9 mm or 0.032 - 0.036 in
Spark Plug Socket Size: 18 mm thin-wall
Spark Plug Torque: 14 N-m or 1.4 kg-m or 10.0 ft-lb

Drive Chain: Enuma EK520SR-02
Drive Chain Size: 520
Drive Chain Length: 106 links
Drive Chain Slack: 2.0-2.6 in, at rest
Drive Chain Adjustment Nuts: 12 mm and 14 mm
Front Sprocket: 15 tooth
Rear Sprocket: 43 tooth
Front Sprocket Nut: 27 mm x 1
Rear Sprocket Nuts: 12 mm x 8

Front Tire Size: 90/90x21 - 54S
Rear Tire Size: 130/80x17 - 65S
Front Tire Air Pressure: 21 psi
Rear Tire Air Pressure: 21-28 psi
Minimum Tire Tread Depth: 2 mm or 0.08 in
Front Tire Tube: 21 in, 2.75/3.00, 90/90, TR-4 valve stem
Rear Tire Tube: 17 in, 4.00/5.10, 130/80, TR-4 valve stem

Front Axle Nuts: 22 mm and 17 mm
Rear Axle Nuts: 24 mm and 19 mm
Rear Axle Nut Torque: 93 N-m or 9.5 kg-m or 69 ft-lb

Engine: Four-stroke, four-valve, DOHC single
Displacement: 651cc - 39.7 cu in.
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 83.0mm
Compression ratio: 9.5:1

Valve Clearance Intake: 0.10 mm - 0.20 mm or 0.004 - 0.008 in
Valve Clearance Intake: 0.15 mm - 0.25 mm or 0.006 - 0.010 in

Carburetion: Keihin CVK40
Idle Speed: 1300 rpm, +/- 100 rpm, in neutral

Ignition: Electronic CDI
Ignition Timing: 10 degrees BTDC @ 1300 rpm

Coolant Capacity: 1.3 litre or 1.4 quarts
Coolant Mix: 50/50 coolant/water

Engine Oil Type: API SE, SF, SG, or SH and SJ with JASO MA
Engine Oil Viscosity: 10-40 @ +14 to +104 F or -10 to +40 C
Engine Oil Capacity With Filter: 2.6 quarts or 2.5 litres
Engine Oil Capacity Without Filter: 2.3 quarts or 2.2 litres
Engine Oil Drain Plug Size: 17 mm hex
Engine Oil Drain Plug Torque: 23 N-m or 2.3 kg-m or 16.5 ft-lb

Transmission: 5-speed, constant mesh, return shift, common sump
Shift Pedal Nut: 10 mm

Balancer Chain Adjustment Nut A/K/A Doohickey: 8 mm

Front & Rear Brake: Single-piston hydraulic disc
Front & Rear Brake Fluid: DOT 4
Brake Caliper Carrier Nut Size: 6 mm allen
Front Brake Pad Pin: 5 mm

Throttle Grip Play: 2 - 3 mm
Clutch Lever Play: 2 - 3 mm
Grip Length: 114 mm or 4.5 in
Handlebar Diameter: 7/8 in

Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
Rake-trail: 28 degrees / 4.4 in.
Front Suspension: 9.1 in travel, air-adjustable preload
Rear Suspension: 9.1 in travel, preload, rebound damping
Overall length: 86.8 in. - 2,205 mm
Overall width: 37.0 in. - 940 mm
Overall height: 53.0 in. - 1,345 mm
Ground clearance: 9.4 in. - 240 mm
Wheelbase: 58.9 in.
Turning radius: 94.5 in. - 2.4 m minimum
Seat height: 35.0 in.
Saddle Bolts: 10 mm x 2
Body colors: Kawasaki Lime Green, Aztec Red

Fuel Tank Capacity (Actual): 5.5 - 5.7 US gallons or 21 litres
Fuel Tank Capacity (Claimed): 6.1 US gallons or 23 litres
Dry weight: 337 lbs or 153 kg
Wet Weight: 402 lbs or 182 kg
GVWR: 738 lbs or 334 kg

maintenance log
model year 2006, new, on September 15, 2005

0-500 miles under 4000 r.p.m. per manufacturer; warmed thoroughly before ridden; no sudden acceleration or deceleration; not held at a constant speed for extended periods of time.

501-1000 miles as above - run under 6000 r.p.m. per manufacturer.

oil level checked
tire pressure checked and adjusted
chain cleaned & lubed, tension checked
electricals/cables/fasteners/brakes checked
general cleaning performed
(WD-40, toothbrush, rag and Husqvarna chainsaw bar oil used on drive chain)

counterbalancer adjustment performed regularly

@ 500 miles:
oil only changed (Valvoline 10-40 motorcycle specific)
clutch cable adjusted (2 - 3 mm play)
chain tensioned, cleaned, lubed
shock dampener & spring tensioner adjusted
speedo cable connections tightened
idle speed adjusted
all hardware tightened

@ 609 miles *Dealer Service*:
initial "500 mile" service performed by B&B Kawasaki, Elgin, Illinois.
as above - adding valve clearance check, air filter cleaning and counterbalancer adjustment (Spectro 10-40, Kawi filter and gasket)

@ 807 miles:
battery removed, and checked

@ 2264 miles:
oil, oil filter, gasket changed (Castrol GTX 20-50, Kawi filter and gasket)

@ 4857 miles:
oil only changed (Mobil 1 15-50, full synthetic)

@ 5896 miles *Dealer Service*:
rear tire changed by Kawasaki-Suzuki of Marble Falls, Marble Falls, Texas. (Dunlop 607, 130/80 17, 65H)

@ 6121 miles:
oil, oil filter, gasket changed (Castrol GTX 10-40, Kawi filter and gasket)

@ 7735 miles:
oil only changed (Mobil 1 10-30, full synthetic)

* third month of ownership, dec 17, 2005.

@ 8270 miles:
air filter cleaned

@ 8614 miles:
oil, oil filter, gasket changed (Spectro 10-40, Kawi filter and gasket)
battery checked, distilled water added
new spark plug installed (NGK DPR8EA-9)

* sixth month of ownership, march 17, 2006.

@ 9500 miles:
brake and clutch control levers replaced
handguards replaced
brake and clutch cables tensioned, lubed

@ 9834 miles:
oil, oil filter, gasket changed (Castrol Syntec 10-40, full synthetic)

@ 9841 miles:
air filter cleaned

* 10,000 miles, may 5, 2006.

@ 11,380 miles:
oil only changed (Castrol GTX 20-50)

@ 11,919 miles:
rear brake pads replaced (EBC)
rear brake disc lapped

@ 12,250 miles:
oil, oil filter, gasket changed (Valvoline 10-40, Kawi filter and gasket)
oil filter canister bolts replaced
clutch cable tension adjusted

* one year of ownership, september 15, 2006.
* 13, 013 miles.

@ 13,327 miles:
headlight lamp replaced (Sylvania "SilverStar" H4 12V 55/60W)
oil only changed (Valvoline ATV 10-40)

@ 13,479 miles:
gas tank repaired w/ epoxy patch (Permatex)

* eighteen months of ownership, march 17, 2007.

@ 14,280 miles:
oil only changed (Mobil 10-40)

* twenty-one months of ownership, June 17, 2007.

@ 14,990 miles:
oil, oil filter, gasket changed (Mobil 10-40, Kawi filter and gasket)
battery checked, distilled water added
new spark plug installed (NGK DPR8EA-9)
new air filter installed (Kawi)
front wheel removed
front axle greased
speedometer gear greased
front brake pads replaced (EBC)
front brake disc lapped and cleaned
front tire mounted by BBK Motorsport, Elgin, Illinois. (Michelin Anakee, 90/90 21, HB)

@ 15,398 miles:
Carburetor cleaner added to fuel tank (Sea Foam)

@ 16,006 miles:
rear wheel removed
rear axle greased
drive chain soaked in oil bath
three chain guards cleaned
sprocket alignment adjusted
drive chain re-tensioned
rear brake disc cleaned
rear brake pads checked
4 ounces Sea Foam added to crankcase, run, drained
oil, oil filter, gasket changed (Shell Rotella T 15-40, Kawi filter and gasket)
12 ounces of Sea Foam added to fuel tank
Pro Grip 791 gel grips mounted
handlebars stuffed with styrofoam
rear tire mounted by BBK Motorsport, Elgin, Illinois. (Michelin Anakee 130/80 17, HR)

* twenty-four months of ownership, September 17, 2007.

@ 16,923 miles:
oil only changed (Shell Rotella T 15-40)
tool kit
Most of the tools listed below can be found in the motorcycle's Factory kit. It is worth noting that the spark plug socket contained in said kit is especially useful. Having written that, it might be helpful to purchase additional items - including, but not limited to, larger wrenches and a small socket set of a good quality. I bought "Sears Craftsman" products, and they've been fine.

Basic Maintenance:
24, 22, 19, 17, 14, 12, 10 mm combination wrenches
10, 8, 5 mm sockets with 1/4 inch drive and extension
18 mm thin-wall spark plug socket and drive
#1, #2, #3 Phillips head screwdrivers
6mm T-handle allen wrench
Spark plug gapping tool, 0.8 - 0.9 mm or 0.032 - 0.36 in

Extras on Road:
2 tire irons
17 and 21 inch tubes
air pump
Fluids: oil, brake, water
2nd air filter, already oiled, in a bag
Safety pins
Electrical tape
Zip ties and/or wire
2-part epoxy/weld
Chain lube kit
pre-ride check list
  1. Brakes: With the motorcycle "off" and in neutral, will the front brake hold/stop the bike? The rear brake? Is there an adequate amount of fluid in both of the resevoirs? Is that fluid less than two years old? Are brake pads of adequate thickness in the calipers? Are the brake discs clean? Have the brake cables been properly tensioned and lubricated?
  2. Tires: Do the tires hold air? Is the air pressure in the tires adequate for the load you're carrying and surface upon which you're riding? Is there tread of adequate thickness on the tires? Is the tire compound young enough to provide adequate grip?
  3. Oil: After running the engine in an open area till warm, turning it "off," and allowing the oil to settle - is the level correct? Is the oil less than 2,000 miles and one year old?
  4. Clutch: Is the clutch cable adjusted properly? Does the clutch fully disengage? Has the clutch cable been lubricated?
  5. Throttle: With the motorcycle off, does the throttle tube "snap" closed after being turned open?
  6. Lights: Do the headlight, tail light, brake light and turn signals work?
  7. Fastener Tightness: Have you checked those parts that are likely to loosen as a result of vibration? Handlebar mounted controls? Foot pegs? Shift pedal? Exhaust? Front fender? Side stand?
  8. Battery: If you use the stock battery, or a similar model, have you checked the fluid levels recently? Has the motorcycle tipped over? Been run at high speed in the heat? Have you checked the fluid levels again?
  9. Chain: When was the last time that you cleaned and lubed the chain? In what condition are the chain and sprockets? Is the chain tension appropriate for the load you're carrying and surface upon which you're riding?
  10. Coolant: Is there an adequate amount of coolant in the resevoir? Is that coolant less than two years old?
  11. Fuel: Do you know the amount of fuel in your motorcycle, and the range available to you? Are you comfortable with the operation of the petcock?
  12. You: Are you sober, rested and focused on what you're about to do? Gear?
One of the best things about the KLR650 is the fact that thousands of riders have been on-line sharing their experience with said model for a decade. Make use of that knowledge. Find as much relevant information as possible - prior to making your own decision.

klr650faq - The most encompassing single-page collection of general information that I have found, on-line. Compiled by Chris Krok.

multisurfacemotorcycling.com - Elden Carl and company. A great resource for Kawasaki KLR, Suzuki DR/Z and Honda XR/L riders. Maintenance, ride reports, etc.

f650.com - BMW F650GS focus, with useful commentary on tires, riding tips, etc; applicable to most 650cc single-cylinder motorcycles.

Diesel KLR650 - Diesel engine conversion from F1 Engineering.

U.S. Marine Corps KLR650 - YouTube video, including multi-fuel capable segment.

Owner's Pages

1999-2006 KLR650 - Five-time KLR650 owner Verle Nelson. A good read.

2001 KLR650: mods, trips, etc. - Good pictures of Ortlieb dry bags mounted on a KLR650. Mods, etc.

1999 KLR650 - Mods, tires, etc.

An unhappy owner :(


KLR650.NET - The first, and still the largest, KLR-specific forum on-line.

klrforum.com - ?

klrworld.com - ADV's Hondo and company; member's rides featured.

Yahoo - Dual Sport News' Yahoo! Groups KLR650 list. Since 2000. Register to read.

Adventure Touring

Bob's KLR650 Arctic Adventure: 2005 - Gear reviews and mods, on the road to the Arctic Circle via Alaska (again).

Motorcycle touring - An old hand's advice on packing, gear, lodging, etc. Good stuff.

ironbutt.com - The Archive of Wisdom at Iron Butt.

horizonsunlimited.com - An awesome, global, adventure touring website.

advrider.com - A great forum, and archive, dealing with adventure touring, and motorcycling, generally.

Greg Frazier - Crow Indian Tribe, PhD Economics, author, motorcyclist. He's been doing it a long time.

Parts Options

dual-star.com - Racks, bags, etc. Fuel tanks. Washington State.

happy-trail.com - Racks, aluminum panniers, guards etc. Made in the U.S.A., at the Happy Trails shop in Idaho.

ronayers.com - Parts, tires, helmets, etc.

Arrowhead Motorsorts - Utah, Moab, "Fred" has a good reputation.

Eagle Mfg. and Engineering - Most "doohickey" upgrades appear to be "Eagle" Mike's work. And people are pleased.

Schnitz Motorsports, Inc - In addition to the usual parts, also the 685cc upgrade. Folks have mentioned being happy with their work.

Tires - A compendium of rider's opinions on various tire models culled from the Yahoo! list, and the klr650faq. Check f650.com for additional.


AMA: 2005 model review - On the road, in Alaska.

Motorsports-Network: 2004 model review - Up the California Coast.

Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly: 2002 model review - Through the Upper Midwest.

Motorcycle Daily: 2002 review

Epinions.com: 2000 model review

Specs: 87-96 models


When I began looking for a motorcycle on which to take a long ride, I found Mariola Cichon's "Ride of the Heart" website. It's gone, living now only in memory and the Internet Archive . But it was because of that Polish lady from Chicago that I wound up on a KLR650. Thanks!
Had it not been for the women in my life, on-line, and behind the books, I would not have done this - this way. The best MSF course that I took contained the most female students - including two mother & daughter pairs. (It was taught by the oldest instructors too.) There are height, weight and strength issues in motorcycling; but there are no gender issues between you and the machine.

Women on bikes, on-line:

And Melissa Holbrook Pierson wrote a really good book:
The Perfect Vehicle.
Paul E. Germanos
478 S. York
Elmhurst, IL, 60126





Chicago Guide
It seems impossible to discuss what has, and has not, worked - without making reference to particular products. "What should I get?" "Where should I get it?" "How much should I expect to pay?" "Who has good service?" People want to know. Prior to making a major purchase, most savvy consumers attempt to gather as much information as possible. For most of us, a motorcycle is a major purchase. Look around. Be informed.

If I write about something, it is only because I have used it. If I link to something, it is only because I have found it to be helpful. If I include ads, it is to help to pay for the cost of the website. And Google's ads seem to supply content that is relevant to this page's purpose. Again: I don't know how to provide information about the KLR650, accessories and motorcycling generally, without advancing, or inhibiting, someone's commercial agenda.

Be smart: Look; learn; decide; and then get away from the computer - and go ride. Motorcycling isn't in here; it's out there.
This is a document that reflects its author's personal experience. The information presented on this page is not a substitute for any professional service. Go to Kawasaki, the MSF, the SMF and the AMA; they want to help you. Read the Hurt Report. Do your own research; formulate a hypothesis; test it. Read the material linked from this site. Take responsibility. Ride to be alive.
KLR650 Trip Failures

Reference a trip-ending failure, I posit the following in order of likelihood:
  1. Flat tire;
  2. Mechanical failure due to lack of, or improperly performed, regular maintenance;
  3. Damage sustained in a fall/crash;
  4. Design or manufacturing flaw.
In reverse order:

(4) I think, the two most common design/manufacturing "upgrades" made to the KLR650 result from complaints about the failure of the balancer system and/or the subframe bolts. Not everyone has had, or will have, a problem. Nevertheless, these two topics keep reappearing. It's worth investigating.

Balancer system explained:
Subframe bolts discussion:

(3) Hand controls mounted on the bars, safety switches, the radiator and expansion tank, the fuel tank and foot pegs seem to be vulnerable in a crash or tip-over. Some riders choose to protect their motorcycle with "nerf bars," hand guards, etc. It's worth investigating.

(2) Most mechanical failures seem to be due to a lack of, or improperly performed, regular maintenance. For instance: Chain & sprockets? How many miles on them? How often have they been cleaned & lubed? Is the tension correct? Etc. Especially with a used motorcycle, I'd want to know that all consumable parts had been replaced. And then I'd run the motorcycle in a familiar area for a time -- to check for failure of parts/work close to home.

(1) On such a trip, you've got to have the parts/skills to repair a flat tire.

Tire changing on-line:
Motorcycle Tire Changing by Adam Glass
Neduro's Tire Changing Class
More help from Dunlop:
Motorcycle Tire Tips

It would be worth your while to use Google to search the various forums on-line for opinions reference specific products and/or upgrades. Use the forum URL and the topic as search terms, e.g., "advrider.com doohickey" or "advrider.com klr650 subframe bolts" as the major search engines often provide better results than the forum's own search function. You could take the stock bike off the showroom floor, add soft luggage, and go. Some riders survive in spite of inadequate preparation; others have their trips/lives cut short as a result of some freakish accident that no one could have foreseen.

See additional maintenance procedures illustrated at:

And see a treatise on the CVK40 carb at:
    copyright: paul e. germanos
e-mail: paulgermanos(at)msn.com    

all material copyright paul e. germanos
contact: paulgermanos(at)msn.com
privacy policy: g e r m z . o r g