KLR Adventure Tourer – 3 (redux)

Words: Rob Harris. Pics: Various (title by Jim Vernon)


There’s a rule when it comes to doing projects in a magazine – don’t. They tend to have a knack of bogging down and going south and the CMG KLR Adventure Tourer project is now a classic example of this.


Launched in January of 2011 the big plan was to convert an rather tired old KLR650 into a usable Adventure Tourer, and all for under $3,000. Research was done, best value items found, begging emails sent out and a deal struck with Ontario’s Dual Sport Plus who would supply what we needed in exchange for letting people know where we got the parts from and giving links to their site for more info on parts used.


All I needed to do was find time to get into the basement and do the work. Well, with two young kids and a rather demanding job, time has become my most valuable resource and combined with some delays on getting all the stuff we needed (mental note – do not start a project until you have all the bits in your hands), the project duly stalled out and then the riding season hit and that was that for that.

Patiently waiting.

Until now.

A couple of weeks ago it was my birthday and when asked what treat I wanted by my lovely trouble and strife it was obvious – a whole day in the basement working on my bike, please. No kid duties, no shopping, no housework, just a solid day for me and the KLR.

Yes, it’s a sad statement on my current lifestyle, but this project needed a kick start and what better way to do that?

So before we begin, let’s take stock of where we’re trying to get to …



Mr Coleman has hin sussed.

In part 1 we laid out the concept of this project, which involved fixing up the current abuse (fork seals!), addressing design issues (the Doohickey being the favourite), improve offroad abilities (bashguards for sure!) and improve touring abilities (seat and luggage, etc) and finally some performance improvements (carb kit, etc).

The trick is to keep the focus on the Adventure Touring criteria. The bike doesn’t have to tackle trails but some off-roading is important and it should be able to gobble up the miles in comfort and with good range.

Then of course I finished off the piece by saying that there would be monthly updates and we’d test it in the summer. Thankfully I didn’t say which summer, so let’s just clarify that now as 2012.

On the brighter side, the project seemed to have hit a positive note, with part 1 enticing a mass of readers’ responses which showed that we’d stumbled upon a good idea. It was also where we first met Willys, but more on that shortly …

Who’d have thunk there was so much chaos behind a little Doohickey?

Part 2 didn’t happen till May where we started into the Engine Mods, tackling the air box (drilling holes for better breathing), carb (Dynojet kit for better fuel flow) and … the Doohickey. Yes, that little balance chain adjuster that is so prone to failure in standard trim.

We asked for an aftermarket version from Dual Sport Plus, was sent it and duly fitted it. Trouble was, it was a Studebaker brand and not an Eagle Mike version and although it seems perfectly up to the job, I quickly realized that there was a dark and terrible war going on on the web between supporters of both Doohickies and I had unwittingly walked down the ally with a blue bandanna on my head when the local gang is red, or something like.

And then it all went CMG …

Willys hit the wall and all the happy-happy comments from part one were filled with angst and accusations over the heresy of the Doohickey origin in part 2. The usual accusations of incompetence, pandering to outside organizations and a threat of “deleting this site” spewed forth and despite my best efforts to try and dissect the issue to find out where the problem lay, I eventually concluded that this was a war of passion and not reason.

It’s a shame because Willys was definitely a knowledgable fellow, but despite his annoyance at all things CMG, my experience tells me that we’ve not heard the last from the man.


Lots of parts to fit.

So to the matter at hand then, where do we go from here? Well after my birthday ‘treat’ I am now back on track with what I have, what I still need and what are the next steps?

Shims are under the cams but a single is a lot easier than a multi.

Well the motor’s pretty much done, though I do seem to be having an inordinate amount of trouble finding a local shop that has the required valve shims .

The KLR has shim on top of bucket design but no tool to get at them, requiring the cams to be removed. Since it’s only a single it’s not a big job but I’m glad I did it as I found all four to be on the tight side (everyone recommends setting at the loose end of the clearances, which is what I’ll do … once I find some shims of course)!

The only parts related to motor work that I’m still waiting on is a Uni air filter that comes highly recommended in the forums and I’m leaning toward a slip-on pipe. The original still works but it’s fading fast and weighs  way more than it should. I’m leaning toward Hindle as they’re Canadian and supposedly pretty quiet, though FMF is a good option too.

The standard muffler is built to last but it also weights a ton.

I also need a few last small pieces for the other updates but they should be easy enough to pick up. So despite my own advice not to start (or even restart) a project without all the bits in my hands, let’s go ahead regardless.

Okay, having pretty much finished the motor work in part one the next job is to tackle the chassis which I shall be splitting up into the following updates:

Suspension and Frame

I have an Eagle Mike fork brace, Progressive springs for the front and a shock for the rear and I’ll replace the seals and the ugly blue fork boots while I’m in there.

Eagle Mike’s fork brace is a nice piece of kit.

Framewise I have a kit to strengthen up the subframe bolts and I’m going to try and mount a new fender onto the bottom of the forkbrace so that I can get rid of the high mounted original that has been cited as a cause of instability at speed.

Brakes and Electrics

Dualsport Plus have sent a very nice large front rotor to add some braking force to the front and a pair of braided hoses for front and rear. I don’t find the rear lacking at all so that’s likely not needed, but I’ll fit to see how it changes it. I’m also looking for a billet aluminum rear brake mount as i’d seen the original break in a minor spill and it leaves you sans rear brake as a result. Again Dual Sport Plus have them and will be sending one soon.

Studebaker 320 mm front disc kit should help the KLR with its braking duties.

As far as electrical work goes I have an LED rear light set up (no more blown bulbs and hopefully more light to boot), fuse block relocator (so you can access them without hang to remove the seat) and a radiator fan override switch (though I’m not sure how important this is, but I’ll fit and see). Oh and I also have a metal fan blade which doesn’t flew as much as the plastic one. I’ve seen the plastic ones twist off their shafts if they get dislodged in a tumble, so I like a stronger solution.

I still also have to find out the best and cheapest way to give more light at the front end though this may be as simple as a trick bulb.

Protection, Ergos and Luggage

Nanuk bags are waterproof and Canadian.

This is all pretty obvious stuff and I have it waiting to be fitted. Bashplate for the engine, rad guard to stop the rad from being crushed during a simple left hand side drop, some tougher handlebars and some handguards that not only protect the riders fingers from being crushed but also give some weather protection too. Dual Sport Plus also sent me a headlight guard which I’ll fit though I haven’t see a headlight break, so I’m not convinced that it’ll be needed.

Ergowise I have some bar risers, heated grips, serrated footpegs and a longer shifter to match the larger pegs. I also have a Corbin seat which should help for the longer runs and am waiting for a taller screen to come through for extra wind protection.

I still find myself lacking in the luggage department. DualSport Plus did send me one Nanuk bag (like a Pelican bag but Canadian made) but I need two and some sort of rack system to mount them to.

Barkbuster Storm Guards should do the trick

They have promised to send me another bag and recommend the SW Motech Quicklock mounts and some adapters that you attach directly to the Nanook bags, so that should solve that issue rather nicely. Dual Sport Plus have also sent me a larger rear rack and a Wolfman tank bag that I used on the Super Tenere project last year, but should also work very nicely on the KLR.

BTW, we decided not to go for one of the plastic IMS replacement tanks. Part due to the fact that at 23 litres the current tank is more than big enough, but also because according to Les at Dual Sport Plus they also carry a chunk of ‘dead’ fuel in the sides that are too low for the fuel tap so they’re actually not much of a gain in capacity. Oh, and there’s that pesky budget to keep to too.


Right them, let’s get back at her!

After all is done it’s time to summarize all the parts used and tally up the cost. Remember the budget is $3,000 so if I’m over that I’ll drop out the bits that I think are least important instil we have the main list. After that, it’s …

Testing & Results!

Yes, if I actually keep on top of the project I should have the bike ready in time for the 2012 riding season which I will use to ride it and see how everything held up. At the end of the year i’ll do a final write up and the CMG KLR650 Adventure Tourer project will be done!

Next update Suspension and Frame in March? Great, see you then.


  1. For the rack let me recommend a rack from Packrat Adventure Gear. http://www.packratadventuregear.com/

    It shrugged off my 60kph getoff north of Manic Cinq last year, and another last fall after a blown front tube. They’re a single unit, so no racking of bits whatsover, and you can thrash the whole rig offroad which you can’t do with the SW-Motech racks that are suggested. I know, I’ve got a set of the SW-Motech racks in my garage.

    I’d definitely recommend a radiator guard, I’ve bent mine a few times hitting cedar trees, the asphalt etc.

    It’s great seeing it come together. 😀

  2. Hi Rob
    Good to see you back at the KLR
    but a Hindle and quiet in the same sentence I admit to sceptisism
    also I do believe Givi makes a Very clean mount for their bags for the KLR should the current ones not be up to snuff
    I saw a set once and have never been more impressed by andything GIVI did as far as mounting brakets went
    good luck
    Johnnie Phatt

  3. Hey Rob,

    Sirius Consolidated Inc. here in Cambridge sells a shim kit for $100 Part # 13-7007 that lists a KL650 24mm shims if that’s any help.


    • Hi Ivan,

      Thanks for the info. I actually managed to finally find some shims in Amherst though was a little shocked at the $10/each price tag. Mind you I don’t think I’ve bought any shims for about 20 years so that might explain things.

      Cheers, Rob

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