It was getting embarrassing. This six-month project started about 18 months ago. Every time I thought I’d got a handle on it, I’d either be missing a vital part or have to drop everything and focus on other projects – a three-week trip to Europe and Morocco being a good example.
But excuses don’t get editorials written, and I finally got to the point where I decided to not write another update until it was the last one. Besides, I just collected the CMG long term V-Strom and I didn’t think it would be clever to start another modding project while the KLR was still awaiting completion.
So it was — a mere hour ago — I hit the starter button and heard the KLR Adventure Tourer project sing. It sort of coughed and spluttered like a pack-a-day smoker to start, but it sang eventually and with that I can now call the project finished!
Well, sort of.
The smoking, bubbling paint on the header pipe guard reminded me I hadn’t used high heat paint, so I need to redo that; the low front fender is really too low and I’m sure it’ll rub the front tire at higher speeds. There’s also the luggage issue, but since I’m waiting on a set of adapter brackets to mate the Nanuk cases to the SW Motech mounts, there’s not much I can do right now.
But at least the bike is done, hauled out of the basement (a story unto itself) and ready to be plated, insured and tested. That will be done over the summer; when it’s all finished, I’ll write up a report and make the final list of all the parts I’d recommend if you wanted to make your own Adventure Tourer out of an old KLR650 for under $3K.
But for now, let’s go over the last of the bits that were fitted and the work done;
Well after foolishly deciding to paint the subframe and swingarm (my painting skills have already been surpassed by my 4-year-old daughter), I was finally in a position to reassemble the arse end, which I did three times; once again after I forgot to to thread some wires through to the back, and the next time having neglected to put the airbox back in.
Did I ever tell you why I decided to stop being a mechanic?
This left me with a rolling chassis which actually looked quite impressive. But, there was still a large pile of farkles to fit and as you may well know, the niggly bits can take an awful long time! Here’s the list of what I dressed up the old KLR with and their respective reasoning and fitment issues.
Brake! LED Tail light
One of the problems with standard filament light bulbs — especially on a vibratory single — is that they just blow. And you can guarantee that they’ll blow at night and a long way from a place that will sell you a spare.
With the recent advent of LED lighting, the motorcyclist now has a very handy way of circumnavigating this safety issue with an after market LED tailight.
Dual Sport Plus sent me a Brake! unit (yes that is the name) which fits relatively easily – the only issue being having to file down the lens mounting boss 1/16 of an inch to allow for the additional thickness of the LED unit mounting plate.
The result is not only a last-almost-forever light, but it also comes with a switch allowing you to make it flash in various frequencies to your heart’s desire. Very cool.
There are two things that can be said of bog-standard KLR exhausts; 1) they last forever, 2) they weigh a ton. So, although my pipe was still in working condition I wanted to see if I could shed a bit of weight and maybe add a little performance without breaking the budget in the process.
The answer was the Lexx slip-on pipe that I got from the very accommodating fellows at Rocky Mountain ATV/MC.
Listed for US$199.99 on sale, the Lexx not only looks the part, it saves weight too.
Of course, there’s some frustration to be had trying to get the thing to fit right but after much alignment, loosening and retightening of mounting bolts, the job was done.
I only hope it isn’t too loud, but the end caps are replaceable to give quieter options, so I may try that out.
SW Motech Quick-Lock side case mounts
I fell in love with this neat setup a few years back when we had them for our original V-Strom 650 long termer. The units comes with four quick-release screws that connect to individual small mounts attached to the bike. This means the racks can be removed easily and quickly if you don’t want them on.
Of course, there is some fiddling to get all the different attachment bits to line up, and they require reallocating the signal lights (complete with wire extensions that can be circumnavigated by drilling a couple of more holes in the rear fender – done), but it’s a relatively quick job with minimal frustration.
As I mentioned in the intro, once I get the adapter brackets, I should be able to mount the Nanuk cases and be ready for a road trip.
And let’s not forget the barbecue grill at the back.
It didn’t come with any ID so I don’t know who makes them (anyone know?), but it handily replaces my original broken rack middle and has a lot more real estate to strap things onto.
It also works as a handy point to grab the rear by if, say, ohhhh, you need to get your KLR out of a basement via a steep staircase …
Studebaker Serrated Footpegs
Standard KLR footpegs are relatively narrow rubber items, which work fine unless you need a little more grip for wet/off-road conditions. Solution? A set of Studebaker serrated pegs that not only offer extra grip, but a wider surface to spread the load and therefore increase rider comfort.
They’re pretty easy to fit and come with their own bolts and springs – just be prepared to spend a little time getting all the bits in the right order … no, footbegs shouldn’t fold forwards, doh.
Studebaker also makes a handy extended (and much stronger than original) shift lever, that gives the extra foot room needed because of the wider pegs.
Rad Guard and SW Motech Bashplate
If you wanna take your KLR into even a mild off-road environment, then you need to be aware of what happens when you inevitably drop it.
One thing I have seen in the past is a mashed radiator as it his very exposed and has no protection, so I added DS+’s own rad guard, which is a wonderful piece of kit.
It bolts onto the lower front engine mount and the frame above the rad, looping around the radiator in the process and keeps the rad nice and square when dropped onto something hard.
The other thing you need to do is take off the crappy plastic sump cover and fit something a little more tough. There are many bashplates to chose from; I previously had the very tough and large Dual Star unit that proved to be great for bouncing off rocks and logs. However, although DS+ sent me one of these they also included an offering from SW Motech, which is a thinner and altogether smaller plate.
But why would you opt for less protection when you can go big? Well, the Dual Star unit not only weighs more, but it also tends to reflect a lot of engine noise back to the rider. And, more importantly for this Adventure Touring project, it’s not needed.
Sure, I used to bounce the KLR off rocks, but that’s not the mandate for this project. Trans Lab and rough gravel roads don’t need a heavy-duty bashplate, so I went for the SW Motech.
The kit comes with some replacement front mounting brackets – otherwise it bolts quite simply into place. Unfortunately the less coverage means that the frame is still exposed around it and in my laziness and quest to get this finished quickly, I hadn’t repainted that area, as I’d assumed it would be hidden by the bashplate.
Bashplate looks great. Rusty frame not so much.
Studebaker Big Arse Front Disc
One of the biggest issues of the KLR (pre 2008 revamp) is the anemic front brake. One easy way to fix this is to simply fit a bigger disc and with it significantly improved braking force.
Studebaker make a gorgeous 320 mm option which comes with a caliper mounting spacer to align the original brake caliper to the new disc Don’t forget to fit new brake pads too as worn pads will not bed in properly and null and void the warranty, so be sure to order a set with the disc.
Fitting is pretty straightforward — don’t forget to use Loctite on the bolts — and you end up with a very impressive big arse disc brake that will hopefully give the KLR some much-needed stopping power to boot
But why stop with a disc? Braided lines will bypass any flex in those tired old rubber lines still on your 20+ year old KLR, and give a better feel and sharper braking to boot. Although my issue with KLR braking is strictly limited to the front, (the rear is fine as is), DS+ sent me front and rear Russel braided lines, so I thought I might as well fit them both.
If you’ve ever changed brake lines, you know the majority of the job is pumping the brake lever and topping up the reservoir. Fitting is pretty straightforward (always use new crush washers – supplied!) but because the system is drained of all fluid, you have to somehow get new (non-compressible) fluid in and the (compressible) air out.
You can always get a suction unit that you connect to the caliper end so that it pulls the fluid through, but that’s for proper mechanics. No, every home bodger should spend a good hour pumping, releasing the nipple, tighten the nipple, then repeat. Besides, when you do finally get a good firm squeeze and feel the pressure build you’ll know that you did it all by yourself.
Same applies for the bleeding the brakes BTW …
Oh and let’s not forget the Eagle Mike rear brake mount. The standard one is cast and can break if it hits anything when dropped (I’ve seen it) rendering the rear brake inoperative. Eagle Mike’s is machined from aluminium billet and should be a lot stronger too.
Bars et al
I was thinking of converting to thicker 1 1/8 ” bars from the standard 7/8″ as I have a set of Roxspeed risers that allow you to do this easily. But Les at DS+ convinced me to keep the 7/8 but use aluminum Pro Taper bars instead.
They certainly look like a set of sturdier bars and come with handy markings for alignment and cutting if you need to shorten them. They also seem to have about the same dimensions of the standard bars which means that cables still all reach as before. Unlike the originals, there’s a cross-bar for added strength too.
While I was working on the bars, I added a few other things, namely some Oxford Heated Grips (with controller), a radiator fan bypass switch, fuse relocator and a set of Barkbusters.
The heated grips require a bit of work to get onto the bars (it’s a tight fit) and thanks to the controller add a significant amount of wiring that needs to be routed. I find these things are always the jobs that take the most time, but I’ll be happy for the heat on longer rides.
I’m not sure why I fitted the rad bypass switch. Apparently there’s issue enough with the fan for someone to make it, but I fitted it and turning it ‘on’ seems to do nothing, unless you’re supposed to turn it ‘off’ because the fan won’t shut off itself? I don’t know, but I’m not impressed so far.
On the other hand, the fuse relocator is quite handy. The standard fuse is located under the seat and requires you to remove the side panels and seat to get at it. The relocator … relocates a new fuse block (you trash the old one) to under the cover on the LHS of the motor, which is much easier to access. It also frees up a space over the battery for the Oxford heated grips module – though I don’t think they were thinking of that at the time.
As for the Barkbusters this is the first time that I’ve tried the Australian-made hand protectors and I’m impressed. They are super simple and easy to mount and come with optional Storm covers that will act to shield my mits from any nasty cold and rain. Super.
The Comfy Touches
And finally, since we’re building this to be able to do the miles, I added a bit more wind protection in the shape of a 4″ by 4″ bigger MRA screen (though size is not always the answer with screens). I also added a bum-cradling Corbin seat; it seems oddly heavy, but feels rather accommodating for my boney arse.
Getting the %$#@er out
With all the bits on and the bike ready for the real world after 18 months locked in the ‘Arris basement (I guess that makes it my gimp) we had one last task – get it out.
Simple enough, no? No, getting it down the 45 degree stairs from the backyard was tough, getting it up was a lesson in determination over reason.
Zac manned the rope at the top of the stairs and I pushed from the rear. This worked okay until the wheels slipped off the 2×4. Then we resorted to a car jack which raised it up into an even more precarious position and didn’t make it any easier.
Then, right on cue, my neighbour returned and was quickly press ganged into action with the promise of a beer (Tankhouse, so we’re talking good beer).
Two at the rear and one on the rope and we were out, albeit with the bashplate getting some early action on the top step.
Now all that remains is to test the thing.
I think all should work out pretty well; my only concern is the jetting as I added a jet kit, opened up the airbox and put on an aftermarket pipe. At idle it wounds reasonably close, but you never can tell until the ride.
That has to wait until I plate and insure it again, but it looks like a fun summer ahead.
That update will have to wait till the fall though … hopefully 2012.
PARTS HARMED TO MAKE THIS UPDATE
Brake! LED taillight – $61.99
Lexx Exhaust – US$199.99
Bar-b-que rear rack – $? (let’s say $50)
Studdebaker serated footpegs – $74.99
Studdebaker extend shifter – $44.79
SW Motech Bashplate – $127.99
DS+ Radiator Guard – $70.00
Studdebaker big arse front disc – $219.99
Russel braided line (front) – $56.99
Russel braided line (rear) – $44.99
Eagle Mike rear brake mount – $39.99
SW Motoech Quick-Lock side cariers – $241.50
Pro Taper bars – $59.99
Oxford Heated Grips – $84.99
Electrical Connection Radiator fan bypass switch – $37.49
Electrical Connection Fuse relocator – $39.99
Barkbusters Storm – $113.00
MRA Screen – $115.50
Corbin Seat – US$379.00
A BIG Thanks to …
Dual Sport Plus for supplying us with most of the bits we needed to do this update.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.