Wednesday, December 28, 2016

More Nomad Woes

I have a set of Nomad Rider front crash guards on my 2016 KLR650. I purchased them in December of last year and by March the front downtube mounting plate on the right guard snapped clean. It wasn't the guard tube itself or a weld; it was the thick metal mating plate...and it's quite thick! Ultimately, Nomad had me a replacement in a week.

Fast forward to yesterday and I was at my dealer having some work done. They noticed that the footpeg mounting plate on the Nomad left guard has snapped. I hadn't noticed it.

I don't know anything about metallurgy but there really must be something wrong with the metal that this outfit is using. On the other hand, I note that SW Motech changed their design relative to the lower mount from the footpeg mount similar to the Nomad to a frame mount. Perhaps there's some design issues at play.

Well, at first I was kind of angry about the break and telling myself I was just going to get another brand set of bars. But like the last time, Nomad has quickly responded by shipping out a new guard. There was really no harm in this incident and they're promptly replacing the defective part. No harm no foul and I'm not out any money. I suppose for some the install might be a pain, but I actually enjoy working on my bikes so I don't have a problem replacing the part. Maybe I'll find some maintenance thing to do while I'm at it. :)


As of February 11, 2017, Nomad Rider has not replaced the fractured left guard as they promised. Not only did they agree to replace it, they got me to agree to accept a matte black bar which did not match the right gloss black bar. I have since installed a set of Tusk bars.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Dunlop D606

I've been running Continental TKC80s on the KLR650. They are a great 40/60 tire. However, as we start to think about the 2017 Dual Sport Rally Season, I decided to go with something more aggressive ... specifically the 10/90 Dunlop D606.

Interestingly, I normally find the best prices on tires at RevZilla. However, this go-round, Rocky Mountain ATV beat out RevZilla and Motorcycle Superstore even had a great price, but they don't offer free shipping.

RevZilla priced the D606, Front=$97.61, Rear=$100.03. That's $197.64 with free shipping. Rocky Mountain priced the tires, Front=$84.88, Rear=$87.88. That's $172.76 with free shipping and a savings of $24.88. I purchased two sets...

When picking your dual sport tires, remember that you never get stuck on the road.


The two sets of D606 have been delivered. I'll be deferring installation until a week or so before our first rally which is currently scheduled March 3-5, 2017. Then we can take a weekend to test them and be ready to roll. I can't wait to take on Devil's Creek with these bad boys!!!!!

Update 2:

I just ordered a set of Tusk Side Crash Guards from Rocky Mountain ATV and found that I had a $10.38 credit from purchasing the tires. Sweet!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tank Repair

As mentioned in my post on the Trackside Aluminum Handguards, a fuel leak during a fall/drop damaged the paint on the fuel tank of my 2016 KLR650....

I was thinking about doing the repair when I got a suggestion to see if Kawasaki may repair it under warranty. Well, the problem there is that it was about two weeks out of warranty. However, the old adage that "you don't get anything you don't ask for" applied, so I discussed it with my dealer, Barneys Brandon. They didn't really poo-poo the warranty idea as much as they thought the facts and circumstances indicated that the tank damage was more accident related than defective. Just the same, they asked to take a look and thought that there was no harm in sending the claim in to see if it would fly.

Well dang...the dealer called again to see if I could bring the bike back yesterday for another inspection as requested by Kawi; they wanted the dealer to inspect the tank for dents and other damage. If none, Kawi was going to warrant the paint damage.

Amazing! Kudos and props to Barneys Brandon and Kawasaki! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Exhaust Cover Mod

A member of the FaceBook KLR650 Group posted a neat little modification to the stock exhaust pipe guard the other day that I thought was interesting. No benefit, total bling, but I had a big "repairs and maintenance" day in my shop today so I fit in the mod in the middle of everything else.

Here's a before shot:

Here's an after shot:

Again, before:

Again, after:

The silver was my idea. I have high heat paint in several colors. If this doesn't fly, I'll easily go back to black. I have orange, too. :)

I had to change out the hardware. Turns out the cover was actually loose. There are little rubber grommets (P/N 92161-1475) around sleeves connecting the cover to the pipe...not a good place for rubber. In the year and couple weeks I've owned the bike the grommets were rotten and deteriorated by the heat. I just used larger sleeves, no rubber on the inside and vinyl washers on the outside.


Well, I decided that I didn't like the silver and went back to black, but I put a gloss hi-heat on to tie into the crash guards.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Trackside Aluminum Handguards

I've been living with those crazy bat wing hand guards that came stock on my 2016 KLR650 for over a year now. Crappy things, the left side actually came loose and would flex back into the clutch lever and actually engage it; couldn't tighten it, finally got it to stay in place with a zip tie.

Anyway, I had a little incident that forced the issue of a handguard upgrade. I was riding my bike into my garage the other day, slipped and did a low side slide down. Normally I stop and dismount in my drive and push my bike inside. Why I was riding it in, I'm not sure. I have a special surface garage floor, it's not "supposed" to be slippery. Since I have Nomad front and Dirt Racks rear side guards the only damage from the fall was the right bat wing, which got crushed and cracked.

That was the damage from the fall. Then what happened was every time I tried to pick the bike up, it slid on my garage floor. It was like picking it up on a skating rink. I couldn't get it up. So I slid it against the freezer and as I lifted it the side of the freezer started caving. Damn! Well, I just left it until my son came home so we could do it together. UNFORTUNATELY, the tank leaked and the secondary damage from the fall was a couple spots of paint burned of the tank where the gas leaked. Snap!

Well, the tank repair is for another post. This post is about my handguard replacements. Normally, I do a bunch of research on my bike accessories, but in this case I have experience with the Trackside Aluminum Handguards at Cycle Gear. I'd purchased a set earlier this year for my 2016 DR650 and like them a lot. These guards normally run $100; however, in each case I got the sets on sale for <$50.

The Trackside handguards are as solid as any others. I've had Barkbusters and other popular brands that are three-four times the price of the Trackside. The Tracksides get the job done and I think they're really well designed for universal applications.

The best feature of the design that I can point to is the multiple points of adjustment. The more adjustment points the more applications and the easier the installation. Below is a photo with some notes reflecting adjustment points.

As also noted in the photo above, the KLR bar end isn't an open bar like most, so the expansion anchors are not used in the KLR application.

If you find removing the bar end weights to be difficult, yes that's "red" threadlocker on the bolt!

Okay as for the installation...

On each side of the bar is a plastic wire tie. I removed it on both sides. I resecured the wires with zip ties after my installation. Those wire ties just pop out of the bar with a screw driver. That left little holes on the top of the bar that I sealed to avoid water getting in there and promoting rust.

Some sealers shrink. Devcon Metal Patch and Filler doesn't. That's what I used to fill the holes.

On the left side of the bar is a metal guide. Unfortunately, that had to go. It came off with a hacksaw. Then I ground it down to smooth and treated the bare metal.

Here is the right guard bar installed. There are no wiring or cable issues.

Here is the left guard bar installed. The install worked best routing the clutch cable above the guard post and all the other wiring below the guard post.

As you see in the photos, I've left the bar end weights on...for now. You do not need to leave them on if you don't want. I'm not sure if I want to keep them installed or not. They do add a little additional protection. I think I'll ride it awhile before making the decision to take them off or leave them on. I'll post an update either way.

With the aluminum guards installed, the deflectors were mounted and I tweaked the final adjustments. The main things that I considered was that there was absolutely no contact when the bar was fully turned either way and there was no interference with cables and wires. Once tweaked a quick test ride confirmed the install was effective.

Really, the Trackside Aluminum Handguards are good looking and effective guards. Good deal at <$50, too.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Howl at the Moon

Well, I think I'm back in shape (after knee injury) to get back on the rally circuit. So I signed up for one of the legs of the AMA Dual Sport Series. I previously rode in the Devil's Creek Rally. This one will be in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

I had hoped to be able to ride one of the Arizona legs of the AMA DS Series. I've ridden Arizona extensively on my sport touring mc. Now I get to see some Arizona desert and back country. Wooo hooo, can't wait!

October 22-23

Howl at Moon Event Information

AMA Dual Sport Series Information

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Top 10 Dual Sports

Linking a blog post from Texas Adventure: Top 10 Dual Sport Adventure Bike Sales. As I already knew, the Kawasaki KLR650 tops all dual sport sales in the United States. However, I didn't know the size of the margin between No. 1-KLR650 and No. 2-??. You'll have to look at the article to see the rest.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Knee Injury

I haven't posted in quite a while. The reason was that I injured my knee back on May 8. Not a real bad injury. It was an MCL Tear, which stands for Medial Collateral Ligament Tear. Not a painful injury either, unless I bent my leg at the knee. As long as I kept my right leg straight, it was fine. Unfortunately, I can't ride my motorcycles (all standards) like that.

Well, last weekend was week 8 into the injury and I felt like I may be able to bend my leg enough to ride. My son and I mapped out an low-tech Adventurish ride and headed out. After about 115 miles, my leg started bothering me and we headed back.

Today, 9 weeks out, I gave it another try and things went a lot better. I'm not 100%, but I'm close. I rode 280 miles up to Ocala National Forest and back and my leg is really good. I think I'll be at 100% in another week and then I can get back to the riding areas that I like.

The ride today was on my DR650 since its a little lighter than the KLR650 and easier to flick around. Although 280 miles in that saddle is a pain in the ass!

I also had my SPOT Satellite Messenger tracking all day. The SPOT is really useful device to keep someone watching over your shoulder from long distance. Here's a look at the tracking map.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

KLR650 Thermo-Bob

Since I got the Doohickey knocked out early, I decided to get the Thermo-Bob done as well. I got a little excited when a forum member indicated that there was a possibility of doing the Thermo-Bob upgrade without lifting the fuel tank, but that wasn't to be. I just couldn't get to the thermostat housing without taking the tank off. The Nomad Rider Bar right in the way there didn't help either. Removing the tank and all the panels probably took three times the amount of time it takes to actually fit the Thermo-Bob in the KLR650.

Again, similar to the Doo Upgrade, there are so many online videos and tutorials for doing the Thermo-Bob upgrade that I won't bore you with all my details. It was an easy modification.

Here's what came in the package from Watt-Man.

Included in the parts are two 195 degree (F) thermostats; one for the install and one for a backup. Right out of the gate that's a big improvement over the 160 degree (F) stock thermostat. The higher rated thermostat provides for higher temperatures before it opens allowing the cooler water from the radiator to flow through the engine. That helps stabilizing the temperature throughout the engine.

Also, the thermostat is mounted externally in the Thermo-Bob Housing with a channel that routes water back to the water pump for rerouting through the engine, as opposed to the stock stet up where hot water is just directed to the radiator.

So, here's a photo of the Thermo-Bob thermostat housing installed on my KLR650. Pretty neat! When all is said and done, it's mostly out of sight up under the left side of the fuel tank.

There is some fabrication involved where the stock hose from the radiator to the water pump has to be cut and the bypass installed. The instructions were fairly straight forward to do this but they did not provide a photo of the finished product. So, here's a look at the hose and bypass...

...and here's a look at the configuration that I wound up with that slipped perfectly into place. Left side to radiator...right side to water pump...small hose to Thermo-Bob thermostat housing.

What you don't see in the photos is my alignment line that was recommended in the Watt-Man installation instructions. That was a good recommendation and helped me figure out how to put this thing together.

A few cuts, three bolts and four hose clamps. Seriously, if I didn't have to pull the panels and tank it would have taken no time at all.

Friday, May 20, 2016

KLR650 Doohickey

I had planned to upgrade my 2016 Kawasaki KLR650 with the Eagle Mike Doohicky and Torsion Spring Kit at 5,000 miles. At 3,700 miles I put my order in for the parts and they were on my doorstep two days later!

Having all this cool stuff in hand, I decided that I couldn't wait to do the upgrade and set out on the job first thing this morning.

I ordered the complete kit that includes (in addition to the Doohickey, Torsion Spring and a new Rotor Bolt) the inner and outer crank cover gaskets and the special tools (Rotor Holder Wrench and Rotor Puller). The kit was $138, plus $13.45 shipping so the whole thing came out to $151.45. The only things that needed were my stock tools, two quarts of oil (I did not change filter), some gasket sealer, grease and thread locker...oh, and my Service Manual.

There are so many videos and writeups on the Doohickey that I'm not going to waste your time reading through the horny details of my Doohicky Upgrade. I'll give you some thoughts and ideas and then, suffice it to say that the mod was fairly straight forward following the instructions provided by Eagle Mike and tracking the associated steps in the Service Manual. I personally don't think that this project is suitable for someone who doesn't have a good deal of automotive/motorcycle repair/maintenance experience.

I'll tell you one thing, it's jobs like this that make me wish I had a motorcycle lift table. I'm nursing an injured knee and being able to work at waist level would have been a lot better than working a ankle and knee level. However, where I normally use my modified jack lift for working on my motorcycles, for this job I laid out my hitch carrier right on my garage floor and strapped the KLR in for the job. Worked out great; really sturdy...

...but the work area was still pretty low and uncomfortable.

One thing that I learned in this process was that the Doohickey is not a constantly active chain tensioner and this new knowledge resolves one of the areas in maintenance that had me a little confused.

Among the routine maintenance procedures is the "adjustment" of the tensioner (i.e. doohickey) every 7,500 miles. The procedure is to loosen the idle shaft lever bolt and then torque it in at a specified level. That's no adjustment; that's loosening a bolt and then tightening a bolt. Nothing got adjusted!

Ah, but something did get adjusted, the tensioner on the counterbalance chain. The loosening of the idle shaft bolt frees the tensioner spring to pull on the tensioner lever drawing down on the counter balance chain. Once the spring has done that, the lever is tightened back down. This is the only time the tensioner, in fact, tensions the counterbalance chain. It is not constantly doing it as I had thought. Viola!

Speaking of the tensioner spring (as shown in the photo above), the problem with Gen2 KLR650 tensioner springs is that they lose their spring, they get sprung and stretch out becoming ineffective. So they say, anyway. Mine had all kinds of spring left in it at 3,700 miles and the tensioner was working fine.

Here's a look at the hole that was drilled in the inner case to accommodate the torsion spring. I was thrown a little on this procedure because my inner case was different than any other that I'd seen on you tube videos and write ups. At the end of the day, I just followed the 5:00-5:30 location relative to the torsion lever hole. Seemed to work okay and nothing blew up when I ultimately got to starting up the bike.

One point on the cases is that there are two levels, and inner (as shown in photo above) and an outer (as shown in next photo). Each of the cases has a metallic gasket and I purchased new gaskets ($44 Retail Value) for this mod. That was done in an abundance of caution should I damage one of the stock gaskets (and the Service Manual calls for new gaskets), but otherwise the stock gaskets were about what you'd expect at 3,700 miles. They were nearly perfect. While I did replace them, I saved the old ones should I ever find myself in a situation needing the gaskets.

The other replacement part was the Rotor Bolt ($17.00 Retail Value), also called for in the Service Manual. Another questionable expenditure. It's a big bolt and while the ultimate torque on this bolt is 130 ft/lbs, when you hold it you're left with the impression that it can take the pressure of that torque more than once.

The gaskets and the bolt are $61 in retail value, but the total, combined kit is discounted from the individual retail values. By my calculations, if I'd excluded those three parts and paid the same postage, the total parts costs would have been $110.25 compared to the $151.35 that I paid. Something to think about.

Finally, the photo below provides a look at the new doohickey and torsion spring.

Like I said there are many tutorials out there on how to accomplish this upgrade. There are a lot of parts to deal with and risks associated with lost parts or not getting things back together properly. As I also said, the job isn't for someone who hasn't had a lot of experience working on engines, and motorcycles in particular. For me, it was a three hour process, but I took my time and made sure everything I was doing was in accordance with the instructions and Service Manual. I can see guys that have done a lot of these knocking them out in an hour.

What did I accomplish? At this time nothing. I removed a perfectly healthy appendix. However, if the masses of KLR owners are right about the tensioner becoming sprung and ineffective, then I got an early jump on it and can focus on more important riding (when my knee heals up).

Added 5-29-16.

I see a lot of people who buy used KLR650s ask how to tell if the doo was done. It would be nice if you could just take off the outer cover for a peek. But looking over all my photos, I really think it's a matter of getting behind the fly wheel/rotor and starter gear and that's a good deal of work. 

I made a record in my log and I put the littler sticker that came with my Eagle Mike Doohickey Kit on the side of the fuel tank, under the side cover to protect it. That's about the best I can doo (no pun intended).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Major Upgrades Planned

Although currently sitting at 3,700 miles, I started to prepare for my 5,000 mile maintenance that will include a couple major upgrades to the engine on my 2016 Kawasaki KLR650. The next normal maintenance cycle provided in the Service Manual would be 7,500; however, we have a lot of conditions here in Florida that warrant acceleration of many of the routine maintenance steps such as oil changes and air filter cleaning.

The two major upgrades that I'm planning for during this maintenance cycle are the Doohickey Upgrade and the Thermo-Bob Upgrade. I'll take them one at a time.


I'm not sure who thought up that name (or why), but the Doohickey has been a defect of the KLR650 engine since the day it first rolled off the production line. In short, the Doohickey is a triangular lever that, together with a spring, serves as the tensioner to the counterbalance chain.

The counterbalance system and doohickey are located under the left case cover.

Under the lever is the tensioner spring to the lever.

The problems with this assembly are several. On Gen1 KLR650s the lever and the spring are actually prone to fracturing and causing a lot of problems inside the engine as broken metal parts work their way down into the sump.

While the fracturing problems were presumably cured when the Gen2 KLR650 was designed, the lever and spring continues to be seriously flawed.
The lever is too loose and wobbles causing noise and wear. It also doesn't provide the full range of tension on the chain. In fact, it only provides about 33% of the range of tension that you see in that half-moon slot.

The other issue is that the tensioner spring stretches out and becomes ineffective. That is, it's providing no tension on the counterbalance chain. The spring in the photo above was totally coil bound at 4,000 miles. There are reports by people who do the doohickey upgrade saying that their springs had sprung and were totally useless in as little as 2,500 miles.

The upgrade is to replace the tensioner lever with a good aftermarket lever (made by Eagle Manufacturing) and replace the spring with a more effective torsion-type spring. Here's a look at the two components that were designed and are manufactured by Eagle Manufacturing & Engineering (aka Eagle Mike).

When all is said and done, the tensioner will look like this...

So I've gone ahead and ordered my Doohickey Kit from Eagle Mike for my upcoming 5,000 mile service. The kit includes the two above parts, plus some special tools and replacement case gaskets. The complete kit cost $138. It's not an easy upgrade, but it's a one time fix and worth it.


Unlike Doohickey, Thermo-Bob is actually the name of a product. However, since it's the most popular fix for this particular issue, everyone seems to call it the Thermo-Bob Upgrade or Mod.

The issue that gives rise to the Thermo-Bob upgrade to the KLR650 is found in the motorcycle's cooling system. The problem is that the KLR cannot stabilize and control the engine temperature in consistent and steady manner throughout the engine. I noticed this right out of the gate when I got my KLR. The needle was all over the place. It would drop low to the bottom of the temp gauge when riding at virtually any speed and then rise to the near the top of the range when stopped and idling for any length of time.

This wild inconsistency is due to the fact that the temperatures in different parts of the engine are controlled differently and have the tendency to work against each other in maintaining engine temperature. The temps in the upper part of the engine are controlled by the radiator and runs on the hot side. The temps in the lower part of the engine are controlled by the thermostat and run too cold. All this is largely due to a thermostat that has an excessively low temp trigger of 160 degrees and poor routing of the coolant around the engine.

This temperature imbalance is dangerous to the engine. A proper balance of temperature is necessary for both the metallic components as well as the oil temperatures as it moves through the various parts of the engine.

What is needed to correct the temperature imbalance is a mechanism for the water in the engine to keep moving throughout the engine both quickly and evenly and also circulates around the thermostat so it doesn't open...but then quickly slam shut when the cooler water from the lower end of the engine reaches it. This is what the Thermo-Bob does. It is essentially an external thermostat coupled with a coolant bypass.

The Thermo-Bob Kit from Watt-Man re-routes the water flow and moves the thermostat to provide a constant flow of water and balance of temperatures throughout the KLR650 engine. It also provides a much larger thermostat that activates at a higher (195 degree) temperature (compared to the stock 160 degree thermostat).

Here's a look at the components of the kit that cost $125. There are other options for this (and similarly influenced) upgrade, but the Thermo-Bob by Watt-Man is considered the gold standard. Watt-Matt Testing Report.

Bottom line, the KLR650's temperature problem isn't going to destroy its engine overnight...or anytime soon. In fact, I've heard people recommend the Thermo-Bob mod only if you're planning to keep your KLR more than five years. Well, I don't operate like that. If the motorcycle has a problem I'm inclined to fix things that I can fix irrespective of how long I plan to own it.

BTW...I've had dozens of motorcycles over many years and, with a very few exceptions, I planned to keep each one forever. :)

Of course I'll report back when i get these upgrades completed.