1987 klr650 tracker

comrade jon

New Member

I recently purchased an ’87 klr 650 from a neighbor. I saw it sitting in his driveway for a year for a year, not moving, so I left a note on it one day, and about a month later he called and asked if I still wanted to buy it. So, for $700 its now sitting in my backyard. It’s got 25k miles and appears to be in pretty good shape but it’s not running yet, so time will tell. It’s not starting because, I believe, the battery is dead. After filling it up with water and charging it, there’s still not enough charge to start it. The headlight will come on, but if you flip it to high beam, it dies again. Hopefully that’s the only thing keeping it from running. Next paycheck I’m going to order an alien motion AM8.
My plan for the bike is to strip it down and make it a hybrid street tracker, scrambler, and super moto. KLR650 customs appear to be nearly non-existent, but hopefully someone out there can chime in with some suggestions.

Plans include:
Removal of all the plastics, fenders, and fairings
Round headlight
New handlebar and it looks like the hand controls, throttle, and grips are in need of replacement
Road oriented tires
Removal of the airbox and fitting of a pod filter
New flat/brat style bench seat
Lowering link for rear shock and lowering the front forks a bit
Supertrapp s/c elite 10” muffler (if I can get it to fit on the stock header somehow)
New “standard” tank
16T front sprocket
Eagle mike fork brace (maybe I’ll paint the forks too?)
Brake upgrades (haven’t decided yet)

Here’s some bikes that have inspired this project and that I will shamelessly copy details from:

The first big issue I’d like to tackle is finding and fitting a new tank. This week, I was perusing ebay and saw a 1979 xr500 tank that was very cheap, so I bought it impulsively. I removed the stock tank this weekend and learned it’s going to be much more difficult than I thought to fit a new tank. It looks like I’ll need to relocate the radiator to the outside of the frame tubing and move it further down to make room for a more “standard” tank.

Has anyone moved or relocated the radiator on a KLR or on their build? I’ve seen the dual radiator mod for the klr650, but haven’t found anyone that has actually moved it. I guess this is why everyone uses air cooled bikes for their projects!

It appears the bike featured in the crossed purpose link above (also an ’87 klr) has not only a relocated radiator, but a different radiator. I was thinking of finding a motorcycle radiator that is more horizontal and getting it mounted on the outside of the frame tube. Do I just need to make sure that it’s of comparable size to the stock radiator? Any other issues?
If anyone else has fitted a standard metal tank to a KLR, I’d appreciate any tips or advice. It appears a Honda cg125 tank is the default choice for customs like this, so I might order one and see if it'll fit with fewer modifications.


  • image.jpg
    1.4 MB · Views: 781

Joe Suzuki

Been Around the Block
I don't know why more people don't use KLR's? Prices are good, and they are ubiquitous as hell. Sounds like you've got the right idea. But it looks like most just paint the radiator black, and call it a day. I've seen similar strategies with Goldwings and CX500's; it's all about the visual camouflage. I would suggest a rim change in the front too to get those proportions in line. Here's another few examples for you:


More power to you. It all depends on your skills and ingenuity. Can't wait to see what you come up with!


New Member
It has been a couple of months since you posted this and I was wondering how you got on? I'm not far off starting another KLR650 project.

The Crossed Purpose bike was mine, I used twin KLR600 radiators, they are basically the same as the KLR250 radiators.

I used a KZ400 tank.

If you use a pod filter the only one to use is a Unifilter foam filter, the smaller pods restrict the air flow and the bike won't rev out (ask me how I know?)

DTT Bike Of The Month Gallery

DTT Light or Dark

Top Bottom