KLR 650 Trans American Trail Ride

Hurco550

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Why not post it up I guess? Its more of a farklification and light modification than a full on "build", but what the heck. It's winter and I'm getting bored.

I missed my dr650 terribly. Figured I'd try out the Kawasaki flavor of big thumper dual sports. So enters the 2002 KLR 650.
Doohickey done, fork brace, comfort seat, progressive suspension, Lexx slip on, supposed 685 kit, windshield and 29k miles on the ticker.
Picked it up from a pretty cool fella 35 min from my house. Never know what kinda dude you'll run into buying a KLR ;)

She's plenty rough around the edges, its had a less than stellar paint job done to it at some point and has the usual stickers stuck on it. Paint will likely be re-done over the winter anyhow, so I'm not to worried about it.

It's gonna be a daily beater as well as what I ride from Chattanooga to the Ozarks and back on the Trans American Trail this June (more on that to come).

As I brought her home:

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Hurco550

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One of my favorite looking mods on these bikes is a 17" or 18" front wheel swap from the stock 21". These usually utilize a rear tire mounted out front instead of a supermoto type setup that most people choose a 17" front for.

Here are a few "Inspiration bikes":


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These all have the 18" front, but I still plan to use a 17". I have a local friend that used to be into KLR650's. A few years back, he had Buchanan lace a rear klr rim to a klr front hub with custom spokes and a re-drill. He kept the wheel when he sold his klr, and offered me the wheel for $150. Once I save up a few pennies, I'm gonna grab it. That will also keep me with a stock 21 in the rafters should i ever want to go back. The 17"-18" front wheel swap brings up much debate, similar to the dark side on road bikes. From what I can descern, most who have done it like it and plenty of people who haven't done it say it wont work or handle right. I'll try it for myself and be the judge of that.

Here's mine "mocked up" with a spare DR650 rear wheel slid in the front axle. Dimensionally, this will be identical to the klr rear rim mounted on the front. 17" x 2.5" rim. I'll go with a slightly less agressive tire than the Trakmaster2 that's on there now, but you get the idea. I personally think it looks pretty Gnarly.

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ridesolo

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Have to agree w/ ya, that size looks good on there. Is there any chance of puting a little bit larger brake disk on the front? That stocker doesn't look terribly robust to me.
 

Maritime

Over 10,000 Posts
The folks that say it'll never handle right probably ride in a lot of sand, that is when the big skinny front tire is important. If you doing rocky, muddy woody terrain the fatter front should actually be better. Might steer a bit slower but in those conditions you generally aren't going that fast.
 

Hurco550

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Have to agree w/ ya, that size looks good on there. Is there any chance of putting a little bit larger brake disk on the front? That stocker doesn't look terribly robust to me.
Yep, they are well known for being under braked, but they are at least also known for being under powered to match lol Several Company's make big rotor and caliper adapter kits for them. Thatll likely be in the mix down the road. Just gotta save more pennys...

The folks that say it'll never handle right probably ride in a lot of sand, that is when the big skinny front tire is important. If you doing rocky, muddy woody terrain the fatter front should actually be better. Might steer a bit slower but in those conditions you generally aren't going that fast.
Funny, the people that have done it say it does way better in the sand than a skinny 21". I also spent some time riding a super fat tire tw200 that pleny of peole said would handle like garbage and be dang near un-ridable. Completing the hare scramble course at Mid-Ohio on it proved enough to me that even if someone claims its worse or wont work, I'm gonna find out for myself. Having a 21" that I can swap easily will make it plenty easy for me to compare.
 

ridesolo

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Knowing the type of off-road riding you primarily do I'd say that the smaller-but-wider front tyre would be the ticket for you. I think that the fat swamp donkey was the real ticket... IF it had more grunt. I'm not sure but what the plan you started on in the past w/ a 400 going fat tyre still might be the way to go for you.
 

Maritime

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Yep, they are well known for being under braked, but they are at least also known for being under powered to match lol Several Company's make big rotor and caliper adapter kits for them. Thatll likely be in the mix down the road. Just gotta save more pennys...


Funny, the people that have done it say it does way better in the sand than a skinny 21". I also spent some time riding a super fat tire tw200 that pleny of peole said would handle like garbage and be dang near un-ridable. Completing the hare scramble course at Mid-Ohio on it proved enough to me that even if someone claims its worse or wont work, I'm gonna find out for myself. Having a 21" that I can swap easily will make it plenty easy for me to compare.
100% I might have it backwards. I grew up riding in sand pits with super fine sand, the most fun bikes were the fat tire as they floated over.
 

Jimbonaut

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Don't ask me, I'm just here for the 'hickey. But I think that's done already. Overbore? Check. Agonizingly slow and ultimately useless KLR badges cut from sheet stainless? Alright! I'm your guy.
 

Hurco550

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Don't ask me, I'm just here for the 'hickey. But I think that's done already. Overbore? Check. Agonizingly slow and ultimately useless KLR badges cut from sheet stainless? Alright! I'm your guy.
Dookicky and 685 kit "supposedly" done. I plan to put eyes on the doohicky this winter to verify. The 685? ill take his word for it, though the head has been replaced. The original owner evidently cooked it in moab on one of his trips across the US on this thing. It runs surprisingly smooth for a thumper, so im guessing its done, though ive not ridden one stock as a baseline. so.... I may never know.

I have a bit of stainless tomfoolery up my sleeves too. We shall see ;)
 
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Jimbonaut

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That was the biggest difference I found between the stock piston and the Wossner 685 piston. It cut out almost all vibration from the engine and made the bike so much smoother. Which isn't surprising when you do a side by the side of the things - the Wossner is half the depth and way lighter than the stock, which itself weighs about the same as a wrecking ball. Definitely torque-y-er too.

Always room for tomfoolery on a KLR :p
 

Hurco550

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That was the biggest difference I found between the stock piston and the Wossner 685 piston. It cut out almost all vibration from the engine and made the bike so much smoother. Which isn't surprising when you do a side by the side of the things - the Wossner is half the depth and way lighter than the stock, which itself weighs about the same as a wrecking ball. Definitely torque-y-er too.

Always room for tomfoolery on a KLR :p
I've read that most of the 685 upgrade was in vibration more so than actual power or performance. I know in the short time I rode it, it felt like a heavy dog compared to a pumper carbed and piped dr650, but that is what I've read, and for now I'm ok with that. Should do road stuff better anyhow. Next thing I'm thinking about doing is the thermobob and as @ridesolo mentioned, a brake upgrade.

Tomfoolery. Heck, my hair has already begun to turn grey and dredlock, a milk crate is organically growning in my driveway just in time to become one with my klr, rotella oil now comes out of my faucets at home and kitty littler buckets are turning into fairings in front of my eyes.

I didn't know it would happen so soon.
 

Hurco550

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Forgot to mention that I may bring this project back into the fold behind the KLR650. I started building this a few years back for behind my dr650. As you can see, it never got completed. It will be a pull behind, single wheel trailer. I haven't decided if it will be swing arm mount or mount into the foot peg area. The pros to the swing arm mount are simplicity and lighter over all weight, but the con is that the "tongue weight" on the swing arm will all be un sprung. I worry about the strength of the foot peg mounts, but I may reinforce them and see if they are up to the task. The online consensus for the viability of single wheel trailers isn't necessarily that you can pack more, but that what you do pack is in a better position. Low to the ground and at least half the weight on its own wheel vs. high up and over the rear wheel in pannier and top box form. I'm taking the same view on this project as I do on most. Ill try it for myself, and if it sucks, ill scrap the idea and view it as a lesson learned.

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Here are a few pictures of other KLR 650's towing a single wheel trailer setup. Some report traveling this way for many a mile, including big chunks of the TAT.

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ridesolo

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Hmmm... would you call that a side car gone... linear?

You could go all kinds of crazy on that; lights, rain cover, quick disconnect juice brakes, spare tire... :eek:
 

Brodie

Gold Coast, Queensland
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I like the idea. Would be a good caddy for spares like radiator and extra fuel.
 

ridesolo

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...and extra fuel.

Oh yeah... make a "floor" for it that's a hollow one or two inch thick tank that'll hold your extra fuel. (Wonder how much weight that would add?)
 

Hurco550

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Hmmm... would you call that a side car gone... linear?

You could go all kinds of crazy on that; lights, rain cover, quick disconnect juice brakes, spare tire... :eek:
A$$- CAR..... Back Hack... the possibilties are endless...
I like the idea. Would be a good caddy for spares like radiator and extra fuel.
Yeah there is definitely more space, but camping out of it for a week, I'm sure it'll still fill up. I will likely still mount panniers on either side of the trailer swing arm, though i could put a jerry can on. Even on the TAT, with a 6 gallon tank on the bike itself, ill likely have little need for spare fuel though.
Oh yeah... make a "floor" for it that's a hollow one or two inch thick tank that'll hold your extra fuel. (Wonder how much weight that would add?)

Well since you asked....

The base of the trailer would be right at 15" x 35" which is 525 Sq. In.

If I made the tank 2" thick I would end up with 1,050 Cu. In.


One Cubic inch is equal to 0.004329 gallons.

Therefore said tank would hold 4.545455 gallons of fuel if completely full.

Gasoline weighs right at 6 lbs. per gallon.. Sooo...

It would add right at 27.27 lbs.

;)
 

ridesolo

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Now you are just showing off! Only 28 pounds of fuel plus the weight of the tank, might be worth it, that would make it steady and stable back there. Certainly would give it a "golly, gee whiz" factor that nobody else would have. Of course then you'd need some plastic tubing and a little 12v pump... Esso, Gulf, Shell, BP, or Speedway stickers on the side?
 

Rider52

Over 1,000 Posts
Don't forget water! You will need it! We each carried a gallon of gas and a gallon of water on our bikes. Gallon of gas 6.2 pounds/gallon of water 8.3 pounds. We also had camel backs with water and would often add ice to counter the heat/humidity.
 

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