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Old 03-05-2012, 07:08 PM   #1
philipbarrett
 
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What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

I'll throw this in front of the superior brain trust at TWT for opinons & ideas.

I currently ride a 2008 KLR with ammo-panniers, enhanced electrics, Corbin seat, bash plate, KTM fender & a few other bits & bobs I've done myself. My favorite kind of riding is class 1/2 off-road and backroads trips on-road and I'm not frightened of racking up some solid miles in a day. The idea of trailering a bike to a destination is not something I would ever entertain.

Here's what I like about my KLR:
- low seat hight (I have a 30" inseam)
- somewhat lightweight (I'm 165lbs)
- nice off road manners
- cheap, reliable & easy to maintain

And here's what I don't like:
- long distances are not it's forte
- limited power
- good highway gearing = poor dirt road gearing, where is 6th gear?

Here are the mods I would probably do if I decide to keep the KLR:
- 705cc kit
- pipe/jet kit
- lightweight aluminium panniers (my homebrews are heavy)
- engine guards
- lightweight Kreiga rear rack/bag
- uprated rear suspension

OK you say, what's wrong with that. Well then (along with that guy on CL) I have a $9,000 KLR and if I'm going to spend that maybe I should be looking at something else? So here I am looking for guidance & recommendations. Maybe the 800cc BMW or Tiger? Is there anything else I might be missing or should I bite the bullet & make an ultimate KLR knowing I'll eat most of the cost come time to sell?
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:43 PM   #2
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

I might get a vote since I just rode with you in the Big Bend 3 days ago, and was in your group when you launched off the berm and EMS eventually made their appearance. But still, its just one vote. You have to select your dance partner.

Just add the right set of tires to your bike. Your choice of off-road tires as shown by what happened to you this past week proves it isn't giving you the footing you need to enjoy, much less handle, the dirt on your KLR. And you biffed short of the deep gravel stuff that sent the likes of riders such as Schizzman to the horizontal just a 1/4 mile ahead of you. There is no nobility to thinking your 80/20 tires will work when you realize you bank on the safety of the only brain God issues you on that "street" 80 percent of 80/20 tires when you're fully 100 percent in deep gravel and sand and all you have is the dirt 20 percent capability of your skins.

IMHO, in the situation you found yourself in you were riding nothing more than street slicks. Searching for a new bike? Bleh. You can do that for the next billion years. You have a great bike. Just add some Dunlop 606s front and rear, or a 606 rear and a TKC 80 front, and your bike will be a new beast. The classic mistake is to dump a ride in search for a better solution when what you have in front of you is all you need, plus a tweak or two. And the right grip for dirt/sand/gravel/rock heads isn't what you had on your KLR.

Sure, there always will be endless chat about this bike and that bike being the Full Monte. NO bike does all things well. NO camera does all things well. NO oil is the be all and end all of everything.

Did you expect you can ride home from Terlingua to Dallas and be comfortable on a KLR like on a Gold Wing and then expect to take that KLR into the dirt and go and do Black Gap Road? You can't buy a WR250 and have endless fun in the dirt and then expect that bike to sherpa you to Alaska with all of your luggage, coffee, and computers.

Get over trying to blend long distance comfort and total dirt penache. One end of that is always going to suffer. Give yourself a chance with a better selection of Big Bend and the like (meaning, off road) friendly tires. Sometimes the solution is the (relatively) cheapest, and right in front of you.

But hey, if you're looking for an excuse to buy a new ride, press on
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:50 PM   #3
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

Reread the post above. That says it all.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:56 PM   #4
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

I agree 100% but maybe I misstated the question - which was more about $ invested (cost benefit if you wish). In other words given I can put better dirt tires on a whole range of bikes is there a better investment in machinery than putting more cash into rounding off the rougher edges of the KLR?

Last edited by philipbarrett; 03-05-2012 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:02 PM   #5
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I had the same scenario but I got a great deal on the bike used, got engine/side guards from HT and use soft luggage and just 685ed it last week. Now I just need a better rear shock and I'll be ready for Alaska this summer.
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:07 PM   #6
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

For the type of riding like Big Bend there is NO better bike IMO than a KLR. Sure there are lots of guys getting KTM race bikes with license plates, but that doesn't mean they are better suited to that type of riding. And to be perfectly honest, they aren't. They are great at telling the current crop of middle-aged mid-management guys that they are "adventurers" though, so that is why they are ever so popular right now. KTM is this generation's Harley.

I've ridden both my KLR and my plated WR450 in Big Bend and given the choice I will take my KLR any day of the week. As a matter of fact my WR is gone and the KLR will be making the trek down there next week. Here is my advice for this particular situation; if you ride dirt, then trailer your bike. You want light weight, longer travel soft'ish suspension, dirt tires, and not a ton of crap hanging off of it. LD touring bikes require pretty much the opposite.

Plus when you wad yourself, which according to Bob you might have done, it is a whole lot nicer to limp the 600 miles back to the house in a truck instead of trying to ride your beat up self back to home. I've been there done that, and the truck and trailer sure is nicer.
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:10 PM   #7
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

I forgot to mention my mods to my KLR. I have a skid plate, new fork springs, hand guards, and some knobby'ish tires. Sure it's been de-tweeted, the fuses replaced with blade style ones, but that wasn't done for helping me ride in the dirt. Other than that, she is bone stock and it will go ANYWHERE in Big Bend with ease. All that and I am out less than $2000 bucks.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:17 PM   #8
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

I think the quandary is really what type of riding you plan to do. I now have four bikes; a 2008 KLR with the 685 mod (no oil burning!), Sargent seat, D606 tires with low gearing, a Goldwing, a DRZ and a 2011 KTM 990 Dakar Adventure bike. The struggle for me is not which bike is the right bike to own, but what type of ride will I be on when I leave the house and which is the right bike to take.

I would love it if the Dakar could take the place of the KLR and the DRZ or frankly just the KLR but it isn't going to happen. If I wasn't doing as much offroad, the KTM would probably work, but for now, it can't do the forest, not great on the beach and isn't the best solution for dual sport events such as Big Bend or the East Tex 450 and definitely not the bike for 1,222 miles in 19 hours. So for now ... four bikes. How many do you need?
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:23 PM   #9
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Thumbs up Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

Solution...800GS by BMW!



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Old 03-05-2012, 09:34 PM   #10
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

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Originally Posted by Red Brown View Post
Solution...800GS by BMW!



RB
I don't know.. I wouldn't trade mine for a BMW mainly because of the weight increase. An extra 70lbs isn't fun in the sand.

Weight info gathered from here:
BMW and KLR
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:40 PM   #11
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

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I don't know.. I wouldn't trade mine for a BMW mainly because of the weight increase. An extra 70lbs isn't fun in the sand.

Weight info gathered from here:
BMW and KLR
Yea...heavy sand is an exception and deep mud as well on a heavier bike. However, without that the 800GS has a more refined, better all around feel to it due to it's superior suspension such as the inverted forks. On the road, it is much better performing than the KLR. If you drop it, you're gonna pay with the BMW, but as you know you gotta pay to play with the German bikes...

A trailer and better tires for his KLR would be the most economical course of action. I am partial to TKC80's.

BTW, the curb weight for a second generation KLR is closer to 432 pounds. I think that is what he was riding.

RB

Last edited by Red Brown; 03-05-2012 at 09:47 PM. Reason: Added curb weight of KLR second generation.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:56 PM   #12
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

Well heck, other than deep sand, mud, and gravel I'd rather have an FJR....LOL MUCH better road manners than that BMW, and not too far behind once you take away all the aforementioned road hazards.

I didn't know he was riding a second gen KLR. I have heard those are quite a bit heavier, but I've never managed to ride one. And probably won't due to the extra weight and plastic pieces to replace when you crash the thing.
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:04 PM   #13
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

Yes, the 800GS looks interesting. I rode alongside one this weekend & was pretty impressed, as you say the weight difference is just over 20lbs which seems fairly insignificant.

As for the trailer - no way, no how. If I'm in a truck cab then I'm going to be on calls & working which is exactly what I try to avoid when riding.
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:04 PM   #14
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Well heck, other than deep sand, mud, and gravel I'd rather have an FJR....LOL

I didn't know he was riding a second gen KLR. I have heard those are quite a bit heavier, but I've never managed to ride one. And probably won't due to the extra weight and plastic pieces to replace when you crash the thing.
I would not ride a FJR in deep sand. A 800GS would be a better choice.

...the second generation KLR is quite heavy indeed. It felt very cheap when I test rode one a while ago as well. However, when the first 800GS first came out a few years ago, the recall list was several pages long.



Opinions are cheap.

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Old 03-05-2012, 10:47 PM   #15
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

How many KLR owners have been down this road...!? I went down it myself.

It REALLY depends on how you plan to ride. If you know you are going to head somewhere like Big Bend, then put D606s on it and go. You CAN ride there and back on those tires. I never get more than about 2500 miles out of a rear D606 and about 4-5K out of the front D606. But I rarely use the KLR for long distance riding, so I don't really care about that. I tend to trailer to distant locations so I don't use up the tires getting there and back if the there and back will be paved.

The KLR with D606's and WITHOUT a ton of luggage is a fairly capable bike, even with stock gearing and suspension. Remember, when riding off the pavement, weight is the enemy. You DO NOT want to be riding like a few guys we passed on River Road this weekend. They had their KLRs LOADED and were struggling in the silt/sand/gravel. I run a set of Dirt Bagz on my KLR and a Wolfman Enduro tank bag. That keeps the weight low in the saddle bags and I put stuff like camera, wallet, etc... in the tank bag. The Dirt Bagz carry spare tubes, tools, and such. If you start stacking stuff up on top of the luggage rack or have a tail bag, that high weight kills you.

Adding a 14 tooth front sprocket also makes a big difference for just about any off road riding. You may lose 2-3mpg for highway cruising and you won't want to run more than about 75-80mph. The loss in mpg is a good trade off for the gain in improved rough terrain gearing. However, front sprockets are easy to swap. So you could ride down using the 15, swap to the 14 when you get there, and swap back for the ride home. I am just to lazy to do that

Better springs in the forks and a better spring on the rear do help and that is not real expensive to do, maybe a few hundred dollars if you do it yourself like I did. I put Race Tech straight rate springs in the front with new oil and stock damping. I replaced the stock rear spring with a Progressive 420 Series spring. Those changes really improved the bike on and off road. You just have to make sure you set the sag properly.

Probably the BIGGEST factor is rider skill. I've seen guys ride the big BMWs and KTMs in places where I would never want to take them. I've taken my KLR where many people would never want to take them. The thing to consider is that the heavy bikes require more skill and generally take more effort to ride. A lack of skill combined with increased effort and more weight can easily lead to a nasty get off, increasing the likelihood of an injury. Lighter bikes are definitely more forgiving of inexperienced riders.

Learning proper riding technique is a BIG deal! I spend a LOT of time talking to experienced riders and picking their brains in an effort to make sure I am doing what I should be doing instead of what I think I ought to be doing... I see dirt riding as the task of training yourself to shut out all the nonsense your brain is screaming at you to do and doing what really needs to be done. For example, when many people get into scary situations on their bikes, their brain screams, "Sit down! Stick out your legs! Get off the gas! Stand up the bike!" In most cases, all of those are the worst thing you can do! The bike will usually handle far better if you are standing so you can shift your weight around and let the bike and your legs absorb bumps. Staying on the gas or even getting on it more helps to stabilize the bike. Remember, the gyroscopic forces of the wheels is what keeps you upright. When you slow down, they decrease and the bike is less stable. You want to ride fast enough to keep the bike stable but not so fast that you are unable to process what is coming at you or you over ride the available traction. Also, SMOOTH is the name of the game, just like it is on the street. Watch the banners at the top/bottom of the forum and look for the Dual Sport Riding Techniques banner. Those videos are really good for anyone wanting to learn some good basic skills on which they can build.

You can dump a lot of money into a KLR in an attempt to make it like a KTM or something else and you still have a KLR with its inherent limitations. Or, you can use the KLR for one kind of riding and have another kind of bike for different kinds of riding. IF you are limited to one bike, the KLR is a pretty good choice and can do a wide range of things fairly well but nothing really well. I have a 1200 GS, the KLR 650, and the KTM 530 EXC. I consider the GS to be my street bike, which I can run down dirt roads if I choose. The KLR is my travel bike if I plan to do a long distance ride, like a week of dirt riding to different places and maybe camping off the bike. The KTM is the trailer there bike for day rides only, or possibly minimalist camping. I would not want to ride the KTM for any significant distance on the pavement. It is just geared to low and not as comfy as the KLR.
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:23 PM   #16
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One of the greatest attributes of the klr is flexibility. I've geared mine for adventuring touring. I've got a 16t counter sprocket, a larger wind screen, hard bags, wired for gps, electric jacket, and a battery tender. The tires are 80/20 (street/offroad). I've got it dialed in perfect and have no problem taking long rides.

As already mentioned, swap the counter sprocket for a 14t, mount some knobs, drop the heavy baggage, and you're ready to get dirty.

The bike is so well suited for the multiple roles and is so cheap to buy and maintain...I love the bike and know it will suit my changing needs for some time to come.

Enjoy!!!
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:03 AM   #17
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

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Originally Posted by philipbarrett View Post
And here's what I don't like:
- long distances are not it's forte
Oh, better not tell that to Dail (on the forum here) - he thinks it is a sport touring MC
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:21 AM   #18
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Lightbulb Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

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Yes, the 800GS looks interesting. I rode alongside one this weekend & was pretty impressed, as you say the weight difference is just over 20lbs which seems fairly insignificant.

As for the trailer - no way, no how. If I'm in a truck cab then I'm going to be on calls & working which is exactly what I try to avoid when riding.
I would arrange a test drive on an 800GS at your local dealer. It has a much better power to weight ratio than your current KLR and vastly better suspension if you decide to go down that route. There is no comparison.

Another OPTION is since you already have a Goldwing, tow your dirtbike. In that case, sell the KLR and get a WR250R by Yamaha. You can then pull the trailer with the bike to your favorite riding destination. Now, when you arrive, you can either road bike on the GW or jump off on the rough stuff with the WR. You have the best of two worlds.

Here is a trailer of a dude pulling his KTM on his Golwing:


Happy Trails,

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Old 03-06-2012, 07:41 AM   #19
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

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As for the trailer - no way, no how. If I'm in a truck cab then I'm going to be on calls & working which is exactly what I try to avoid when riding.
Strange, I'm usually focusing on driving when I'm driving. And when I'm on vacation I found out that my phone has a button that is sort of like a kill switch but not. It turns the thing off for me.

Have fun in your search, but just be wary of dumping a bunch of cash on something in the hopes to to better your riding off pavement. Putting money into something to make a bike better on long hauls is feasible, but the better it is on road the worse it is off road. That is something that you won't be able to get away from, no two ways around it.
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Old 03-06-2012, 07:45 AM   #20
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Re: What To Do? A KLR Quandary.

What Trice said.......
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