Tuesday, February 9, 2016

KLR Kracked Kranker

Da'mit the KLR rig is giving me heartburn. 

The continuing saga is shaking my faith in this bike.  As mentioned earlier, I bought this 2011 Kawasaki KLR650 locally off eBay at a good price. The previous owner was a university student. His first motorcycle. Yes, he dropped it a time or two learning to ride, but the few scraps and scratches would not affect how it ran.  The bike also sat for a while before I got it as the license had expired a year earlier. 

The first thing I do when getting a used bike is change the oil, check for metal particles, anything that might tell me if the bike was having engine issues. The oil was clean, nothing unusual. So I proceeded to build the adventure sidecar rig.

Everything was going great until Da'mit left me stranded in the Sam Houston National Forest. Previous to that I had taken the bike to northern New Mexico and ridden the forest roads up there. No problems, she ran great. Being stranded now in the forest was attributed to the bike sitting for too long. Old gas had dried inside the carburetor. Flakes of dried gas clogged the carb. After rebuilding the old carb did not work. That carb was replaced with a new one.  Ran great once again.

A month ago Da'mit develops starting issues. Was inconsistent when starting. Sometimes it fired right up. Other times the starter just whined. Sometimes acted like the battery was low, other times normal again. 

See the white plastic cover with colorful wires going into it, that's the auxiliary fuse block. Finally decided that the auxiliary fuse block might be draining some of the battery juice overnight, thus not having enough battery power to properly fire up the bike in the morning. So installed a 30 amp switch (not in photo) to turn that circuit off when not riding and at night. 

Now assured that the battery is fully charged, the starter is still acting up.  It won't consistently start. Sometimes it starts fine, sometimes it whines, other times it won't turn over.  Was giving out a strange sound when starting and running. Could not track down the cause, so I gave in and took Da'mit to a small independent Kawasaki repair shop. The owner rides and races KLR650's so I know he knows what he is doing with this machine. Asked them to check the valves,  timing, etc. 

A few days later he calls to say the valves are spot on, compression release working properly, timing is good.  They think the sound is coming from the starter clutch area. Opening it up they found that the heavy steel Coupling (that's what Kawasaki calls this piece) in the starter clutch assembly was cracked. Now how that piece can get cracked is a mystery. The starter gears are not strong enough to crack all that coupling. The owner and his mechanic say they have never seen a cracked coupling before. Am thinking it came from the factory that way. With use, the cracked opened wider. 

Of course more than just the coupling was damaged. Both parts on either side of the coupling were galled.   New parts ordered -

#42034 Coupling - $103.52
#16085 Oneway Clutch Gear - $307.33
#13194 Oneway Clutch - $90.79 
Plus gasket and seals.

With parts and labor, am now $1000 lighter in the pocketbook. Never would have found that broken part on my own.  Da'mit now fires right up, no hesitation.  But the mechanic says he hears a metal noise coming from the crankcase area of the motor upon initial start up and again later when the oil warms up. He asks if I thought the previous owner ran the bike low on oil? Have nothing to indicate that. No way to know if he did or not. 

The options are: 1). open up the crankcase and rebuild the engine. or.... 
2). find a different motorcycle for the rig. 

Instead chose option 3). Brought Da'mit home and will ride as is, for a while. Then decide which path to follow. Once we get a break in weather and work, Da'mit and I will take a spin back to the national forest trails north of Houston to see how she performs. 

More later,
Ride safe


  1. Sorry to hear about the mechanical issues you're experiencing with the KLR, didn't think you'd have such issues really. Between your stuff and what RichardM is experiencing with his Ural's engine, am starting to wonder when my turn will come around.

  2. Dom, you're safe, Richard and I are gathering it all up and keeping it.

    Am beginning to think my KLR was made in Russia. At least I had a great warranty with the Gear Up. None with the KLR.

  3. I was wondering what happened to Chile and the ride up from the southernmost tip. I guess this is part of it...

    1. Chile had to be delayed until next fall due to health issues while in Russia last October. Instead we're taking on the Continental Divide Trail in July, right after the USCA rally in Hotchkiss, Colorado.
      With the problems showing up in the KLR, am now glad we're still in the US to get them resolved. Da'mit the KLR was not quite ready for prime time.

    2. I'm helping setup and run the "sidecar games" portion of the USCA Rally this year CCjon, glad to read you'll be there! Sorry to hear health issues delayed the Chile trip but better to go while at 100% on health, the trip will be hard enough as it is.

    3. Thanks, am looking forward to the rally and your games. Should be a fun time ion Hotchkiss.

      It was only last week when the last doctor gave me a clean bill of health. Am back to normal and ready to travel. Now only if Da'mit was in better shape....!


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