Monthly Archive November 2010

How to have fun on a KLR and burn exhaust valves too!

So how did we go from this…

…to this?

When I first bought the bike in the fall of 2007 it had been well maintained by the previous owner, Tinker from the Ontario Dual Sport Club. In fact, it was so well maintained that he guiltily confessed to replacing a rusted fastener prior to delivering it to me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it would be stored outside for it’s first winter as I’d no where else to put it. 

When I bought the 2004 Kawasaki KLR 650, it was to replace my 2005 Honda VFR800a that had gotten into a wee bit of a scrap with a Buick and got the stuffing knocked out of it, so the idea behind getting a KLR was to slow me down while opening up a new world of dual sport riding as I hadn’t been offroad on a bike since I was thirteen on a little 50cc Honda mini trail.

Now we can hear the problem, the stock shock is used, and really does not like launching my 250lb 6 foot frame over these jumps. It’s landing so hard that the muffler seam hit the swingarm and cut off the plastic guide for the brake line! Something is going to have to be done about this! You can tell how low the bike is riding here on the stock setup.

I went up to Royal Distributing in Innisfil looking for some gear during their red tag tent sale event, and while lofting my front tire in the air, observed that the exhaust had changed it’s note and was making more noise, but upon inspection I couldn’t find a problem, and the bike seemed to run fine, so I made the mistake of ignoring it and taking the bike for a ride up to Minden with friends the following day.

The trip to Minden went well until the highway portion on the trip back where I found myself unable to keep up to the other bikes, my speed falling, and the bike hesitating like crazy. It got worse until I made the exit ramp and  keeping the bike rolling the last two kilometres into my driveway was my total focus.
Diagnosing the trouble didn’t take very long as I was planning on running the bike with no air filter to test for a blockage when I found this…
This is what happens when the exhaust weld breaks and you don’t catch it in time.
So the exhaust had split at the seam under the subframe and had been jetting hot exhaust up at the air box, which had finally let go and melted a hole up into the air box, melting the OEM foam filter, the bird cage, and lumps of molten plastic were lodged on the inner screen leading into the carburettor. I was sick with worry. Had I messed up the carburettor? 
A friend of mine with an aftermarket pipe donated their old stock pipe to me, and I was able to solve the problem of the exhaust straight away.  Thanks Carrie!
I had a trip planned to ride down to the Blue Ridge Parkway that May with the, it’s our annual spring run and now it was about a week away and I was in trouble with that hole! I bought an aftermarket foam air filter, Moose racing brand, and a new cage. I asked around my circle of friends to find someone who could perhaps plastic weld it prior to the trip.

I’ll give him a call. Kawi wants two hundred for new. I’m sure I can get used for a better price. I take it he would want it off the bike for the repair?

– Hide quoted text –

——Original Message——

From: James 

To: Ron 

Subject: Airbox repair

Sent: May 11, 2009 11:54

Hey Ron,

 I spoke to Gilligan (real name Jeff) and he said he could repair it while u wait. It won’t be pretty but it will be functional. It’s under the tank so no matter IMHO. You can call him directly at 416-123-1234. Tell him Wobblycat sent you, haha!

 He’s working on painting an R6 right now so he probably won’t be able to work on it until Wednesday night. BTW, he does this on the side after his regular job (doing custom work on porches and mercedes).

 BTW, thanks for the invite yesterday, I had a lot of fun.


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Gilligan was busy, and I needed it done straight away, so I fixed the airbox on the cheap with JB Weld, a strip of aluminum and some RTV Silicone, and that repair has proven to be watertight and has lasted for a couple of years, so buying a replacement airbox is now on hold.

Phase 2 of burning a valve…
I joined in on a ride to Killarney Ontario which google maps puts as 781 kilometres round trip, and 10 hours and forty two minutes.

Yep, it was a very long day on the bike, and when I heard exhaust noise and rattling coming from the head I checked it at a fuel stop to find that one of the cap fasteners had fallen off of the flange that bolts the front pipe onto the head. Now that flange was dangling on one side and I’d a leak between the head and front pipe. I still had another three hundred kilometres to get home at highway speeds, and the although I replaced the copper gasket and the nut on the flange, the bike never ran correctly again. From what I understand, the valve was running hotter than designed with lean stock jetting, and a lack of restrictive back pressure allowed it to run with more air and less fuel which resulted in the burnt valve. I now run on the rich side with a KLX needle in the KLR carburettor, so not only does the bike pull stronger, it protects it ever so slightly.

What does a burnt valve feel like?
That being said, what I experienced with that burnt valve was a loss of engine braking, as in comparison to my friend’s 2001 KLR with only around 27,000 kilometres on the clock, when I rolled off on his bike, I felt like I was applying a brake. When you roll off on my bike, you’d best be on the brakes before the verge rushes up at you all too fast. I lost power, perhaps in the 20% range, but I attributed that to the loss of back pressure and kept on riding. In addition, I’m a pretty cheap bugger and have been tossing around the idea of a new bike, so selling a high mileage KLR that’s never been dropped (Hahahahaha!) wouldn’t get me much, in fact I’d probably do better selling the farkles one at a time, so instead of buying a new bike, I decided to pony up for the 685 kit, and get the head seen to prior to next riding season.


Top End Rebuild or How to show your KLR you really do care.

Willys from KLR650.NET has been great to deal with. The only problem I’ve had is tearing myself away or hanging up when I talk to him as we both love bikes, and he has a wealth of knowledge about KLR’s. I’m the first guy with a burnt valve apparently. 
Kids, if your muffler breaks, get it fixed before you go riding or do anymore wheelies. Just sayin’. 🙂
That last statement really deserves some clarification, so perhaps a post on how this valve came to look like this is in order (Click here).

Yep, she’s done!

I’ve been burning some oil.


Willys says I’m running a bit rich.

I first smacked this rad back in 2008 on my very first ever ride with Willie.

Apparently not being able to get the skid plate off wasn’t a good enough excuse.

I ordered my kit in from
This is waiting to go in it. 🙂

Here’s the update on the rebuild project. Willys obviously had to order in a new valve to replace the burnt one, and it took a while to come in. Two weeks more or less, so the entire project was on hold in the meantime.

I trailered the bike home from Willys place as an early Christmas present to myself.

Redneck bike hauler

After the work it started they way I’d become accustomed to when I bought the bike from Tinker on the forum with 10,000 kms on the clock, well before the burnt valve.

Choke on, starter and a tiny crack of the throttle and she’s alive in what seems like two revolutions of the engine. What strikes me as strange is the exhaust note, as Willys eradicated tweety bird by pulling out the spark arrestor and welding on a tailpiece to the pipe to direct exhaust away from the fender. I’m just not accustomed to the way it sounds. He proudly showed me the newly cleaned fender too. 😀

Now it had to sit for a few months until we had some warm weather and I was able to take it “around the block” for a fifteen minute ride.

The throttle is a responsive, and no worse than what I’m used to, but the ENGINE BRAKING!!! My bike is a nut buster again when I roll off the throttle, and while it won’t power wheelie in every gear (awww, darn it!!!), I have to exercise more respect for the throttle mid corner now, as I’d become a bit ham-handed while riding with a burnt valve and less rear wheel horsepower. It feels as if I could break the street tire out mid corner if I twist it just wrong on these cold roads complete with sand.

In a straight line it pulls hard, and is responsive to the throttle. I’m still in the breakin with 240 km on the new parts, and at idle they seem to tick away, with what seems to be some vavle or cam chain noise. Willys, you’re not missing any sockets are you? :scream: :lol3:

It feels stronger, at 60kph and 80kph I’m running at lower revolutions per minute than I used to, and I’ve 240 km on stabilized fuel so can’t tell you what gas mileage I get with my set up, sorry.

In short, I love it. I think this was just the trick to get me interested in the bike again and to stop mooning over a Honda XR650L with it’s tiny little gas tank. :screwy: It feels as like I won’t need change the sprockets for offroad as 2nd gear is much more ballsy for the slow stuff.

I asked Willys about the noise I was hearing from the engine, and he suggested that when I brought the bike in to him, the valves were tight so I wouldn’t hear them ticking away, now that they are in spec and bedding in, I’d hear normal noises from the motor, but by all means bring it back up if I thought I needed to.  I’m pretty sure it’s just the motor doing it’s thing, as it’s rhythmic and regular, and speeds up when I roll on the throttle at idle, so I’ll continue riding it as is. I’m still smiling. 🙂

May 2011
I’m just back from a 2,000 kilometre trip down to the Blue Ridge Parkway and back, and the bike is running fine. It was getting about 300km before reserve, and my gas mileage seems to be improving a bit. It was really pulling nicely up those mountain roads, but I was hard on the throttle and my Kenda 270’s wore down a bit more than I’m used to. 😀

December 2011
I took the bike on an 8,000km trip across the Trans Labrador Highway and toured Newfoundland before heading home again, and my fuel consumption was all over the place. At worst it was 6.8 litres per 100km, at best around 4.9, the average was 5.7   I’ve made some carb mods to it, a KLX needle clipped two down from the top, an idle mixture adjust screw and a Moose factory racing foam air filter. It’s still running rich according to the butt dyno, and now my sprockets are fish hooking after about 12,000 kilometres, although the DID VM2 X-Ring chain is in great shape.  I can see why some guys re sprocket for off road, by the time you’re in second gear, the behemoth is rolling so fast that the trees come rushing up really fast and the suspension really can’t handle the rapid rebound and compression like an XR400 or a Husaberg.

So, if you’re going to do it for offroad, spend your money on suspension first, then an aftermarket exhaust. I’ve broken three by smacking them into the swingarm. I’ve an ISD2 Supertrapp on it now, and while loud it’s survived all the thrashing and bashing without blowing up. If I were to do this again and planned only to use this bike only for touring and never dreamed on taking it offroad, I’d leave it stock and laugh as I pulled up to the pumps for a fill. That being said, on gravel this mother will drift. On the road, with a wee clutch dump, she comes up easy, and I can leave stock KLR’s behind ever so slightly. It just pulls harder in every gear.

The 685 kit rapidly pointed out that my clutch plates are worn or burnt, as it began slipping not to far into the season, and I’ve an OEM clutch kit and new springs waiting to go into it this winter.

Airbourne! I need a chute!


World’s craziest motorcycle commute through urban Africa caught on tape from Andy Brown on Vimeo.

Not for the faint at heart! Come along for the ride with Andy Brown as he shows you his daily commute through Nairobi gridlock and how to pass 320 cars in 7 min …