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  #1  
Old 10 Jun 2014
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Talking KLR Gone The Way Of The Dodo Bird?

Some seem sure the KLR is lost to history, extinct, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A "has been" that's never really "Been"!

It gets little respect from certain quarters ... yet still is THE MOST common bike we see for sale on HUBB want ads. (most of the time it seems) How can that be?

According to detractors ... they'd rather be DEAD than ride the lowly KLR anywhere. It's just NO FUN they claim. Is that true?

Yet, we still see HUNDREDS out in the world at any given time. I even see them here in the Bay Area on the Freeways ... packed up for long Summer travel. Now why is that?

Are these KLR overlander motoqueros Sheep following along what others did 20 years ago? ...not looking out ahead at the BRAVE new Orange World! Not too bright I guess ... but who are the real Sheep here? The KLIM clad Orange Crush? .. or the dull army green KLR dullards in cheapo gear?

Funny, we rarely see the KLR guys blow their own horn or brag about their bikes. Most display a quiet confidence ... (or maybe just bought the bike from someone else ... and don't know a thing about it!)

Is the KLR still worth fixing up? Or will we see it soon disappear from the ADV landscape? KLR Gurus know it's real potential. Those who are looking for a Race Bike to go RTW ... will never get it. I do have to agree ... I'm not a fan of totally stock KLR.

But my eyes have been opened several times riding well set up ones. Details are everything it seems. Do the fixes make it fast? Uh, no. But the over bore kits really do make a substantial improvement ... and once over bored, oil burning usually goes away for good.

So how much has changed amongst travelers tastes since my 2nd HUBB meeting at Copper Canyon in 2004? It was a small event ... only 105 riders total. And guess which bike was most ridden there? Yep, the KLR. 35 of them that year. I counted. Nothing else even came close to the KLR in numbers.

So where are those guys now and what are they riding these days? Have they sent their KLR to Hell? Or ...? And what did they pick as a replacement?
And why?


Ancient KLR Skeleton
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  #2  
Old 10 Jun 2014
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I thought the dodo went the way of the KLR?
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Last edited by colebatch; 16 Jun 2014 at 20:28.
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  #3  
Old 10 Jun 2014
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If humans ever explore the dark side of the moon, I fully expect them to find an old, junk, KLR up there.
I have ridden everything available in this country. Everything.
What do I own? a DL650, and a KLR.

Mine has Progressive monotubes inthe forks and a TopGun spring on the shock. It will climb walls
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  #4  
Old 15 Jun 2014
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I am in the 12th week of a 2 year trip around the world, and I have chosen a KLR650.

Imagine this situation: you are in deepest, darkest Africa, you have the latest bike with EFI, ABS and maybe even electronic suspension, one morning you wake up and the bike doesn't idle properly and you can't take-off, what are you going to do? Unless you're a motorbike mechanic with diagnostic software...not much. With a KLR you may be able to fix it yourself or the local shade tree mechanic will do it for you.

Who is the dodo, the bulletproof KLR, or high tech mystery?
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  #5  
Old 16 Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by ashflemmo View Post
Who is the dodo, the bulletproof KLR, or high tech mystery?
Could not agree more Ashley!
Yet another consideration for travelers is the possibility of losing your bike via theft or a crash. Many don't care ... they want the bike they want, no matter, come what may. Most times they make it fine. But "stuff" can happen ... and does from time to time.

I feel more comfortable riding a bike I can afford to lose. For me, losing a
$12,000 (usd) KTM 690 would hurt ... badly. A $20,000 BMW GSA? Unthinkable.

A $3500 (usd) KLR, DRZ400, DR650, XR650L or XR400 Honda, XT600 Yamaha? Would be sad ... but tolerable, I could recover from that, buy another and start again. (would unbolt my Ohlins shock if given a chance! )
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  #6  
Old 16 Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by ashflemmo View Post
With a KLR you may be able to fix it yourself or the local shade tree mechanic will do it for you.
or ... maybe not ....

Russia,Mongolia,Ukraine.....Netherlands on a KLR - ADVrider

In southern Chile-Bike won't run - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum

Poor Doogle has no end of breakdowns with them that stop his assorted RTW trips. Not just for a day or two either. Try a whole summer marooned in Siberia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashflemmo View Post

Who is the dodo, the bulletproof KLR....
If you really insist I will google "broken KLR" and post the results

Dont read on if you want to pretend that an overweight KLR is "bulletproof". Ignorance is bliss.

I always chuckle when someone claims any bike is bulletproof. If they are made for the consumer market, then they are ALL built down to a price and are ALL pieces of crap.

In the words of King James (who I believe was describing off the shelf motorcycles) ... "There are none righteous; no, not one"
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  #7  
Old 17 Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
If you really insist I will google "broken KLR" and post the results
Or ... I could post the HUNDREDS of KLR trips that have been (relatively) problem free ... going back to 1986.
What were you riding in 1986? I was riding an early KLR!
It was terrible! but never broke down. (sort of )

Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
Dont read on if you want to pretend that an overweight KLR is "bulletproof". Ignorance is bliss.
No question KLR's need fettling as any travel bike would. Look at KLR's for sale, some have LONG lists of mods and alterations. Better? Yep? Have you ever ridden a well set up one? I have.
But some are Lemons and some KLR's are the victim of clueless owners.
Can happen with any brand, yea? (loose nut behind the wheel syndrome)

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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
I always chuckle when someone claims any bike is bulletproof. If they are made for the consumer market, then they are ALL built down to a price and are ALL pieces of crap.
You must be thinking about BMW here? Sure, some components on "some" bikes are not up to torture testing ... or just plain wrong for a dual sport bike.

IMO, for intended use, most Japanese dual sport bikes (including KLR650) do the job if not beaten on too hard for too long with at least minimal maintenance. They are not race bikes, not intended to compete in that venue, but pretty tough bikes overall.

As day to day commuters or easy going travel bikes, most make it back in one piece with few major issues. Certainly more KLR's have done long trips than any other 650 class bike.

Are they elegant Race Winners or Dakar Wanna be's? Not so much ... but ALL big four Japanese companies DO have Race divisions ... and maybe have learned a thing or two over the years?
How's KTM's Moto GP effort going? BMW's Moto Cross program? Oh, sorry, neither have one and never had one.

Sadly not much tech from racing makes it to common Japanese dual sport bikes, most haven't changed for 20 years. (KLR, DR650, XR650L) Imagine what would happen to KTM if the Japanese took just a slight interest in dual sport ADV bikes.
Adios KTM?

We may see changes soon as both Honda & Yamaha have rekindled race efforts in the Dakar ... Kawasaki and Suzuki are lurking in the shadows.
Sleeping Giants awake?

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  #8  
Old 17 Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by ashflemmo View Post
Imagine this situation: you are in deepest, darkest Africa, you have the latest bike with EFI, ABS and maybe even electronic suspension, one morning you wake up and the bike doesn't idle properly and you can't take-off, what are you going to do? Unless you're a motorbike mechanic with diagnostic software...not much. With a KLR you may be able to fix it yourself or the local shade tree mechanic will do it for you.
Dream on... Sorry, I'll take a modern bike any day for reliability.
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  #9  
Old 17 Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by mollydog View Post
You must be thinking about BMW here? Sure, some components on "some" bikes are not up to torture testing ... or just plain wrong for a dual sport bike.
"There are none righteous; no, not one" Romans 3:10

I have been a last port of advice for a lot of people riding across Siberia and Mongolia for a lot of years. I get people email me or PM me all the time (several a week during riding season for at least the last half dozen years) from remote places saying bike is broken, what do I do. In my opinion there has been a strong bias in those pleas for help from older bikes designed in earlier years. Sure, Thats just my sample tho. But its a pretty big sample, even if it is a bit geographically limited to Eurasia.

Just following a few rides now. Here's a couple of guys headed out from Europe to Magadan ... one on a relatively modern G650 X-Challenge. EFI, Water cooled. His mate is on a Carbed Suzuki. Earlier generation engineering. Call it simpler if you are for it, call it more primitive if you are against it. In reality its both. It is simpler and it is more primitive. But guess which bike is having the engine stripped apart in Novosibirsk? Not even half way there and before any of the tough stuff has even started. Click thru the pics. I will give you a clue - its not the more modern, better engineered EFI engine.

https://www.facebook.com/MagadanKoly...type=1&theater
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  #10  
Old 17 Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
"There are none righteous; no, not one" Romans 3:10

I have been a last port of advice for a lot of people riding across Siberia and Mongolia for a lot of years. I get people email me or PM me all the time (several a week during riding season for at least the last half dozen years) from remote places saying bike is broken, what do I do. In my opinion there has been a strong bias in those pleas for help from older bikes designed in earlier years. Sure, Thats just my sample tho. But its a pretty big sample, even if it is a bit geographically limited to Eurasia.

Just following a few rides now. Here's a couple of guys headed out from Europe to Magadan ... one on a relatively modern G650 X-Challenge. EFI, Water cooled. His mate is on a Carbed Suzuki. Earlier generation engineering. Call it simpler if you are for it, call it more primitive if you are against it. In reality its both. It is simpler and it is more primitive. But guess which bike is having the engine stripped apart in Novosibirsk? Not even half way there and before any of the tough stuff has even started. Click thru the pics. I will give you a clue - its not the more modern, better engineered EFI engine.

https://www.facebook.com/MagadanKoly...type=1&theater

And they haven't started the serious stuff yet


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  #11  
Old 17 Jun 2014
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Yea, bikes do fail ... but sometimes it's the rider's fault.
You know these guys? back grounds? What about the DRZ400
that failed? History?

We see a lot of NEW riders getting out there. They buy a bike cheap as they can, know fookin' ALL about the bike they've bought or bikes/maintenance in general ...they just go, having skipped real prep and not spent time/money to really know the bike and it's condition. No real skill or experience.

Could that be the case with this DRZ guy?

Suzuki DRZ has a solid history overall. You know that. Tens of Thousands sold worldwide since 2000. Primitive? OK, if you say so. Most DRZ's are still on the road/trail. We still have a 2000 "E" model running around. In fact, it's my dirt bike now as I sold my WR250F couple months back. Uses some oil now but starts /runs fine! This old DRZ was a Press bike from Suzuki ... in 2000 ... it's been passed around to everyone; abused, mistreated and not maintained. Yet it survives!

Would I take to Mongolia? HELL NO! Just common sense, right? You don't take a worn out bike half way round the world to ride a 4 month long enduro!

I used to hang out on the Thumper Talk DRZ forum. (owned a 2001 DRZ E) Hundreds of DRZ riders ... not many failures like this guy in Russia. Sure, there are problems, but not many like that, that I've seen anyway.

So, could it be possible this guy screwed the pooch? Ran it out of oil? Didn't adjust valves? No up grade of cam timing chain? Ran without coolant? Noobs are very creative, have a thousands ways to kill a bike.

It's easy to counterpoint this rare failure with dozens of DRZ's that have done well. Same as with the KLR. Take "Jedi" Adam as just ONE example out of many recent accounts. His DRZ has done pretty well, last I checked, and so did his DR650 before that. How can that be?

Or, take the 35 KLR's that showed up at Copper Canyon Mexico HUBB meeting in 2004. NONE broke down, some rode 3000 miles to get there ... then rode back or onto S. America. Ever been anywhere where you had 35 X-Challenges together at one time?

Sure, the DRZ is an older design ... but, IMO, a pretty good one. Mild state of tune, overbuilt, built to last. Cheap to buy, easy to maintain (if you know how) and generally reliable. (14 years of experience with this bike)

Few have the skills, funds, connections or time to build a custom bike from the ground up as you have. I really admire what you've done with your X Challenge ... but that is just not going to happen for most riders.

Even your riding partners didn't go as far compared to what you've done .... and one ended up on the end of a tow rope much of the ride.

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Old 17 Jun 2014
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Sure the KLR is a perfectly OK bike, and cheap. But to buy one so that you have a bike that a street-corner mechanic in "deepest, darkest Africa" can fix is a fantasy.

Several years ago now I rode across Russia with a group of 7-8 people; most on GSs, one on a KTM, and one guy on a GSPD. Guess which one broke down? The GSPD...and after the very-experienced owner spent a few days attempting to diagnose the problem, had new coils shipped to Siberia, etc., it still didn't run, and he had to ship it home from Irkutsk, while the GS/KTM riders rode off into the sunset.

I'm not interested in another "what bike is more reliable" pissing match--all bikes break--but the point is that often when it's broken, its broken, and a well-chosen/prepped modern bike is less likely to break.
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Old 17 Jun 2014
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Dude ... I hear you. Not really disagreeing to any degree of note with anything you are saying. I liked your original post.

What I am saying (not to you but to the guy who used the word "bulletproof", and thought because he is 12 weeks into a 2 year trip that his bike is bulletproof) is that its naive to claim any bike is bulletproof.

My point is there is nothing even vaguely close to bulletproof. If any rider thinks he has found the silver bullet, then he is kidding himself. Thinking because he has a KLR that he is not going to have unfixable problems is also wishful thinking.

Reality is if a KLR has a shagged crank, or if a 1200 has a shagged ECU (not that I ever heard of a shagged ECU), either way, the likely outcome is FEDEXing in a spare part.

In 2009 while I was in Mongolia there were two other riders there at the time. Tiffany on her BMW airhead ... she was airfreighting in a new distributor rotor. And a DR350, which was running really badly and needed daily maintenance due to broken carb needle (ultimately it was running so badly it was rail freighted back to Moscow)

All the time I see these old bikes being unfixable in remote place, and needing airfreighted parts to get them going again. Yes, sometimes I see more modern bikes needing new parts flown in too. The only difference is that the older bikes break down much more frequently. MUCH MUCH more frequently.

I remember being in touch with a nice Aussie couple planning a ride in 2006 across Russia (London to Tokyo), they chose to take old bikes, on the premise that they were more reliable, more fixable etc ... Guess how that trip ended. Those reliable old repairable bikes broken and freighted out ...

Again its one of a hundred examples I could dig up.

The outcomes dont match the dogma that people have when they choose old bikes - convinced it will make their trips more worry free.

If you like old bikes, then fine, ride old bikes. If you like them for their character, then fine. Say you choose the bikes cause you like their character. If youre Doug, and your whole thing is based around cool old bikes, then do what he does and say its cause I love these cool old bikes. If you love KLRs, just admit its cause you love the heavy old primitive beast that is a KLR. Just dont kid yourself that they are more reliable, or less likely to cause you grief. Its just not reality.

And... Definitely don't kid yourself that your choice, whatever it is, is bulletproof. That just total naivity.
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  #14  
Old 17 Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
The GSPD...and after the very-experienced owner spent a few days attempting to diagnose the problem, had new coils shipped to Siberia, etc., it still didn't run, and he had to ship it home from Irkutsk, while the GS/KTM riders rode off into the sunset.
Very experienced? Maybe not?

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Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
I'm not interested in another "what bike is more reliable" pissing match--all bikes break--but the point is that often when it's broken, its broken, and a well-chosen/prepped modern bike is less likely to break.
All bikes can and do break. But there is a difference between
a 25 year old GSPD and a well prepped 2 year old GS. Same with a KLR, DR, XR-L or F650. A 20 year old high mileage one IS more likely to break down. A new-ish example ... even though it's an OLD design, will most likely do fine.
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Old 17 Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
Dude ... I hear you. Not really disagreeing to any degree of note with anything you are saying. I liked your original post.
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
What I am saying (not to you but to the guy who used the word "bulletproof", and thought because he is 12 weeks into a 2 year trip that his bike is bulletproof) is that its naive to claim any bike is bulletproof.
True, too early to make any claims. Lots of bad road ahead. I wish him well, hope he's done his homework and has prepped that KLR for the long haul ...

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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
My point is there is nothing even vaguely close to bulletproof. If any rider thinks he has found the silver bullet, then he is kidding himself. Thinking because he has a KLR that he is not going to have unfixable problems is also wishful thinking.
I mostly agree here.

But regards "unfixable" problems .. depends where you are, how persistent you are and how much you're willing to spend ... and of course LUCK has a lot to do with it! We've all read stories of guys getting the most unlikely fixes in remote areas. It can happen ... no matter the bike. I know you've had some of these unbelievable encounters in your travels. So have I.

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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
And a DR350, which was running really badly and needed daily maintenance due to broken carb needle (ultimately it was running so badly it was rail freighted back to Moscow)
I carry a spare needle ... never used it of course. It's a $10 part, takes up zero space. Any decent moto shop could have dug up an needle to work in that bike. But I guess Siberia is short on shops.

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The only difference is that the older bikes break down much more frequently. MUCH MUCH more frequently.
Right, no question. But as I said in my post above ... there is a difference in a high mileage OLD bike that is worn out ... and a bike of OLD design (KLR, DR, XR-L, XT) that is quite new with low mileage. Do you believe even a bike of OLD DESIGN will be more likely to break down? Is it really an "old" bike?

Remember, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda still make these old boilers today ...

BMW used to disclose data on customer warranty service claims. All the OEMS did. These stats were published for YEARS in Motorcycle Industry News (MIC). About 10 years ago BMW stopped disclosure of this information. Why?

Probably because they consistently were in LAST place in warranty service claims. (most claims) Shortly after, the big four also declined to give this information ... even though their numbers were (and ARE) incredibly low.

Guys ask me what bike to buy. After a model is decided upon I always recommend getting the NEWEST, low Mileage bike they can afford. The DR650 and KLR are both 20 year old designs. But a 2 or 3 year old KLR or DR is unlikely to have fatal flaws ... once prepped, set up and a good shake down test run done....you know ...like a quick ride to Morocco

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Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
The outcomes dont match the dogma that people have when they choose old bikes - convinced it will make their trips more worry free.
Yep, old worn out bikes? Not good. Cheap and Cheerful is good but Beaten and Thrashed is a NO GO. Many Noobs wouldn't know the difference.

But a new-ish bike of older design? I don't see a problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
If you like old bikes, then fine, ride old bikes. If you like them for their character, then fine. Say you choose the bikes cause you like their character. And... Definitely don't kid yourself that your choice, whatever it is, is bulletproof. That just total naivity.
Agreed!

But for many it's not about having romantic or sentimental delusions about "Vintage" bikes. It's simply about money, maintenance and cost of parts and service. Often times bikes like KLR's have a low admission price ... even low mileage, newer ones are not too dear.

But you make a very good point about the "bulletproof" delusion so many seem to harbor. Many inexperienced travelers are told a certain model is "bulletproof" and will "never" wear out. So the Noob goes out and finds a "really good deal" ... and screws himself cause he's bought a worn out old nail that's been spit polished and new tires fitted.

ALL bikes wear out. And BMW's are not immune either ... even though things I sometimes hear from that side, you'd think they never do. I used to hear this from the Air Head crowd YEARS AGO ... back when I owned air heads and went to many of the BMW rallies. What a load of crap. My BMW's were THE MOST problematic and unreliable bikes I've ever owned. And I've owned quite a few bikes.
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Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




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