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Old 8 Apr 2008
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klr650 - highway travel - how fast for how long and what bike mileage

O.K. boys, time to fess-up about the klr and the highway (speed and distance) you all are riding at.
I was reading some posts about how the new 08 klr is the machine to pick cause it can maintain true highway speeds of 80 to 85 miles per hour for extended periods of time. A number of questions leaped to mind.
First; I must be a bit confused about the engine. I thought this was basically the same engine as the pre 08 design. As such, unless there is a HUGE difference in aerodynamics, that motor in the 08 model is beating itself into early retirement at those speeds just as much as the pre 08 would have.
Second; from where did this pile of posts come about how the old klr was BARELY capable of highway speeds. You’d think it topped out at 70 mph and that you were wringing it’s neck at that speed to maintain it. Fully loaded with gear and all 180 pounds of me aboard – my 02 klr maintained 110k to 120k (about 70 to 75 mph) going through the coq uihalla pass (read “one bloody, long, high, and steep mountain pass) with enough punch to pass at 130+ (80mph) when needed. I have taken it to 140k (just shy of 90 mph) with no problem.
Third; Where in hell are these people (requiring 85+ mph for sustained periods) riding? It sure as hell isn’t here in Canada. Maintain 85 mph here for any period of time and you will go broke (that’s a hundred plus bucks here for the ticket) and will loose your licence.
Last; If you plan on doing extended time on the freeway at 80+ mph, why are you looking at buying a klr anyway?

So, now, on to the question at hand… What speed and distance on the highway do you maintain with your klr, and what is the mileage on your bike (ie, have you already burn your engine to crap, or what sustained speed is it happy at)?

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Old 8 Apr 2008
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KLR truth

Hi Narly; I have a 1990 K with 92000 km on the clock. Had the engine tore down at about 73000, not because of problems, but because a previous owner had welded the front sprocket to the output shaft! I made a fix that worked for about 3 yrs, but some driveline vibes were setting in. During the tear down, it was apparent the engine was in excellent condition. Piston and rings were replaced, no valve probs, but replaced some minor parts since everything was apart. As for cruising, I run expressways at 120km which comes in at about 107 or so by GPS. The speedo is truly "far out". That keeps my speed close enough to traffic that I am comfortable, and the bike seems happy. Will use a lttle oil over long distances at those speeds. Many of my miles are two up, and the bike handles it fine, including some quite knarly (or is that "narly") Mexican backroads. If we keep the speed down, as on 2 laners, we are getting 400-450 km per tank.
Hope this is helpful Cheers Neil W
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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The pre-08 KLR650 will do 98 mph, the magazines are reporting about 90 mph for the 08. Since the horsepower and acceleration is about the same for both versions, it appears that the difference is the larger fairing on the 08. The pre-08 fairing was not the most effective, so while I haven't ridden an 08, I would think the trade-off of comfort for top speed is probably worth it. The pre-08 is comfortable up to about 85mph, after that I find that I want to duck down behind the windscreen to reduce the blast.

In many parts of the U.S. now, fast lane traffic is cruising at 85mph. Occaissionally a bit more (88-90mph). Keep in mind that about half the western states now have 75mph speed limits (80mph in west Texas), and enforcement is generally less than it was ten years ago.
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Old 14 Apr 2008
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Depends on road and tires

I have 2 klr's a 2002 and a 2004.

The 02 has mostly off road tires, small screen and no luggage. The 04 has more road oriented tires with givi bags, tall screen. Both bikes have been on the #2 highway between Edmonton and Calgary as well as out to Banff and Jasper. 1 up both bikes are comfortable at 100 - 110 KPH while 2 up I don't like to exceed 100.

Anything over 110 and the fuel mileage drops of drastically. Often one of my sons will ride one of the bikes while I ride the other and I notice that the 04 gets better fuel economy than the 02. I think this must be because of the harder rubber on the tires.

As far as how far can I ride it depends on the individual. Either of my sons can put on several more hours than my old bones will take. If we are going long distances I tend to take my Triumph Trophy 1200. I use a lot more fuel but more than recover the time taken at fuel stops by cruising at higher speeds and then we all meet up at the end of the day.

As for longevity of the bike my 02 has 48,000 Km and my 04 has 35,000 Km. No major work on either while my sons 02 totally calved at 38,000. I think the key is regular maintenance.

Hope this is what you were looking for.

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Old 14 Apr 2008
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My 2002 KLR has 104 000KM and it is still running strong:

- from 5000 to 50 000 km, the bike was riding at 90KM/h
- At 50 000km the engine was filled with brown amazone water
- the last 20 000km were riden at 120 - 130km/h with a 16teeth front sprocket. Oil consumption is big above 130km/h. Otherwise it is ok.
- The engine was never rebuilt.

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Old 15 Apr 2008
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I don't push the bike much beyond 60mph for any length of time, as it's just not built for it. The speedo is quite optimistic too.. comparing the speedo to the GPS-recorded speed seems to indicate that the speedo is consistently about 10% high.. which might explain how I've managed to not get flashed by those speed cameras littered around London!

In terms of distance, I found the main limiting factor was the numb-bum syndrome.. the stock saddle is too narrow for comfortable long distances, so I added a sheepskin called Sean, which makes a difference. In order to reduce numb hands from the vibrations, keep the tank full, and move weight to the tank bag, or tank panniers, if you have them.

Mileage.. well I bought mine with 6000 miles on the clock, and it only gets used for commuting 3-4 miles each day, plus very occasional trips (I've been limited by time for the past year), so it's at about 13000 miles now.
No oil issues to note.
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Old 15 Apr 2008
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Mines an '05 with 19k miles on it. I'm the original owner and love the bike- use it every day. Got bounced around by the wind way more before I added a fork brace, now it's much better but some really windy days are still definitely white knuckle. Fully loaded I have no trouble keeping up with traffic (California 70 mph+) when I need to (I usually search out back roads). A 350 mile day is a lot on the bike, but that could be because I'm not a spring chicken (55) and I have the stock seat on the bike. Next trip I'm using a sheepskin in hope of a little more comfort. I used to Jones for a BMW but love the simplicity of the KLR. The only reason I will move to BMW GS is if wife says yes to life on the road with me. Otherwise, the KLR is a great bike.
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Old 15 Apr 2008
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The fork brace is probably only required on A (US) and B (Tengai) models cos of the skinnier forks (38mm). The C (EU) model has 41 mm forks, which don't seem to benefit as much from fork braces, cos it's more rigid to begin with. The 2008 model uses 41mm forks now too, if I remember correctly.

I have a BMW R1150RT as well, but I prefer the KLR for the rougher stuff, for the following main reasons..

1) it's easy to work on if something goes wrong (last trip, the clutch cable broke, and that was just 30 minutes to get the spare out, re-route it, and adjust it). Getting to just the battery on the BMW is a f*****g drama, in comparison.
2) it's cheaper to maintain (those BMW services really roast you)!
3) it's cheaper to run
4) It's lighter (Try picking up a fully loaded R1150RT.. although I have done it solo, in anger, while probably over-loaded with adrenaline).

For two up, there's nothing like the BMWs though.. I feel like the R1150RT handles more naturally with two up, actually. Horses for courses..
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Old 16 Apr 2008
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I make it a practice to not run my 2000 KLR over 4500 rpm for extended periods. I usually use a 16/43 sprocket set, and that is 70 mph'ish. I currently have about 54,000miles on it ,and they have not all been easy miles. 4WD roads in Moab Utah; Ouray CO and the like. Up to 15,000 feet in Peru, and Bolivia. It uses maybe 8 oz. of oil in 3,000 miles. Worst failure I ever had was a speedo drive gearbox.
Andy Tiegs
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Old 16 Apr 2008
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I have on 03 with 40k miles on the clock and it uses no oil. I have taken from British Columbia to Nicuaragua and all over the US. It is not a bike for Interstate droning. Not comfortable for bike or rider in my opinion. It will cruise for extended periods and 75mph plus. At those speeds it is pretty much maxed out and there is not much left for passing or emergencies. I typically ride at 65 to 70 when droning and try to do as little as possible. If not required to maintain 75 plus there are often better alternatives to the interstate highways, prettier, less traffic, and almost as fast.

On the trailing edge of technology - chris
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Old 17 Apr 2008
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Thumbs up 26000 miles and counting

I have a 92 model bought used with 8000 miles on it . I had to do some work befor riding it,but not to the motor. After a few hundred get aquainted miles, I ran it out to check top speed while out on a ride with a guy on a V-Max. The KLR indicated 100 mph and the V-Max owner said the same.
I ride fairly hard and got used to running an indicated 80 mph. The motor will need a half quart of oil in 500 miles ridden this way.
On a trip to Alaska I neglected to add oil and ran it low. After 2300 miles the exhaust cam ran dry and wore the head. After getting it home I bought a 1000 mile motor off E-bay. This one runs the same and,uses less oil than the first one .I'll keep an eye on it this time ,I hope.
If I keep the speeds down to 60 - 65 mph range I get 50 miles per gallon. I have a IMS 7.1 gallon tank and have gotten 354 miles from it.
You can run the KLR hard for a long time,just remember the oil daily.
ride,smile,repeat as nessasary
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Old 18 Apr 2008
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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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Kind of what I thought

Thanks for the posts, guys. It's pretty much the same as my opinion. The KLR has all the power you need if not the power you want.
It'll get you there, where ever the hell "there" is. In my case, that will be to Ucluelet this July by pretty much the longest and round about way I can find. Last time I did this, the way home from Nanimio (to Calgary)almost included Alaska. Now you see why I ride a KLR.
In parting, I'll include a quote from the Lord of the Rings for KLR riders:
"The open road is a dangerous place Frodo. Once you put you feet on it, there's no telling where it will take you."
Happy trails all. See you on the road (on a KLR you may not get anywhere fast, but you sure as hell can get anywhere).

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Old 22 Apr 2008
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Location: Desert Southwest, U.S.A.
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Klr Mph/mpg

I float my slim, svelte 6'3" 240 lb. frame across the back of a 2006 KLR and ride it 14 miles each way to work and back. The posted speeds on the route in mph: one mile at 25, six miles at 45, four miles at 55, two miles at 35, one mile at 30. It's pretty much billiard-table flat.
Besides my carcass the thing hauls most of the Happy-Trails.com catalog with a pair of $8 Action boaters' dry boxes from Wal-mart bolted to the pannier racks and a well-stuffed canvas bag tall enough to lean on bungeed to the seat. With a Dunlop 606 on the back and a Pirelli MT21 on the front I get a reliable 48 mpg.
The route winds considerably. Wind is ever-present at 10-15 mph and regularly exceeds 30. The 55 mph part is straight, prevailing winds are perpendicular to it.
With those dirt tires providing a generous 3/4 inch of contact patch every 2 3/4 inches I generally find conical protrusions in the upholstery upon reaching my destination when the wind is blowing. A new pair of Gripsters arrived yesterday which I hope will ameliorate that effect and boost mileage a bit.
I have ridden short hops on the interstate at 70 - 75 mph. The metal camel is certainly capable of those speeds and more but the fun quotient drops to a negative number. There is a pronounced sweet spot at 52 mph indicated.
At 7,000 miles on the clock there is no oil usage.
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