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Old 17 Feb 2011
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
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Help a fellow rider complete his mission

Hola Amigos,

I am a medical student with a mission: to travel from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina on my Kawasaki KLR 650 and to share what I have, resources and know-how, to those in need along the way.

Apart from meeting new friends, experiencing different cultures and taking in the raw beauty of the Americas, I will gain first hand experience as a medical and social services volunteer, responsible for other people’s lives -as I hope to someday be- a full-fledged physician. Across Latin America, I had the opportunity to assist in free clinics. One day, I saw over 200 patients, many of whom had not seen a physician before. In Panama city, I provided support to abused and battered women and their children through the Calicento/En Laces Foundation. In Nicaragua, I got to work with veterinarians (World Vets - Volunteer Veterinary Projects) to neuter & spay animals. And in Cusco, Peru, I collaborated with other students, physicians and dentists in providing free medical and dental care to orphans.

More than 30,000km down; I'm over halfway there. Unfortunately, my trusty motorcycle, has severe engine problems and is in need of some dire repairs. A 3rd engine rebuild in less than 4 months and 7000km as mechanics who tried to help along the way did more harm than good. The tank is empty, I’m down to my last few dollars, and I’m stuck in Bolivia until further notice.

Fortunately, my siblings have set up a Facebook fan page to get the word out: Help Victor Help Others. As a fellow rider, I ask for your support in any way, shape or form. Please check out my fan page, “Like” it, share it, donate through Paypal/FundRazr App or if you’re feeling extra generous, you can do all of the above. I also have a website: ¿Donde Esta Victor? that chronicles my journey. With your help, I should be back on the road in no time. Rest assured, I'll make sure all your support will go the distance - in helping others through volunteer work.

Muchas Gracias and best wishes,
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Victor S Baron

2000 Kawasaki KLR 650
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Old 17 Feb 2011
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Aussie expat in Switzerland half way RTW
Posts: 614
Hi Victor,

I like your resolve and have added to your kitty, it's not much but I'm sure every little bit counts... Ride On!

Will your post some technical stuff about your engine rebuild of Olga?


TurboCharger + Francois (our BMW R1200gs) '07
www.riding2up.net, blog.riding2up.net
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Old 11 Mar 2011
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI
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¡Gracias Pascal!

Your contribution means a lot. Especially coming from a fellow traveler. There are times on the road that are quite difficult and you can't help but feel very alone. It's reassuring to know that others are supporting me.


Through North America, Mexico and Central America, the KLR was consuming the ´normal´ amount of oil about 1 litre every 3000km. After looping Colombia, the bike started to consume oil at a rate of 1 litre every 500km. I decided to dissamble the bike and replace the piston and rings with a reliable and well known mechanic in Medellin, Carlos Mesa. I replaced the piston with original OEM Kawasaki parts that were readily available in Medellin and compatible with my 2000 model KLR. I had problems shipping parts in the past to Mexico and Belize, so I figured I was lucky to be in the situation I was in.

Picture set 1:

a) Original piston. No aparent scoring on the cylinder. A lot of oil leaking through.
b) Another problem encountered was that the radiator resevoir was clogged. No modifications were ever done to the resevoir to my knowledge and the bike didn´t perform overly hot. The water pump now also posed a concern.
c) The culprit. The a piece of the piston broke off between the rings.
d) Diassambled KLR

The 1st rebuild latested all but 1000km, when the KLR started to consume again oil at a rate of 1 litre every 500km. I was pressed for time as I had spent over a month in Medellin diagnosing the problem and performing the repairs. My aunt and uncle were also meeting me in Lima, Peru, so I was unable to address the issue for another 4000km. In Lima, I had a recommended mechanic, Vladimir Brzovic, overcharge me for cleaning my carburator and not encountering any problems. He didn´t believe my oil consumption problems. After much research, I came to the conclusion that the only solution to my problem was the 685 piston kit by Schnitz Racing. Thus, I had the kit shipped along with other gaskets to Cochabamba, Bolivia. In Cochabamba, I saw online that a mechanic by the name of Coco at Moto Charlie was recommended. When I went to see Coco he was too busy to do the work and recommended another mechanic down the road called Moby; BIG mistake. Moby reassured me as did Coco that he was familiar with bigger cylinder engine, etc. etc. ¨No te preocupas¨ (Don´t worry yourself...) All lies. His rebuilt didn´t last more than 400 km...

Picture set 2:

a) A lot of carbon residue. I had gone through 3 bridged spark plugs since Colombia.
b) The work done in Colombia was correct. No oil leaks and no scoring on the cylinder walls.
c) The OEM slightly oversized (0.50) piston by Kawasaki. The culprit.
d) The cylinder being bored in Cochabamba. Me overseeing the bore/hone. They did it very quickly without much care.

In Sucre, oil was leaking everywhere, the bike was overheating, bolts were loose, but Moby wasn´t the only one to blame. The machine shop that did the bore was also very over confident and did quite a poor job. A contact from Australia that has been living in Sucre for the past 2 years recommended a mechanic to me. I very much regret not taking his advice before performing the job in Cochabamba, as this mechanic in Sucre is probably the best I´ve encountered on my entire journey. Fortunately for me he also rides a KLR and is quite familiar with the bike. He charged me a third of the price that Moby did and his work is very much more professional. I was really lucky to have him around to redo and fix the mess Moby made.

Picture set 3:

a) Oil leaking once I arrived in Sucre. Exactly the spot where Moby didn´t want to put silicone, but I did. Unfortunately, we couldn´t find the recommended type and I trusted his ´expertise´.
b) Scoring on the cylinder walls. Cause of overheating. Less than 400km after rebuild.
c) Dissasembled top end. Done with care. All parts thoroughly cleaned.
d)´New´ 685 piston installed for the second time.

I am currently in Bolivia still testing out and break-in the bike. I want to make sure the bike is running perfectly before I leave. It is still running a little bit hot, which is supposedly normal immediately after a rebuild. However, we have since thoroughly cleaned the radiator, replaced the coolant 3 times and rejetted the carburator. I´ve since lost a lot of power at altitude, but I was reassured by my mechanic that I would regain that and much more when I am once again at sea level.
Victor S Baron

2000 Kawasaki KLR 650
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Old 11 Mar 2011
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Location: Aussie expat in Switzerland half way RTW
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Excellent write up and details. We're glad you and the KLR are back on the road!

It really looks like that bike has been to hell and back. Glad to hear you're back on the road and the KLR is behaving. Will keep my fingers crossed for your onward journey. Safe riding.

After all that you must be fluent in Spanish, if you weren't before that is. What was that, the 3rd engine rebuild of the KLR? In any case wow, that is some dedication, a lesser man would've given up a long time ago, well done and keep that courageous spirit of adventure.

All your problems are the stuff of nightmares for the average reader like myself, however I'm sure there will be many who follow that will most certainly benefit from your experiences (good and bad) to find a good mechanic in South America.

PS you might want to add the contact details of the mechanic in Sucre in http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...south-america/ thread
TurboCharger + Francois (our BMW R1200gs) '07
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