Originally Posted by lostinthewilderness
Am just wondering if anyone has any experience of using a Kasasaki KLE 500 for travelling on. Am thinking mostly of a road based trip but would like some abiliity to travel on gravel tracks etc Am not a serious off roader and dont have too much money to buy such a bike with.
Cheers for your thoughts
Hi Matt, me and my mate Raul went from falmouth to mauritainia on a xtz750 and a KLE500. My bike was the xtz but i really rate the KLE, maybe even more than the xtz here's why;
(sorry in advance for the essay)
1. Its cheap,
my mate got his bike (1st gen) for £500 taxed and tested. 2nd generation bikes can be had for around £1500. This means cheap carnets or if the worst should happen leave it and fly home. £500 lost is easier to take than £10k+ for a KTM990/Gs1200 etc. You would HAVE to get one of these back home and if its broke, its gonna cost...
2. Its reliable and powerful,
the motor is the same as the GPZ500, its been around for ages and is regarded as being pretty bulletproof. Being a twin not a single means it won't eat the chain and sprockets as fast as a single, do get a good o-ring one though.
3. Its got carbs,
so no electronic injection to say NO in the middle of nowhere. Some of the fuel we had to use looked like tea, but Raul had no problems with the bike. The bike consistently got 50+mpg, about the same as a 600ccish single. The xtz managed around 40ish mpg.
4. It has the right size wheels,
21" front and 17" rear meaning you can use tyres that range from road (distansa), 50/50 (TKC80's, highly recomended) through to more hardcore enduro tyres (mitas CO2 ot trelleborg army special). You can even run full on MX tyres on it if you wish, although I wouldn't recomend these if your gonna ride on tarmac.
5. The suspension is good enough for the bike.
You can always wind up the rear pre-load when carrying gear. The forks have air valves so you can firm them up very easily with a cylce pump. You can shim the springs with pvc pipe or even coins stacked up to suit your weight. If you wanted you could fit a complete front end and sexy rear shock from something exotic on it.
6. It has disc's front and rear,
simple and they do the job. 300mm front is nice. Improve with braided lines and better pads. No abs to go wrong.
7. It feels light,
lighter than it is. This is great for a newer rider. The KLE carries its weight low so that even full of fuel it doesn't feel top heavy. Unlike the xtz750 which feels like a monster fuelled up, Raul's new bike a Tiger 955 is even worse.
The 1st gen are lighter than the 2nd because there dont have a catalytic converter. Thay are also slightly more powerful.
8. They crash well
Raul had a few off's on the trip and one before we'd even started, but the only thing to get damaged was the rear plastics (this was caused by hard luggage). Improve the standard crashability with good handlebars (renthal) and some wrap aroung hand guards to protect the levers. The bash plate is good and not just a fashion item. You could even put some crash bars on it to protect the engine further.
9. It's quite comfortable,
The seating position is nice and the pegs feel like they're in the right place.
The seat is quite good, you will want to 'tune' it for your own bum though. Easily done with foam, a stapler and waterproof material at home. The engine is much nicer on the highway than a single, much smoother. Add a homemade/stolen screen to the bikini fairin and you'll have decent weather protection.
Not so good
1. The 1st gen ones look a bit dated,
But you're not that shallow are you? hehe. I think the later ones look
better but i would go for the older model.
2.The fuel tank isn't huge,
15 litres is quoted, but I think it is a little smaller like 13.5/14
This is my only real concern. It should still do about 150-160 miles easy. I travelled around oz with fuel in coke bottles on my xt225, so there are ways around it.
I really do recomend these bikes. They do what you want, not claim to do what manufacturers say you want and then dont deliver.
Get one and do it up to your taste for under a grand, happy days.
On the other hand you could get one of these for 68000usd
Or you could make a KLE500 very close to it for not much at all, there's a thought.