The Build Continues: Swingarm & Exhaust
I was going to wait for my suspension to show up before I started putting everything together, but I got impatient and checked a few items off of the to-do list:
- Reinstalled chain & swing arm
- Installed drive sprocket
- Installed rear wheel & brakes
- Attached clutch cable and set it up properly
- Attached rear brake pedal
- Installed front brackets with R/R, coolant expansion tank, horn & starter relay
- Installed radiator & hoses
- And last but not least, I put my Leo Vince muffler on! I was kind of disappointed that they didn’t include some sort of plastic covering for the can. The matte finish scratches very easily. It would have been nice to have something to protect the finish during installation. It’s on though and she’s starting to look like a motorcycle again.
I tried to dry fit my 10 gal IMS fuel tank, but it was a no-go. The front wings hit the radiator on the left side, and the mounting bracket on the right… I guess I’ll have to read the instructions to figure out how to put it on.
And so ended day 2 of the build.
Eagle Mike Tech Day
Eagle Mike is famous within the KLR community. He runs a shop in southern California that caters to the KLR community. His part selection ranges from low profile oil drain plugs to 685cc & 705cc kits, and lots of stuff in between. In addition, Mike does tech days through out the summer, teaching people how to wrench on their KLR’s. I could have probably used some of that technical training today. More on that later.
While I was waiting for my suspension to arrive, I decided to knock out a few of the mods I’d picked up from Eagle Mike. I decided to start with the subframe drill through kit. One of the shortcomings of the KLR is the low strength bolts they use to attach the rear subframe to the frame.
Eagle Mike has two possible solutions to this issue. The first is to replace the stock bolts with stronger bolts. The more robust solution though, is to drill through the frame and use a single long bolt that connects both sides of the subframe to the frame. This is the solution I chose. For $24.00 it’s a cheap and easy mod to do to increase the strength of the bikes subframe.
The only real issue I had with this mod was separating the subframe from the frame. The instructions kind of imply that once you disconnect and loosen everything it says to loosen, the bike will practically split in half. That wasn’t the case with my bike. After double checking that I had all the appropriate parts loose or disconnected, I had to pull the frame and subframe apart so I could drill through the frame.
There is supposed to be a 3/4” spacer that goes under that nut. It wasn’t in my kit. I sent Mike an email and he shipped a spacer out to me a couple of hours later. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon!
The kit also includes hardened bolts for the lower half of the subframe. These are not nearly as difficult to install. Just remove the old ones apply some red loctite and torque to spec. Done
Cogent has Delivered!
My suspension arrived shortly after lunch. Since it was a 20 minute job to put the rear shock in, I took the time to slide it into place. But not before I took a pic or two.
The front forks will have to wait for another day.
More Eagle Mike: Do the Doo
With the subframe out of the way I decided to tackle the “doohickey”. Yes, that’s the technical term. Ok, no not really. The technical term is “Balancer Chain Adjustment Lever.” Doohickey is easier to remember though.
Why am I replacing the doohickey you ask? Well, it has a long and storied history of breaking on all years of KLR’s. The resulting issues can be minor – extra noise – to pretty catastrophic – a seized motor. To be fair, Kawasaki has improved the doohickey over the years, but it’s still far from perfect. For a long term road trip like I’m planning, the piece of mind is worth the extra expense and effort.
Installing the doohickey is not for the faint of heart. It involves opening up the left side of the motor and removing the rotor and the starter gear and drilling a hole through one of the aluminum castings. I’ll spare you the gory details. If you’re really interested in how the doo is done, here’s a link to a good video I found on YouTube: Click!
The meat and potatoes of the mod is to remove the stock spring and lever and install upgraded ones. The spring (not pictured) is usually too long and looses tension very early in the bike’s lifespan. Effectively eliminating any ability to properly tension the chains.
In older model KLR’s, the lever (the red arrow) is welded together. They have a tendency to fracture at the welds which leaves large chunks of metal floating around near the timing chains. Not a good thing. On newer bikes, the lever is machined from a single piece of metal which pretty well eliminates the cracking problem.
The lever isn’t out of the woods yet though. Often they are poorly machined and do not mesh with the tensioner shaft shaft well. So despite Kawasaki’s attempts to fix the doohickey, it’s still a good idea to do this upgrade.
The new hole is an anchor point for one end of the torsion spring. The other end of the spring hooks onto the lever (shown below).
As you can see in the picture above, there is not much clearance between the lever and the bottom of the casting. I tried to use the Eagle Mike lever, but didn’t fit.
This pic shows the stock lever and Eagle Mike lever stacked on each other, with the bottoms lined up. The Eagle Mike one is on top. You can see how the inside radius doesn’t line up between the two parts. This tells me that the Eagle Mike version is slightly larger. The stock one fits to the tensioner shaft pretty well, so I decided to use it instead.
As with most things, taking my KLR apart was a lot easier than putting it back together. Reassembling the left side of the motor was no exception.
It started off well enough. The starter gear and rotor mount to the crankshaft. The rotor uses a key to hold it in place on the shaft. The key is half moon shaped and, in retrospect, almost guaranteed to slip out of place.
Once the starter gear and rotor are in place, it’s time to torque the down. The instructions say to torque it down to 85 ft/lbs and check to make sure that the starter gear easily spins clockwise. So I torqued the bolt and tried to spin the starter gear clockwise. It wouldn’t budge.
That’s less than ideal. What did I screw up?
I unbolted the rotor and pull it off of the crankshaft. The first thing I notice; the stupid key had slid out of place. As I torqued the rotor down it had sheared the top quarter of the key off. That is what was keeping the starter gear from spinning. Once I cleaned key fragments I tried to remove the remains of the key from the crankshaft. Nope, it is now pressed into the slot and will not come out easily.
I emailed Eagle Mike and asked for suggestions. I had a vision of pulling the motor and removing the crank so a machine shop could grind the key out. Fortunately Eagle Mike had a better solution. Use a Dremel and cut it out myself.
A little bit of a silver lining is that Eagle Mike also stocks these keys. Apparently I’m not the first person to do this.
Ending on an up Note
In an effort to get at least one thing fully installed today, I decided to slap on my IMS ADV II foot pegs. These things are huge!
I’m batting 500 for today. The rear shock is installed, as well as my new foot pegs. I failed at the drill through upgrade and the doo though. I think it’s a good time to call it a day.