This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been working towards this for years, and it’s finally here!
For the last 3 years I’ve been living on the road. I’ve lived, worked and traveled to 3 states around the US and 11 countries around the world. I spent the last four months working and exploring Israel. I had a great time while I was there, the people were nice, the food was excellent and the exploring was great. You can read all about my time in Israel in my series “Exploring Israel and the Middle East.”
I had been renting out my house in Vancouver Washington, but in preparation for this trip I decided to sell it. Fortunately my tenants were able to buy it and we closed on January 30 2017. Now, I just have a storage unit that I need to clean out.
Since I am officially homeless, my Mom has been kind enough to let me crash at her place for the next few months. She also let me take over one of the bays in her garage so I can build up my bike. Thanks Mom!
The Bike: 2017 KLR 650
About three weeks ago I traded in my Ducati on a KLR 650. Two weeks ago I submitted my two week notice. Last week I drove from my temporary home of New Mexico (until I get on the road that is) up to Washington to clear out my storage unit and to wrap up some last minute items. And today, I’m starting a build thread for my KLR!
And without further ado, my 2017 KLR 650.
For me, there is no such thing as the “Perfect Bike.” At least not straight from the factory. There are bikes that are more or less suitable for mods I want to apply. After a lot of thought and research I decided on the KLR 650. Other contenders were the V-Strom 650, DR-650 and the KTM 690 Enduro. When it came time to take some bikes for a test ride, I really expected to be riding off on a KTM 690. On paper it looks like a great fit for my upcoming aRound The World (RTW) trip. When I took it for a test drive though, I found that I didn’t really like the ergonomics of the bike and the motor was too high strung.
The KLR on the other hand fit me well, and the motor , while not overly powerful is reliable and easily serviced. It is also something of a blank canvas for mods. It’s K.I.S.S. simple, there is a huge aftermarket and the bikes are hugely popular. Parts and support should not be an issue.
Here’s a “short” list of the mods I’ve got in store for this bike:
- M-Tech 685cc upgrade + Head work
- Seat Concepts seat
- Lynx R front fairing
- Trail Tech Vapor instrument cluster
- Cogent suspension, front and back
- IMS 10 gal fuel tank
- Highway Dirtbike NexGen handguards with mirrors
- Pro Taper handlebars
- Heated hand grips
- 2” Rox Risers
- Warp 9 clutch & brake levers
- Eastern Beaver PC-8 fuse box
- Cameleon chain oiler
- Garmin Zumo GPS
- Leo Vince exhaust
- Mosko Moto Reckless 80 soft panniers
- Galfer 320mm front brake upgrade with SS line
- SW-Motech center stand
- And about a dozen little mods and tweaks from Eagle Mike that will improve the bike’s reliability and serviceability on the trip.
With less than 100 miles on the odometer, it’s time to start tearing my new toy apart.
The first (and biggest) mod on this build is punching my 650cc motor out to 685cc’s. I’ve chosen the guys at M-Tech in Bend Oregon for this. They are not too far out of the way for the drive from Albuquerque to Vancouver Washington. They also have good reviews, and they were able to get the work done while I was Vancouver packing up my stuff and saying goodbye to my friends.
I started buying stuff for this build before I left for Washington. While I was on my road trip packages started showing up at my Mom’s house. I definitely kept the Brown Santa busy for a few days. When I got home, boxes were piled up in the entryway 3 high!
Before I put the motor back in I decided to pull the swingarm and make sure everything was good (and for practice). I’ve heard from several sources that Kawasaki has a tendency to be greedy when it comes to lubricating the needle bearings in the swingarm. I was able to add more grease to the bearings, but it wasn’t horrible. Since I had the swingarm off, I decided to pull the stock rear shock. It’s going to be replaced by a bespoke unit from Cogent in a few days anyway.
The Motor is In!
When I started to put the motor back in, I realized I didn’t have a ⅜” drive torque wrench, so I went to Lowes and picked one up. The first bolts I tried to torque down had a torque spec of 20 ft/lbs.
This is what happens when your brand new torque wrench doesn’t cam over at 20 ft/lbs. This is a metric bike, so I wasn’t hopeful that I would find an M8 1.25 x 100mm bolt. After taking the defective torque wrench back to Lowes, I went to Ace and sure enough, they had the required bolts. I’m back in business! Well, almost. I totally forgot to get the nuts, so I had to go back to Ace and get some new nuts.
The cashier saw me and commented that I was back soon. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “I was so excited about finding the bolts I wanted that I forgot the nuts.”
Her: “You forgot your nuts! Do you need any help finding them?”
Me: “My nuts? No, I think I can handle that myself. Thank you.”
Her: “No problem.”
And that is pretty much where I’m at now, the motor is in, but the swing arm is off. I’m holding off on major reassembly until I get some key parts: Cogent shipped my suspension yesterday, it should show up on Saturday. My seat should show up in the next day or two also. The last big thing I’m waiting for now is my Lynx R faring from Britannia Composites. That shipped today, so I should have it early next week!