Fuel For Thought
by Rod Morris
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05/06/2012

Welcome To Fuel For Thought

Written by: Rod Morris

Glossary of terms and abbreviations:
MSM - Multisurface Motorcycles/Motorcyclist
MMP - Multisurface Motorcycle Products
TGMP - Top Gun Motorcycle Products

MSM Weight Classifications:
Lightweight (LW) - up to 250lbs
Middleweight (MW) - 251lbs - 300lbs
Light-Heavyweight (LHW) - 301lbs - 350lbs
Heavyweight (HW) - 351lbs - 400lbs
What's NEW!
Top Gun Motorcycles
Doohickey

Real name: Balancer Chain Lever. The name doohickey was first coined by Jake
Jakeman in 1987; the very first person to start making improvements on the KLR650.   
The story I heard was that the words balancer chain lever were too hard to remember
and Jake referred to it as, "you know, that doohickey thing". Jake experienced
problems with the stock lever right from the start (among other things) and decided that
a better version was needed and set out to make a proper one. He enlisted the help of
our very own Elden Carl with a few design features and then had Eagle Mike start
making the first lever.  Jake's levers were the hottest new product for the KLR and
greatly improved the balancer system. We know a guy that's still using one.  Later,
Eagle decided to manufacture his own copy of the lever but he also enlisted Elden's
help in some clearance problems which was the final step in producing his doohickey
(which did cause a bit of a tiff with Jake).

When the new 2008 "E" model was first introduced, Top Gun previewed the parts fiche
and noticed a change in the number. We ordered lever and spring, and sure enough,
we were all very pleasantly surprised and happy to see that they had redesigned their
original two piece welded lever with a one piece quality unit that was the best
"doohickey" available. To our knowledge, we were the first to “break” the story (it was
an early edition of the
May 2007 Technical Insights.)

But in true Kawasaki style, they did one thing wrong with the lever spring; it's too long.   
Backing up a little. The original stock lever was prone to breaking in several places and
that was a big problem, but the spring was also prone to breaking which caused it's
own problem. If the lever was not broken but the spring was and you loosened the
adjusting bolt, the chain weight could pull down making the chain looser.  You thought
you just did the proper adjustment when in fact you made the situation worse because
a loose balancer chain will eventually start hitting inside the case which becomes quite
loud. You take the bike to a mechanic and he finds broken pieces. Worst case we've
heard of is the chain became so loose that it jumped off the sprockets, got jammed and
blew the engine. For the 2008 "E" model (and all current models), Kawasaki went to a
longer lever spring that can't over pull and therefore shouldn't ever break. Only
problem is, you now get about 2 adjustments and the spring won't pull anymore. Great
- now you have the best "doohickey" available and a spring that won't break. Not Great
- you only get 2 adjustments and it goes back to loose chain problems and there's no
way to tell when the spring is not pulling enough to do the adjustment. When you hear
that strange noise when the chain hits inside, you take the bike to Kawasaki where they
readjust the lever manually, use the same spring and send you on your way until the
next 2 adjustments.  

Don't despair, Elden came to the rescue again as he has over the years for 95% of the
improvements on the KLR. Like everyone else, Elden fretted and worried about the
doohickey and spring to the point of almost abandoning the KLR. Luckily he didn't give
up but consulted with an engineer friend, Scott Wexman, on how to keep track of the
health of the balancer system. Using his engineer's eye,  Scott found that there was an
existing case bolt hole that lined up straight to the doohickey and spring. For those that
haven't delved into the left side of the engine where the doohickey hides, there is an
outside case and an inside case that must be removed (plus a number of other items)
to reach the "devil". The existing outside cover bolt hole only goes through that cover,
the inside is solid in that spot. Here's what Jim came up with: Remove both outside and
inside covers. Use a pilot bolt on the inside cover (it's inline with the outside hole), drill
through the inside cover, change to a bigger bit and back drill the pilot hole until the bit
just hits the end of the pilot bolt, remove the pilot bolt, clean up the case and when
both covers are back on you can see straight through to the doohickey. The best time
to check this "inspection hole" is after draining the oil as oil will come out the hole.
When you look into the hole you can see if the lever is broken and if the spring is even
there. If the spring is there and has space between the coils, it's still pulling. Elden
finally found a spring from inside a transmission that has never broken in over 25 years
use and it works great with the doohickey.

This revelation brought about a new product to offer KLR owners. It's a great relief to
look inside the case and see everything where it's suppose to be and if the lever ever
broke, it's a Kawasaki part not an aftermarket.  If you own a 2008 or newer KLR -
DON'T CHANGE THE LEVER.

Here's what comes in our Doohickey Kit:

  • Kawasaki factory lever (2008 to present)  For "A" models only
  • New spring
  • New rotor bolt (must be replaced)
  • Kawasaki rotor bolt wrench
  • Rotor puller
  • Inspection Hole pilot bolt
  • Washer for outside bolt to prevent oil seepage
  • Otoscope (magnifies and lights the inspection hole)

All parts can be purchased separately through
MMP via this website. Full kit is here.

I can't even remember how many articles have been done on this one item but we still
get questions from brand new KLR owners, so we keep writing them. Now you know a
little of the doohickey history as it progressed to present day.