The Contact Patch
by Todd Vosper
Copyright © 2006 Top Gun Motorcycles. All rights reserved. Distribution or publication of this document (electronic or otherwise)
is prohibited without the express written consent of the author. For more information or to request permission to publish this
document, please see our contact page. For information on our pledge to maintain your privacy click here. To learn more about
your friends at Top Gun Motorcycles, read about us here.
|(left to right) Pauline, Elden, Tim,
and Mike outside La Fogata,
Timbo Lewis is Argentina Bound (By
Tim Lewis, citizen of Arkansas and the
world has called me several times
concerning long distance MSM
motorcycles. We decided a pre-‘08
KLR650 properly set-up would be best for
his trip from Arkansas to Argentina via our
house in La Mesa (near San Diego).
Unfortunately the late model used
KLR650 that he had purchased came with
a screwed-up carburetor. The “Dyna-Jet”
tuning complete with drilled out air box
was running rich and delivering poor gas
The greatest potential trouble will come
when Tim traverses high mountains like
the ones in Peru. Fortunately he
possesses the stock needle and main jet.
I advised him to plug up all the holes in
the air box and go back to stock jetting if
he gets into trouble. The factory jetting
not only gives good mileage numbers, but
our KLR650s run decent even when
Pauline and I have been 2-up traversing
11 to 12 thousand foot Colorado passes.
The factory recommends going to a 145
main (stock is 148) and going down one
size on the pilot when operating
consistently above 4,000 feet. If you live
in Denver and never go below 4,000 feet,
that’s the jetting Kawasaki recommends.
It’s a shame that so many flat-landers turn
their KLRs into gas guzzling smog
pumpers more akin to lawn mowers than
Pauline and I just came back from a 500
plus mile Baja ride (dirt and pavement)
with Rod Morris and Mike Henshaw, both
of whom were tuned stock with “Uni” air
filters. Pauline and I (335 lbs) geared
15/47 and dragging bags got 46.3 mpg
for the trip while Rod geared 15/45 (also
dragging bags) got slightly over 50 mpg. I
didn’t get Mike’s numbers, but I would
guess they were similar to Rod’s.
If you want poor running in the mountains,
poor gas mileage and early valve failure
due to carbon build up, then the overly
rich jetting maybe for you. If not, install a
“Uni” filter and be happy.
Getting back to Tim’s KLR650. It turned
out it needed more than a new chain,
sprockets, tires and tubes. We had to fix
the goofy center stand; you know, the
heavy one that hangs low, rides on the
“Uni-Trak” lever and shears off foot peg
bolts. We installed beefed up foot peg
bolts and had Tim practice not coming
back too hard when using the stand.
All in all we spent three days on Tim’s
KLR and were able to fix several things
that would likely have caused big trouble
for him on the way to Argentina.
|Elden and Pauline get in a little
practice "in the dirt."
|Inspecting a beached ship hulk on
the Baja coast.
|A KLR650 captured in its natural
I’ve had a string of long distance riders and other KLR650s in my garage. Avi Fishali and
his three Israeli buddies who made it from our house to the tip of South America. Greg
Frazier, one of the first KLR650 world travelers. I was a consultant for Richard Kikkbush
of Canada who was traversing the globe the same time as Frazier. Mariola Chachon,
who was badly hurt in Africa. Mel Clark who has over 100,000 miles traveling the North
American Continent and is now traveling in South America on a new ‘07 KLR650 set up
by Top Gun/MMP.
Tim Lewis is a good guy, but his is the last long distance KLR650 I’ll work on unless Top
Gun sets it up from scratch. Straightening out someone else’s mess is not my idea of fun.
Fortunately Tim’s KLR was not carrying too much weight up front especially after we got
rid of the tool tube. The lack of nerf bars, fork brace, heavy tank panniers, heavy
aluminum engine protectors and other such items will help Tim stay upright in the
Tim rode with Rod Morris, Mike Henshaw and Pauline and me (2 up) the first day to
Ensenada through the Baja mountains. He made it to Ojos Negros (near Ensenada) over
the El Compadre dirt road in its worst condition ever without dropping the heavy KLR650.
Tim admitted that he had some close calls in the sand and ruts but we assured him he
was unlikely to find conditions as bad if he stayed on the main roads. We were impressed
that Tim could carry a top case, plastic side boxes and all that camping gear and still
make it to Ojos. Not having a bunch of weight up front helped a lot.
Good luck Timbo Lewis. P.S.We know you’ll like the 15/44 gearing. The 16 tooth
sprocket has gone out with the trash.
Bikers & Friends, (by Mike Henshaw)
Well, I'm back in the states safe & sound after two brief trips to various northern Baja
locales. Interesting acquaintance Tim (Lewis) joined us for our group's 1st day of riding
parting company early 2nd day on his way from Arkansas to Argentina to check out a job
opportunity there coaching Rugby. Tim's a veteran U.S. Marine, has lived and worked as
a stone mason in New Zealand where his fiancée resides, and was in El Cajon, Ca. for
about a week where our local rider-mentor Elden Carl helped prep his bike for the ride of
a life-time over the 10,000 foot plus Andes mountains. Best of luck & God speed Tim!
Our 1st trip was four days & three nights starting in Tecate hitting the dirt ~ 80 miles
across hills & valleys of the El Compadre to overnight in the Hotel Balboa of Ensenada.
2nd day down to the very scenic mountainous Melling Ranch, then on to overnight in
coastal town San Quintin. 3rd day heading northward off-road ~ 30 miles along the
coast to see the shipwreck and Bay of Colonet before overnight Hotel Balboa Ensenada
again. Hotel Balboa is not in the tourist area, but local part of town, quite clean by
Mexico's standards with bottled water and reasonably priced. 4th day back across the
mountains canyon carving Hwy-3 pavement to Tecate & home.
2nd 2-day trip began again in Tecate down Hwy 3 to Valley Guadalupe before ~ 40
mountain scenic off-road miles to La Mision then overnighting Ensenada. 2nd day
eastward Hwy 3 before ~ 100 miles off road through partly forested remote mountainous
terrain by way of Laguna Hanson through Mexico's very scenic Nat'l Constitution Park
before returning home again through Tecate.
Highlights: Of course spectacular scenery! An unfortunate fatality seen carried by
emergency personnel straddled in a blanket feet hanging out within the median of a busy
morning 4-lane suburban highway as we exited southward out of Ensenada. The 18-inch
garter snake I accidentally stepped on upon exiting the shower of the San Quintin hotel,
the place was clean and well kept but inspection revealed it must have entered through a
1/2 inch gap under the front door. Riding partner & roommate Rod Morris promptly
caught it in a bathroom trash basket transporting it to a more appropriate exterior
landscape environment while I rolled up a towel to block any further unwanted visitors.
Elden Carl & wife Pauline in an adjacent room disposed of a mouse found in their
bathroom the same night.
Then there was the local fast talking young man in the Nat'l Constitution Park who was so
proud to show us his acquired mountain lion pawl stretching as long as my own hand with
about 1-inch claws. Same guy had a stuffed bobcat and posters of Poncho Villa & Bob
Marley on display in his small 1-room beverage snack business located miles from
civilization deep within the Constitution Park with a couple of rudimentary cabin rooms
rentable to visitors, hot water was available by wood fire.
Regrets: None! Except possibly to take more than just 10 photos next time, but then
again I was having so much fun just soaking up miles of terrain both on and off road.
I'd like to mention between the 2 Baja trips, Elden Carl & I explored on 2 separate days
new dirt road between Tecate and Boulevard created by the border fence under
construction. Worth checking out, what's significant is the border is a straight line
resulting in some newer dirt road sections following the fence up & down in roller coaster
fashion producing exceptionally exhilarating riding! What's better is there's even more to
come as construction progresses towards completion. But be advised, the Border Patrol
doesn't mind sharing as long as you stay to your side of the road at blind spots to avoid
on-coming vehicles, especially if they're in pursuit.
Thanks for your interest in our adventure. Hope you enjoyed reading as much as we did