Welcome to Technical Insights!

Our webmaster at “topgunmotorcycles.com”, Todd Vosper, has asked me to revive the old 
column that I used to do back in the 1990’s for “Kawasaki Dual sport News,” later called 
“Dual Sport News.” The goal is to supply you with top quality, unbiased information that 
you will not find anywhere else in this business-driven world of ours. I have Todd’s word 
that as long as our information is accurate and based on sound research, he will put it up.

Summer Warning:

As we’ve said many times before, the best engine protector for a KLR650 is the stock one 
unless you are a rock crusher. It’s one of the few that breathes well enough to be used in 
the hot summer months. My street KLR and DR650’s have no bash plate during the 
summer thereby allowing a maximum amount of cooling air to pass over the lower part of 
the engine.

Slide1

Not only is the KLR650 plug too
long, but it’s not protected like the
DR650.

The stock KLR650 engine protector got a bad reputation for the wrong reason. 
Passing rocks have sometimes hit the long stock oil plug, stretching the drain hole, 
resulting in a leak. Various sources including Dual Star have a shallow plug 
which is less likely to get snagged. Rod Morris and the previous owner of Rod’s 
1996 KLR650 (Joe Carpenter) have a combined 20,000+ off-road miles (mostly 
Baja) on the best factory KLR650 I’ve ever seen and it’s always had a stock engine 
protector.

On the left is a stock KLR650 plug,  and on the right, an inexpensive,  low-profile plug from N.A.P.A..

On the left is a stock KLR650 plug,
and on the right, an inexpensive,
low-profile plug from N.A.P.A..

The DR650 drain plug is properly engineered. Not only is the plug close to 
the engine, but an aluminum ridge in front of the plug deflects the rocks that get 
kicked up by the front wheel. Additionally, the optional factory engine protector is 
designed to only protect the frame and bottom of the engine, thereby allowing 
cool air to bathe the sides.

Suzuki DR650 engineers dictated a  short oil drain plug, and a cast-in  ridge in front of the plug to deflect  rocks kicked up by the front whee

Suzuki DR650 engineers dictated a
short oil drain plug, and a cast-in
ridge in front of the plug to deflect
rocks kicked up by the front whee

If you are a “rock crusher,” it’s best to wait until the cool months before you start 
covering up too much of the engine; that is unless shorter engine life is not 
important to you.

Kurt Grife’s KLR650 Engine Odyssey:

All-around good guy Kurt Grife has about 100,000 miles on KLR650’s: We’d like to 
say trouble free miles but alas, we must tell the truth.

At about the turn of the century, I warned Kurt and Jim Bellach (another KLR650 rider) 
about loose balancer chains jumping track due to the KLR650’s poor adjustment 
mechanism. Shortly after the warning, Kurt’s and Jim’s engines blew up about two weeks 
apart. The remains of Jim’s bike are in my shed, and Kurt and I rebuilt his engine after a 
good welding repair job on the left side of the crankcases.

Now fast-forward to June 2006 and Kurt’s engine again disintegrated. This time due 
apparently to a stretched cam chain that jumped track causing the valves to kiss the 
piston. I had a good set of crankcases from Conall O’Brian’s old 1990 KLR650, so here 
we go again. We replaced the front balancer and counter shaft bearings after Vey de la 
Cruz tested everything else and gave his approval. We installed top quality everything 
inside the crankcases including a low mileage trued and welded crank. I next 
transported the finished crankcase assembly to Ron Jensen’s place at Pine Mountain 
Club in Kern Co., CA. Kurt in turn drove over that evening from his second home in 
Avila Beach, CA to take possession of the assembled parts. (Kurt’s first home is 
Mulege, BC, Mexico.)

I had helped Kurt assemble the complete engine the first time around, but this time “Mr. 
G” went solo. He assembled the balancer system complete with a “Jake” lever and 
Eagle spring followed by the starter/rotor assembly. After assembling the right side 
parts, the top end went on and he was close to being back on the road again.

Kurt called me the other day after completing the rebuild job and reported his new 
engine runs very strong, and is quiet and smooth. Good show, Mr. Grife. It was fun, but 
let’s not do this too often.

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