To quote the factory, “New 2008 KLR650 refines on-road capabilities for improved touring
performance”, is it true? Only if they have an all new engine balancer system.
In you know anything about Kawasaki KLR600 and KLR650s you probably know that for
23 years they have been equipped with the most disastrous chain driven engine
balancing system the motorcycle world has ever known. The after market starting with the
late Jake Jakeman have provided better one piece machined copies of the balancer lever
made out of good material, but due among other things, to a poorly engineered non-
splined idler shaft and fragile bearing surface, they are still far from bullet proof. After
market springs are still not unbreakable (I know of two that have broken) and the suppliers
refuse to tell their customers of the very important spring inspection hole that Scott
Wexman and I came up with several years ago. Only Rod Morris at MMP will sell you the
instructions and pilot bolt which makes the 10 minute job easy. Rod does this for your
safety not just for money.
Balancer spring tension is another potential problem that the after market doesn’t seem to
understand. You can use too stiff a spring to pull the so-called “doohickey” which in turn
could result in premature failure of the fragile bearing and its surface on the idler shaft.
What we are driving at in a long winded way is the present KLR balancer system has got
to go. It can’t be fixed for guys like Dave Waters, Todd Vosper, Rod Morris, Bruce
Redding, Ron Jensen, webmaster Mark or any number of other guys who insist on using
the upper reaches of the power band regularly; especially when traveling cross Country.
So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Kawasaki propaganda on the 2008 KLR650 refers to a
“double engine balancer”. Since the present engine has triple balancers, I thought this
might signal a major change. However, I noticed that Kawasaki refers to the current
system (mistakenly, I might add) as a “double engine balancer”, so maybe I should expect
the same old system for 2008. But what if Kawasaki re-engineered the system? What
might it look like?
Well, how about a gear-driven twin balancer run off that beefy balancer/water pump shaft
that runs from one side of the engine to the other? It already has a balancer weight
hanging on each end, so why not beef up the bearings (they’ll probably use the same
crank cases) and increase balancer throw weight which in turn could permit the elimination
of the rear balancer between the crankcases. Let the heaviest weight live in the middle
between the crank half like the DR650 and another smaller one could stay on the left end.
On the right end of the shaft could be the drive gear running off the right end of the crank.
The trick would be to find a way to gear drive the balancer/water pump shaft off of the
crankshaft thereby eliminating all the troublesome chain drive junk now causing all the
trouble in the left side.
Is all this possible? I don’t know, but the 2008 clutch cover looks heavily modified and
larger up front. Maybe more importantly from a corporate standpoint, a gear-driven
balancer might be cheaper than the present system to manufacture by eliminating the
chain and other parts. At the same time it would allow “Iron Butts” like Dave Waters and
other long distance guys to cruise in the upper end of the rev range without worrying
about a trip ending explosion inside the left engine cover.
We are especially interested in finding out why the 2008 clutch cover looks so different up
front from the older cover. Could it be they needed more room for a bigger balancer
weight or a gear?
DR650SE Secondary Air Filter (1996-2007 models)
As we wrote in the February “Fuel For Thought”, the DR650s ridden in the dirt are at risk
for carburetor and engine problems due to an ignored small black air filter found under
the seat next to the main air intake tube. All DR650 riders especially those who ride in the
dirt must take this filter seriously or risk poor running and engine damage. This filter is not
referred to by the factory anywhere that we can find.
We have found an after market filter that is easily serviceable and passes more air than
the factory unit. It comes ready to use and when dirty can be cleaned and retreated with
pleated filter oil (just follow the directions).
We have one 1996 DR650SE carburetor which was ridden in the dirt and not cared for.
You should see the mess. We suggest you install our improved secondary filter and keep
it clean. The filters will be available from MMP in the very near future.