Welcome to a Special Early Edition of Technical Insights!

(Introduction by Todd Vosper)
For those of you who are new to the KLR community, I thought a brief history of the KLR
balancer lever/system was in order. Problems with the balancer system were first identified
back in 1984 on the KLR600. The first aftermarket copy was produced by the late Jake
Jakeman. Elden saw that although Jake’s lever was better than the stock lever, there were
still improvements to be made. He contacted Eagle Manufacturing and requested a better
fitting and tougher lever be made. Since then, the Eagle lever has probably become the
standard replacement for the Kawasaki part. Elden, with Scott Wexman, also designed the
inspection hole which allows the rider to check the tensioner spring prior to making an
adjustment. We still believe the inspection hole is a critical addition to any KLR, even with
Kawasaki’s new lever upgrade because, among other things, it allows you to monitor the
balancer chain and sprocket wear. Now, on to Elden’s good stuff!
Bingo!! Kawasaki did it!! You owe breakfast
at Mely’s in Mulege, Mr. Kurt Grife. True, we didn’t get the preferred gear-driven balancer
system, but we did get an improved
 balancer  system. How do we know? Todd Vosper
researched the 2008 parts diagram then ordered a new balancer adjustment lever and
new spring – which had differing parts numbers (last four digits) indicating changes.
The parts cam yesterday and the new lever is gorgeous. It’s obvious that it will retrofit into
the older models. At last Kawasaki went “one piece and tough” instead of “two welded
pieces and wimpy.”

The new factory lever and spring.

The new factory lever and spring.

The spring is a perplexing part because although it looks beefy and high quality like
the one in the DR650SE shift mechanism, it appears to be too long at 46.4mm. The
rumor has been that Kawasaki was withholding release of the 2008 because of
an internal engine problem; we can’t help but wonder inf this spring is the problem.
However, there appear to be other modified parts – the crankcase among others – which
may in time yield some answers on whether or not some type of change has been made
to use a longer spring. Only time will tell, and you can be sure that as soon as we get our
2008 we’ll crack it open and take a look.

Comparison of old stock lever  (2005), new lever (2008) and  aftermarket lever (left to right).

Comparison of old stock lever
(2005), new lever (2008) and
aftermarket lever (left to right).

Not only have they fixed the lever once and for all, but there is a new front balancer shaft,
and some bearings in the system with new part numbers (hopefully) indicating
improvements. More on that in a later issue when we have the bike in hand.

Interestingly, the new, tough-looking balancer adjustment lever (or lever, idler shaft) was
made in Japan, while the spring was produced in Thailand.

Reverse side of old, new, and  aftermarket levers.

Reverse side of old, new, and
aftermarket levers.

At last you will be able to buy a KLR650 that doesn’t have to be fixed before you feel safe
running the engine. Furthermore, you can upgrade your pre-2008 with factory-backed
parts. We plan on continuing to install our inspection hole so we can tell when the
system needs servicing.

Top Gun Motorcycles has a 2008 KLR650 on order and we plan on studying it very closely.
We will be reporting back to you, our readers, with our findings.

We will install the new 2008 factory lever in Elden’s 2005 KLR650 at the next oil change.
There will be pictures and commentary on this website following the operation.

Old, new, and aftermarket lever  (left to right) profiles.

Old, new, and aftermarket lever
(left to right) profiles.


Update on Subframe Bolts (by TV)

Chuck Leskie wrote to us the other day when the parts diagrams came out and noted that
the upper subframe bolts on the 2008 were listed as 10mm bolts. As frequent readers will note,
it appears Kawasaki followed the same upgrade procedure that Elden wrote about in April’s Technical Insights
using 10mm bolts but not drilling completely through. Thanks Chuck for a sharp eye!