Air bags in cars have been used with great success for some time, but what does the
motorcyclist have for impact safety besides the standard leather, pads and other skid
resistant fabrics ? The Japanese came up with an idea that has now reached the U.S.
Impact jackets were originally designed to save Japanese construction workers from long
falls by inflating prior to impact. But instead of construction workers, it’s our motorcyclists
that seem to be reaping the benefits, and it didn’t take long to see some results. There is
a cable that you attach to the bike and when you come off it inflates the jacket via CO2
The following is a supposed true story of an incident. You be the judge on its validity.
Joeseph McPhatter of Baltimore, MD, recently was cruising along when he was abruptly cut
off and wrecked his motorcycle. Upon crashing, McPhatter was launched over 100 feet at
a rate of 140mph and instantly became the Impact Jacket’s first “real world” motorcycle
crash test. Medics claim that if McPhatter hadn’t been wearing the Impact Jacket, his
injuries, which amounted to a few sore ribs, would have been severely worse, if not fatal.
Thanks, Impact Jacket.
Let’s see, 100 feet at a rate of 140mph and only a few sore ribs. Wonder what may have
happened from the waist down to those flailing legs? Helmet impact at that speed makes
me think that old McPhatter is probably still in a coma.
I’m sure a little more (air) padding couldn’t hurt in a crash but for the $595.00 retail price, I
think I’ll stay with what we have now. What next? A roll bar.
Guru or Not
Recently I was looking at various KLR web sites and saw a reference to a KLR Guru which
peaked my interest. The only person I know that has ever been referred to as “KLR Guru”
is Elden Carl. I’ve never heard Elden call himself a Guru; it was a name that someone
pinned on him and it stuck. He doesn’t even like it.
Anyone that has spent much time around Elden or knows his background just might be
inclined to consider him a guru, expert or the most KLR650 informed person they know.
I for one fall into that category. I’ve stated many times before my feelings about Elden’s
qualifications as a rider and especially his mechanical prowess on not only the KLR, but
numerous other bikes; and that’s only because I’ve been friends with him for the past 30
years. During that time he has completely torn down Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki engines,
repaired the problem and reassembled them to better than original condition. He has on
many occasions designed and had special tools made to complete the job at hand that
usually made the job much easier.
All of the KLR650 owners out there can thank Elden for most of the major changes and
improvements that have been incorporated in the KLR650 over the 20 some years of
production. Even the 2008 KLR650 has a few new looks that Elden has been doing for
years. The seat configuration is almost (not quite) an exact replica of the seat that Elden
had made for his bike ten years ago. Elden still uses the first MacDonald shifter ever
produced (with his name on it) that he designed and is still a standard for a reliable shifter.
Elden did not design the first after market balancer lever (which was basically a stronger
version of the stock unit), that honor goes to the late Jake Jakeman. Elden did get
involved with the second generation after market balancer lever for clearance and fit which
has been the only one available since Jake past away. Elden and Scott Wexman later
came up with an inspection port that allows you to inspect the balancer lever and spring
condition without removing any covers. This product is available through Multisurface
Motorcycle Products (MMP) on multisurfacemtorcycling.com (MSM).
The list goes on and on but if you want to see some of his most current upgrades, go to
MSM and look at the products page where I proudly sell his necessities.
Elden has been at for the Suzuki DR650 fans out there too. Although the DR650 doesn’t
need very many improvements, he still found a few things to enhance this outstanding
motorcycle. Things like better chain wheels, a tachometer and license plate holder.
Unlike the KLR650, there was very little needed to improve the already decent suspension.
These are only a few of the reasons why if someone wants to call Elden a Guru, expert or
most savvy person around when it comes to the KLR650, I couldn’t disagree with them. I
have personally observed his knowledge first hand for a long time and believe me, there
are none better then Elden front to back or top to bottom when it comes to the KLR650.
KTM 640 Adventure
Some time back we asked for comments on the KTM640 (625cc) Adventure and recently
received an e-mail from a new owner. E.S. bought the bike used and is very happy with
same. This was his first “dual sport” so he had nothing else to compare with as all his
other bikes have been standards or sport bikes. E.S. found it hard to compare the KTM
and DR650 as he felt they were like night and day.
While we’re glad that E.S. loves his bike, we do disagree that the DR is cheesy or behind
times in technology. We understand that there are always good and bad experiences with
any bike brand, so the following are general statements that we are aware of.
- $8,900 plus tax etc, new
- Fairly complex maintenance characteristics such as valve adjustment and two oil
filters (frame tube oil tank).
- High strung engine not good for long term durability
- Burns premium fuel (not available many places south of the border)
- 373 lbs with 3 gallons of gas
- Too much engine vibration for long comfortable rides
- Oil change frequency
- $5099 plus tax etc, new
- Simple maintenance such as 10 minute oil changes (oil 3,500 and filter 7,500)
- Low stress durable air/oil cooled engine (easy 100,000 miles with good care)
- Burns regular fuel
- 350 lbs with 3 gallons of gas
- Acceptable engine vibration
- Beautifully engineered and assembled. A very balanced durable bike mixed with
Please don’t be offended if you own a KTM640. If you like the bike like E.S. or any other
one, enjoy it.
Bill Kamps in Africa
We received a card from Bill Kamps in
North Africa who is now headed south to
complete his loop of the Dark Continent.
His KLR650 made it across the Sahara
Desert and is still running well. More on bill
at the completion of his trip.