First and Last, by Melvyn Clark

 

Mel at La Fogata, Tecate

Mel at La Fogata, Tecate

As you can see, Mel carries some  gear

As you can see, Mel carries some
gear

When I first met Elden Carl and Pauline Read some four years ago in Mulege, Baja
California, I had a little less than 10,000 miles on my 2003 KLR650. I remember that he
was very scathing of all the gear I was carrying. Little did I realize that after four years I
would ring up out of the blue and that we would meet up again in Tecate when my clock
read exactly 89,999 miles.

I had rung Elden from Ensenada, knowing he lived just over the border, hoping he
would give me the benefit of his vast KLR experience. I already suspected that there
was something radically wrong inside the motor as 2 oil changes previously I had felt
an object move when I put my finger inside the oil drain plug hole. Subsequently a
fellow KLR rider I met in San Ignacio told me he thought it was the balancer spring
(Eagle) that had broken (we switched on both bikes and you could hear an ominously
different noise from mine).Elden was astonished that I had so many miles, but it didn’t take him long to advise me
that maybe it had reached the end of the road.  He was of course shocked by how
much gear I was still carrying and amazed that I had done 90,000 miles without a major
crash.  But what disturbed him the most was all the after market stuff I had been conned
into believing I needed and therefore had to buy; especially as I had all along made it
clear that I never intended to do any serious off-road riding (dirt i.e. Forest Service roads
but nothing any more challenging). So here is what they talked me into:

 

  • Bash plate
  • Fork brace
  • Nerf bars
  • Front tool box (4″ plastic PVC tubing) attached to bash plate and nerf bars
  • Center stand

Totally by chance I found the last new 2007 model KLR650 in San Diego County so I bought it. Getting it prepped by the master Elden
and Kenny “M”of KBM Motorworks will be another story. But just before I go on let me explain why this article is called “first and
last. I had told Elden that I wanted/needed my center stand and my bag rack put on my new bike.
Elden told me that on a prepping with Greg Frazier he had refused to install the after
market “tonnage,”  so Greg installed it himself. But I must have caught Elden in one of his weak moments as he offered to put on two of the things that I still wanted
(minus bash plate, tool tube, fork brace and nerf bars that I now realized I didn’t need).

First of all he attached the side unit so I could carry my soft bags. I explained that it had
been very difficult to install and now it’s became very clear as to why. The reinforcing tubing at
the rear pushed up against the tail light and if there was too much vibration one could
see that it could crack or break the tail light lens. If the tubing had been extended
rearward just ½” this problem would not have existed.. Bad design.

Secondly he agreed to attach the center stand.  Elden tried valiantly to install something
that he inherently didn’t believe in, but it would not go on despite bashings with a large plastic
mallet.  Apparently the frame jig had changed making the front peg mounts further apart.
After 15 or 20 frustrating minutes we finally gave up on the center stand.

I plan on touring southern California bit will return in a week for more prep work on my
KLR650.