By Elden Carl
In November 2001 on the same day, Ron Jensen and I each purchased new 2002 Suzuki
DR650SE’s from House of Motorcycles in San Diego (619 229-7700).
When Ron’s DR began leaking oil around the infamous fiber base gasket from hell, he
went to Suzuki who refused to solve his problem even though he was less than two
months out of warranty. With only 10,000 miles on the odometer and a high number of
such base gasket failures (almost 100% by 30,000 miles), Suzuki should have fixed the
problem. Mine leaked too but I fixed it myself with the up-graded 2-ply steel base gasket
now standard on all DR650s.
Ron was so fed-up with Suzuki that he sold his DR650 to me. After a period of storage,
Rod Morris and I fixed the base gasket problem and installed the new MMP/CP forged
piston and rings. Rod wanted the bike so I sold it to him.
Fast forward a year or so and a friend of Rod wanted a DR so Rod planned on selling it
to him. Before the transaction took place Rod went to House of Motorcycles and bought
a new 2007 DR650. The friend then backed out of the 2002 deal and Rod sold it back to
me. I rode it for a couple of years and then got the hots for a 2009 DR650 to be set-up
for the street (19×18 wheels etc.).
At this point Ron Jensen comes back into the picture and buys back his 2002 DR from
me with 25,000 miles on the odometer (15,000 miles on the forged piston). Also, now
Ron’s DR has been completely serviced including new steering bearings, suspension
upgrades and rear brake and suspension zerks. So by being patient, Ron Jensen now
owns one of the trickest DRs on the planet, for less money than it would cost to have
Top Gun set one up for him. Felicidades el Senor Jensonian. Enjoy your Ron to Elden to
Rod to Elden to Ron DR650 (DMV must love all the transfer fees).
By the way, my other 2002 leaky base gasket was replaced at approximately 20,000
miles. Other than a header failure where the flange separated from the head, my
cartridge forked dirt DR650 is running strong and uses almost no oil with over 37,000
miles on the clock.
Spring Into Action, By Rod Morris
We at MMP and Top Gun have talked until we’re blue in the face about how to properly
correct ride height and sag on the KLR650 rear suspension. It’s always gratifying to
receive feedback from our customers that keeps on enforcing our resolve about the
importance of installing the right spring.
We carry three sizes of high quality custom made springs for the KLR650 stock shock.
- 6.6 kg – Total load weight 230 lbs*
- 7.4 kg – Total load weight 280 lbs*
- 8.0 kg – Total load weight 310 lbs*
*Total load weight = rider and gear
We always recommend setting-up your suspension for the total load weight you normally
carry. Anything over that you can often accommodate by adjusting the pre-load and/or
Here’s one customers comment:
Installed your 7.4 kg spring on the KLR today. Dramatic difference for the better. Can’t
believe I went that long with the stock wet noodle.
Thanks for the great service
Ride safe and often
Gary K. from Washington
Stay Young By Motorcycling, By Rod Morris
According to a new scientific study, riding motorcycles helps keep drivers young by
invigorating their brains.
The rider’s brain gets activated by riding motorcycles, in part because it requires
heightened alertness, as found after a research team and Yamaha Motors conducted a
string of experiments involving middle-aged men. In a convenient and easy environment,
the human mind and body get used to setting the hurdle low. The conclusion was that
riding motorcycles can lead to smart aging.
One experiment involved 22 men, all in their 40s and 50s that had not ridden a
motorcycle for at least a decade. They were split into two groups — one asked to resume
riding motorcycles in everyday life for two months and another that kept using bicycles or
The group that rode motorcycles posted higher marks in cognitive function tests. In one
test, which required the men to remember a set of numbers in reverse order, the riders’
scores jumped by more than 50% in two months, while the non-riders’ marks
The riders also said they made fewer mistakes at work and felt happier.
The end result: You can improve your mental condition simply by using motorcycles to
commute. My only question: does it work as good as or better than Viagra?
More KLR650 Power, by Rod Morris
Since 1987 the KLR650 has been prone to suffer cylinder sleeve warpage resulting in
excessive oil consumption. In 1996, Kawasaki installed a thicker cylinder sleeve, thereby
moderating but not eliminating the warping problem. My 1996 53,000 mile KLR has
never had the top end off and uses a litre of oil every 4,500 miles which is pretty good
proof that the thicker sleeve sometimes does its job.
A few years ago MMP introduced a forged piston for the KLR650 in stock dimensions
and one at .005 oversize. I immediately got inquires as to why there wasn’t a larger
oversize piston available so that more power could be squeezed out of the rather anemic
engine. The main reason is because over-boring the thicker sleeve would mean
returning it to the pre-1996 condition, making the cylinder more prone to warpage. It was
always our recommendation that you not bore past the .005 dimension. We still
recommend that, but we understand the desire to get more punch out of the KLR engine
and we may move in that direction if our customers request it. A one spark plug head
doesn’t burn the mixture in a 100mm hole very well, so why make it bigger? If you must
overbore, you should consider a chrome-moly LA sleeve which will maintain its shape
“come hell or hot water”.
We’ve been toying with the idea of offering a forged piston in the same bore dimensions
as before, but this time the piston would have a domed top which would increase the
compression ratio resulting in more power. As with most things, you give up something to
get something. With the increased compression ratio comes the possibility of some
amount of higher temperatures and the big kicker is you may have to run premium fuel
or suffer engine damaging detonation. For those riders wanting to travel in Mexico or
Baja, finding good premium fuel could be a real problem. Octane booster may help in
this situation but even then the octane of regular gas in Mexico is sometimes slightly
below 87 and the engine may still ping. United States riders would have no trouble
finding good premium fuel; they would only suffer the difference in price.
If I (MMP) received enough positive responses to offer a higher compression piston, one
could probably appear on the products pages. Please express your opinions to:
Tune-ups by Tim, by Elden Carl
If you live in San Diego County, we can turn you onto a really good mechanic who
charges about half of what shops charge. The man’s name is Tim Parker, “The Bike
Doctor” (phone 619 390-7200) who is located just east of El Cajon. Tim is a full service
mechanic who can do it all. If you haven’t upgraded the balancer system of your
KLR650, he’s your man. If you have an “A” model, Tim will install the 2008 factory lever
(doohickey) with the Carl/Wexman inspection port and MMPs new top quality factory
If you have an “E” model (2008 & 2009) you already have the best doohickey (MMP
calls it the Gizmo because it’s different than the doohickey) made, but Tim will
install the all important inspection port and upgraded spring.
In short, anything you need in the way of service for your KLR650 or almost any
other bike for that matter (Rod at MMP found him when he needed work on his
1984 Goldwing and Tim did a great job) is available from Tim. Really good work at a
fair price; it doesn’t get any better than that.