I recently did a “Fuel For Thought” article on our website relating to the difficult dirt road
conditions that Rod Morris and I encountered on a recent 300 mile trip in Northern Baja.
As I wrote in the article I made some changes to the front end which resulted in improved
handling in deep chopped up sand. The goal was to slow front wheel deflections caused
by four wheeler ruts and criss-crossed sand waves.
As much as I hate front end weight especially the unsprung kind, I decided that a little
help in the right place might result in improved steering in the tricky soft stuff. An identical
Baja trip but in reverse after the changes were made vindicated my judgment in the
Following are the changes I made:
First, after being assured by Robert Buchanan (626 969-4655 Buchanan’s Spokes and
Rims) that a 2.15 Takasago XL rim was approximately one pound heavier than my 1.85, I
ordered same. The 2.15 rim not only added a little weight to the outside circumference of
the wheel, but it just happens to be the perfect width for a 90/90 X 21 tire.
Second, I took the wheel and new rim to Ken Mahron (619 449-0344) for lacing and
truing. Ken’s the top guy here in San Diego County.
Third, I purchased:
A. A plastic Motion-Pro adhesive coated rim strip.
B. A Motion-Pro light weight 2.15 rim lock.
C. A ultra heavy duty Bridgestone 21″ tube (4mm thick).
D. Metzeler Uni-Cross 90/90 X 21 knobby tire.
Once I had gathered all the components I talked Pauline into helping me assemble them
which resulted in a complete wheel that I then balanced for a smoother ride.
The second 300 mile Baja ride that Rod and I took was an improvement handling wise
partly due to the changes I made and partly due to slightly improved road conditions.
The next step I plan to take involves a Scott Steering Stabilizer. Chris Daniels, long time
expert off-road and Motocross rider assures me it will make a difference. I’ve always
been skeptical of steering dampers, but when a guy with Chris’ background is
enthusiastic about something, I figure it’s worth a try.
It’ll take a while, but we’ll report back to our readers once we’ve accomplished the
installation and test of the Scott’s. In the mean time the front wheel changes we’ve made
have helped a bunch.
Note: All the above components used to modify our front KLR650 dirt wheel are available
through MMP on this website and that includes building the complete wheel if desired.
We’ll report on this project later.