A customer recently sent me an e-mail that he had received his new KLR650 shock
spring and absolutely loved it. He added a PS saying that he would never, ever buy
anything from one particular vendor because of how he markets his s___ by corrupting
forums. The customer had gone to a KLR Forum and tried to request feedback on
using the Top Gun shock spring. To his surprise the request was yanked from the site.
This really pissed him off and he let them know and was immediately banned from the
Makes me wonder what was behind the site not wanting to put out a simple question
about a product that other KLR owners may have tried. I thought information was a
large part of what these sites did? Maybe they were afraid that the answers would be
too positive. I wonder if they do the same for other product questions? Or is it more of
a personal thing?
All I can tell you is that “any” questions whether positive or negative about our products
will be answered without malice. In fact, if we “ever” receive a negative remark, it will get
our full attention.
I don’t fully trust any information I read on the Internet and neither should you until you
know some facts about the person(s) putting out that information. If you want to know
anything about the information given out on Top Gun and our 3/4 of a million miles of
motorcycle experience on KLR650s or DR650s – just ask. If I was a new KLR650 owner
and I read all the stuff on Top Gun, my first thought would be, “what makes them such
experts”. You won’t know til you ask us.
Best KLR650 Product
When a person is planning to or has already purchased a KLR650 of any year, they
often have researched KLR websites to see what changes and upgrades are available
or needed. After all, we can’t just ride around on a completely stock motorcycle. In the
case of the KLR650 there are a number things that need to be addressed to make the
bike better and safer. Where do we start? There are a few items that absolutely must
be changed, some that should be changed and a few that would just be nice to
Let’s start with number one needed change – the shock spring.
Some of this information may be a little redundant to some readers because we’ve
talked about it so many times, but good information can never be talked about too
much, especially if you’re a new KLR650 owner. It’s well known (or we thought it was
well known) that the stock shock spring is junk, but works very well as a paper weight.
The first KLR650 was introduced in 1987 with a shock spring that worked OK for a 150
lb rider without any extra gear. If you check the shock spring on a 2012 KLR650 you’ll
find that it’s the exact same spring. Kawasaki must have warehouses full of these
springs because they just won’t go away.
Our resident KLR650 expert Elden Carl bought his first (1988) KLR in 1990 and
immediately suffered all the (many) glitches that came with it, especially the rear
suspension. By the way, we can all thank Elden for at least 95% of the improvements
on the KLR650. He finally started working with a very well known local suspension
company in San Diego to come up with a proper spring. Elden invested a good chunk
of change and time installing, testing, uninstalling and trying many different spring
rates until he finally hit the right one. Elden likes working in metric measures not
pounds so the best spring for his total load weight on the bike all the time was right at
6.6kg. Elden wrote an article on our first website about the spring and other
improvements he came up with and got such a response from readers as to how they
could get these same things for their bike.
The huge response is what spurred us to establish a business called Multisurface
Motorcycle Products (MMP for short) and all we offered was the 6.6kg spring. The
springs were a big hit but we started getting requests for a spring that would handle
more than the 6.6kg. We then introduced the 7.4kg spring which was just as popular.
Then the really big boys started complaining that they needed a better spring too.
Along came our 8.0kg spring. We actually wanted an 8.5kg spring but our suspension
experts warned that they weren’t sure the preload system could take that much
pressure. So, the big boys just have to live with the 8.0kg.
A great many of our customers send us e-mails after installing the correct spring and
are very happy saying that the single best thing they ever did to their KLR650 was to
put our spring on. That alone is very rewarding.
How bad is the stock spring? With the bike sitting on the side stand and with no other
add on weight (boxes,braces etc), the bike has already lost as much as 2″ of travel.
You get on and another 4-5″ (more if you’re in the heavier group) of usable travel is
lost. Try adding those boxes etc. or a passenger and you may be down to 2″ of travel.
Add a lowering link and it’s even worse.
What can happen? The rear wheel ends up very high into the wheel well which means
even a small bump or dip can cause the tire to hit the underside of the fender, allow
the chain to hit and tear or rip off the vent tube on the bottom of the air box. Sometimes
the tire will hit the inside of the muffler. On an off road ride once a friend complained
that he thought his rear brake was engaging over bumps. Upon inspection we asked if
he had lowering links – he did. He was not a heavy guy but it still allowed the tire to hit
the fender so hard that it actually acted like a brake and it took little chunks of rubber
of the knobbies.
We hope that this type of info may convince all KLR owners to install the proper shock
spring. The weak spring allows the shock to pound, crush and destroy the poor
quality stock bump rubber, which in turn wears out parts inside the shock body. Most of
the shocks we service need parts replaced inside, but that early shock demise can be
greatly extended if we can get a proper spring on before 5,000 miles. Yes, we’ve seen
shocks needing parts with as low as 3,000 miles.
The number two absolute change should be the infamous doohickey. If you have a
pre-2008 you should change the lever, spring and install our inspection hole to monitor
the “doo” and spring condition; without it you have to pull the covers to see if it’s OK. If
you own the 2008 and newer you only need the spring and inspection hole (our kit
uses the best doo out there, the 2008 – present Kawasaki part).
If you want more info on other hints for the KL:R650 from changes needed to
adjustments that can be critical, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
and ask. Remember, the only dumb question is the one that’s not asked.