We covered this subject some time ago but it’s time to mention it again.
Elden and I had gone on a two day ride to Baja a few years ago, he on his Suzuki DR650
and me on my KLR650. The weather was great, the riding conditions were perfect and we
were riding our favorite Northern Baja dirt section; the El Compadre. We crossed the
border at Tecate and rode east on pavement to the El Compadre turn and headed south,
looking forward to75 miles of great dirt riding. We weren’t disappointed. After coming to
Hwy 3 that runs between San Felipe and Ensenada, we turned west and bombed our way
to Ojos Negros where we stopped at one of the new Pemex stations that have popped up
everywhere in Baja (it replaced the old privately owned one ). This is also where the Baja
1000 crosses Hwy 3 going south and there’s also a military check point there.
We’ve always stopped here to sometimes get a few gallons of gas, a cold drink, a snack
and air up the old knobbies for the 25 miles over the mountains into Ensenada. All went
well until Elden swung onto the DR and pushed the start button. The engine cranked
over just fine but wouldn’t even cough. We checked every possible thing we could think of
– fire was getting to the plugs, fuel getting to the carb – why won’t it fire?
A Mexican man and his two sons had finished pre-running for the Baja 1000 and came
over to see what we were doing and ended up offering to load the DR into their truck and
take it to Ensenada as they were going there anyway. While the loading project got
underway, I jumped on the old KLR (it fired immediately) and headed for Ensenada and
looped around to the other part of Hwy 3 and back to Tecate (this was quicker than the El
Compadre). I rode straight to Elden’s house, told wife Pauline the story, we hooked up
the bike trailer and back to Ensenada we went, meeting Elden at our favorite motel where
we decided to spend the night.
After getting the DR back home, Elden dug into finding the problem. He
decided to remove the carb and give it a good look see. When he pulled the
gas line off the carb inlet he noticed a white plastic something stuck in the
end. When he pulled it out – bingo – it was a small factory fuel filter that was
quite clogged. He put the hose back on, hit the starter button and varoom,
the engine fired. Problem solved and
three new products were born; a fuel filter for the stock tank, Acerbis tank and the IMS tank.
One of our DR riding friends rode his DR to work a few days ago and when he came out
to go home it wouldn’t start. You guessed it. Elden called him and told him to pull that
factory filter out, which he did while Elden waited on the phone. In just a few minutes
Elden heard the DR start and our friend give a big whoop. Both he and Elden run IMS
tanks so it seems that there may be a bit of junk floating in there that clogs the little filter
in relatively short time.
So, if you own a DR, pull that stupid little filter out of the carb inlet and put a real filter on
there, especially if you use an aftermarket tank. Even the stock tank can get stuff in it
over time and down the road somewhere your DR won’t start. We have pre-made filters
for the stock tank, Acerbis and IMS. The IMS uses a pre-formed 90 degree hose. Without
it the hose can kink and restrict flow.
KLR650 Drive Chain Adjustment
The drive chain adjustment is an item that’s often overlooked, ignored or adjusted
improperly. Two things can happen when the chain is not adjusted properly: If it’s too
loose it may come off the sprocket which can jam up and stop forward progress or blow
the engine; neither of which you want to happen while at driving speed. Run it too tight
and in a short period it will burn out a small bearing inside the engine on the counter
shaft (inside behind the front chain sprocket). To fix it the engine must come completely
apart. You decide which scenario you want to face.
The KLR650 runs a rather loose chain adjustment on purpose I’m sure, to save that
bearing, so it’s a very important adjustment.
Here’s How: Get the rear wheel just off the floor (not by the swing arm). It’s nice
to clean the chain first and work without gunk getting all over things. Measure
from the center of the counter sprocket bolt to the center of the rear axle bolt. Put
a mark on the swing arm at the half way point (we dimple a mark on the bottom of
the swing arm). The owner’s manual has the chain adjustment free play in inches
and metric with a plus or minus, we like metric because there’s no fractions to
deal with like in inches. We use a 12″ straight ruler or tape measure. Hold the
ruler at the bottom of the swing arm at the dimple and push the upper chain run up
at a link as far as it will go so the center of the link pin is next to a number on the
ruler and record the number. Now push the chain down at the same link and
record that number. Subtract the little number from the big one and that’s the
free play. We use the number between the plus and minus. For metric it’s 53mm
The rear wheel is already up so this is a good time to lube the chain properly. We like
using a good quality spray lube (Alisyn), not wax, and one that resists dirt. This will sound
simple but many people don’t think of it. To keep from slinging lube all over the rear rim,
do it this way. Spin the rear wheel by hand (backwards, so the bottom chain run is
running toward the front sprocket) and spray the bottom chain run on the inside of the
chain that runs on the sprockets. If you have time, let the lube set awhile before riding.
While you’re at it, lube the side stand at the pivot point, inside and out.
Put a Magnet Where
For many years a lot of KLR650 owners have been using a magnetic oil drain plug to
hopefully catch any pieces of metal that may get into the oil system. I don’t know how
many years before the magnetic oil drain plug idea hit the KLR world, but a KLR rider hit
the stock oil drain plug on a rock while off roading and didn’t realize that it had bent the
bolt enough to let oil slowly run out. I don’t know if the engine blew or it was caught
before any damage happened, but it started a lot of owners using a shortened head
drain plug that didn’t hang down as low.
Somewhere along the line a vendor came up with a shortened oil drain plug with a
magnet on the end to catch all that bad stuff that might be floating around. I opted to only
use the shortened head drain plug.
We recently received some information on where someone found another spot to employ
the use of a magnet. Where you ask? Inside the oil housing where the oil filter resides. If
you stop and think about how and where the oil runs through the engine, you might just
scratch your head as we did and asked – WHY? There’s two main areas that filter the oil.
One is the screen inside the clutch side case down low and is the cause of some engine
failures when the poor quality factory case sealant used oozes into the system, clogs that
screen and boom goes the engine. The other filter is the good old standard oil filter
housed on the right side of the engine.
Even the stock oil filter traps the real bad stuff that can do damage to an engine, so the
magnet idea in the filter area is totally unnecessary. We’ve also heard a story recently of
an owner finding the magnet on his drain plug missing. He never did find it and only
hopes it’s firmly attached in a non-lethal area.
Our oil filter experts tells us that there’s a big difference between the filtering
effectiveness of oil filters. They get rated by the amount of microns they can filter, so if
you can determine if your filter has a high number for the filtering of microns, then you’ll
have an idea how good your filter works. By the way, the washable type of filter had the
worse rating. The highest rated filter was K&N, but many other name brands were rated
very close and will work just fine.
Our experts also told us that people are throwing away perfectly good filters if they
change it at every oil change. When using a quality filter and motorcycle specific oil only
you can change the filter every other oil change without concern that it’s not doing it’s job.
We highly urge you to check with experts on all information given out on any site before
you spend money on products or try it just because an unknown person says it’s a good
thing. If you’re skeptical about some of the things we report – check with experts in that
field. We only endorse products that have been verified by experts, then we try them and
if they perform as advertised, we give it our stamp of approval.