by Elden Carl
Copyright © 2006 Top Gun Motorcycles. All rights reserved. Distribution or publication of this document (electronic or otherwise)
is prohibited without the express written consent of the author. For more information or to request permission to publish this
document, please see our contact page. For information on our pledge to maintain your privacy click here. To learn more about
your friends at Top Gun Motorcycles, read about us here.
More on the KLR650 Balancer System
If you don't think keeping the balancer chain in a KLR650 engine free of slack is
important, just ask Kurt Grife, Jim Bellach, Corby Hall and numerous others what happens
when the chain comes off its sprockets. You will at least lose your engine or at worst go
down when the rear wheel locks up as a result of the balancer chain derailing and
wrapping itself around a sprocket instantly stopping the engine.
Mike Henshaw had an '08 lever, MMP spring and Wexman/Carl inspection port installed in
his KLR650 awhile ago. MMPs kit is the only one that furnishes the tool and instructions
for inspection port installation.
At his last oil change Mike and I pulled the inspection port bolt after draining the oil. When
I looked inside with my magnified otoscope, I discovered the adjustment spring had broken
and was missing. Since loosening the adjustment bolt without a spring to pull the lever
usually results in a looser chain we opted to do nothing.
Since Mike could easily make it to the next oil change with no balancer chain problems, I
advised him that I believed I would have the adjustment spring problem solved by the time
he had to drop his oil again.
I have been convinced for years by experts and engineers that an extension spring is the
only spring for the job of pulling the balancer lever. Pre-load must be controlled so as to
not overload the splash lubricated idler needle bearing. It also can be inspected with our
The trouble is that everyone including the factory, MMP, and Eagle have had trouble with
broken balancer springs; I know, I've seen them. The only KLR owner who knows if the
spring is OK is the one who can visually inspect for its presence. Only the MMP "balancer
kit" provides that capability.
But, let's get back to the spring problem.
I decided I had to find a factory extension spring used inside a motorcycle engine (other
than Kawasaki). I finally found one of the correct length that several mechanics tell me has
never failed. If it did it would require a complete engine teardown and case splitting to
I purchased the spring from the manufacturer and we installed it into Mike’s engine. Since
Mr. Henshaw puts lots of miles on his KLR we can monitor the health of the spring over
time and report findings back to our readers.
Rod Morris at MMP is now including the new factory spring in his Gizmo Kit (doohickey). If
you have trouble with the present MMP spring, contact Rod. Remember "NEVER" adjust
the balancer chain without first confirming the presence of the spring. The inspection port
will keep you safe, but only if you use it properly.
By the way, we inspected Mike Henshaw’s 2008 balancer lever and idler shaft. Both were
in like-new condition. So much for the effects of moderate looseness between "doohickey"
and shaft. The 8 ft-lbs of torque we use on the adjustment bolt left almost no mark on the
blade. It took them 20 years but Kawasaki finally got it right. Stay tuned for future reports
on Mike's KLR.
By the way, if you are one of those who got talked into replacing your '08 or '09 lever with
an aftermarket one, I bet Rod would take it off your hands
More on DR650 Fuel Filters
We previously mentioned the potentially troublesome, tiny ($5.00) in-line fuel filter found
on the DR650. Used in conjunction with the factory petcock strainer it might not cause
trouble for a long time, but it holds so little material that it's not worth the risk to leave it in
place. It also is possible that aftermarket petcock strainers don't do as good a job as the
factory filters, thereby
passing more material into the tiny in-line filter.
Since we all use after market tanks (Acerbis and IMS) and ride a lot off-road we feel an up-
graded fuel filtering system is important. There is also a filter for the stock tank.
Rod Morris at MMP is now carrying a high quality, transparent fuel filter (hoses and
clamps included) that Top Gun uses in-line between the petcock and float bowl. The MMP
filter for the IMS 4.9 gallon tank comes with an "L" shaped filter and molded hose which
eliminates the near kink caused by a straight hose.
The neat thing about the in-line filter is that it's transparent and can be visually monitored
for contamination. Should it need replacing, a spare can be installed in just a few minutes
in the field.
In my 19+ years and 231,000+ miles on KLR650s I've never had either an in-line gas filter
or a fuel supply stoppage. I'll no longer tempt fate. Even my street bike has the extra MMP