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.
Welcome to a Special Early Edition of Technical Insights! (by TV)
For those of you who are new to the KLR community, I thought a brief history of the KLR
balancer lever/system was in order. Problems with the balancer system were first identified
back in 1984 on the KLR600. The first aftermarket copy was produced by the late Jake
Jakeman. Elden saw that although Jake's lever was better than the stock lever, there were
still improvements to be made. He contacted Eagle Manufacturing and requested a better
fitting and tougher lever be made. Since then, the Eagle lever has probably become the
standard replacement for the Kawasaki part. Elden, with Scott Wexman, also designed the
inspection hole which allows the rider to check the tensioner spring prior to making an
adjustment. We still believe the inspection hole is a critical addition to any KLR, even with
Kawasaki's new lever upgrade because, among other things, it allows you to monitor the
balancer chain and sprocket wear. Now, on to Elden's good stuff!
|The new factory lever and spring.
|Comparison of old stock lever
(2005), new lever (2008) and
aftermarket lever (left to right).
|Reverse side of old, new, and
|Old, new, and aftermarket lever
(left to right) profiles.
Bingo!! Kawasaki did it!! You owe breakfast
at Mely's in Mulege, Mr. Kurt Grife. True, we
didn't get the preferred gear-driven balancer
system, but we did get an improved balancer
system. How do we know? Todd Vosper
researched the 2008 parts diagram then
ordered a new balancer adjustment lever and
new spring - which had differing parts
numbers (last four digits) indicating changes.
The parts cam yesterday and the new lever
is gorgeous. It's obvious that it will retrofit into
the older models. At last Kawasaki went "one
piece and tough" instead of "two welded
pieces and wimpy."
The spring is a perplexing part because
although it looks beefy and high quality like
the one in the DR650SE shift mechanism, it
appears to be too long at 46.4mm. The
rumor has been that Kawasaki was
withholding release of the 2008 because of
an internal engine problem; we can't help but
wonder inf this spring is the problem.
However, there appear to be other modified
parts - the crankcase among others - which
may in time yield some answers on whether
or not some type of change has been made
to use a longer spring. Only time will tell, and
you can be sure that as soon as we get our
2008 we'll crack it open and take a look.
Not only have they fixed the lever once and
for all, but there is a new front balancer shaft,
and some bearings in the system with new
part numbers (hopefully) indicating
improvements. More on that in a later issue
when we have the bike in hand.
Interestingly, the new, tough-looking balancer
adjustment lever (or lever, idler shaft) was
made in Japan, while the spring was
produced in Thailand.
At last you will be able to buy a KLR650 that
doesn't have to be fixed before you feel safe
running the engine. Furthermore, you can
upgrade your pre-2008 with factory-backed
parts. We plan on continuing to install our
inspection hole so we can tell when the
system needs servicing.
Top Gun Motorcycles has a 2008 KLR650 on
order and we plan on studying it very closely.
We will be reporting back to you, our
readers, with our findings.
We will install the new 2008 factory lever in
Elden's 2005 KLR650 at the next oil change.
There will be pictures and commentary on
this website following the operation.
Update on Subframe Bolts (by TV)
Chuck Leskie wrote to us the other day when
the parts diagrams came out and noted that
the upper subframe bolts on the 2008 were
listed as 10mm bolts. As frequent readers will note, it appears Kawasaki followed the same
upgrade procedure that Elden wrote about in April's Technical Insights - using 10mm bolts
but not drilling completely through. Thanks Chuck for a sharp eye!