by Elden Carl
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I've always been amazed by the number of poorly designed and unnecessary
components that are sold to KLR650 owners by the aftermarket.
Some of the worst are:
- The upper subframe long bolt from hell! Before you drill through the welded-in
distance collar, look inside your frame's backbone and you'll see that the necked
down collar is only slightly larger than that big drill you're about to weaken it with.
- The center stand that doubles as a boat anchor! Not only is this item heavy, but it
rides against your moving "unitrak" suspension lever and is precariously mounted
to your foot pegs. If you are unfortunate enough to have one of these; carry a
spare bump rubber with you, keep your "hopefully" upgraded 8mm foot peg bolts
properly torqued and intermediate "loctited," and when employing this monster
avoid too much rearward force past the apex. In other words, hit the stop gently
unless you can ride without a footpeg or two.
- Poorly designed fork braces. One is light but not adjustable, meaning that you can
actually create stiction in some KLRs where none previously existed. Another
brace is adjustable but high, heavy (there's that unsprung weight thing again) and
made of nine parts not counting fasteners. If you have this one, be careful how far
you push your fork tubes up into the triple clamps. You could turn your front
fender or bottom T-clamp into a vertical fork stop.
NOTE: We ride "A" model KLRs at Top Gun and have never found the need to employ a
fork brace until the advent of the wonderful oversized EBC floating front disc. Because of
the greatly increased stopping power we turned to Spec-II (818 837-1313) which
distributes the Tele-fix (which I have used where needed since 1982). This superior
made fork "stiffener" has only four parts not counting fasteners and is low, light and very
strong. It is also adjustable which is especially important on the KLR650. The Tele-fix fork
brace must be ordered, but is worth the extra time, money, and inconvenience. Like
John Arbuckle said, "You get what you pay for". By the way, MMP has an inexpensive
fork boot that fits great and is more durable than the stockers which are prone to
- Last but not least - aftermarket thermostats. I'll hit 250,000 miles this year in nearly
21 years of riding KLR650 "A" models and have never had an overheating
problem even on hot summer days.
How can that be you ask? Because for one thing I have a manual fan switch which I turn
to the on position when the needle hits the middle of its range and I leave it on in stop
and go traffic - like around town.
On a recent trip, Mike Henshaw and I rode 320 miles mostly in Baja with ambient
temperatures ranging from 45 to 55 degrees (not counting the wind chill). Over and over
we compared coolant temperatures in varying conditions including "warm-ups" and
couldn't find any significant difference between his "high zoot" aftermarket inline unit and
my in-head stocker. The big difference comes at coolant replacement time when I simply
remove the cap from a "cool" radiator followed by removing the drain bolt at the bottom
of the water pump housing. Bingo, in a few minutes I'm ready to replace the drain bolt
and pour in new coolant. The in-line thermostat is a much different and messier matter
which takes more time and work to accomplish coolant change according to Mike. Even
Honda's wonderful HP coolant needs to be replaced every two years or less depending
on mileage. So for the sake of simplicity, I'll stay stock, thank you! After all, a thermostat
is a thermostat is a thermostat.
(Todd's Note: We don't always agree at Top Gun but we don't stifle each other's opinions
- we want you to hear both sides. I can't comment on the superiority of the aftermarket
thermostat mentioned above, but if both KLRs had been equipped with temperature
monitoring equipment that could provide more instantaneous readings, the findings may
well have been different - especially as the engines warmed up to full operating temp.)
The moral to this long boring story is that you'd best be careful and investigate when
dealing with the aftermarket. In other words, "Buyer Beware". When in doubt, contact us
at email@example.com, we'll tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth;
Ride hard and shoot straight.