Traveling Around Africa on a KLR650

I recently got a beautiful picture post card from Bill Kamps of South Padre Island, Texas.
The photo is of Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak, Cape Town South Africa:  Gorgeous stuff.

Bill Kamps is one of several KLR world travelers that we have helped with bike set-up and
prep.  I’ve never met Richard Kickbush of Canada or Bill Kamps but have consulted with
both of them at length over the phone prior to their global travels.

It appears Bill didn’t get enough, for he is now in the process of exploring most of Africa
south of the Sahara desert.  He wisely chose a properly prepared pre-2008 KLR650 for
the job and all is well so far.

Bill’s postcard read, “Hi Elden and Rod, only 6 countries and 7,000 miles to go and “lovin
it”.  The KLR (2007) is holding up fine.  I’m still the only KLR in the group.”

I spoke with wife Sheree Kamps on the phone who informed me that she plans to join Bill
in South Africa at the end of the ride for a 2 week vacation.  We’re looking forward to
hearing more about the trip at its conclusion.

The Ultimate KLR650 Engine Balancer Fix from MMP

Rod Morris of Multisurface Motorcycle Products (MMP) which can be found on has just received the final components of what we think is
by far the best so-called “Doohickey” “fix” available for 1987 through 2008 KLR650s.

The kit includes:


  • Factory rotor holder
  • Rotor puller
  • Wexman/Carl inspection port hollow installation bolt, sealing washer and 
  • 2008 Kawasaki Factory super tough and improved balancer adjustment lever.  We
    call it the “Gizmo” because it’s too good to be a “Doohickey”.
  • Custom made balancer adjustment springs in 35, 37, 39mm lengths.

Although we have not seen any aftermarket broken Doohickeys, we have found two
broken aftermarket springs.  In case you don’t know it, a broken balancer adjustment
spring is nearly as bad as a broken lever in that in the absence of a properly pre-loaded
spring, the mechanism, due to the weight of the balancer chain, will become looser rather
than tighter when the adjustment bolt is backed out a half turn.  The extra chain slack will,
at least, cause excessive wear of the chain and four sprockets.  If the chain becomes
slack enough it may jump track and destroy your engine.  If you want to know what that
experience is like, just ask Corby Hall, Jim Bellach or Kurt Grife.

With the Wexman/Carl inspection port you can monitor the spring’s health and pre-load
condition before any adjustment is attempted.

I gave the inspection port information to the aftermarket lever manufacturers for nothing
before product sales began and was astonished when they failed to see its importance.
Since we’ve already found two broken aftermarket springs in our small group, there must
be many more among the hundreds that were sold.  To this day, only Rod Morris at MMP
sells an inspection port installation kit.  Good luck if you don’t have one.

Rod at MMP decided to sell the Kawasaki 2008 factory balancer adjustment lever after
determining it was the toughest one available with a blade 2mm thicker than all previous
levers.  That thicker, stronger, slotted blade also eliminated the washer which in turn
reduced the chance of vibration loosening the adjustment bolt (one less sliding surface).

The final important components in the MMP balancer adjustment kit are three magnificent
custom-made extension springs in the lengths of 35, 37 and 39mm.  The manufacturer
considers them virtually unbreakable, but MMP will still advise you to install the inspection
port because you can monitor the spacing between the spring coils; thereby determining
before coil bind occurs when it’s time to pull the cover and install a shorter spring.  By the
way, as Top gun determined first during study of the 2008 KLR650; the 2008 balancer
adjustment spring is too long to adjust the mechanism more than a few times (maybe
15,000 miles).  If you have a 2008 you’d best stay in touch with MMP because you’ll need
their springs fairly soon.

A majority of the 3 dozen or so blown KLR650 engines I’ve taken apart and studied, died
due to balancer system failure.  I came very close to losing a couple of my own engines in
the early days  My 1993 KLR which now has 124,000 miles on the clock was making so
much noise at 54,500 miles that I disassembled the engine only to find a bad idler bearing
and very loose chain ready to leave the sprockets.  Dodged a bullet that time.

Thanks to Kawasaki,  Rod Morris and Scott Wexman, those days are over.  Loose
balancer chains and blown KLR engines are a thing of the past if you want them to be.  If
not, keep your tow truck insurance current and cover your clutch lever at all times.

Restaurant La Fogata Moves

The best breakfast and lunch restaurant in all of Baja is still in Tecate Mexico just across
the border, but owner Manuel Montiel and his family are now operating in a brand new
facility.  The same great food is being served in a spacious and attractive new building;
Manuel is open 8AM to 3PM everyday except Tuesday.

Directions to Restaurant La Fogata are as follows:

Cross the border at Tecate to the first traffic signal (100yards) at Calle Revolucion, turn
right and count 6 stop signs to Calle Eufrasio Santana.  La Fogata is on your left just past
the stop sign.  There’s plenty of parking at the curb or in the lot across the street.

Manuel hard at work. Great food,  and some of the nicest folks  either side of the border

Manuel hard at work. Great food,
and some of the nicest folks
either side of the border

Picture of the main dining area.  There ares two other rooms as  well.

Picture of the main dining area.
There ares two other rooms as