May 2, 2010

The KLR650 Is Alive And Well

It has been a long road. From the point where the suspension seized up until the motorcycle is again fully functional is a span of a year and a half.

So what was the holdup? I wanted to install six grease nipples on the rear suspension, and didn't know how I was going to get that done. In fact, for a while, I was considering a seventh and difficult location to install a grease nipple: on the head of the shock linkage pivot bolt.

I finally got those grease fittings installed earlier this year, abandoning the seventh. Thanks for doing this, Bruce. Also, since the engine was out of the frame, I opened up the engine to replace the balancer chain tensioner - the infamous doohickey.

Having taken some time off work to devote to this project, it finally progressed - sort of. Sometimes it was one step forward and two steps back.

I got the subframe on - a fiddly job that requires attaching a stiff rubber hose from the airbox to the carb. Then I had to remove it again in order to install the exhaust system. Then I had to remove the exhaust system in order to attach the negative battery cable to the starter. Of course, removing the exhaust system meant also removing the subframe - again!

Then after getting the bike mostly together, I discover that the initial problem which precipitated this entire process still existed. The rear suspension was still acting as if it was seized. One problem was the left linkage arm was installed the wrong way to allow clearance between the bolt head and the drive chain.

But after taking things apart to correct that issue, the suspension was still seized. I could press the seat down and it would stay down. I could pull the seat up, and it would stay up. What was wrong?

I once again disassembled the rear suspension (was this the third time or the fourth, I can't remember!) to remove the shock and check everything out. With the help of Gord Inglis of Inglis Cycle Centre in London, we put the shock on the hydraulic press and it did seem to rebound.

However, another check of the suspension eliminated all other possibilities. I enlisted Gord to help me find an aftermarket shock for the bike. Aftermarket shocks have the advantage of being rebuildable down the road when the damping system inevitably becomes less effective.

In the case of the original shock, instead of losing all damping whatsoever and turning the back end into a pogo stick, the internals of the Kawasaki shock went the other way; the shock became slow and stiff to extend and rebound as if filled with molasses.

Now, with my new Progressive Suspension shock in place, the bike rides as it should. Things have settled down in the back and the bike rides much smoother.

Upon initial disassembly of the bike way back when and finding the shock linkage pivot bolt rusted and seized, I looked no further for any other possible causes with regards to the seized suspension. Obviously, there were more than one problem with the bike!

Once again, thanks Gord for helping me out.

Today, my wife and I went out for an extended dirt ride to check things out and have a bit of fun. It was an excellent ride. We racked up more than 200 km, the vast majority on dirt and gravel backroads. There were also several old no-longer-maintained roads which required elevated care to the point of standing up at times.

Here are some pics.

Jane and her Yamaha XT225 - and the "new" KLR650

Port Stanley, Ontario - on the north shore of Lake Erie

Yellowstone Park! (see the sign in the background)