Breakfast in Napavine. Sarah waits outside.
Breakfast in Napavine. Sara waits outside.

So I am a few days late writing my weekend wrap-up, due to being overwhelmed with work.

The weekend was mixed with some parts of joy and some parts of frustration.

It ended up being a beautiful ride down on Saturday, minus the monsoon I rode through in Olympia. All I can say is thank god for my TourMaster Defender 2-piece Rainsuit!  It kept me completely dry through the whole ordeal.

After stopping in Napavine to top off the fuel tank, and grab some breakfast at BK, I pushed on down to Vancouver to meet up with GusGus, my co-rider for our Arctic Expedition Trip.

After Vancouver, I pushed on down the Columbia River Gorge towards Hood River.  The one thing I absolutely hate about The Gorge, is the wind.  Fighting wind gusts of over 40mph really can fatigue you, especially the neck.

Once in Hood River I decided to jump into working on the KLR. I had 2 things I wanted to complete. Put the jet kit in the carb, and get to the Thermo-Bob if I had time.  I didn’t end up with the time for the Thermo-Bob.

There are a few things that I was aware of when I made up my mind to buy the KLR.  I knew there was some internal designs that were not really up to snuff, such as the doohickey, and the way the sub-frame is attached.
I also knew about the oil burning problem that is inherent in the KLR650 engines. What I was not aware of, is just how much oil they burnt.

With just over 300 miles on the Odo since I bought the bike and changed the oil, when I checked the oil in Hood River, I noticed it was low.  In fact, it was below the sight glass low.  Before I had left, I had checked it, topped it off, and then made my way down to Oregon.

A full quart of oil brought it up to the top of the glass (Where KLR Owners recommend topping it to).

FYI: Removing Footpegs from bike, means center Stand is coming off...
FYI: Removing Footpegs from bike, means center Stand is coming off...

This was the first thing that caused frustration. There is no way I could trust trekking through Canada on up to the Northwest Territories and into Alaska with a bike that burns a quart of oil every 300 to 400 miles.

Secondly, I went to change the jetting on the bike.  To do this, requires pulling off the crash bars, fairings, and tank.

Now, when I bought the bike, I knew it had been dropped on both sides, and I knew the left side was the worse, being that it was rubbing against the fairing.  What I didn’t expect, was for it to be so sprung when I took it off, that I would be unable to get it back on.  After trying to press the bend out,  I was left with the tubing cracking.  Frustration #2 was now I needed to order new crash bars. This isn’t a sellers issue, this is a buyers issue. I knew it was dropped, and I knew the possible outcome of the situation, I was just hoping for the best. So both bars got left off in Oregon, and I ordered new ones when I got back.

Frustration #3 came in the Carburetor. I’ve worked on several carbs in my life. I mean hell, I used to be a small engine mechanic, and I did at least a carb rebuild each day. I seriously have rebuilt probably over 500 carbs in my lifetime.

The vacuum diaphragm on the carb is not exactly the same size as the recess that it is supposed to fit in. So putting the top back on took me almost 30 minutes, as I used the stock needle (Jet kit came with a new adjustable needle), to slowly edge it into the recess while I applied pressure on the cap.  Eventually I got it, but it made me respect the BST34 carb that is in my XT even more. Which prior to this, I called the worst carburetor every conceived by some foul engineer.

Now that I was this far in, I decided to replace the spark plug.  That became a chore in itself, as the NGK sparkplug they had in it, did not match up in NAPA or E&L’s system. Finally they were able to cross reference it to an Autolite, then back to another NGK. DPR8EA = DR8ES apparently. Bike seems to be running find with it.

So with all these little frustrations, I was really starting to get bummed on whether or not that I would decide to keep the bike and use it for the trip.

That whole thought lasted until my ride back to Seattle.

The bike rides really well, has great power to get up to speed, and I can cruise all day with it at 70 without an issue.

The Rox Risers + Corbin Seat with the oversized footpegs really add to the comfort level of being to spend long amounts of time on the bike.  Riding non stop from Hood River to Napavine (Where I always like to stop for gas, and grab a bite to eat) went by without a discomfort.

So when I got back into town, it didn’t take me long to really start looking into some items.

A few things I realized.

One, no matter what I would have bought, there is always going to be something you feel isn’t as good as it should be. Especially me. I do all of my own maintenance, so I get frustrated when something doesn’t go right.

Two, regardless of the little things I found wrong, I got a great deal on the bike. That gives me a bit to put back into it. The oil burning issue can be solved with either putting in new rings, and honing the cylinder (Apparently the issue is caused by Kawasaki not honing the cylinders very well, resulting in the rings never really setting fully), or I can just opt and spend the money and get the 685 big bore kit. Which I wanted to do anyways, I just didn’t want to be forced into doing it.

And the third thing I learned is that riding really does solve a lot of problems.  No matter how frustrated I was when I left, it soon disappeared into an afterthought when I hit the road. As the miles passed behind me, so did my anger, and eventually I fell back in love with my new purchase and looked forward to our trip together, which as of today, is exactly 4 months away.

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4 Comments

  1. February 17, 2010 at 7:34 AM — Reply

    As of this morning, I now have a big bore kit on order.

  2. February 17, 2010 at 7:34 AM — Reply

    As of this morning, I now have a big bore kit on order.

  3. February 19, 2010 at 6:48 PM — Reply

    Yes, riding does indeed solve a lot of problems – motorcycle problems and life problems both!

  4. February 19, 2010 at 6:48 PM — Reply

    Yes, riding does indeed solve a lot of problems – motorcycle problems and life problems both!

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