My KLR0650E: the Green Goblin


Senior Staff
*NOTE: The bike is sold now, mods and evolution documented here for posterity:


My quest for a Dual Sport bike started soon after I stumbled upon a website called Adventure Rider (ADV). I was fascinated and inspired by the stories and photos and wanted to get out there myself. There was just one problem - I needed a bike.

At first I lusted after a new KTM 990 Adventure... but at about $15,000 and rumored high maintenance tendencies... it was not a good choice for me so I kept looking around for a good dual sport adventure moto that would offer long service on a modest budget.

So, after much research and deliberation, I decided on the tried and true Kawasaki KLR-650. If it's good enough for the USMC, it's the bike for me!

I chose it for the price ($5,349 MSRP) and for a number of other reasons, first and foremost was the tried and true simplicity and reliability of this robust machine. The KLR has been in production and worldwide use virtually unchanged since 1986. 2008 marked the first big factory upgrades in the evolution of this big Kawasaki thumper.

Then I had to find one in Kawasaki Green, of course, and that was the hard part. It seems that there were none to be had until I walked into Temecula Motorsports where I found my first KLR, the Green Goblin. The new headlights on the newer KLR's are a vast upgrade over the feeble square headlight on the pre-2008 model. The plan is to keep her relatively stock (those of you who know me are laughing now) and focus on a very few necessary, frugal mods and farkle such as crash bars, upgraded tires etc, cargo carrying etc. By leaving it mostly stock it should provide many years of service and I'll never have an issue replacing something wherever I may roam.




Displacement: 651cc
Four-stroke, liquid cooled, DOHC, four-valve single
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 83.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.8:1
Fuel System: Carburetion, Keihin CVK40 carb
Ignition: Fully transistorized
Transmission: 5-speed
MSRP: $5,300

SW-Motech crash bars
12V outlet
Swapped OEM silver side panels for OEM black
Upgraded stock battery to Power Sonic sealed AGM type
Magellan Crossover GPS + Ram mount
Traded my OEM silver shrouds for OEM black shrouds
Wolfman Small Expedition tank bag
Pelican 1520 tailbox
Moose 1/2 inch offset footpegs
Kenda K270's, 19AUG11 at 3,250 miles
Rox risers 2.5 inch handlebar lift
KTM Supermoto front fender swap
Uni air filter
Eagle Mike subframe bolt kit, upgraded to 8mm


Recommended change interval: every 1000 miles (1600 km) using conventional oil; every 2000 miles (3200 km) using synthetic oil - or after operation in extremely wet/dirty conditions, or after prolonged idle.
-Tools & parts: 17mm hex-type box-end wrench, 8mm socket w/ drive, filter, crush-metal gasket, 3 quart containers of oil, gloves, waste oil pan.
-Recommended engine oil type: API SE, SF, SG, in addition to SH and SJ with JASO MA.
-Recommended engine oil viscosity: 10-40 between 14 and 104 degrees F (-10 to +40 C), 10-30 between 14 and 86 F (-10 to +30 C), and 20-50 between 32 and +104 F (0 to +40 C).
-Engine oil capacity: 2.6 quarts (2.5 L) if filter is removed; 2.3 quarts (2.2 L) if oil only is changed.
Recommended interval: at least every 6000 miles (10,000 km) - or after operation in extremely wet/dirty conditions.
Recommended interval: clean and gap plug every 3000 miles (5000 km).
-Recommended spark plug gap: 0.8 - 0.9 mm (0.032 - 0.36 inches).
-OEM spark plug (NGK DPR8EA-9).
Recommended interval: drive chain cleanliness, lubrication and tension should be checked at least every 400 miles (600 km).
-Recommended chain tension: 50 - 65 mm (2.0 - 2.6 inches) of play, when the motorcycle is resting on its sidestand, unmounted.
-Chain saw bar oil works surprisingly well as a motorcycle chain lubricant. Using WD-40 to clean the motorcycle's drive chain will not harm said chain's o-rings (Kawasaki suggests that kerosene be used to clean the chain)
*NOTE: Chain cleaning and chain lubing are two distinct operations. applying a heavy oil to a chain - without removing accumulated grit - will result in the creation of an abrasive paste that will accelerate the wear of both the chain and also the chain sprockets.
Tire pressure/wear: check pressure when cold. The Factory's recommendation of 21 psi front and 28 psi was too soft for my taste so I run 30 and 35 respectively. Understand the following:
(a) less air in the tube results in better traction, but also increases the rate at which the tire/tube heat as a result of increased friction;
(b) more air in the tube results in less rolling resistance and greater load carrying capacity, but traction is diminished.
- as load, speed and road conditions improve - increase air pressure, but never beyond tire rating!
- as load, speed and road conditions diminish - decrease air pressure, but not below ~15 psi without risking pinch flats.
-BALANCER CHAIN aka "The Doohickey"
Balancer chain tension: On the operator's left side, to the rear of the shift pedal, a small black rubber cap hides a bolt in the engine's side cover. Said bolt ought to be loosened, and snugged tight again. There is no "magic" sound or sight to indicate that this operation has been performed correctly. BE GENTLE. You're most likely to have a problem if:
(a) you loosen the bolt too much;
(b) you re-tighten the bolt too much after having loosened it;
(c) you never make an effort to perform the adjustment;
(d) Kawasaki's parts - balancer lever or spring - fail.

-Balancer System Explained:
1- Brakes:
With the motorcycle "off" and in neutral, will the front brake hold/stop the bike? The rear brake? Is there an adequate amount of fluid in both of the resevoirs? Is that fluid less than two years old? Are brake pads of adequate thickness in the calipers? Are the brake discs clean? Have the brake cables been properly tensioned and lubricated?
2- Tires: Do the tires hold air? Is the air pressure in the tires adequate for the load you're carrying and surface upon which you're riding? Is there tread of adequate thickness on the tires? Is the tire compound young enough to provide adequate grip?
3- Oil: After running the engine in an open area till warm, turning it "off," and allowing the oil to settle - is the level correct? Is the oil less than 2,000 miles and one year old?
4- Clutch: Is the clutch cable adjusted properly? Does the clutch fully disengage? Has the clutch cable been lubricated?
5- Throttle: With the motorcycle off, does the throttle tube "snap" closed after being turned open?
6- Lights: Do the headlight, tail light, brake light and turn signals work?
7- Fastener Tightness: Have you checked those parts that are likely to loosen as a result of vibration? Handlebar mounted controls? Foot pegs? Shift pedal? Exhaust? Front fender? Side stand? Subframe bolts?
8- Battery: If you use the stock battery, or a similar model, have you checked the fluid levels recently? Has the motorcycle tipped over? Been run at high speed in the heat? Have you checked the fluid levels again?
9- Chain: When was the last time that you cleaned and lubed the chain? In what condition are the chain and sprockets? Is the chain tension appropriate for the load you're carrying and surface upon which you're riding?
10- Coolant: Is there an adequate amount of coolant in the reservoir? Is that coolant less than two years old?
11- Fuel: Do you know the amount of fuel in your motorcycle, and the range available to you? Are you comfortable with the operation of the petcock?
12- You: Are you sober, well rested and focused on what you're about to do? Gear? ATGATT?


Most of the tools listed below can be found in the motorcycle's Factory kit. It is worth noting that the spark plug socket contained in said kit is especially useful. Having written that, it might be helpful to purchase additional items - including, but not limited to, larger wrenches and a small socket set of a good quality.

Basic Maintenance:
24, 22, 19, 17, 14, 12, 10 mm combination wrenches
10, 8, 5 mm sockets with 1/4 inch drive and extension
18 mm thin-wall spark plug socket and drive
#1, #2, #3 Phillips head screwdrivers
6mm T-handle allen wrench
Spark plug gapping tool, 0.8 - 0.9 mm or 0.032 - 0.36 in
Extras on the Road:
2 tire irons
17 and 21 inch tubes
air pump
Fluids: oil, brake, water
2nd air filter, already oiled, in a bag
Safety pins
Electrical tape
Zip ties and/or wire
2-part epoxy/weld
Stand (2x4 for tripod w/kickstand)
Chain lube kit


My first priority was to get the SW Motech crash bars and the Moose 1/2 inch offset footpegs mounted. These footpegs feel MUCH safer than the stockers since they actually fit my big feet. The OEM shifter was not working for me with my size 14 boots on so I started looking at longer shifters from IMS and others. Eventually, I tried removing the OEM shifter and rotating it up one spline. This worked out great and has given me the room I needed for accurate shifting with boots on, and I saved a few bucks!

The OEM Dunlops were hashed by 3,000 miles so I ordered new Kenda K270's and had them installed at 3,250 miles at Temecula Motorsports. I was sketched out on the way home by the steering with the recommended 21 PSI... but a quick stop and increase to 30 PSI front and 35 PSI rear made it muey bueno.

These 50/50 tires look much gnarlier in person than they did online too. They are a true "all terrain" tire design and a great value in my opinion.
Rox risers 2.5 inch lift, relocated 12v plug and GPS mount. Much more comfortable riding position with the risers on.
I found a guy over on the KLR World forum in CO who had new black shrouds and was looking to trade for silver...

...And a few miles and a few farkles later:

Swapped out the big beak fender for the KTM Supermoto fender (KTM part# 5030801020030), I notice much less wind turbulence on the super slab with this configuration. I also added a Wolfman Small Expedition tank bag for essentials. Then, I chopped the lower reflector off below the license plate and added a Pelican 1520 topbox and new Kenda K270's. I tried the tall Cal-Sci windscreen for awhile but have gone back to the stocker - I like it much better when off road. I also added a Uni air filter and upgraded the sub-frame bolts with set of 8mm bolts from Eagle Mike.

These important modifications have made the KLR a much more capable and comfortable bike for exploring. Nothing beats a spirited ride in the crisp morning air with the open road before you.


Get out there and ride!

Nice bike, many days I have considered selling my bass boat and getting a bike. Does this mean your now BikeDoc?
Do you miss it, or was riding just not your thing?

Oh yeah, I miss it. But, I was at a point where I had too many irons in the fire (still do!) so something had to give - I just wasnt able to get out and ride as much as I wanted, and I decided that I wanted something more street/super slab oriented anyway so EVENTUALLY may get something else. We'll see.
Everyone I meet on a KLR tells me about how great their bikes are on the slab.. Right before I hear about how heavy it is and they loose all the bungee cords that were securing their milk crate.
I just sold my 2008 KLR. I will surely miss the huge gas tank but my KLX 250 is more fun on trails and around town. The only thing the KLR does better is highway.
Kawasaki discontinued the KLR650 awhile back but now they're bringing it back after a 2 year hiatus.

The new and much improved 2022 KLR650 is back with fuel injection, stiffer suspension, optional ABS, and a better doohickey!

This has me SERIOUSLY thinking about getting another KLR!

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