So why did I choose the KLR? After I decided to do the trip I started researching all of the various adventure bikes. I spent months trawling through countless forums and reviews and it came down (for me) to three bikes. The BMW F650GS, The updated Yamaha Tenere and the Kawasaki KLR650. I then set about pricing each bike up including all of the accessories I'd need.
I was really keen on the BMW but it was a lot more expensive than the other two bikes and then in late 2008 they changed the design of the 650 to be more street friendly. Yeah I really needed that for this trip. However they had also released the new F800GS. A real cool looking bike that was getting rave reviews. The thing that killed it for me was it only had a 12 litre tank, useless in outback WA!
The Yamaha looked awesome but the new design was just that, new. How reliable was it. I rang Yamaha Aus and asked when the Tenere was going to launched in OZ. To my disappointment they told me it would not be here for another year or two because of the high demand for the bike in Europe. They ended up realising it two months after I brought the KLR!
So I started seriously looking at the KLR. Kawasaki had brought out the "new" model the year before. Really though they had just tweaked the engine and updated the fairing. The overall design hadn't changed in 20 odd years. That really appealed to me because a) I realised it was a really reliable bike and b) someone with my very limited mechanical skills would stand at least half a chance of keeping it going. I booked in for test ride and fell in love with the bike. I brought a brand new Red 2009 model that day.
Now that I had the bike I started looking at the setup. The bike has two Achilles heals. The doohickey and the week upper sub-frame bolts. These were the two things I HAD to fix. The exciting thing though was the huge amount of other mods I could also do to the bike.
The first things I ordered were the doohickey, bash plate, engine guard (with highway pegs ye ha) and engine bars (to the protect radiator) from Happy Trail in the US. I had to talk my local mechanic into installing the doohickey. He thought I was mad until he heard the bike run with the doohickey installed. Purrs like a kitten now and I only had 6000km on the clock when I changed it out.
The bash plate and bar work are great. Easy to install and the highway pegs a fantastic when the legs and bum get a little tired.
The next mod was replacing the OEM foot pegs with a set of Pivot Pegs made here in Oz. I love these pegs, the bike feels much more responsive.