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Helpful Hints for a new D.P. rider

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I have joined the ranks of the dual purpose riders and am still very active in serious trail riding / racing on my other dirt bikes. I picked up a 2001 KLR 650 with 8500 miles on it. I have road the KLR on 170 miles of good trail and 2 track. I believe if you ride these things hard enough, you will not only have a great time, but will get some good cross-training conditioning for the other dirtbiking in the off season, etc. I plan on installing the dohicky cam chain adjuster. I am also going to get a metal skid plate, cruiser pegs, Tusk D bark buster protection and D606 Dunlops for the first set of tires. I want to do some suspension work as it is time for oil & seals change and oil change & charge for the rear shock. I am an upper B class rider, weight is 205 lbs with no gear on at 6’.1”. My riding is going to be more towards the aggressive trail and two track riding with maybe 10 to 30% pavement riding. So I need the pro advice from all you seasoned D.P. riders who still love the dirt and difficult trail rides to advise me on the following questions: :worthy:

1. What is the weight range of the rider that these KLR’s are spung for when they come from the factory?

2. Are dual rate springs front & rear good for more aggressive riding and what is the fork oil level and oil weights recommended?

3. What are the recommended suspension sag (race sag) settings?

4. What is a good GPS to use that you can download / upload trails, etc. and mount to the handlebars?

5. What kind of hands-free 2 way radio systems are good to use?

6. What kind of saddle bags do you recommend; I am looking at Panniers from Happy Trail @Boise, ID. I live 20 miles away from their shop.

7. What kind of 12 volt cig. lighter attachment console,etc. do I want to get so I can plug my IPODs, GPS, radios, etc. into.

8. What brand of heated grips do you recommend?

9. What kind of radiator guards to use?

10. Has anyone had an experience siping front & rear tires for better traction, wet conditions etc.?

11. Has anyone done any tire studding for winter riding?

12. How about gel seat covers for those 200 mile plus riding days?

13. Just any good tips or URL for websites with helpful hints etc. is all good too.

So anyway, that’s a lot of questions for a first post, but I appreciate any neat hints you can submit.

“Remember, these are not just mere rides, these are excellent adventures!” :busted:

Best regards & thanks,

Dano 👍 SIDRA #2m

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I'll answer a few of your questions.

1. Not sure what the intended rider weight is from the factory, but like a lot of bikes, suspension is unbalanced. The front end is too soft and the rear shock, being of a simple emulsion type, has little adjustment and the preload adjuster has a history of breaking.

2. The hot setup suspension-wise right now seems to be stiffer fork springs and the Race Tech emulators. You can get both straight rate and progressive rate springs. Cogent Dynamics sells what they call a dual rate spring which is very popular, as is their Moab rear shock, which as of today is probably the best shock for the KLR.

I run the Moab shock in the rear and Progressive fork springs and Race Tech emulators up front, 10wt oil at 170mm.

3. As with any bike, your sag is going to be 1/3 of total travel.

4. I use the Garmin 60cx. I have it hardwired using the existing "city lights" wiring behind the dash. Mounted on a RAM handlebar mount. Has worked very well.

6. I use the soft saddlebags instead of the hard panniers. I debated over each when outfitting my bike. After doing research on pros and cons of each and rider preference for the types of riding, I decided soft bags are more forgiving in a crash when riding offroad and less susceptible of injuring you should you get a leg caught under them or such. I use the Cortech bags but if I had to do it again I would go with the Nelson Rigg 800 series. Both are good bags tho.

7. I have both the SAE and cigar type plugs wired on my bike. I use the SAE plug for things like my air compressor and battery tender and the cigar type for charging my cell phone, iPod and such. One thing about that type, you have to figure a way of keeping from them vibrating out. Wal Mart sells a 12v receptacle with spring loaded cover that's nice.

8. There are several brands to be had and reports on all of them. Do a search on some of the KLR specific forums. I haven't had a need for them.

9. I use the Happy Trails full wrap around guards with the engine guard/Highway pegs piece. I got a good look at the SW Moto guard last week and it's nice too, but as far as I know, currently has no provision for Hiway pegs. You'd have to try mounting some separate, plus the guard only works with their skidplate. Won't fit with another brand skidplate installed.

12. I use a Wal mart ATV seat cover on top of my stock seat and then an Alaska Leather sheepskin on top of that. Besides covers, there are a few different aftermarket seats that are popular, the Corbin Flat being one of them.

13. There are a few good KLR specific forums with all the info you could ever want.



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Hi Trailryder,

Thanks a ton for all the excellent info! I see you are a man after my own heart, I also have an 04 XR400 for my desert racing bike and a 93 XR250 for my serious trail adventures, like carrying the bike across the river on your back type rides, mountain goat trails, etc.

I will use some of your ideas right away and check out the other sites.

I have already named my KLR "Hogg-Snurdly and we are going to have some excellent exploring adventures. I live a few miles from Owhyee county in Southern Idaho. The county is huge and has some of the largest desert canyons around, my cuz and I will be checking it out the 20th of this month via our KLR's.

Thanks & Best Regards,


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Hey Dano,

I rode with a guy by that name in Idaho back in 2000 during a spodefest put on by a guy named David J. We rode out of Chemeketan CG. Had a blast on my XR in that beautiful country.

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