Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Colstrip, Montana
To tell you a little about myself, i generally tend to ride as much as i can may-september, or as the weather allows here in Montana. Nearly every year in the last decade since high school i have bought a bike or two and have ridden them a fair amount. That being said my riding is better than my writing, so keep that in mind when you read this.
Anyway, the only bikes acquired to date are american and japanese, no european bikes. Yet! Although in the last 5 years all i have bought are harleys and klrs. I always look for deals. Which brings me to the start of my journey. I found a good deal on a 03 FLHTI in march 2012, put a few thousand on that before this trip, liked it quite a bit, but just wasnt what i really needed. Then in may 2012 i found just what i wanted. A 09 KLR with 847 miles on! The bike was stock with the exception of a kawi brand tailbag. The bike had been laid down on gravel on the left side and had some scuff marks on the plastic. The handlebars were also bent, but the owner had a new pair for me to put on. I took my pickup to go get it, which was the right move, since it wouldnt start after i brought a new battery to replace the one in it that was deader than a doornail. Even tried pushing it down the hill, but no go. The owner said it had never started real well anyway, and i suspected that due to the low mileage the carburetor was more than likely completely gummed up. Even so i decided to buy it. For $3100, why not?
That was on May 16th. I knew my time was limited for what i needed to accomplish. First off was to start ordering parts, get them on as quickly as i could, then test it out. I wanted to be prepared for everything on this trip. A lot of extra stuff was bought just in case. My cousin works at a kawi dealer, so i could get parts considerably cheaper from her, than say, online or msrp. She found some SW Motech crash bars and a 4'' taller windshield for me. Then i replaced the junky dunlop k750s with avon gripsters(my personal tire of choise for klrs). Took the rims in to Reiters Kawasaki in billings with the extra tires and they still charged me $40/tire to change and balance them! Enough of this, i'm ordering tire irons and a pump. $12 irons and a $30 pump and i have 1 tire change practically paid for . The chain was rusty, so i threw a new one on. Then did the doohickey of course with the tension spring so i didnt have to monkey with it later in the event the shorter replacement springs(35 or 38mm) bottomed out. Ripped the carb off, cleaned all the gunk out, drilled the slide hole out bigger, put a 42 pilot jet, 152.5 main jet in, shimmed the needle up one, and hooked it back up to the motor. Changed the oil too. With all that i felt more air was a must as well. Drilled the airbox out, added a k&n air filter and DG exhaust pipe and that was that. Decided to check the valves and they were all out of whack. Since the shims are $13 each from the kawi dealer, i did the valves on my 05 klr since it was right there as well. There were 6 valves that needed to be reshimmed between the 2 bikes, and only 1 was the size i needed to reuse. Couldnt find my old shims, so $65 later i had 2 properly shimmed klrs. Also added a thermo-bob to keep me temps in their happy range. Otherwise the needle seems to go all over the place. My 05 klr got one the previous year, and definitely helped keep the temperature consistent for the most part. I didnt have to place aluminum foil over half the radiator now to keep the needle in the proper heat range when i went riding in near freezing conditions.
With that i had the engine part finished, i turned my attention to the body. Needed more room, so i installed the happy trail boxes from my 05 klr. Unfortunately the 09s have a slightly different body. The rear plastic pieces are longer and wider and had to be cut to allow the 3/4'' aluminum frame square tubing to fit. But i got it to fit after a lot of shimming and modifying. Purchased a klr tank bag for it for gps, water bottle, candy, maps, etc. Added a aluminum skid plate, magnetic drain plug, sw motech bars, but forgot to get a pair of highway pegs. Had some cheap ones on my 05 klr, but didnt like them. They vibrate way too much. Thankfully the passenger pegs from my 93 FLSTC fit quite nicely after i drilled the holes out to 3/4''. Thats pretty much it for the bike. Ran like a champ after i went through the carb. Drove around town a little bit and decided it was good to go.
As for me, i knew i wanted to be prepared for just about anything, so i packed a few changes of clothes, leather chaps, long johns, carhartt bibs, ski gloves, face mask, rain pants, toe shoes for warm weather, and waterproof uninsulated hunting boots. I got a my first flip open helmet(Fulmer) that was in really good shape and came with my 03 FLTHI when i purchased it, so that was coming along. And a Joe Rocket waterproof LT jacket that came with my 05 klr. It actually fit really well. I'm 6'1'', 180lbs, so finding jackets that have sleeves with a decent length can be a bit of a challenge at times. Otherwise my wrist freeze when it gets cold out and i get rain and bees and wasps and all sorts of unwanted things down my sleeves. Its kind of sad when some people just give up riding all together when they sell their bikes. I dont think i could ever do that. Of the 12 bikes i bought in the last decade since high school, i have only sold 4 of them. And i didnt give away any apparel either, lol. Other items i deemed appropiate for this trip included, but not limited to: 0 degree mummy sleeping bag, Rand Mcnally US atlas, my trusty TomTom and a 12v cigarette outlet under the seat, Milepost book, probably 10lbs of tools, an extra rear tube, can of chain lube, patch kit with the tire irons and compressor, itouch for wifi spots, k&n filter cleaner, quart of oil, an extra stock air filter for dirty roads, couple rags for dirt, grease, bugs, etc, 6x8' tarp for the occasional monsoon, plenty of tarp straps, a few other miscellaneous items i cant remember, and a brand new $80 fuji 16mp camera from walmart! Woohoo! Theres quality right there.
And of course i needed a big butt seat. Who can leave home without one? The klr stock seat simply isnt made for many hundred mile days. My 05 klr has a flat corbin seat, which is great for offroading when you need to move around on the bike constantly, but for going down the highway they are just terrible. In my experience the stock seat is much better for highway riding than the corbin(yeah i know they are just so popular). I looked at other corbins, sargent seats, a few custom ones, then ended up getting a Terry Adcox seat on ebay for $250. That was close to the end of june and i was starting to get a hankerin' to get on the road pretty bad, so i just paid the $150 core charge(he cuts the old seats up and adds custom foam) to get it here as soon as he was done with it as opposed to sending my seat in, having the foam redone, then wait for the seat to get mailed back. The wings were a firmer foam, and the middle was more of a softer foam. Terry did a good job, he called and asked just what i wanted after i ordered it. Also, i had to figure out where exactly i would normally sit on the seat. That way he could add foam where it would be in a location where it could be most effective. With all that gathered together i had nearly everything i was going to need. I proceedeed to spend the last week pondering anything and everything that i might possibly require for my trip.
Stock vs Big B. Seat
Live free and ride hard.