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Old 05-11-2013, 07:08 AM   #1
jayareus OP
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Some last questions about getting a KLR as a student

So I'm a complete beginner looking to get my first bike, and I think I've settled on a KLR, but I want to get some questions out of the way first.

I was thinking a used '08 or '09. How reliable are those for someone who knows nothing about bike maintenance (and doesn't really have the time to learn in the next year or two. I want something trouble free that will start when I need it to)

I'm a medical student who would be using the bike mainly to commute from my apartment to school and to hospitals (mostly a few miles apart and without highways), but would occasionally need to keep up on the freeway (maybe 70ish mph?).

I need a bike that has a way to transport a briefcase and medical supplies in waterproof fashion (I thought of getting a side case big enough for this? and keeping a rain suit in the other one? is this realistic?)

I need a bike that will be reliable in the cold of winter, when there is maybe some ice on the ground (since I don't have a long commute I was hoping I could use this as my main form of transportation... is this a really dumb idea?)

It seems like a great beginner bike from all I've read, I just need to make sure it fits my needs before I commit. I'm 6'2 so I think I'm tall enough, and love the option to take it on fire roads and camping trips.

Is this the right bike for me? Is there a better one out there? The only other very beginner-friendly bike I've seen suggested as much would be the tu250x, and my fear with that bike is weighing it down with a suitcase and books in panniers would make it too slow on the highway, and that it wouldn't preform as well in the winter as a dual sport would on ice. Am I sorely mistaken?

Thanks for any and all the help!
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:14 AM   #2
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The KLR would be a fine choice. I dont know about riding on ice though. Slick conditions can be negotiated if you take your time, but I don't recommend it. Especially with other traffic to think about.

The KLR will do 70 easily, and can handle a heavy load. It gets great mileage as well - I put a 16T front sprocket on my old KLR, and it got 60 mpg.
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:24 AM   #3
flyaway
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KLR is a good choice. Find one that looks as close to stock as possible so you don't have to diagnose someone else's handy work if something goes wrong. You don't have to limit yourself to the 2nd gen either, the 1st gen models are great, but perhaps less highway-worthy. I had one that did fine up to 65 or so, then it was a little precarious, but that's a combination of a lot of different factors. Invest in some crash bars and beefy handguards, because you'll probably drop it. Most people drop their first bike in parking lots or their driveway.
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:29 AM   #4
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Yes, but

Sure, a KLR650 as a first bike is doable, and certainly it is a practical pig, good for your intended purposes.

Just one question regarding your height, since the KLR is pretty tall. Have you sat on one? I have no problems with a 34 inch inseam. But some short guys will do mods to lower the seat or suspension to get more of their feet on the ground.

And riding on ice? I would have a backup transportation plan for those conditions.
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Old 05-11-2013, 10:51 AM   #5
Kommando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayareus View Post
So I'm a complete beginner looking to get my first bike, and I think I've settled on a KLR, but I want to get some questions out of the way first.

I was thinking a used '08 or '09. How reliable are those for someone who knows nothing about bike maintenance (and doesn't really have the time to learn in the next year or two. I want something trouble free that will start when I need it to)

I'm a medical student who would be using the bike mainly to commute from my apartment to school and to hospitals (mostly a few miles apart and without highways), but would occasionally need to keep up on the freeway (maybe 70ish mph?).

I need a bike that has a way to transport a briefcase and medical supplies in waterproof fashion (I thought of getting a side case big enough for this? and keeping a rain suit in the other one? is this realistic?)

I need a bike that will be reliable in the cold of winter, when there is maybe some ice on the ground (since I don't have a long commute I was hoping I could use this as my main form of transportation... is this a really dumb idea?)

It seems like a great beginner bike from all I've read, I just need to make sure it fits my needs before I commit. I'm 6'2 so I think I'm tall enough, and love the option to take it on fire roads and camping trips.

Is this the right bike for me? Is there a better one out there? The only other very beginner-friendly bike I've seen suggested as much would be the tu250x, and my fear with that bike is weighing it down with a suitcase and books in panniers would make it too slow on the highway, and that it wouldn't preform as well in the winter as a dual sport would on ice. Am I sorely mistaken?

Thanks for any and all the help!
There are many bikes that could do what you ask, but I'd stick with a dualsport for riding in winter. Also have a look at the DR-Z400S, the DR650SE, and WR250R.

The air/oil-cooled DR650SE would be my choice. It's simpler than the KLR. It's slightly lower and lighter. Parts and upgrades are cheap. It's not prone to drinking oil, being vibey on the interstate, or overheating in summer traffic. Throw on a used IMS 5gal tank and a Seat Concepts seat, then make your own $10 windscreen.
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Old 05-11-2013, 11:16 AM   #6
XDragRacer
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Originally Posted by Kommando View Post
The air/oil-cooled DR650SE would be my choice.
Ah, Kommando!

You validate the scripture, "Yea, as the night follows the day, whenever one inquires about acquiring a KLR, the admonition, 'Get a DR!' swiftly follows."
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Old 05-12-2013, 03:07 AM   #7
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But the DR does offer easier maintenance since it's as simple as it gets, and isn't it nearly 70lb lighter than the KLR? Not knocking the KLR, but in this case the DR might be the ticket.

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Old 05-12-2013, 06:46 AM   #8
jayareus OP
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Thanks for all the help so far! How does the dual sport handle wet roads? I've heard conflicting things about tires, etc.
And would it be possible to get waterproof hard side luggage cases that are big enough to hold a suitcase?
Lastly -- I've heard things about burning oil. I'm not too sure what this means or how big of a problem it is. In general, what year models should I be looking for? Anything I should keep an eye out for when checking used bikes? (I've seen 08, 09, and 10 in my price range on craigslist.)
Thanks again!
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayareus View Post
Thanks for all the help so far! How does the dual sport handle wet roads? I've heard conflicting things about tires, etc.
And would it be possible to get waterproof hard side luggage cases that are big enough to hold a suitcase?
Lastly -- I've heard things about burning oil. I'm not too sure what this means or how big of a problem it is. In general, what year models should I be looking for? Anything I should keep an eye out for when checking used bikes? (I've seen 08, 09, and 10 in my price range on craigslist.)
Thanks again!
What year to look for? Any year. FWIW, I never heard of this oil thing until the updated version arrived.

The early version appears to be more crash worthy in terms of less damage in a simple tipover. As a new rider a tipover is likely. Embrace it.

Wet roads affect every bike/tire. Ease into it until you get a feel for where the limits are of your particular combination. My own experience was TKCs scared the bejesus out of me in the rain. 606s not so much. Gripsters gave me the most mileage and worked just fine on dirt roads.

With your stated intended purpose and your height I can't think of a better bike to start with. If you were thinking of immediately getting into off road riding with it I would think again.

Oh, one more thing. Best part of a KLR is you could bolt on suitcases as luggage and it would be right at home. I've seen everything from ammo boxes to coolers hung off the sides. Whatever works.

Good luck in your journey.


Quote:
Originally Posted by XDragRacer View Post
Ah, Kommando!

You validate the scripture, "Yea, as the night follows the day, whenever one inquires about acquiring a KLR, the admonition, 'Get a DR!' swiftly follows."


KLR comes with a ginormous tank. The rest is just foo foo at this stage of the game.
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:39 AM   #10
Argus16
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I lurked at your profile/posts and noticed the other bikes you were/are considering.
Since you're broke (student), the Triumph could give you unexpected expenses.
For right now... the KLR will give you the best bang for your buck. Cheap, plentiful parts, and you can strap anything from high-end luggage to complete DIY bags. Anything goes. Sell it in a pinch if something unexpected happens.

Once you graduate fill your garage with the exotics... and by the time you're my age you can be another middle-aged, overweight, balding, ATGATT-wearing trust-fund baby know-it-all, riding a Touretech-riddled BMW GS.

Just don't forget where you came from.
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Old 05-12-2013, 12:36 PM   #11
Kommando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XDragRacer View Post
Ah, Kommando!

You validate the scripture, "Yea, as the night follows the day, whenever one inquires about acquiring a KLR, the admonition, 'Get a DR!' swiftly follows."
'Too funny. Did I ever say,"Get a DR." though? I think I said,"Have a look at...", or "X would be MY choice.".

Seriously though, if we speak the truth, the problem with this is...?

Besides, why would one consider it "admonishing"? Did the OP ask for advice, or agreement?

It seemed to go unnoticed that checking out some other models of dualsports was also suggested, to find the best fit FOR THE OP. So...I have to wonder if there is some insecurity involved on the part of the KLR Kool-Aid Krowd if they refuse to think outside the box.

I can mount a huge fueltank and a comfortable seat to a '70s Pinto . Does that make it the best touring car for everybody on a budget?

Wait. Maybe that's a poor comparative example.




OP, try on a few different models, in person, before you buy anything. We all might be biased, and it's your money being spent. Not ours.

BTW, anybody who touts the KLR's liquid-cooling and DOHC-actuated shimmed valves as an advantage over SACS and screw/locknut valves has no idea what they're talking about. Ditto if they refer to a DR650 as "air-cooled". A DR isn't a Honda XR650L. Run away and consult a knowledgeable source of why other liquid-cooled DOHC bikes take better advantage of the added complexity of a radiator, waterpump, hoses, possible thermostat, possible fan, and multiple camshafts with shimmed valves than a KLR does. Simple? Somehow, the simpler DR is still generally peppier, and it hardly ever has heat issues, even when modded to 50+WHP. Do your research. The truth is out there, and not in some marketing/cult hype.

Don't get me wrong. There ARE advantages to a KLR over a DR in some cases. More simplicity and more noob-friendly aren't among them.

Kommando screwed with this post 05-12-2013 at 06:09 PM
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Old 05-12-2013, 02:13 PM   #12
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the klr is tall.... that ok with you?

wobblyness in the suspension is largely due to improper servicing of the forks (especially) and the rear shock sag setup. the fork oil needs to be measured with the springs removed and the fork collapsed... there is a distance to measure down to the oil from the top of the fork. distance depends on Generation.... older needs 170mm, newer needs 135. Ricor valves make it better.... 5 wt oil is set to 40mm. I drive mine at 75 all day (16 tooth sprocket)... no wobble

tire choices dictate how they hold the road... same as any other bike. the klr can be driven down right sporty no problem

08 and early 09s have had problems with piston rings that can make them burn oil. the fix is a piston replacement. there are aftermarket kits to make them 685, 688, and 705cc. all are better than stock.

the "doohicky" is a problem. even the Gen II bikes , though not as bad.

theres more.... still interested?
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Old 05-12-2013, 02:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kommando View Post
There are many bikes that could do what you ask, but I'd stick with a dualsport for riding in winter. Also have a look at the DR-Z400S, the DR650SE, and WR250R.
OP - I'm a noob too! Maybe I can clear some things up.

If your commute is mostly at speeds upwards of 40mph, you want the KLR. If not, you want a 250. The KLR is scarier to e.g. wheel around a garage but once you get out on the road, it feels plenty light. Any of the bikes mentioned will do the job you describe just fine - just get the best deal you can.

On "burning oil" - long story short, just glance at your oil level in the sightglass before every ride and you'll be fine. Fill it up and change it as necessary and if it's burning a lot, post up on the forums about it along with any accompanying symptoms.

On beginner's maintenance - if you're riding it mostly on the street where it isn't as dusty, just follow the regular maintenance regimen prescribed in the owner's manual (which you can download online if need be). Especially with respect to oil and air filter changes. KLRs are mostly bulletproof. Try to get one with the doohickey already sorted out but if not, it's not the hardest job in the world.

Consider "drop bars" like those from SW-Motech. Don't beat yourself up if it tips over - it's a big bike and it's your first bike. Get the drops out of your system before you pick up your Aprilia post-graduation.

Prepare yourself for judgment from aforementioned know-it-all trust funds on GSs, as well as flashy hedge managers who have Panigales as their first bikes. You're on a KLR. Haters gonna hate.

I'm also at school and I sure wish I could have a motorbike here! Alas, no real place to keep it unless I want to Graham Jarvis it up a bunch of stairs after every ride...
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Old 05-12-2013, 02:58 PM   #14
Roland44
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Originally Posted by XDragRacer View Post
Ah, Kommando!

You validate the scripture, "Yea, as the night follows the day, whenever one inquires about acquiring a KLR, the admonition, 'Get a DR!' swiftly follows."
lol nice quote, true true ;)
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:18 PM   #15
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KLR's are fine in the rain. Just take it easy.

People freak out about riding in the rain, but as long as your tires are good it's not a big deal. Get gloves with a squeegee on one of the fingers. Wear a bandana or balaclava and waterproof jacket/pants and riding in the rain is a breeze.
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