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Old 04-12-2015, 04:29 PM   #1
Ethanw99 OP
Klr n00b
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Seaford Virginia
Oddometer: 7
Jumped the gun on this one, time for a tear down. Advice will be needed. (KLR 650)

I picked up a 2003 KLR from central PA sometime in late February to replace my 2005 I had and loved but had to sell so I could afford to spend six months hiking 2,180 through the woods. That was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do. Anyways, I decided it's time for a new adventure so I dropped $2,500 on a 2003 with 37,xxx miles...

Here we go.

I probably could of waited for a better deal but this one seemed pretty good from the posting.

Corbin seat
Doohicky done
Top gun chain guide
brush guards
original paint
oversized front rotor
Stainless brake line
Skid plate,
etc. enough farkle to get my attention.

I had my mind set. I drove 6 hours and picked it up.

Here it is when I got it to my house.

Anyone on here recognize is? I'm guessing one of you were the previous owner prior to the kid I bought it from. I say kid pretty loosely, he was probably 25, still five years older then me but who's counting?

The initial inspection and test ride proved to me that it ran well enough and didn't have any obvious problems. There was a noise at startup that sounded like piston slap but i'm not experienced enough to diagnose it accurately.

Time to tear it apart!
This has taken place over the past few weekends in between school and work.

Tank and seat taken off; found my first problem. There was only one bolt holding the tank on under the seat. the other hole was stripped and never fixed.

Exhaust is stock with a welded tip and heat wrap. I ordered a new crush gasket.

Looks like i'll be learning ho to weld. I've been wanting to for a while anyways. Some of the frame is rusting out which will need to be addressed.

Lots of oil underneath the starter, I can't tell where it's coming from yet. I'm hoping its the banjo bolt supplying the oil pipe to the top end. That would be a cheaper fix then a lower cylinder gasket. I'll get to that eventually.

This is the filthiest top end i've ever seen! but i've only ever seen 2 so thats not saying much. I wonder where this leak is coming from? I'm going to replace the valve cover gasket and valve cover bolt gaskets and hope that solves it.

First look at the exhaust valves, ive got some cleaning to do.

Hey, a Thermobob! That's a nice surprise! Notice the oil build up on the front of the top end.

The footpegs look like ims superstocks but i don't see any markings. Im happy with them. Looks like the cut off switch was taken off the kickstand also.

Top Gun chain guide, I don't know much about these.

Aftermarket rear suspension. I'll have to look more into this later but it felt good during the test ride.

Beat up aluminum skid plate, its a nice touch.

Oversized front rotor and braided stainless line. It's getting pretty close to its service limit, I'll keep that in mind.

Mirror relocater, brush guards, aftermarket bars, etc.

Does anyone know what this is? I don't remember it from my last bike.

Looks like the seal on the shifter and left side inner and outer gaskets should be replaced. I already have my order placed with Eagle Mike for most of the parts.

Oversized clutch lever, i've hearrd good things about these.

Looks like another welding job.

I drained the oil. No metal on the magnetic plug, that's good at least. How necessary is it to replace these washers?

At least no one throw the oil filter rod out!

Oil built up on the valve cover bolt gasket. I'll replace these. I'm just glad the bolts weren't stripped!

Plenty more to come! I'm pretty tired and have work early tomorrow. I have a lot of plans for this bike and a lot of questions to go with them.
I really want to thank everyone who contributes to this site and posts such detailed procedures. Thanks for inspiring me to do the same! Hopefully someone will benefit from seeing my mistakes just like I have from so many of you. I'm kidding, the collective knowledge on this site is amazing.
Stay tuned for more!
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Old 04-14-2015, 09:56 AM   #2
Semi-reformed Tsotsi
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: South Texas
Oddometer: 1,859
Welcome back!

Glad you are doing the work yourself. If we can help, we will.

Seems a previous owner had some right ideas with the additional parts. Oil leaks can be fixed.

Interesting rust areas. Bike must have been outside most of the time?

Keep us informed of your progress.
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Old 04-14-2015, 12:36 PM   #3
CA Stu
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Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Riverside, CA
Oddometer: 47,564
Looks like the majority of the rust/welding needed is on the rear subframe?

Might be an idea to price a subframe off ebay (they go for less that $40 all day, any one from a pre-2008 model will fit) and get the improved subframe bolt kit to install at the same time.

If you absolutely must get jiggy with a welder, you could always weld up some gussets...
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Old 04-14-2015, 12:55 PM   #4
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Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Fort Lupton Colorado
Oddometer: 16
This is a flasher for your turn signals. Good luck with your project.

  1. 1997 XR 600R - FMF Power Core 4 - Uni Filter - Snorkel Removed.
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Old 04-14-2015, 02:41 PM   #5
RandoCommando's Avatar
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Philthadelphia, Pennsylvania
Oddometer: 1,444
Originally Posted by Ethanw99 View Post

Top Gun chain guide, I don't know much about these.

It's to prevent the chain from hitting the air box and putting a hole in it.
1999 KLR 650 (her name is KLaRissa) DOOHICKEY DONE!
2013 BMW F800GS (her name is FranGelicaS)
Please. Ride careful, ride safe, ride defensively! This thread should be mandatory reading!
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:02 AM   #6
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Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Central Coast, Cal
Oddometer: 4,903
I hope you didn't pay too much for it.

The photo of the exhaust port seems to indicate it's burning oil. Weird noise on start up combined with this, it's time for a top end. 685 kit.
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Old 04-15-2015, 05:08 PM   #7
CA Stu
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Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Riverside, CA
Oddometer: 47,564
Originally Posted by Kawidad View Post
I hope you didn't pay too much for it.

The photo of the exhaust port seems to indicate it's burning oil. Weird noise on start up combined with this, it's time for a top end. 685 kit.
reread the first post: "I dropped $2,500 on a 2003 with 37,xxx miles..."
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Old 04-15-2015, 05:50 PM   #8
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Joined: Oct 2007
Location: Central Wisconsin
Oddometer: 1,129

it would seem to me that the previous owner certainly got his use out of this bike... I sold an xr650L salvage title, proper carb mods with the improved 2nd gear from an nx650, clark 4 gal tank, with a JE piston to make it a 660ish cc and an added kickstart for $1700. The fact is it was leaking in an odd fashion and I did not want to tear it apart again. My bike looked an was much cleaner than this one. The salvage title was due to a coworker (previous owner) of mine during a rain induced flood. That day, I told him to drain the oil, add new and drive home.... a year later I bought it from him for $500. Drained the oil (and water) jumped it, with new oil of course, and got it running 4 days after purchase. Over the years I added all of the previously mentioned stuff (except for the tank). It leaked oil onto the rear brake. from where I do not know... Probably the case halves. I sold it telling the buyer all of this.

That is $800 less than your bike, and I do not feel bad in any way since I disclosed it at purchase.
Another inmate stole my Avatar...
WR250R... 15 cubic inches of raw power.
WRr re-build
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Old 04-16-2015, 10:29 AM   #9
Ethanw99 OP
Klr n00b
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Seaford Virginia
Oddometer: 7

Thank you to everyone who's responded with advice. I'm sure I'll need plenty more before this is over.

General consensus seems to be that I payed top dollar for a piece of junk...

Oh well, lets see what my options are.

If you read through the rest of the post you'll see what I'm getting at.

I'm thinking it will definitely need a valve job and probably a 685 kit. This will essentially make the engine new, wont it? Of course I'll go through the lower end and all the rest and replace/fix anything that needs it.

The radiator and fan hardware was well rusted and corroded. I'll just have to remove the whole thing as an assembly and deal with that later.

I'll be sure to not over tighten these.

I got my first look at the cams and they don't look too bad. No obvious scoring or discoloration. That's one less thing to worry about at least.

The threaded holes to the leaky valve cover bolts also looked good. Hopefully replacing the bolt gaskets will solve the leak. If not, I can easily install some stainless helicoils and snug the bolts down. If worse comes to worse, ill throw some #2 permitex on them.

The left side also looked good from the initial inspection.

Time to pull the carb and get the cams out.

I noticed one of the tubes coming out the top of the carb was plugged. I'm assuming this is the vacuum line. It starts to make sense when i found that one of the lines coming out of the petcock also disconnected.

The guy I bought the bike from gave me a bunch of spare parts from the previous owner. There was a bag with a plastic cap, an aluminum square plate with four holes in it, and a matching gasket and bolts. Im assuming its a manuel petcock blockoff plate

I wonder why he didn't install it? I guess I might as well when I put the carb back on.

Here is the plugged line.

A better view to where it comes from.

Removing and labeling the push pull lines.

It'll definitely need a thorough cleaning.

I didnt take any pictures of the disassemble and cleaning of it. There's plenty of information avalible for anyone who needs to know how to clean it.

I soaked all the non rubber and plastic parts in acetone for a while and scrubbed all the extra carbon buildup off of it. It wasn't bad at all.

I also found that the needle was shimmed with one washer and the hole was drilled out as required for the $0.22 mod.

It cleaned up very well.

I also replaced the hardware with new stainless washers and anodized SHCS's

I pulled all the fairings off and set the damaged ones aside for sanding and re rattlecan-ing.

I'll deal with that later.

I also pulled out the air filter. It was FILTHY! There was all kinds of debris in the
airbox. Hopefully a new filter and some cleaning will go a long way.

Could this color be because dirt stuck to the oil the filter was treated with?

Time to pull the cam caps and take the cams out after I measure the initial valve clearence.

This is where the project started becoming more hands on and I slacked with taking pictures. There's plenty of good tutorials online for preforming valve adjustments.

Valve clearance

For my intake valves, I measured the clearance to be 0.005 (in) for both of the valves while the engine was at TDC. This is still within specification but ill probably want to open up the clearance to give them more room to shrink over time. They both had #260 shims.

Again, the engine was at TDC with the cams pointing outward front and back.

The exhaust valves were a different story. I struggled to get my 0.0015 feeler gauge under the right one and could fit nothing at all under the left. I could rotate both shims but it took a significant amount of effort. This alone was reason to pull hte whole top end apart and see what was going on in there.

New oem gaskets for the valve cover and upper cylinder are on the way.

When i was removing the cam caps, I got excited and I forgot to remove the cam chain tensioner. Hopefully this wont cause any major problems, I took it off right after I removed the cams. I dont have any pictures of them but they looked really good. No scoring or discoloration at all in the seats. Hopefully this means the bike was never run low on oil.

Time to remove the top end.

I mainly followed the Clymer manual for this part.

I pulled off the coolant temperature line and was somewhat surprised when there was no temperature regulator in it. It would make sense to remove it while installing the Thermobob though. There was only an o-ring sealing it.

Next i removed the starter to get to the oil supply pipe and to just make life easier.

Anyone know where this oil could be leaking from? I'm still thinking its the lower banjo bolt.

After removing the two bolts and the electronic connection, a couple gentle taps with a dead blow and the starter popped off of the left side case no problem.

The next step was to remove the banjo bot and the TWO WASHERS on either side of it. They're easy to lose. I also took off the two acorn nuts from the bottom, back side of the head.

in this picture it looks like the oil may be coming from my lower cylinder.

Dont forget these two bolts up front!

For some reason, this second one is a SHCS

After working to get the bolts that go through it out, it came off with a couple taps from a deadblow.

After initial inspectiin, the exhaust valves looked like they had uneven wear on them. I'll have to do something about all that buildup. Is this from burning oil

The piston didn't look too great either, but ive seen pictures of worse on here.

Ive got some cleaning to do! Does this look like its worth doing the 685 upgrade kit?

If anyone sees anything alarming please let me know! My knowledge of engines is limited to replacing the doohicky and impeller shaft on an 05 KLR (after I over tightened the shaft and snapped the end off...)

Now im the proud owner of 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch torque wrenches.

You learn from your mistakes I guess.
Hopefully being active on this forum will save me from a similar headache.
This is slowly proving to be more of a problem then I though initially. Do you guys think its worth putting the time and money into fixing it? Would it be better to clean it up, put it back together and sell it to break even and buy something better? I'm already this far into it, I'm tempted to push forward and spend the money to fix it up and (hopefully) ride it until i get my moneys worth out of it.

Valve Work

I decided the next best step was to disassemble the valves and check to see what needs to be done.

This was extremely hands on so I didn't get many pictures in the process.

Advance autoparts has a tool rental program where you can rent valve compressors for free. (I don't have a C clamp big enough.) Its designed for larger heads so I still had to use a socket to compress the top end of the valve and remove the keepers. I cleaned everything up and this is what it looked like.

Here are the tops of the valves.

The left exhaust valve (LE) (top right), looks to me like it is more burn on the top face then any other valve, its also smaller in overall OD then the right exhaust Valve.This would makes sense due to the negligence in checking valve clearance by the previous owner.

The intake valves still look great and are completely within tolerance stated in the Clymer manual.


No runout in the stem

Intake guides both measured an ID of 0.275+, meaning their inside size is at least 0.275 and less then 0.276


Also true within 0.001

Both intake valves were within tolerance with every measurement i took including clearance which i will adjust to give more room for shrinkage.

Exhaust Valves

These are a different story, they definitely need some work.

I'll start off with the guides. From the underside, they both had the same ID measurement of 0.275+. From the top side, 0.276+ will start and go about an eighth of an inch down. Only expansion of less then 0.001 so I think i can live with it. They're still within tolerance afterall.

The guides have defiantly been through some heat.

In comparison to the intake guides.


No runout at least!

And finally, here's the problem valve.


I'm no expert on valves, in fact, this is my first time even looking at them in person but I don't think they should look like this. It may be hard to see but it looks like all the metal underneath of where the valve seats is being slowly burnt away. Is this because it wasn't closing all the way? The margin on top above the seat was also very small.

A little less then 0.001 of runout in it, so that's not bad.

Having never done valve work, I'm not sure what to do at this point. I would be very grateful for advice from someone more qualified then myself.

What my thoughts on a resolution to the problem should be.

*Replace both exhaust valves with Schnitz stainless steel Exhaust Valves
*replace all valve seals with vitan seals from Eagle Mike (which I already bought)
*get my exhaust valve seats remachined (more on this later)
*lap the Intake valves to reduce potting (pictures below)
*remeasure clearance from cams and buy appropriate shims


Here are each of the valve seats. Can the potting on the intake valves be taken care of by laping?

That's all for now, I may try to break into the lower end tomorrow. My flywheel puller bolt came in from EM. Getting all these new gaskets on would be nice.

I'm learning a lot! Thanks again for the help!

Am I on the right track with this project or am I biting off more then I can chew?
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Old 04-16-2015, 10:52 AM   #10
Ethanw99 OP
Klr n00b
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Seaford Virginia
Oddometer: 7
Originally Posted by Kawidad View Post
I hope you didn't pay too much for it.

The photo of the exhaust port seems to indicate it's burning oil. Weird noise on start up combined with this, it's time for a top end. 685 kit.

I definitely did. The seller was dishonest but its my own fault. That new bike excitement was too much for me, I'll have to learn from my mistakes.

Do you think its worth doing the 685 kit and a valve job on a bike with 37,XXX miles?
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Old 04-16-2015, 11:00 AM   #11
Ethanw99 OP
Klr n00b
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Seaford Virginia
Oddometer: 7
Small update

Larry McBride "spiderman" is the man who set the speed record in 2008 for the fastest 1/4 mile on a motorcycle. 250Mph in less then six seconds.

Him and his brother have an extremely well outfitted shop and extensive knowledge on MC repairs and machining. His shop happens to be right down the street from me. I took my head in this morning and had him look at it and asked him for advice. He told me that the valve guides were fine but it would be a good idea to replace the exhaust valves (which are junk) and I might as well replace the intake while im at it. He can cut the seats and do all the machining I need done.

I trust his opinion considering his expertise.

He also said he could do all the work I need done for a 685 kit if i go that route. I think i'm leaning this way, The valves need to be done for sure, and i might as well do the 685. I really don't want to spend the money but i do want to get rolling.

Can anyone give me a good reason not to do this?
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Old 04-16-2015, 12:30 PM   #12
CA Stu
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Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Riverside, CA
Oddometer: 47,564
685 kit is definitely a good idea.
My bike ran smoother and had noticeably more power after I installed mine and the "Fat Head".
It's still not a rocket, but now when I twist the throttle it goes faster instead of just getting noisier.

As far as the vacuum line, the stock petcock is vacuum activated.
He must have installed the block off kit otherwise the petcock wouldn't have flowed fuel at all...

Valves - set to looser end of spec. Tappy valves are happy valves.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:38 PM   #13
Ethanw99 OP
Klr n00b
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Seaford Virginia
Oddometer: 7
New valves, moving right along

So I decided im in in this to the end. If anything, it'll be worth the mechanical experience, hopefully...

So two new intakes and two new exhaust valves are on the way. I went with the .5mm over-sized and .01" shorter stainless valves from schnitz to give Larry McBride more room when he cuts thee seats. I toured his shop today and it was absolutely incredible.

Does putting in oversized valves mean that i have to do the 685 kit now? I'm halfway planning on it anyways, just waiting on another paycheck. I figured since i already have the thermobob, I might as well.

Hopefully I'll have time to pull the lower end apart while im waiting on the parts.
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Old 04-16-2015, 10:50 PM   #14
Joined: Mar 2015
Location: Suisun City, California, USA
Oddometer: 2
Great Job! Keep it going!

You are doing all of the right things. Just keep your head down and just keep pressing forward. Setbacks will normally occur during this type of project even for the most experienced maintenance techs. Just know that no matter what they are, with a mixture of time, money, and gumption you can overcome them all. I myself just reached the end of my own project with a klx250s. I got the sour end of the deal on a bike that had some demons deep inside. But, thats all behind me now, just as sure as this will be behind you soon. Good luck and enjoy the whole experience. Bill
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Old Yesterday, 06:26 AM   #15
Beastly Adventurer
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Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Central Coast, Cal
Oddometer: 4,903
There's another inmate whose doing a complete KLR rebuild. He is taking some really good photos. Those might be of assistance to you in your project.

Honestly, with 37k on the clock and (very) neglectful PO, I'd say you'd be better off pulling the whole motor apart, check everything out, and the replace the bearings and then installing the 685 kit. You'll never get your money back, so you might as well build it up right and enjoy it.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Juvenal
(Who watches the watchers)
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