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Old 02-22-2013, 09:41 AM   #1
Qaz OP
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Looking to get a single?

I have a few questions about the DR650 vs KLR650 in particular.
Does the DR650 use the Doohicky like the KLR? If not, how is it counter balanced?
I know this is subjective, but which is smoother (vibrates less)? The engine is usually the biggest culprit as far as vibration, but other components also contribute to it also.
I do not like to fix problems the factory should have engineered out of them (Doo-hickey). What are some of the other problems that have cropped up on these two bikes?
Which one is more likely to go 50-60,000 miles with the least amount of repairs?

Thanks for any help!
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:07 AM   #2
VooDooDaddy
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The short answer: DR650

No doohicky. Simple, air-cooled, very smooth at highway speed cuz its counterbalanced, easy to work on, parts available and unchanged since 1996, huge aftermarket support, lots of ADVers to give advice.

DR650 just as good on the street/highway as the KLR, but better off-road than the KLR.

Tons of peeps who have 50, 60, 100k miles on their DR650's. Follow the maintanence schedule and they are almost unbreakable.

See the big DR650 thread.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:15 AM   #3
Canuman
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The DR is a better bike for people of smaller stature (under 6'), while the KLR tends to fit larger people more comfortably. Both have a very long production history and a ton of aftermarket. It is quite common to see the miles you mentioned on either with basic maintenance.

I have experience with an '07 KLR, and have generally found it to be reliable. Between June and July of last year, I rode over 5000 miles on and off-road. The only mechanical issues I experienced were a snapped clutch cable and a flat tire. I also own a DRZ400, so I am not at all adverse to riding Suzukis.

I've ridden 500+ days on the slab on my KLR. It's a thumper, so don't expect turbine smoothness. Properly set up, I find the vibration level to be acceptable. The stock KLR foot pegs quell quite a lot of vibration, but off-road they are a joke.

Besides the doohickey, known flaws on the KLR are a rather weak shift lever, bolts in the subframe that could be beefier, and a marginal front brake. The '08 models have a reputation for being oil burners. In my experience, the "new" KLR is somewhat fragile off-road. Everyone I've seen who rides theirs hard in the woods has cracked bodywork at one time or another.

The primary advantages of the KLR, in my view, are more comfortable ergonomics, a larger stock fuel range, and a better seat. The KLR fairing offers better wind protection.

The DR is lighter and better suspended, and does not have a doohickey. Although air-cooling may seem primitive to some, it reduces the complexity of the bike as well as the weight. I have never heard of a cooling fan failure on a DR, nor has anyone ever damaged their radiator!

Both bikes need work to be adventure capable. Expect to buy racks, skid plates, and real hand guards at a minimum.

If I were forced to choose between the two at this moment, my choice would come down to which dealer offered the best local support. Our local Kaw dealer went TU, and their service was never very good. There are two remaining Kaw dealers within 50 miles. One has a poor reputation for service, and the other is relatively new. My experience with the new dealer has been moderately positive.

Our Suzuki dealer, on the other hand, is extremely service-oriented, well-established, and has an excellent reputation.

I am not likely to trade my '07 KLR for a DR any time soon. However, if I were looking to purchase new at this time, I would have to take a very long look at the Suzuki. I my opinion, it has stayed true to its dual-sport roots better than the KLR has. As I've replaced the bars, fairing, front fender, foot pegs, shifter, gas tank, skid plate, and a pile of of other parts, I am very satisfied with its capabilities. I'm sure that similar program on the DR would make the ergonomics more acceptable to me. The difference in weight between the two would be a major consideration. Even with an aftermarket tank, the DR weighs as much loaded up for touring as a new KLR with no baggage at all. On a 90 degree day in the sands of upper Michigan, a 50-60 lb. weight difference is huge!
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:23 AM   #4
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the DR is a good bike but has a few quirks too. 3rd gear blow ups & counter shaft seals that blow out come to mind. older ones have cylinder base gasket leaks.

the KLR has better wind protection & is a better hiway ride. no bike has more farkles except Harley. no problem finding help... the klr650.net site has almost 50,000 members. I would also say that no single model of bike has logged more adventure/dualsport miles than the KLR if for no other reason than it has been around so long.

anyway... do some research, there must be a 100 threads like this where the pro/cons are discussed
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:42 AM   #5
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Here's a very nice thread with a DR adventure build. There are many more for either bike.

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=712386
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:55 AM   #6
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Also look at the prices. Around my area, DRs go for a grand more. That is a reason I went with the KLR. (had to buy 2 of the same bikes so that was 2 grand total)
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:20 PM   #7
trainman
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I have owned 4 KLR 650's and 1 DR 650, personally I liked both bikes, probably the DR was better off road. Both bikes you can't go wrong with, I would take the KLR just because I like them. Never had a breakdown, repairs were only what I damaged (plastic), and sold them all for more then I paid for them. All were purchased used and were in the 3000-7000 mile range. The doohickey is over rated, I've never seen one go bad and I ride with riders that have KLR's that have not had them installed. I did put them on the KLR's that I owned, just because of when I sold the bike some asked about it, it's a $40.00 part from Eagle Mike's. Forty dollars on a motorcycle is nothing and as far as buying a motorcycle that is perfect they all will need some type of upgrade or modification to improve something the factory overlooked. KLR's will go easily 75,000-85,000 miles without and overhaul, reason water cooled bikes just run cooler and save engine ware. The KLR is a 425lb. bike that is not great at anything, but not bad either, it's Kawasaki's number 4 seller world wide, do you think the doohickey slowed down sales, I don't think so. I don't think vibration is a problem with the KLR, but you need to ride one, then ride other singles and you can see the difference between them. The KLR will also have a 6.0 gallon fuel tank, windshield, and a luggage rack, on the DR 650 you will have to purchase them extra. Only reason I don't have a KLR 650 anymore is at 67 I now want a bike that weights less, I just purchased the new 2013 Honda DRF250L, what a great bike, you might check it out if your riding will be more dirt roads then highway and your top speeds will be under 70mph.
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:30 PM   #8
Canuman
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Here's a very nicely set up DR which appears to be quite a bargain in the Flea Market:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=848267
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:09 PM   #9
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I had the same questions a couple of years back and chose a KLR for a couple of reasons, there are a lot more used ones on the market to choose from and they were at least a thousand dollars less.

I found a nicely kept and farkled 04, rode it a year and put 18000 trouble free miles on it and got most of my money back from the sale. Just my opinion but the doohickey is an easy fix, yes it should have been addressed and wasn't but for myself the oil burning of some KLR's and the third gear issues with the occasional DR is a far larger concern.

Enjoy whichever you choose,
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:19 PM   #10
Jeathrow Bowdean
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You can't go wrong with either bike, but the weight factor of the Dr 650 adds more fun for off road, and on the hyw with a bit of off road, I'd pick the KLR.
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Old 02-22-2013, 07:53 PM   #11
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To answer the OPs question; the DR uses a gear driven counter balancer which can not come out of time. Also to clarify, the DR is air/OIL cooled. It has an oil cooler (oil radiator) and oil jets that squirt oil at the under side of the piston to directly cool it. This explains why the DR easily lasts as long as the KLR and has no water pump to fail or radiator to puncture. There is an oil pump but it does not have seals that separate coolant from oil so there is much less to fail, The oil cooler is just added protection, and if punctured can be bypassed without causing over heating. If you think about it the venerable XRL does not have an oil cooler at all, or oil jets for the pistons. Of course they are prone to high temp oil starvation issues because of this. That is why I prefer the DR.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:14 PM   #12
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For god's sake if you do buy a KLR, please don't buy a post 2006. Holy hell the newer KLR's are some of the ugliest bikes I have ever seen.

IMHO, any bike should have some kind of 'cool factor' otherwise it ain't worth having. When I see the newer KLR's, I immediately think..."old fart".

Going one further, every new KLR sold should come with a T-shirt that says, " F*ck it, I give up".
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:03 AM   #13
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yes, the "new" klr went the wrong way (unless you want to ride mostly on the road). looks to me like they were trying to compete with the weestrom, which is a totally different bike.

the "doo" is a problem in all years. I have changed somewhere between 3-4 dozen.... there were many bad ones. I have also seen a couple engines killed by doo parts. the good news as mentioned above is that $40 fixes it.

my klr with kawi fabric saddle bags, wolfman expedition tank bag, nerf bars, road tools, and full oil, coolant, and fuel (5.7 gal, not 6.1) weighed 418 on certified aircraft scales. fuel is 6 pounds per gal
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:52 PM   #14
Qaz OP
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I live on the east coast and we have alot of good off road riding, but the pictures I see of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, etc... just pull me like a magnet. What is a realistic number of Highway miles a person could do comfortably in a 8-10 hour day on these bikes. I have limited vacation time, so sometimes you just need to get there! I understand that both are probably better on secondary roads and the big GS is more at home on the interstate, but the GS is out of my price range.
I followed the link posted by Canuman and if I had to do that much work to a bike to to travel on it, I would buy a different bike, a KTM.
Some say Kawasaki went the wrong direction with the KLR, but are the 2008-13 less trail worthy if you discount the fairing. It is my understanding that the changes that were made were ones that KLR owners requested. Were those the adventure riders or the road riders? If it is true that the DR is the new RTW bike, then will Suzuki go the same direction as the KLR?
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Old 02-23-2013, 08:46 PM   #15
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KLR owners wanted more power, lighter weight, better suspension, and a 6th gear... and if we had to choose only one, pretty sure it would be 6th gear. we didn't get any of that. the brakes are better on the new one & the front suspension a bit too, but those are pretty easy to fix on the Gen I bike if you want to.

I ride 300 mile days pretty regular on the KLR. 400 once in a while. more is possible, mostly depends on you & which seat you have.

usually when I do a long trip I take my GS... which BTW it's a fantastic dirt road bike. no way in hell would I take it places I take my KLR on a regular basis. some guys can ride rough on the GS, but there are definite limits... it's 100 pounds more bike. getting back on the KLR after riding the GS feels like getting on a bicycle.

if you don't worry about the Gen II plastic then I don't think there is much difference between the bikes. the plastic gives better wind protection, but it's a hassel to remove & install for maintenance.

a Gen I KLR needs: a seat, a braided steel front brake line, and radiator protection (I like the Nerfs because it gives you another place to tie crap, & the hiway pegs are way more useful that I ever thought they would be). also good would be decent hand guards and maybe a windshield. and service the forks... the dealers never put enough oil in them & that makes them bouncy & dive on the brakes. if you have money, the Ricor valves turn the front end into a whole different machine. pull the springs, drop the valve in the hole, add some oil, reassemble... done.

edit:
as for Gen II.... I'm not sure what they need since I don't own one. I have worked on them a bit & ya, they need a doo replacement too. the lever is stronger but it fits loose & the spring is too long. the latest I worked on was a 2010....maybe better by now? I doubt it... check the part numbers?

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