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Old 09-12-2016, 09:14 PM   #1
rockdathumper
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Default My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Hey guy's. This is my first post on this forum. Just got my first dual sport bike yesterday. A terribly neglected 1991 KLR 250. Paid $800. For the price, there wasn't much else comparable to choose from with a clear title. Then I traveled over 100 miles to get it. These street and trail bikes sure are hard to find, ain't they?

You won't believe all the dumb stuff that's been neglected, missing, or broken on this thing.

When the chain is bone dry, the oil level low, and the PO has to heave the bike off his trailer simply because he didn't pay enough attention to realize that the brake cable was too tight... and... and... and... Well... You get the idea. At least it runs.

I think the PO claimed to have changed the oil 2k miles ago, but the title and the odometer readings make me wonder.

I put some more oil in it once I got home. Then topped it off the next day after running it a bit. Even added a little ZDDP for the rockers.. But then, I took a sample of the oil and looked at the filter. There was some metal present and a little bit of metallic graphite-like swirl. That means wear. I hope it's within normal limits.

To make it worse, after doing some research, I discovered that the bypass valve tube assembly thingy that goes inside the oil filter cartridge is gone. I'll take a guess the oil isn't getting filtered much.

I'm gonna check and see if the dealer has a replacement in stock.



Are there any good ways of checking things without doing surgery? While I've been interested in getting a dual sport for a while now (it helps just to get out of the driveway.), what really triggered me into this is this:

I tried to pull the clutch cover on my other bike for service, and it turned into a complete disaster. Dad's bike will sometimes run just long enough to leave you stranded. I'd like to go ride, not bang my head against the wall and break something.

Maybe... Just maybe... If there are three bikes in the garage, maybe at least one will work.

The PO recalled that the guy before him checked the valves. Not sure I should believe him. They seem quiet. Isn't there a way to tell if the valves are too tight with these machines? Hard cranking? It doesn't seem too hard to crank,
but then this is my first kickstart bike, and I've only had it for a day or so.

Do I really need to worry about that oil pickup screen getting clogged? Anybody ever burned their engine because of it?

Anything else I should know?

I'd like to just put a new filter and oil and stuff in it and ride if I can.

Last edited by rockdathumper; 09-12-2016 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 09-13-2016, 02:40 AM   #2
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

a little elbow grease and......well, not quite, if I where you, I would do the usual basic service.......first, make a list of all the things missing that the engine NEEDS in order to work properly, check old items like the carb boot, if it's not seating right or it has shrunken, well....time to change it

Oil is cheap, filters too, better safe than sorry

valve check......easy peasy, coolant and thermostat change to avoid future problems, also cheap.....and getting to know mechanically your bike, is your best insurance in the road too

and if you're in the mood, lube clutch and throttle cable......

I used to have a 2002 KLR250, and I can tell you, changing the KACKR spring and the u shaped shift spring, made it feel a hellofalot better, they are amazing machines if you ask me, I miss mine
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Old 09-13-2016, 04:43 AM   #3
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Wow, what a mess.

Let's get things tightened up a bit, shall we?

First step, get a Clymer's manual. That will help keep 'messes' within acceptable limits.

Second step, become familiar with a few of the sites for motorcycle parts. I've used Rocky mountain ATV before, they have plenty of OEM parts, shipped fast.

Third, Become methodical. Whanging away with a hammer doesn't sink a nail nearly as cleanly as measured, methodical whacks. Start at the front and work your way back (or go the other way) Use the Clymer's to help you check to see that everything is within specs.

It's the only way to make sure everything is good to go.

Otherwise, you're throwing darts blindfolded, hoping you hit something.
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Old 09-13-2016, 10:40 AM   #4
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Thanks, guys.

I was starting to think I'd be on my own with this. Seems like the baby klr doesn't get much attention anymore, and a lot of the klr250 threads are old ones.

I don't think clymer makes a manual for the 250. Seems like there are two factory manuals you have to get, a main manual (klr600???) (does clymer 650 work???) and a 250 supplement. Anybody have luck out of the cheap ebooks on ebay? I'm a little apprehensive. I wonder if they are legit.

I spend most of my time on the computer anyway. A download would be more useful. Around here, a physical book would just be lost and forgotten.

I saw a video on the valve adjustment. Seems doable. My closest feeler gauges in the pack I use are .008 and .011 inch. I may want to grab up something a little closer if convenient. Does the valve cover need to be exactly 69 inch pounds? Are these extremely finicky? Got a 1/4 clicker torque wrench. Cheap, at least a decade old, hasn't been professionally calibrated. Seems at least ballpark accurate. Do most guys just hand tighten? I could be overthinking this.

The cam chain tensioner... I bet I can check cam chain wear by just popping it out and seeing how far it sticks out. Anything that can go wrong?

You won't believe how much better this system is than the one on my other bike.

Last edited by rockdathumper; 09-13-2016 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 09-13-2016, 12:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Just called the dealer. Bad news. Parts man talked like the lack of that oil filter tube hurt oil pressure.

Hope it's okay.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Bought a replacement bypass tube and a reusable steel mesh oil filter. Supposedly filters to 30 microns. I've wondered if I should stick on a paper filter every once and awhile to get out the really fine stuff... Like right at the oil change.

I might put in some Delo 400 LE I have laying around. The stuff supposedly has really good ZDDP numbers (shouldn't need extra)... and a little moly... shouldn't be enough to hurt. I've got some Rotella 15w40 and 5w40 lying around as well.

I shouldn't need to do a double oil change, should I? That might be a waste of oil.

Got some more feeler gauges for the valves.
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Old 09-13-2016, 10:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Don't think I would add the moly. It could ruin/contaminate the clutch plates and make the clutch slip.-Glenn
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Old 09-14-2016, 10:22 AM   #8
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

That's okay. I wasn't going to add moly. Just sayin' Delo has a little in it. from the looks of it, a bit less than I thought. The zinc and phosphorus numbers seemed to have dropped as well. I was going by the 2013 test.

Maybe motor oil analyses vary because mass-produced motor oil isn't perfectly consistent?

Or... they're all trying to make the EPA happy.

https://www.pqiamerica.com/May%202013/chevrondelo.htm
https://www.pqiamerica.com/June%20201...ondelo1510.htm

T6 has a tiny dab of moly as well. https://www.pqiamerica.com/June%20201...lrotellat6.htm
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Old 09-14-2016, 05:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Yes, all the "automotive" rated oils keep losing the zinc and phosphorus levels that are the real anti-wear additives of the oil. That's the main reason I will continue to use motorcycle oils only in my bikes. If you can find an oil that stops at the SG rating, it will have more of those in it. Or, if you run "ATV" or offroad rated oils, they will contain more zinc and phosphorus also. My 2 cents-Glenn
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Those are actually diesel oils, (Rotella is approved for bikes, BTW ) and even they're getting wimpified these days it seems. Next thing you know, they'll be hardly anything left to put in old cars and motorcycles with flat rockers. I've got a '90 Subaru with flat rockers, and I use diesel grade oil in it with ZDDP added for protection.

Who knows how the diesel crowd is going to survive all this.

ZDDP Plus and ZDDP Maxx are two good additive brands that don't have any slippery junk in them. The latter is more concentrated I think and slightly cheaper.

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Old 09-14-2016, 09:10 PM   #11
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Did some service today. Some dummy put the wrong size nut on the clutch handle bolt and boogered the threads, but I made it work.

The front brake has a funny feel to it, and it bumps the bark buster, so I tried to move it and the kill switch was kinda in the way and too far away from the grip. Figured out that their positions were probably reversed, especially after looking online. Saw a video that showed the throttle cables coming out the top. Mine come out the bottom, and the position of the cable housing gets in the way of the brake lever. Didn't have the right screwdriver handy, and it was getting late, so I decided to wait till tomorrow.

Air filter is a bit dirty.

The exhaust is a monstrosity. The header comes out and has a larger pipe welded on, then a clamped joint which is loose, then the aftermarket muffler which is also loose, and is wired on.

The header nuts came off easily, and I gave 'em gobs of copper anti-seize in order to prevent future trouble. Don't want it to end up like my other bike. Now that's a terrible story.


The battery is dead and has been. The PO just ran it this way. I figure I should probably get a battery soon. Any adverse effects? I read something about the tachometer??? I'm gonna look up some alternatives to lead batteries. It would be a good opportunity to make a switch. I gather someone here did some experimentation with lithium batteries. I'd like something simple and rugged that isn't finicky or need complex electronics. Environmentally friendly is good too. (Can't have everything)

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Old 09-14-2016, 10:20 PM   #12
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Then again... Not so sure about getting expensive batteries. I'd like to get some riding out of it before I spend alot on stuff. I'm on a rather tight budget. After all, I was crazy enough to buy a $800 POS.
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Old 09-15-2016, 08:18 PM   #13
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

I changed the oil (Rotella with ZDDP) and put in the new filter, though I don't have the valve yet, so it's not really filtering much. Rode it maybe half a mile or less, took a sample of the oil then rode it another half mile. Less than a mile altogether. There's still a bit of metal in the new oil. Dad agrees with the idea of changing it again.

What do you think?

I haven't checked the valves yet. I'm thinking of riding the highway a little bit before I open it up. Ought to be safe...maybe??? I think I can hear the valves when warm. Can't say about all of them. It can take several kicks to start when cold, especially if I forget the choke or something. Warm, it sometimes starts with one kick if it's not flooded or otherwise off kilter.
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Old 09-19-2016, 10:09 AM   #14
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Put the horse in front of the cart. You know you're missing an important part, wait until you replace that part, otherwise you're just doing more of the same.

Replace the part, change the oil, THEN go riding.
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Old 09-19-2016, 12:51 PM   #15
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

I got the valve tube in it now, and took it on the highway for the first time Saturday. I did change the oil a second time. The oil is relatively clean now, but I can still see some sparklies through the window. How hard can it be to get all the metal out?

I did notice that the front end wants to wobble a little at highway speeds.. I did a little bit of inspection yesterday, but it was raining... and I got really wet...,,, and I haven't quite figured out what's going on. Thought it would be rear tire alignment, but it seems decently aligned. The wheels don't seem extremely out of round. I may do some adjustments, though. There are two broken spokes on the rear. Not sure what's in the forks, seems to be some damping in there. The swingarm doesn't seem to have play. The steering head bearings... well... Not sure how to judge those. Never adjusted any. Little or no play. Does seem to rotate very freely, though.

I did notice a bounce in the front tire at low speeds. Could be a little out of round or balance.

It's got a D606 front and a Shinko 700 rear. They're aged worn, especially the rear. I take it that a flat-worn rear will make encourage high speed weave. It could be just that that front knobby is wobbly by nature. This is my first DS bike. I'm not used to the behavior of knobbies or tall, lightweight bikes. I read that knobbies such as this one can encourage high speed wobbling it seems. Coming back from work last night, I didn't seem to notice it much. Maybe the bike and I are getting accustomed to each other... or it was just dark.

I weigh 210+ lbs, more with gear. A co-worker of mine said that the wobbly thing was "common" with those sort of bikes. He mentioned someone he knew strategically tying pieces of steel rail or something to his bike.


Not a very good solution is it? If I wanted a heavy bike, why would I choose a 250?

I'd like to get that wobble out of it if I can... or at least get used to it so I can confidently travel at speed. My commute includes everything from steep dirt roads to back road twisties, to 60 mph highway, where the normal flow of traffic can sometimes reach 70 mph. Part of the purpose behind my choice of bike was the ability to climb up into the woods and get some real dirt experience. I've never owned a dirt bike before, and I wanted one that was street legal that I could commute with and go anywhere with.

I'm not so much worried about noisy knobbies. The muffler is louder than that. I don't really want to sacrifice much on the go-anywhere factor, so I'm probably gonna stick with fairly aggressive tires. Being cheap is important too. Fancy, in-vogue, high end tires may be out of my budget. (though the karoo 3 front looked interesting). High mileage would be great, but, since I replace my own tires, it's not too critical, just as long as I'm getting bang for the buck and they're not wearing out too fast. I wanna be able to go in the mud, snow, rain, dirt, grass, forest... everything (Well... sand isn't too plentiful around here, so...) Wet and dry pavement, leaned over, and as fast as the little motor will pull it. (ahem... gotta keep up with traffic on the interstate ya know

Can't have everything, huh?





CLICK PLAY TO WATCH VIDEO!



Hey, if I could get the perfect tire, wouldn't that spoil all the fun?

Last edited by rockdathumper; 09-19-2016 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 09-19-2016, 01:05 PM   #16
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Couple of causes of wobble.

1. Death grip on the bars.

2. Tire not seated properly.

3. Steering head bearing.

4. Misaligned forks.


Glad it's coming along. I'm not sure if they exist, but you may want to search out a magnetic drain plug.... as well as change the oil again soon, now that it's being filtered.
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Old 09-19-2016, 08:46 PM   #17
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

Tried to true up the front wheel. Can't say how successful I was. I did manage to tighten up the rear axle some as it was a little too easy to adjust the chain. I just snugged it a little. Probably still looser than specs, if I guess right. While it was loose, with the chain off, that wheel was so free it would spin for over 2, maybe even 3+ minutes.

I think I've discovered a scientific breakthrough. Now we just need to put it in a vacuum chamber with some space age low friction materials and we'll be on our way to calculating the absolute zero of friction. Only a KLR 250 rear wheel is capable as it has special properties.

Unfortunately, it still wiggles about the highway. What is the best tire pressure for highway riding? I know the book calls for 21 front, 25 rear. I wonder if that is ideal for the highway, or if that's just a compromise. I wonder if the particular tires I ride could need some higher pressures. I know the rear (Shinko 700) seems to be rather soft, and the front (D606) stiff.

Last edited by rockdathumper; 09-19-2016 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 09-20-2016, 01:09 AM   #18
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

You've got a D606 on the front hmm?



All them knobbies... hmmm...

I got rid of my knobbies, because I had issues on the highway with them. Speed became a factor.

How fast were you going when you got the wobble? And was it a subtle thing? Do you happen to have rain grooves where you're experiencing this?

You see where my mind is now going...
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Old 09-20-2016, 10:11 AM   #19
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

It tends to happen at any speed above 60--say 65. I checked my pressures last night-- about 19 front, 23-24 rear. I'm gonna pump 'em up and see if that helps.

Yes it's subtle. I can mimic it somewhat by gently shaking the bars. But this tends to happen by itself and it happens very often. It comes and goes. Who knows what the trigger is. Wind maybe...random irregularities??? Bumps don't necessarily. cause it. I can run over pavement bumps, and nothing happens.

I wonder if it's not a mild case of what they call "high speed weave."

Seems similar to this, but a little less severe.



CLICK PLAY TO WATCH VIDEO!





CLICK PLAY TO WATCH VIDEO!

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Old 09-20-2016, 10:16 AM   #20
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Default Re: My first dual sport-- and it's a mess

I've noticed that the rear shock has much of it's adjustment used (tightened up). Not sure about the forks.
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