Bike has been treating me great so far. I've been trying to do the same for her. Haven't had any serious issue so far. Really, the only big issue was carburetor which was in California at the very beginning of this trip. Ever since than, it's been just maintenance stuff which I've been trying to do as scheduled. I did this service back in Nicaragua; oil and filter change, new chain and sprockets, cleaning air filter, new front and rear breaks and new speedometer. There's a little over 19700 miles on odometer, which means little over 10000 miles on this trip.
I would like to thank my friend Bob from California for bringing all these parts with him down to Nicaragua. Some of these are impossible to find in Central America, like speedometer and clutch cable. I got here; clutch cable, speedometer cable, front and rear break pads, new chain and sprockets kit, new helmet visor and couple of oil filters. All of these I replaced as soon as I got new parts, except clutch cable. I got this as spare, since I've used my initial spare one in Mexico.
Replacing speedometer cable. Original one died back in El Salvador. I installed new one in Nicaragua, so there was a short period when I didn't have my clock and odometer working. I've kept track of my miles with little help from google maps.
Cleaning air filter and lubing it with some engine oil. Thing was dirty!
This old chain has been giving me weird noise for a while due to a tight spot. I'm sure it would snap right on that spot in next 1000 miles. Sprockets also looked bit worn-out. It was time to change.
I got her new shoes in Costa Rica. She loves them! Old Kenda tires definitely had some more life in them, especially front one, but the rear one has been performing poorly for a long time. Especially in wet conditions. I was really looking forward to replace it. Was gonna do it much earlier but I couldn't find the size for my bike anywhere through Central America. I found one in Guatemala and one in Nicaragua, but the quality of those was worse than the one I had. Finally found these great Pirelli Scorpions in Costa Rica. They were pricey, but well worth it. Very pleased with their performance.
So, this is the deal in most shops throughout Central America. If you buy some parts from them, installation is usually free or they charge you very little. I wasn't gonna change tires myself anyway as it would take me good chuck of day with just hand tools that I have. These guys not only that they changed my tires, but they also cleaned the bike to the last detail free of charge. Look at this thing! It's shining! Looks brand new. I've had this bike for 4 years now and never seen it this clean. Quite honestly, it was a little too clean. I've been purposely trying to keep it as dirty as possible, so it looks like old, beat up bike. Kind of bike you wouldn't want to steal if you like stealing bikes. When it's shining like this, people see quick profit there. And there's a lot of poor people throughout Central and South America. Got to admit, I was still stoked to see her this clean. She deserved it. Though, she was back to her, like pig in the mud, style within days.
It's been a while since I've done any updates on bike. Ever since the issue with carburetor was fixed, it's been running pretty good. I've made it a habit to check oil, tire pressure and clean chain every time before longer ride. I also try to check battery every now and than. Oil and filter change was taken care of in Guadalajara, about 1200 miles ago. I've switched from 10-40 to 20-50 as it's getting hotter down south and it's easier to find 20-50 in Central America. Planning to do new oil change somewhere in Costa Rica or Panama, depends how many miles I put till then. By then, it's gonna be time to change tires and brake pads too, maybe even sooner.
Last few days I had some minor issues with clutch. Few weeks ago, I've noticed few broken strands on clutch cable but it didn't seem too bad. It was hard to tell how bad it is without removing it. I'm glad I did it today, as it was about to break any moment. It was hanging on last few strands. Luckily, I brought spare with me, so it was an easy half an hour job. It could have turn into a big deal if I didn't have one with me. Who knows how long it would take me to sort one out here.
Yesterday was time to reorganize my luggage and get rid of some of my belongings. Everything seems like essential thing to have but it was just becoming too heavy, it's easily disorganized and doesn't leave me much free space, so I decided to get rid of some stuff. One package was sent to my friend in United States and some things I'll just throw away. It's mainly personal belongings but there was some tools and parts that I think I can live without. I might regret it later, but it feels really good right now with less stuff. I didn't lose much weight, but I gained much more space. Picture above is all the tools and spares I originally took with me. I might update the whole list later.
Oil and filter change in Guadalajara.
This is current odometer reading, there is a bit over 4000 miles since I started this trip.
Replacing clutch cable.
You can see on this photo how badly it was stripped.
Amongst some things that I'm throwing away is this gas canister that I don't see myself using any time soon.
I'm also looking to get rid of these heavy duty spare tubes for both tires. They are very heavy and taking a lot of space. I have a patch kit and don't feel like hauling these any more. I think I'll keep them for now and try to exchange them for lighter ones or sell them once I get to bigger city which may not be for weeks from today.
NOTE: This is a partial copy of original post. I thought I would put it here because it's all about the bike. You can find the whole post in "California" subpage dated April 1st. And no, it wasn't April Fools' joke, bike was really fixed than.
Last two weeks bike was not on the same page with me about leaving States. There has been an issue with it, and it spent more time in shops than on the road. What's been most frustrating about this is that for a while nobody could figure out what's going on with it. I finally met a great guy, and an awesome mechanic called Eagle Mike, whose selfless kindness towards perfect stranger is rarely seen these days. I will write the whole story about my experience with Mike in following days. Bike is running great now, and I can't wait to hit the road again tomorrow.
This is how bike frequently looked like for last two weeks; in the shop, stripped to frame.
There was few things that needed to be fixed on the bike in the first week. It stopped running only few hours into the trip. That's a good sign right!? It didn't seem as anything major since it started right up only few minutes later. Then following day, it did the same thing. As mentioned in my previous post, it needed some work around fuel supply. After draining the tank, cleaning petcock and installing inline fuel filter, it's been running fine. Few days before I started this trip, I've decided to replace my rear shock since existing one was not responding well with the whole gear loaded on the bike. I got bit over 100lbs of gear. Plus me another 200lbs and that shock was fully squeezed.
I've got this great looking shock with a cool feature that allows easy manual adjustment by turning the knob on the little extension part. Unfortunately, the knob on mine fell off within first few days, so now I'm waiting on manufacturer to send me replacement. Should be delivered today.
On day 4 while riding to San Luis Obispo, I started experiencing a strong wobble on my front end when going over 60mph. KLR usually has minor speed wobbles (at least mine), but only at speed higher than 85-90mph. This wobble was more significant and felt pretty dangerous at times. After inspecting front end and several hours on KLR forums, I came to conclusion that the wobble is combination of few things; uneven wear on front tire, few loose spokes and weights missing on front wheel (out of balance). I've got pair of spare tires in SF (thanks Trevor), and front one should be here in LA this afternoon.
I've got a new chain and sprockets set as the old one has some wear on it, and I don't want to risk such a long trip on that setup. So plan for today is to replace front tire if it gets here on time, adjust the spokes, balance front wheel, replace chain and sprockets and install knob for rear shock. When I'm done with all that, bike should be in pretty good shape. I'm glad that all these minor issues are showing up now while I'm still in US where it's easy to get parts and get it fixed.
On this page I'll post frequent updates about my motorcycle, 2009 Kawasaki KLR650. I'll also post some pics and videos of all the work and modifications I did on it while gearing up for this trip, as well as maintenance on it while I'm on the road. I'm sure I'll have to do more modifications as I move further south.
This is starting millage on the odometer, 9614 miles. I'll keep track of miles for each country and combined.
Here are few pics what bike looked like before any work for this trip was done on it.
Working on it. As you can see, there was moments when things didn't go as planned. Big thanks to my friend Luke Hendrickson for freely taking time out of his schedule to take these great photos and many more around SF for this blog.
More bike pics to come.