Archive for the ‘KLR Maintenance’ Category

I would like to say HUGE thanks to Kawasaki and Metalcar Paraguay for helping me with the repair of my KLR 650! They have got me back on the road here in Paraguay after an adventure ride on the Paraguay’s Chaco with a piston ring problem. It seems that dust got into the motor in large quantities and ate it up. This was my first big repair of the trip and if Kawasaki along with Metalcar wouldn’t have helped, it would have been also my biggest expense so far on the bike.

So where to start the story? I guess the best place would be at the border between Bolivia and Paraguay. There is a long dusty dirt road of about 100km. I had fun on that road using the bike at it’s maximum potential at it’s current weight of 280-300kg and made it to the border… well, the first part of it which is the Bolivian immigration. Then, had to ride another 60km or so to the Aduana where I had to wait a bit. While waiting, I decided to check the oil level on the KLR. I tilt the bike to straight position and nothing shows up! I thought the oil would be just under the normal level and since I had a half a litre with me, I poured it all in there. Tilt the bike straight again and… NOTHING shows! Talk about getting scared at the border! I thought that it still couldn’t be that low but there was no oil available for another 120 or so km. I have never had it this low before though. No choice but to ride 120km on whatever was in there. There was almost no smoke coming out so I thought I should be ok. I got to that police point and with the litle money I had, I bought a litre of engine oil. Poured it into the bike and… still nothing showing! Now I was starting to get REALLY worried. So I bought another litre and only had 5000 Guarany (about 1.10$) left after buying the 2 litres of oil. I had to pour 0.5 more litres into the bike till it was at level. So if we do some quick math, at the border where I checked the level, I should have had about half a litre or so of oil out of 2.5L in the bike.

I camped at the police station next to the gas station from where I bought the oil and the next day I was back on the road with the bike full of oil. I had about 120km to go till the immigration office which is more than 200km from the border. I had enough gas in the bike and my jerry cans left to make it there and even further. On the road to the immigration, I had a flat front tire. Parked in the shade, patched the tube, put the wheel back just to realize that I pinched the tube while installing the tire so had to do it all over again. Meanwhile, I looked at the oil level and realized that I was in deep trouble as it was lower than the glass on the bike. Added the other half a litre and it helped a bit. I could see some oil level, but realized that I was eating about a litre of oil per 100km. I get to the town before the immigration and see a bike shop there that sells oil. I look in my wallet and still have 5000 guarrany, a couple of dollars and some bolivianos. After calculating, I was still short by 5000 G (just over 1$) but the guy was really nice and sold me the oil anyway wishing me good luck. The Aduana was closer than the immigration so I stop in to do the paperwork on the bike. They give me 90 days and cost is 0$. I get to the immigration and the guy there is super nice and says it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. I am thinking NICE, another easy border crossing. When he types in my nationality, Canada, the computer doesn’t agree too well and asks for an embassy visa. It turns out that us Canadians need a visa in Paraguay. So he tells me that I have to go back to Bolivia to the Paraguay embassy in Santa Cruz. I explain to him that my bike wont make it. He talks to other people there who talk to other people and finally come back and offer to give me a 72hr transit visa. This means that I have to make it in 72hrs to Assuncion, 600 or so km away and cross over to Argentina where there is an embassy 3km from the border. It’s my best choice. So I thank him for his help and decide to try and make it with the bike. Meanwhile, in my folder with my paperwork, I find just over 100$ that I had put in there for emergencies.

I exchanged the 100$ for guarranies at the gas station there and bought 4L of oil along with a bottle of water. I was hungry but didn’t wanna waste $ on food. There were no bank machines for a few hundred km and had to calculate my gas and oil well.

Back on the road, now I had oil, some gas and a LONG strip of straight paved road leading me to Assuncion. On the way, I stopped at a store and bought one more litre of oil, some bananas and some bread. The bike had started smoking just before the immigration and it was smoking more and more. I started to add about 1.5L of oil every 100km. The money I exchanged lasted me till Assuncion as I found some gas stations along the way further south that accepted credit card. In the 600 or so km, the bike had eaten about 10L of oil. Once in assuncion, the bike was running already on really low compression and stalling in idle. I had to make a choice to leave the bike there and take a bus to the border or ride the bike another 40 km and then another 40 to come back. Since I didn’t know how long it would take for the visa and if there would be any complications, I decided that I wouldn’t leave the bike in a country I might not be able to come back to.

I got the visa in Clorinda, Argentina within a day. It took only 2 hrs for the visa but I had to spend the night there since I needed 2 passport photos and all photography stores were closed between noon and 4pm while the embassy closed at 3pm. But anyway, the next day I made it back to Assuncion and although the bike was breathing heavily, it wasn’t giving up. Along the way, I met a mechanic and told him about the last 3 days. He said that I was lucky to have a Kawasaki cause most local bikes wouldn’t have made the 800+km with the piston rings in this condition.

In Assuncion, I went and set-up camp at the Botanical garden where they have the municipal camping. Inside the garden, in front of the Museum a gentleman approached me and asked me if I needed any parts for my bike cause there is a Kawasaki dealership in town called Metalcar. I had heard about it the day before when I entered the city and asked around. He said he knew the owner and called to have someone come and get me. Once I set-up camp, I didn’t want to wait and went to Metalcar as fast as possible.

At the service department, I was approached by the Manager, Jose. We talked a bit about my trip and about the problems with the bike. Jose was super nice and welcoming. He also made space right away for the bike and had it washed. I explained to him that I was traveling on a really tight budget and he offered right away to see if he could help me with that so he wrote an e-mail to his contact at Kawasaki explaining my problem and my trip.

Here in the story start the pictures. Sorry for the lower than usual quality, but my black macbook is on it’s last minutes as well and I can’t edit the pictures for now.

My welcome team at Metalcar. Jose is on the right.


After a couple of days, this is what the bike looked like…


Hard to see, but there was a huge gap on the piston rings!


I don’t think this picture needs explanation… 😀



My love’s guts all out…


When I went back to see the bike a few days later, Jose and Felipe invited me for a ride in the Kawi car. They had to go test out a Jetski by the lake in a really nice small town close by.


Jose and Felipe. We had some local doughnut like sweets, but I forgot what they are called. REALLY GOOD!


Unloading the Jetski


Jose testing it out on the lake.


The days were passing and I was enjoying the city of Assuncion.


Finally all parts were in. Brand new 0.5mm larger piston with piston rings. The cylinder was also bored out by 0.5mm at a local shop.



A few days later, this is what the bike looked like! What a great feeling!


Even though the bike was ready, Jose said to wait for a bit as he had sent out a list with the parts and labor to Kawasaki and to see what they would say. The next day, he called me to inform me that Kawasaki was sponsoring me on this work and had covered all parts and labor on the list. I only had to pay for the cylinder reboring which was done by a different shop. I couldn’t believe it! What a great surprise! I have my first big sponsors! 🙂



Big thanks again to EVERYONE!


I will post more pictures of Paraguay and from where I left off my blog but for now that’s almost impossible with the current condition of my Macbook. Soon enough though, I promise! 🙂


You might be just like me, one of the KLR owners out there and therefore are probably having issues with your KLR braking system as well.

On the front braking system, I had salt water get in and the pistons corroded so much that they literally locked in. On the rear brake system, from pretty much the start or around 10 000km, when going downhill for a long time, the system would heat up, expand and lock itself. The result, no rear brake going downhill on really steep hills. Your only option left is to either stop and wait for the system to cool off or use the engine brake in 1st along with the front brakes and that can be a bit tricky. These days, my front brake stays engaged if I leave the bike over night sometimes but usually comes back to normal after riding for a bit.

So here is how you can try to solve the problem. I am no mechanic so maybe there are better solutions out there.

Take the system off

KLR 650 Trip Ecuador 106

KLR 650 Trip Ecuador 107

Take the 2 pins holding the pads out

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Check your pads. Mine are totally worn out. They are a bit worn sideways too, meaning that the rear wheel wasn’t totally straight or that the pistons or the holding bracket wasn´t sliding properly.

KLR 650 Trip Ecuador 109

Now look at the horror on your pistons. With some pliers and a piece of cloth, pull them out if you don´t have any compressed air handy. If you have compressed air, you can blow the pistons out with that. Use the cloth between the piston and the pliers so that you don’t mess up the piston. Just literally pull the pistons out. Chances are that you might have a hard time, so twist them around a bit. If they are totally stuck, use whatever you have to get them unstuck.

KLR 650 Trip Ecuador 110

Look at those rusty kawi pistons. Not really made for salty water.

KLR 650 Trip Ecuador 111

Get the seals out with a sharp tool. Careful so that you don’t damage the seals. Also, before leaving on your trip, buy a set of pistons and seals maybe?

KLR 650 Trip Ecuador 112

Clean the seals, all the crap and corrosion out of where the seals go. I used a piece of cloth with a screw driver bit to get in there.

KLR 650 Trip Ecuador 113

Clean the remainder with a tooth brush.

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Clean the pistons and try to get the rust off. Good luck with that. I tried gasoline, oil, and anything else I could find. The rust is stuck there pretty well. I used the pliers to grind it off and then a cloth to get the small stuff off. You wont get everything off though cause the rust gets into the piston and eats well into the metal. Just do your best I guess. I think that maybe some really really fine sanding paper might help, but no idea on that. Let me know on the best solution you might find.

Once everything is clean, reassemble the system. You will notice how easy the pistons go in and out now.

KLR 650 Trip Ecuador 115

You will now need to bleed the system. Push down on the brake pedal a couple of times to build pressure. Keep it in the pushed down position then open and close the bleeder valve. Do not release the brake pedal till the valve isn’t closed. Keep doing this till you see lots of brake fluid spilling out the valve every time you open it up. You will also start feeling more pressure on the brake pedal. Don’t forget to keep topping off your brake fluid. If you forget, you’ll get air in there.

All this helped with the rear brake system, but when it gets REALLY hot, it still locks up and wont work. It’s surely better than before. I will soon change the front pads again and will clean the front system all over once more. Gonna try to find some fine sanding paper first.

Good luck and let me know if you have any other suggestions on the above. I know how to do this because Josh showed me on the front system in Colombia when it locked up right after getting it off the boat. Thanks Josh! I’m no mechanic so do it at your own risk. I know that there’s a couple of good mechanics sometimes reading my posts so maybe comments? Looking your way Csabi… 😉