That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. ~Robert M. Pirsig

I’ve chosen a fairly well modified 2009 Kawasaki KLR 650 as my motorbike for this trip. The KLR is a dual-sport design, meaning it has the ability to travel both on highway and off-road.  Kawasaki started making the KLR in 1984 and honestly, not a tremendous amount has changed since then.  The KLR is known as the workhorse of the dual-sport world, frequently being described as a bike that can do pretty much anything, but at the same time a bike that won’t do anything particularly well.

IMG_2520.JPGIMG_2457.JPGFirst stop, the Chemung gold mine / mill site.Jason, starting to get hungry.

The big advantage of the KLR is its simple design.  There are no computer chips or fancy components to melt down.  The engine has a single cylinder with a carburetor and most of the components are as accessible as on a old tractor.  In the event of a mechanical problem, a novice mechanic like myself runs a much better chance of fixing the issue than I would with some of the more modern designs.  Even better though, when properly maintained, the KLR is known as dependable “bullet proof” machine.  Enough so that the USMC also uses a version of the bike.

As one can imagine, the disadvantages of the KLR are its simple design.  The machine doesn’t have EFI, anti-lock brakes or benefit from some of the more modern engine, transmission and cartridge type front suspension designs.  However, compared to the $12,000+ price tag of KTM and BMW’s dual-sport bikes, the KLR is priced well within bargain territory.

To make up for some of its shortcomings, I’ve made the following modifications to the bike:

Body and Frame:
– SW Motech crash bar, skid plate and center-stand
– Happy Trail fork brace
– EM drill-through sub-frame bolt upgrade
– ProTaper SE ATV Mid handlebar and SW Motech handlebar risers
– Bark Buster hand guards
– Super Stock metal foot pegs
– KTM supermoto front fender
– Cut down rear fender
– Zero Gravity Double Bubble windshield
– Desmo Parts stainless steel bolt kit
– Caribou Luggage Systems rear rack and panniers
– Wolfman tank bag
– Tool tube installed forward of skid plate
– 3M reflective tape all over the bike
– Sargent flat seat

– Eastern Beaver accessory wiring harness
– Symtech heated grips
– SW Motech 12v plug
– Arowhead fuse relocation kit
– Superbright headlights (non-HID)
– Odyssey PC545 battery
– Electrical Connection LED motorcycle battery voltage monitor
– Stebel Nautilus air horn

Brake and Suspension:
– Upgraded rear brake pedal mount and rear brake reservoir guard
– Stainless steel brake lines
– Galfer brake pads
– Pulsating LED tail light / brake light
– Ricor Intiminators front shock cartridge emulator
– Ricor IAS rear shock

Engine System:
– EM Doohickey (thanks Wyman)
– Thermobob radiator bypass device (thanks Wyman)
– $0.22 mod (thanks Wyman)
– Koubalink extended fuel screw (thanks Wyman)
– UNI Air Filter
– EM prevailing torque nut for counter sprocket (thanks Wyman)

– Blue Loctite on everything that hasn’t already fallen off
– Clymers manual consulted for pretty much everything
– Mefo Explorer tires