What a day.

I received the gaskets from Eagle Mike’s yesterday just in time for my rebuild today. I couldn’t help but go out last night after work and remove the old piston and install the new one. It looked a lot faster with it on.

This morning I went out and got started. I will post all of the pictures with a breakdown of what I did once I finish the whole thing tomorrow. I just wanted to share my day with you now. Everything was going pretty smoothly and I was taking my time, working per the instructions and making sure the torque was correct on everything. I had the cams lined up and timing chain on correctly. I start to install the timing chain cover that has 2 long bolts in a hard to reach spot and a short bolt that is an easy reach and should be simple. Well, the 2 long bolts went in easily and as I was reaching in to put the 3rd bolt in I was thinking, “It would suck if dropped this one”, and of course I did. It went right down all the way into the crank case and disappeared. Needless to say I was a little disappointed. I had to drive to an auto parts store and buy a little magnet to reach down into the abyss.

I got back home and tried for a while to fish out the lost bolt with no luck. Then I decided it needed to be done. I removed all of the bolts for the left side lower crank case. I also had to remove the shifter lever and front sprocket guard. I was able to reach in with my magnet a lot better from the side but I still couldn’t find it. From this point I said it was time for a break and had lunch. After relaxing for a bit I went back outside with a clean head. I then decided to turn the crank shaft around with a wrench and try to lodge the bolt loose if was stuck in the chain somewhere. I did a full rotation and heard nothing fall down into the case. I jammed my magnet into the crank case and moved all around recklessly and felt something click onto it. I pulled on it and it fell off. I stuck the magnet back in and click, this time I pulled it out easy and there it was. I put it off to the side and had to line all of the gears back up and put the gasket back on the cover for the crank case. I put all of the bolts back in and torqued them back down. That little mistake added a couple hours of  work and risk of damaging the engine further. But at least now I know how to remove the low end of the engine. Stay tuned and tomorrow I should have it complete. It would have been today but the rain started. See ya tomorrow.


Christmas is here indeed.

I received my package from Eagle Mike today and am pretty excited. This coming weekend the installation should begin. There was a small hiccup so far but hopefully it will be solved by Saturday. What I am referring to is the top and bottom cylinder gaskets that were supposed to be in the box with the other stuff. I found 2 folded up pieces of cardboard that I assumed were supposed to have gaskets in them but in fact were empty. I made sure I looked through the boxes carefully to be sure I wasn’t overlooking anything but found nothing. I called Mike right away and he thought for sure he packed them but would rush me some new ones ASAP. Hopefully they will be here by Saturday or the rebuild will be put off until the following weekend (boo). Here are the new 685 Cylinder, piston with rings and used cylinder head with exhaust cam. Stay tuned for the install coming soon.


What to do?

Although I did hear from the dealer rather quickly, I am still not sure whether to even deal with them at this point. I received a voice mail from a Kawi rep the other day saying that in order to do anything, they need to have the whole bike brought into a dealer and they need to investigate the cause of the problem and see what they can do. I do understand that they just aren’t going to send me a check just because I sent them an email, but the more I think about it, what can they do for me anyway? I don’t want to just put new rings in and that is it. I also don’t want my bike to sit at the dealer for weeks until they figure out somehow that it must have been my fault. “We have never seen or heard of any problems before so it must be you”. It is costing me $750 to redo the cylinder and head and gain more displacement as well as HP’s. I will have to do the work myself but I want to learn to do that anyway. What would you do? Comment below if you have any advice.

Contacted dealer

I decided to send an email to the dealer that I purchased the bike from this week and was surprised at the quick response. Here is the email I sent to them:

I purchased a 2008 KLR650 from you back in 08. I have since then only put 5000 miles on it and have been changing the oil at the recommended break in mileage. At almost exactly 5000 miles the engine started making a loud ticking noise. I took off the valve cover and saw the exhaust cam was black. I then removed the cam caps and saw the journals on the exhaust cam were scored and ruined. I now had to order a new head with a new exhaust cam. I have looked into this and it seems to be common with 2008’s. Since the cause is not in the head itself but the piston rings from the factory I would be stupid to replace the head without fixing the issue. So now I have to order a cylinder bored out to 685cc and a new piston and rings. All of this just because of a factory problem. I am past my warranty but I feel there should be some kind of coverage due to the fact that it is a known problem from Kawasaki. I now live in Virginia so I will not be able to bring the bike to you. I am performing all of the work myself and feel something is deserved from all of this trouble. Thank you.

I didn’t expect a response as soon as the next day but there it was. It was pretty much what I expected to hear.



I have reviewed your email with my Service Manager, Gordie – neither of us have seen this problem before – the KLR 650 is typically a ‘bulletproof’ bike/engine and we have many customers with more than 5K miles on their bikes… 


What I will do, is forward your email to the Kawasaki’s northeast regional Service Manager, Brian Fugate – he can review your situation and determine if there is anything Kawasaki can do at their end to help –



I then decided to write a response back regarding the “Bulletproof” statement to turn up the heat a little.

If you google “2008 klr650 oil burning” you will see there have been thousands of problems with the 08’s burning oil and seizing up. So many that Kawasaki changed the type of rings they used in 09. Unfortunately the will not own up to it and most dealers claim never to have heard of the problem. The evidence lies in the fact that Schnitz Racing has been trying to keep up with the amount of orders for new rings and pistons that solve the oil burning issue. There has also been a class action suit that is being filed against Kawasaki for the very same issues, Kawasaki started using a different piston ring in early 2008 and that is what has caused the issues. The rest of the engine and transmission is in fact “bullet proof” but if the zipper on the vest doesn’t work then the bullet proof vest is compromised. I am not looking for a new bike, merely responsible parties taking ownership. I plan on using better than stock replacements for the piston’s and rings as well as boring the cylinder out to a 685 so replacement parts would not be of use to me anyway. I managed to find a military surplus head with a good exhaust cam for $400. It is costing me $750 to repair a problem that never should have happened. Perhaps if i send a copy of all the receipts for repair to you, you would maybe show some class by reimbursing me with something that cost’s less than half of the total repair bill. Hmmm let me think,…….. Oh, I know, a nice brand new Corbin or Sargent seat……….

Yeah, it was a bit sarcastic but I am only human. The fact is that really nothing besides money would be helpful in the situation anyway. I will be installing better than stock piston and rings so what really can they do for me. This was the response back. Note that suddenly they HAVE heard of it before after all.

Matt – I am not saying there was not an issue – I am saying we have not seen this problem before at our dealership – you are the first customer that has come to us with this issue. 


That aside, I did here back from Brian Fugate from Kawasaki yesterday – he wanted to know if you are still in VA – I told him yes – he was going to talk with his counterpart in the Southeast region and potentially arrange for him to personally inspect your bike and go from there…  As soon as I hear back from Brian, I will let you know –



OK, they are trying to help after all so I will be nice now……

Matt – Brian ********* just got back to me – his counterpart wants to check your bike out (he is currently in VA) – what is the closest Kawasaki dealer that you can bring your bike to – he will meet you there – also, what is the best contact number for you – if you get back to me soon enough, they may be able to look at it this week…



Another surprise at the help being offered. Maybe i was a little too dickish at first. I blame it on the stereotype of the dealer being asswipes. It can’t be my fault. My email back….

The only problem is that it is currently under a tarp with the head and cylinder in a box in my shed. The closest dealer is in Newport News Va on J Clyde Morris Blvd which is a few miles from my home. I can bring the head to him perhaps. I do appreciate the fast response. Thank you.

See how I smoothly try to pull my foot out of my mouth and be classy now? Pretty slick huh? Their turn now….

Matt – the head might work — if you’re only a few miles away from the dealer, he might then go to your house to check out the rest of the bike – what is your cell phone and I’ll forward this info on to him…?

Goddamn it. Now they are going out of their way to help. Holy shit I’m an asshole. I then sent them my number and that is where we stand as of now. Where it goes from here is completely unknown at this point. Who knows.

On a side note I have paid for the head and cam from Eagle Mike and should be receiving everything as soon as the cylinders get back from the machine shop. Thanks Mike, another satisfied customer.


How did this happen?

Apparently the 2008’s started to use a different type of piston ring and some bikes would burn oil. Some reports claim as much as 3 quarts per 1000 miles. That is a shit load of oil for a single cylinder engine. I could be wrong but I don’t even think a 2-stroke would use that much oil in 1000 miles. Now does that excuse me from forgetting to check my oil and screaming down the highway unaware of the meltdown happening 8″ below my balls? Of coarse not but I like to try to make myself feel better by finding other reasons besides my complete ignorance.

Tonight I ordered the Schnitz Racing 685 piston kit from Eagle Mikes. Tomorrow I will order the used cylinder head that has been shimmed for me. Hopefully everything will arrive in a timely manner and the mechanical comedy will ensue.

Welcome Everyone

This will be a journal of my first real engine rebuild. I have always been fairly mechanically inclined and could do basic things but this will be the first major type of engine work that I have done. Lets takes a look at the stock KLR650 that was running perfectly back in 2008.

There she is in all her glory. I built the rack on the back to hold my cooler for the ride to work every day. I made it out of 1/2″ round stock that was sitting around the shop I worked in at the time. It ended up weighing about 500lbs but it was strong as hell.

Enough talk about how great of a bike it is. Lets get to the screw up. I was commuting to work with it and was doing 50 miles per day. Most of the miles were on the highway and averaged around 75 mph. If you have ever owned a KLR you will know that is almost top speed and towards the top of the stock geared engines RPM’s. Everything was going great and I was saving a ton of money on gas every week until the “big” night. I work the night shift and get out at midnight so it was really a wonderful night out with no wind and warmer than usual. I take off from work and head on up the highway. I do the usual 18 miles of 75 mph highway speed and pull off of the exit for my house. At the bottom of the off ramp, I hear a strange ticking sound and the engine cuts out. I managed to get it started again when the light turned green and limped it to the gas station down the street. Now I will take a moment to explain why I started it back up if I knew something was wrong. You see, the area that i have to drive through every night is not exactly the friendliest place for a white guy on a KLR to be stranded at. If the bike was on fire I would still ride it to a safer area…… now where were we. At the gas station I look into the sight glass for the oil and see nothing. I go in and buy a quart and put it in. I wait for a few minutes and check the level again, no oil yet. Ouch. I walk balk in the store and buy another quart and dump it in the bike. I let it sit again and check it after a few minutes. Finally I saw the oil was up to the proper level. If your keeping score, that makes 2 WHOLE quarts. I said my prayers and hoped the ticking was just a warning from my valves telling me to pay attention. I start it up and guess what? Yup, still ticking. there was no way I was going to leave my bike in that area so we limped nice and slow the remaining 5 miles to my house and parked it. Here is what I found when I started taking the engine apart.

All of the crap out of the way. It's time to start the fun stuff.

I took this picture mostly as a reference as to where all the hoses and crap go when I put it back together.

To the left is the intake cam, to the right is the exhaust cam.

The things holding down the cams are the cam covers. Notice how the intake cam covers are a nice bright color? That’s how they should look. Now look at the exhaust side. Notice how much darker the closest one is? That is bad. Let’s take a look.

Both cam covers from the exhaust cam. The one to the left is still in good shape, the one to right, not so much.

Let’s look at the actual journals that the cam sets in. The journals and the cylinder head are all one piece so hopefully it’s still ok….

Ouch. I'm no mechanic but think this sucks.

Nope, just as shitty as the cover. Now how about the cam? That’s made out of hardened steel and not aluminum like the head, I’m sure it’s ok….


So, this is what going to happen. I checked the cylinder as well and it still looks perfect but….. If I am replacing the head, why not buy a new cylinder as well? I am going with a 685 cylinder and a new, lighter piston with rings and all the gaskets. I am buying from a guy out in California who does a lot of business with KLR’s. He is also selling me a lightly used cylinder head with it. http://www.eaglemike.com/ is where I am getting the parts from. Stay tuned for when my parts arrive and I promise to keep track of every step along the way and maybe we can learn this stuff together. Or if you know how to do it, chime in and leave some comment’s or advice. Thanks for sticking around hope you come back for more.