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.


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.