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Kawasaki KLR 250

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SAVING WEIGHT

Or how to put your KLR Jr. on a diet.

Send in your tips, suggestions, write-ups and photos showing how and what you have done to lighten your KLR250, and weigh the old and new parts.


Perhaps the biggest complaint about the KLR250 is how much it weighs (however much that is). It's probably not something you notice if you just tool around town or carve up the country roads (after all, it's not THAT heavy), but if you ride your KLR where the going gets tough, that is when it may become an issue. Having downsized from the larger and heavier Honda XL600R, I find the KLR Jr.'s weight to be fairly managable on the more open trails. What stands out most to me on the tighter trails is the rather top-heavy and heavy front end feel to the bike (the latter being made worse by the soft power delivery). So while the KLR can definitely benefit from loosing a few pounds, the higher up or more forward those weight savings come, the better.

If you are using your KLR for off-road only riding then your task is easy, you just strip everything off the bike that you can, but for most of us that is not an option as we want the bike to remain street legal. Happily, some of the things you can do to lighten the KLR will also add power or even make it more comfortable to ride! On the down side, bike parts are a little like bikinis, the lighter they are the more expensive they tend to be.

Consider these suggestions:

Exhaust Pipe
The stock exhaust is very quiet and doubles as a boat anchor in a pinch. You can save a few pounds up high by switching to an aftermarket muffler; as an added bonus this should also make a noticable improvement in the engine's power, although they are usually louder (sometimes quite a bit) than the stock muffler. Also, you really should re-jet the carburator at the same time as a more free flowing muffler will lean-out the mixture. There are a number of applications for the KLR Jr.; Cobra has made at least two models and is probably the most common. I have seen an older Suppertrapp with a rear halfpipe on eBay, but they don't list one on the Supertrapp website; a shame, as their excellent E.A.R. and IDS2 series are lighter and tunable, so it could be quieter than the Cobra as well. A review from a viewer praises the DEP pipe as well built, and managing the noise quite well (the actual muffler section looks longer than most others). The FMF unit presents a nice combination of power and reasonable sound output, but at a hefty price. Check the links page for these and others.
Aluminum Handlebar
What a great idea, it saves weight at the highest possible point and with the myriad of different bends available you can pick one that makes the bike fit you better. If you ride in the woods a lot, consider narrowing them a little for more tree clearance and weight savings. The stock bar is tall enough so that the only replacement bars that come close are the taller bars for 80cc MX "minis" (they may be a bit narrow though), the Renthal "Desert/Vintage high bend", and the Renthal "Jimmy Button" bend, so taller riders will probably need to use bar risers to give enough height. The factory handlebar weighs 1.86 pounds, and the Renthal "Jimmy Button" bars are 1.675 pounds, for a difference of .185 pound. This is with the Renthals being trimmed 2 inches narrower than factory.
Passenger Footpegs
If you are not going to be carrying a passenger, take them off. It's free!
Helmet Lock
Come on, you either hang your brain bucket on the bars, like you know you aren't supposed to, or you carry it with you. Remove the little bugger.
Fuel Tank
Larger capacity plastic tanks are available from IMS in several colours. They are usually lighter than the stock one, as long you don't keep it full (and a lot cheaper than the factory part). The later model stock 2.9 gallon tank is 7.23 pounds, and the IMS 3.2 gallon black color tank is 5.44 pounds, for a difference of 1.79 pounds. This is without the petcock, and with the gas cap that goes with each tank.
Turn Signals
You can replace the stock ones with much smaller/lighter aftermarket ones; if you want to keep it street legal be sure to get DOT approved models (which cost more). !Warning! Smaller turn signal may make you and/or your turning intentions more difficult to see; so think about this before you do it. Handy Hint: If you use the turn signals that don't have a tin reflector then you can make a noticable improvement in the light output by painting the inside of the housing WHITE (works better than silver or aluminum paint, I checked!).
Battery
Why do these things always feel like they are filled with lead? Oh, wait a minute, it is because they are! If you ride at night this change may not be for you, remember that the battery is the only thing that keeps the lights on if you stall the engine, and without nice strong lights how is the car speeding up behind you going to see you!!
If you only ride off-road you could use a battery eliminator (no lights at all when the engine is off, not street legal in most places). If you are the DIY type you can get an electrolytic capacitor of the 12volt or 10-15v type for this purpose from an electronic surplus store; they are usually blue and about the size of a single serving tomato juice can. If you need a battery primarily for reasons of formality then get a smaller than stock one (be sure it has the same terminal style/location and overflow tube location) or try one of the little NiCad or NiMH battery packs that come with the dual-sport kits that make dirt bikes street legal (ie, from Baja Designs).
The stock battery is a pretty short one, (YUASA YB4L-A) so the only other listing that looks like it should fit is the sealed YUASA YT4L-BS, nominally 1mm wider but otherwise smaller. It has a slightly lower Amp Hour rating and sadly, has a weight difference of only about one ounce. This is because sealed batteries are generally heavier than a similarly sized vented lead/acid battery, though they usually last longer.
Headlight
The KLR Jr. headlight and its over-built steel mount are quite heavy; and, although the replacement unit may not be quite as bright, if you ride mostly off road you might consider replacing them with one of the strap-on headlight units made for dual sport conversions. Make sure the light is legal for street use.
Kick Start Lever
It's big, it's steel, and that saved Kawasaki and you money, but not weight. Everyone please check your/your brother/friend/cousin's Motocross bike to see if their aluminum kickstarter will fit the KLR. Then email me to let us know what bike it came from!
Tachometer
How many dirt bikes have a tachometer? How many of them wish they did? Now I am not recommending that you cut your gauge cluster in half. It should be a fairly straightforward task to fit a speedometer-only unit from some other bike (or even the aftermarket "Pan-O-Rama" unit); the trick is to get one with, or make, a compatable water temperature meter.

Now we start to stretch a bit:
Kick Stand
It's big, it's steel, but down so low it hardly matters. There are universal aluminum kickstands available that mount to the swingarm, or in some cases can be made to fit the stock mount.
Sprokets
If you want to lower your gearing, get a smaller front sproket rather than a larger rear; saves weight (a countershaft sproket too small in diameter can accelerate chain wear). Renthal even makes one (not for the KLR yet) that has been drilled to reduce weight further! For the rear you could always try an aluminum sproket, but they definitely wear faster (Renthal makes hard-anadized aluminum ones that last longer than usual).
Axles
Some bikes come with hollow axles (yes, I had one) and the weight difference is one that you can feel in the old "hand scales". Also helps reduce the all crucial "unsprung weight" so it can improve suspension action (in theory, at least). If you find an axle that works, let us know what bike was the donor.
Choke Conversion
Fitting an "old fashioned" choke knob on the carb allows you to remove the choke lever from the handlebar and the three feet of cable. You have to reach down to turn on the petrol anyway. (There are kits for this from the carb makers; the KLR Jr. needs one that comes with a short (3" ?) cable since the carb is hidden behind the overflow bottle. I think it is actually for a Harley; does anyone know which kit it is?)
Aluminum/Titanium Hardware
Switch your non-critical nuts, bolts, screws, to aluminum (aluminum hardware is not as strong as steel hardware, so don't take chances). You can buy a variety pack online or try a specialty fastener supplier in the yellow pages.
Try replacing the big, loadbearing bolts with Titanium ones; a bit pricey though.
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