Tuesday, August 21, 2007

KLR lowering kit input?

Finally! Time is making itself available to come back to the blog. I taught a class this weekend. Awesome group. There's some great stories I want to share later.

I've spent today doing a little bike shopping with Katie and then helping the kid work on his P.O.S. little creature.

I sat on an '08 KLR today. The thing is as tall as I've heard. Being 5'8 1/2" tall, I don't have the longest inseam. My legs have always been long enough to reach the ground so I haven't found it to be a problem. The complication is that they don't reach the ground as well from the seat of the dual sport. Since my legs aren't likely to grow anytime soon, a lowering kit might be in order if I were to purchase the bike.

The lowering kit offered is a wishbone type suspension lowering system. I'm told the bike can be lowered from 1 to 3 inches. Some folks raise the fork legs in the triple clamp but I'm not wild about that option. Does anyone have any input on how well the lowering kit works? Not just in actually lowering the bike but in handling, as well? I've seen these wishbone linkages create unfavorable angles in the suspension.
Any comments or experiences would be appreciated.

Here's the update on the Chinese bike.

At 29 miles most of the teeth sheared off the end of the starter shaft. The kickstart lever spun the teeth of the inside of it's mounting clamp. Somewhere in that time frame the needle came off of the tach spindle. The owners of the shop are making noises like they are going to cover everything under warranty. I've since discovered that NST has discontinued this model. Parts may not be available anymore.

We found a starter on a similar model and it works until you put the cover over the end of the shaft and the gears. The misalignment is just enough to put a bind on the shaft. We're "modifying" some things to get by, but it's time to have a serious talk with the shop owners. I think they mean well but don't have much experience in this business.

I'm very careful to not use my position as a trainer in unethical ways. I never stand in front of a class, for instance, and endorse a particular brand or dealer. I'm there to help people develop or improve riding skills. I remain neutral on other issues, at least, "officially". So I would not go out of my way to speak ill of this shop. If it came up in conversation unrelated to a class, however, that's a different story.

We're going to have a little chat about this situation. I'm looking for the right words to tactfully get across the point that it's not wise for anyone in the motorcycle business to alienate an instructor who sees almost a thousand students a year. Was that a long sentence, or what?

Doing the "right thing" will go a long ways towards helping us as well as themselves.

Keep you posted. Got some fun and interesting things on the list for the next few posts. All I need to do is steal time away from my two jobs and what little personal life I have to write them!

Miles and smiles,



gary said...

Dan, if you use the lowering kit, you need to lower the forks in the triple-clamps to maintain the designed geometry. But you already know that, right?

The `08 KLR is already about an inch lower on seat height than mine. I'm 5`9, with a 32-inch inseam, and have grown quite comfortable with leaning over flat-foot on my right leg at a stop.

The other alternative is to stand on tiptoes, of course, but that just looks Wrong on a KLR. What am I, a ballerina?

With the lowering kit, the bike will handle better on the street, but won't be capable of gnarly off-road antics. Dirt and gravel roads will be a snap, random curb-hopping and off-road on-ramps will still be possible, of course.

How often do we need to ride over fallen trees, anyway?


Ride well,

Krysta in Milwaukee said...

re: lowering... Why mess with the suspension and all that affects if there's an easier way to solve the problem? Don't fix the bike, fix your butt: find a seat that's got a lower-cut saddle. (Or a narrower cut.)

Our BMW R1150 has interchangable seats (we have 2 heights, dunno how many there are). The taller is a little too high for my comfort, the lower is OK; I'm 5'11". Odd thing is, Karl's legs are actually a little shorter than mine, but he likes the taller seat. Go figure.

"I'm looking for the right words..." Here's my $.02:

Axioms of business:
1) It's cheaper to keep an existing customer than to land a new one.
2) A happy customer might tell one person. An unhappy customer will tell several.

"I know a lot of people are reading about my (son's) experiences with this motorcycle and your shop. I'd really like to be able to tell them what upstanding corporate citizens you are, how you stand behind your products, etc."

Basically, set high expectations and by your confident tone & manner show them that you're sure they'll meet those expectations and Do The Right Thing by your son. As backup (the steel under the velvet?), you might check into the consumer protection / lemon laws in OR.

On a personal note, I'm getting grumpy 'cause I've only been able to ride ONCE this week, running an errand. All week has been line after line of heavy storms, usually with much lightning, and usually around the time I'm either going to or coming from work... so I've been using the car. I'm Not Happy.

To the positive, at least where I am it's not flooding, and at work I have permission to park in the repair shop, which is attached to the main building. Security & shelter; what a deal.

Anonymous said...

Hey, me again (Krysta in Milwaukee). OR lemon law info:




(you have to paste those lines together)

They get 4 attempts to fix it.

Your son must notify them of the problems _in_ _writing_.

"you are entitled to receive a new vehicle or a refund for the full purchase price including taxes and license and registration fees"

Unfortunately, the manufacturer determines whether you get another bike or your money back.

The statute mentions "unauthorized modifications or alterations of the motor vehicle by the consumer", so hold off on that graft you were working on.

irondad said...

I was hoping for input from you! You're sort of our resident KLR guru. I knew about lowering the the forks proportionately. I should have been more clear in that I meant using it by itself, as I've seen. Maybe ballet will help improve your Zen!

By the way, I'm offended that you would think I would jumb curbs. Um, can you give me any tips for that?

Custom seats can do wonders for making a bike fit, I agree.

Thanks for doing some homework for me!


krysta in milwaukee said...

Dan - those aren't custom seats we have, they're stock from BMW. If I ever can afford a custom-made seat, it's gonna be heated. I'm in love with electrics.

As for the 'homework', ::grin:: research is one thing grad students get very good at. "I don't know the answer, but I know where to find it!"

gary said...

Dan, you probably already know this too, but...

Curb hopping: Slow down as you approach, as close to perpendicular as you can, then gas it to shift the weight rearward and lift the front end so it pops up nice and easy.

Let off the gas immediately so the weight shifts forward and the rear will pop up without bottoming the suspension.

Ride well,

irondad said...

It's obvious my subtle attempt at humor somehow missed its target. I appreciate your being tactful.

As a matter of fact, when we used an older version of an MSF program, we taught and practiced surmounting obstacles.

By the way, I rode an '06 KLR yesterday that had been lowered. It belongs to a friend of mine who's a 911 dispatcher. I could actually feel secure at a stop.

If I'm going to get one, though, I'm going for the '08.

Steve Williams said...

The KLR is still in my radar along with the Triumph Scrambler. Depending on the day I see myself on one or the other. Suprisingly though I never imagine them when I am actually riding on the Vespa. Maybe that should tell me something.

I've been on a KLR once and thanks to my near 6'3" frame I don't have any trouble flat footing the thing. The KLR seems almost perfect if I am going to add a bike to the garage. And the price is sweet too...

If you Gary and I someday end up with one we should meet in New Mexico for a ride. Or if you got a Vespa GTS...

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...

Look out New Mexico!