Tire talk

We often talk or argue about tires, based on our experience on different roads, with different riding habits, in different conditions and no question, all of us are right. Does not happen often when you have the chance to test different tires in the same conditions. The February KLR Ramblers ride unintentionally turned out to be a very good opportunity to do that.

Three of us set out for that ride on three different set of tires. Myself had a CST rear tire with a couple of thousands of km wear on it. It was not really a choice of mine, but when my Shinko got completely worn out, there was nothing else I could find and get fitted on my KLR 650 in Wanganui.

tire-CST-C6559 tire-CST-C6559-m

The very imaginatively named Chinese made C6559 was OK on the gravel roads, I did not dare to stress it on the tarmac, but turned out to be next to useless on dirt roads. Long as it is hard packed dirt road with light dust on it, you can get along with it, but in the moment you touch some mud, it clogs up and loose traction. You also cannot expect traction on grass. After the beginners track I did not risk getting on the more advanced tracks, which turned out to be a wise decision. The CST tire presented the lowest performance in this group. Seems, that the Chinese engineers did browse the Internet to see how adventure motorcycle tires looks like and did something based on what they saw, but I felt the real product development and testing have been completely left out from the process. I could recommend the CST C6559 only for a maximum 250cc motorcycle with 90% road use.

The Second set of tire was Michelin Sirac. According to Anton, this is the best 30/70 tire he had so far. It definitely did well on the tarmac, gravel and mild dirt riding.  In shallow mud it still could get some grip and the tread was clearing up quickly. Anton could complete the more technical “B” track with some difficulties but it was done.


The real bad ass tires of the day were the set of Shinko 244 on Herman’s KLR. I had a very good experience with these tires before and when the CST will be a bit more worn out I will get a set of Shinko 244 again. The Shinko 244 took the KLR everywhere where the rider wanted to go. The tread pattern always did clear up very quickly, thanks to the generous spacing of the blocks and the pattern. It provided maximum performance all the time. The only complain I can make about the 244 is the higher tire noise on the motorway, but it is still within the OK range. I felt the Shinko tires being the only true 50/50 tires among the sets I have used so far.





There isn’t much word on nutrition on your adventure, apart from the extreme food of Mongolian testicle stew or the occasional report of eating dog meat in Mainland China (PRC) and such.


The truth is, this is a very often forgotten topic, or the motorcycle adventurer will grab whatever is available in the local pub. I would say fortunately, there is often no local pub, and you cannot go around on the campsite begging for food. You need to think it through well in advance before you ride out from the comfort of your garage.

I just prepared my rations for a three days trip and I would like to share what I did pack.

In this area a very good starting point is the military born MRE rations. We don’t need to go so extreme, but it is a good starting point. An MRE pack is supposed to be loaded with a good variety of food and all the nutrition and comfort food an adult person needs in physically demanding conditions.

The basics you need to think of are goes like this.

  • vitamins
  • fibre
  • protein
  • carbohydrate
  • calories
  • electrolites
  • comfort items

You need to provide all these not just based on the needs. You should not forget, you are on a trip for fun and not in the military or on a self torturing pilgrimage, so make it pleasant with all the bells and whistles what you can afford within the limits of healthy eating and size.

Talking about size, both weight and volume, you just cannot load a half pig on your bike for a BBQ. Everything need to be packed efficiently and you need to make some compromises.

So here is my food and comfort items inventory for a three days trip in alphabetical order.

  • 5 small apples
  • 5 freeze dried meals (only need some water and heating)
  • 4 roasted peanut and chocolate protein bars
  • Cigarettes (according to your needs)
  • 5 portions of instant coffee (you can replace or mix this with tea bags)
  • 5 packs of crackers with high fiber content (6 in a pack)
  • 5 packs of mixed dried fruit (40 g e.a.)
  • 5 yogurt, fruit and nuts bar
  • 5 isotonic drinks powder pack (I like the orange taste ones)
  • Multi vitamin and dietary supplements (because you still need a boost)
  • 200 ml whiskey (to make your evenings at the campsite colorful as a postcard)
  • Water (if you are lucky, you can get it at the campsite or need to carry)

And how does it looks like packed, ready to go?


For me it is a tried and working combination but you need to consider your individual needs, taste and likes/dislikes. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe.

And here is the menu you can build from these ingredients.

Saturday breakfast

  • Orange drink
  • Crackers
  • Yogurt and muesli freeze dried breakfast
  • Dried fruit
  • Nut bar
  • Apple
  • Coffee

Saturday morning snack on the road

  • Choc bar

Saturday afternoon snack on the road

  • Choc bar

Saturday dinner

  • Orange drink
  • Crackers
  • Freeze dried Venison risotto
  • Dried fruit
  • Nut bar
  • Apple
  • Coffee

Sunday breakfast

  • Orange drink
  • Crackers
  • Freeze dried Cooked breakfast
  • Dried fruit
  • Nut bar
  • Apple
  • Coffee

Sunday morning snack

  • Choc bar

Sunday afternoon snack

  • Choc bar

Sunday dinner

  • Orange drink
  • Crackers
  • Freeze dried beef stroganoff
  • Dried fruit
  • Nut bar
  • Apple
  • Coffee

Monday breakfast

  • Orange drink
  • Crackers
  • Freeze dried creamy carbonara
  • Dried fruit
  • Nut bar
  • Apple
  • Coffee



“Doohickey” is a placeholder name to refer to a machine or a piece of a machine what you cannot recall its name, function or both from time to time.

In the KLR world, the doohickey refers to the “Balancer Chain Adjuster Lever” which gained a bad reputation as a part which can break over the time due to design flaw.


Lets’ be honest, the old doohickey is looking flimsy and the fact, that it has been put together from two parts, doesn’t make it really reliable.

But just like with any other parts of the KLR, what owners aren’t 100% happy for whatever reason, you can get different after-market parts. The choices are almost endless in any area.

The reason I am writing about it now, is because the question emerged a few times, if this bit is still recommended to be replaced on the “new” KLR 650?

I think the best explanation if we put the three doohickey next to each other.


The left one is the old two part doohickey. The middle one is the doohickey from the “new” KLR 650. The third one is an after-market one.

The new doohickey is machined from one piece of metal and definitely looks more solid than the old one.

In terms of over-engineering, the after-market doohickey is the winner.

A broken doohickey can be a big problem anywhere. Doesn’t matter if it is your near by back country road or the remote steppes of Siberia . OK, in Siberia it is a bigger problem.


And now, the big question. Am I going to replace the doohickey on my 2014 KLR 650? No. I don’t just want to believe it, but the pictures are supporting, that the Japanese engineers are did acknowledged the problem with the old part, and did address it. In terms of engineering I think it is designed sufficiently to hold -up on the rides I am doing. Perhaps, if one day I will embark on an around the world trip on this motorcycle, maybe I will change it to the over-engineered after-market one, but until then I am happy with the current doohickey.

Losing weight, gaining muscles

Today I have done what I wanted to do a very long time ago, weighted my KLR. There were a loads of swaps and changes on the KLR since it rolled out from the dealership, and many of these changes had the aim to reduce the weight of the motorcycle.


How much does it weights?

Let see what have been done.

  • Swapping the stock plastic hand guards to Barkbuster Storm hand guards. It is a bit of additional weight but I am not sure how much. I consider this as a must for me and I don’t care about its weight. The Barkbuster hand guards are saved my controls and my hand a number of times already.
  • SW Motech crash bars. Definitely additional weight, but after cracking the plastic fairing it was considered a must have for me, just like the hand guards. I didn’t dare to measure this heavy stuff. Must weight a ton. :-)
  • I did swap the stock foot pegs to the IMS Super Stock foot pegs. It was a change for more comfort and stability. Although I did not measure these items, I believe, these are slightly lighter than the stock pegs.
  • With the change of the footpegs I was in the need for a slightly longer gear shift leaver. The IMS Flightline Shift Lever compliments nicely the foot pegs. I opted for the one inch longer version.
  • Another change for comfort was the ARTRAX handlebar risers. Definitely additional weight, but not much. You need to be aware of the fact that a loads of small things will add up and 100 gramms will accumulate to Kilograms.
  • I have changed the stock windscreen to the Zero Gravity Sport Touring windscreen also in the hope of more comfort. It did worked well and added a clip on extension to it for a mix of additional comfort and “optical tuning”. Little more weight again.
  • Let’s get down to the heavy weight stuff. Changing the stock battery to a Li-Ion was definitely about losing weight. The battery project ended up with shredding off 3.8 Kg from the KLR.
  • Changing the muffler to the FMF Q4 was also definitely about losing weight. More precisely about losing 3 Kg. The good thing in the FMF Q4, that it has a spark arrestor and a quiet insert which definitely makes it a pass on the WoF but the sound of the motorcycle is changing to awesome.
  • Together with some extra hardware (nuts, bolts, spacers and aluminum plates) a plastic toolbox has been added to the rear rack for a convenient but inexpensive storage space. It looks like the Pelican cases, but it is the cheap Chinese version. Newer measured the weight of it, the practicality overweights it.
  •  have taken off the plastic sub fender for visual improvement and weight saving in 50-50%.
  • Finally we can count some extra weight, represented by nick-necks like GPS holder, USB charger and extra cables, mounting straps for the tank bag and such.

I am not sure you have read everything above, and I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t read it entirely because I would like to know only the final number, so here it is.

199 Kg

The KLR in its final form weights one hundred and ninety-nine Kilograms. I definitely expected less, but doing a bit more counting makes the figures look nice.

The motorcycle was serviced a couple of weeks ago, so it has all the fluids, such as engine oil, coolant, brake fluids, etc. as it is in the manual. Before the weighting I had a stop at the petrol station and filled up the tank to the rim to present the motorcycle as heavy as possible.

By the manual, the curb weight of the 2014 KLR 650 is 196Kg. After a second read and re-considering the loads of extra additions the 3 Kg plus isn’t that much. I am pleased with the KLR.


Tank bag

We haven’t done a product review for a long time and this is right because we spent the time with organizing rides and riding together.I was eyeing with tank bags for a long time but didn’t take the effort to get to a higher energy level which results in action. Durin the motorcycle show, I could visit the few accessory resellers and find out, there is nothing available there what would please me.

I was eyeing with tank bags for a long time but didn’t take the effort to get to a higher energy level which results in action. Durin the motorcycle show, I could visit the few accessory resellers on the showground and find out, there is nothing available what would please me.


Since I wanted to stuff only some small things into the tank bag, like wallet, phone, camera, etc. I was looking for a small one. After doing some “research” on the Internet, I wanted the Kriega OS 6 with a tank adapter. Since all the nearby or accessible stores in NZ had only the old Kriega US 5 bags, I decided to order mine from Australia (MX Store). The Kriega OS 6 was designed to correct some design flaw of the Kriega US 5 bags, and funny enough, I could get it cheaper (including shipping) than walking into a shop in NZ and buy the old design.

So get down to the bag. I think the original design idea is following the MOLLE design line which was developed for the army and stands for “Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment”.

Since I was housebound for the weekend, I took my time to get things done properly.

The first thing what you need to do is secure two straps under your seat. It just did not go easy, the KLR presented a good mind-bending puzzle, to find not just a way to get this done, but get it done in the perfect way.


Finally, I got the two little plastic tabs sticking out from under the seat. Just in case, I put a bit of duct tape between the plastic tabs and the tank to prevent the paint being rubbed off.

Next item is to attach the tank adapter to it and drive two straps around the headstock of the KLR to secure it over the tank.


Yes, you see it correctly, it is covering the tank cap, and will need to be detached when I am filling up the motorcycle with petrol. I will find out later, how much trouble it is.

The Kriega OS 6 bag is neat and all the materials and the way of construction is convincing. It looks like something that will last, and this feeling is supported by the 10 years warranty coming with the bag.


After some wiggling and trial and error, I found the perfect place for the bag on the adapter and everything isn’t just ready for adventure now, but also looks good.


The summary of my experience is so far positive. Good materials, quality workmanship, and relatively easy installation. Let see how it will perform on the Northland Rally.



Art of noise

Don’t worry, I am still writing about motorcycle riding and not taking a side trip to discuss the 80s’ synthpop group “Art of Noise”. :-)

I have always seen motorcycle riders wearing earplugs. For a long time I attributed it to loud exhaust systems, but the real reason to wear ear plugs on the motorcycle is to block out the wind noise.

A good road helmet can be really quiet while adventure and off-road helmets are way much noisier thanks to the design which did not keep the low noise levels and aerodynamics as a priority.

Some research revealed a set of ear plugs being promising, which was narrowed further down due to the very limited selection available on a reasonable price on New Zealand. I am not questioning the superiority of some custom moulded earplugs but the $200+ price for a pair seems excessive even with built in earphones.

After a visit to the local motorcycle shops and the DIY stores nearby, I ended up with three sets of ear plugs.

  • Moldex pocket pack
  • 3M Tekk 25 dB corded
  • DeWalt 33 dB corded

Moldex, 3M, DeWalt


The Moldex is the cheapest in the line-up. $2 for the two pairs in the carry case. These foam plugs does not have any rating on the package. I found the noise reduction performance below my expectations and the foam a tad too hard for me.

Experts recommends not to be exposed to noise louder than 85-90 dB for an extended period of time. Considering the average motorcycle muffler sound being around 90-100dB plus the wind noise, depending on the helmet, I was looking for at least 20-30 dB noise reduction rate (NRR) to stay on the safe side.

The 3M earplugs showing a 25 dB NRR on the packaging, but it was also bearing a sticker saying it meets only 18 dB by New Zealand standards. Since I do not know what is the NZ standard in details and how it is applied on earplugs, I took the 25dB with a pinch of salt and bought this pair. While I  did not like the material and the performance of the Moldex ear plugs, it is absolutely subjective and can be questioned, but the 3M is a total failure for me, not suitable for motorcycle riding. It is way too hard and the core is sticking out too much from the ear, which made it impossible for me to wear under the helmet. It was impossible to insert or take it out from my ear without causing pain. Since the 3M plugs failed at the very first steps of the test, I cannot report on how it is reducing noise. $6.90 was wasted (for one pair), and with this pricing the 3M is the most expensive participant in the test.

The DeWalt earplugs are cost the same as the 3M but you will get two pairs and a carry case. These plugs are made from a very soft memory foam which gives a high level of comfort. I  cannot complain about any discomfort after wearing these for an extended period of time. The advertised 33 dB NRR did sound correct by my subjective judgement. It made the “high speed” ride in the off-road helmet pleasant. It took a bit of time to get used to the less engine/road noise but I could adjust quickly. On the other side, the gravel ride was way less enjoyable with the ear plugs. On longer gravel rides, I will take out these ear plugs since there is not much wind/engine noise around 50-60 km/h and the feedback on the ride, in the form of the noise from the motorcycle, the tyres and the road, is important for me. Another plus for me is the plastic cord connecting the ear plugs. It gives confidence to me to push in the plugs far as I can into the ear canal for maximal performance without the fear of not being able to get it out again without medical help. The cord also protecting these ear plugs from being easily lost or the need to stuff it into pockets with questionable cleanness when you stop for a short break or a pit stop for petrol.

As the result of this limited and very subjective test, I can recommends the “RADIANS DeWalt DPG65 BELL SHAPE CORDED DISPOSABLE FOAM EARPLUGS” for motorcycle riding.


The winner

Route logging

Lately we have been talking about GPS devices, GPX files and route logging a lot. All these are easy if you have a GPS device, but what if you don’t?

Smartphones are ubiquitous these day and spending a little effort on it, you can find an application for free which suits your needs and runs well on your device.


In my experience the following three applications are doing a good job and I can recommend you to try it. Although, I haven’t used these for a while, so you will need to test, if all the features you want is still present and working in these applications.



My personal favourite. It did everything what I wanted. Offline maps, track logging, route planning, navigating with GPX files, exporting tracks to GPX files. Available for Android and iOS, free.

Locus Map


Very similar to osmAnd, but uses free topographic maps. Having offline maps in this application is a bit more complicated than in osmAnd, but still easy to deal with it. Available for Android, free.



Made primarily for running, but worked well for me. This is a fitness tracking and stats application, but will work just fine for you on the motorcycle. Available for Android and iOS, free.

There are still ample time to download and try these applications before the March ride to make sure you can have the GPX track logs to send me for the lucky draw after the ride.


Putting numbers behind the “Whoaaa!”

Just a quick follow up to the previous post. I did measure the difference between the stock light bulb and the Narva +50 Longer Life, much as the limitations of a mobile phone allows it.


Picture is from advrider.com and not related to my testing.


The stock bulb measured at four meters distance on the brightest spot as 2350 lux, while the Narva +50 Longer Life measured as 3010 lux. Finally the numbers are showing +30% (with a bit of a round-up) brightness for the Narva bulb.

Always take numbers and measurements from manufacturers with a pinch of salt.

Let There Be Light

A burn out light bulb made me think about the lights on my KLR. There are two main points when lights and the electric system coming into the subject.

Saving energy for other devices and see and be seen better.

Practically the electric system of every vehicle consist of three main parts.

  1. A generator
  2. A storage device (battery)
  3. A control system to provide consistent voltage for the system

To minimise the use of electricity is a generally good idea. Lights and gadgets can run longer when the engine is not running and more gadget can be powered. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of replacing the headlights with LED bars or such to save energy yet. Fortunately the KLR charging system is providing plenty of power in the stock setup.


I first changed the headlights. The daytime/running light has been replaced with a Narva Plus 50 Longer Life and the high beam with a Narva Plus 100. Amazing results! Much better visibility during daytime and after dark with the high beam on, the whole countryside looks like being lit up.


At the same time, I need to mention, as the brightness increases the lifespan of the bulb is shortens. The stock headlight bulb lasted for two years and the Narva +50 Longer Life could take the beating on the gravel roads for one year only. There is no problem with the Narva Plus 100, but thanks to the stronger daytime light, I don’t use the high beam that much anymore.


I could lay my hands on a Philips X-tremeVision LED tail/break light during the Christmas Holidays. The main problem with the cheap Chinese made retrofit LED lights is the heat. Those lights can become very hot and cause some damage to the mirror or the housing of the bulb. There is no such problem with the Philips LED. At first look it is evident, the engineers at Philips put a really good effort into the development and design into this LED bulb. The massive design and the large heat sinks will make sure, your motorcycle will not melt. As I mentioned it is a retrofit LED light, so you can just pop-out the old incandescent bulb and pop-in the Philips.

According to my limited testing, the running/tail light is almost twice as bright than the stock, while the break light is 1.5 times brighter than the original. Is the mission completed? I am not 100 percent happy. While both state of the tail/brake light are significantly brighter, the difference between the running light and the brake light is not keeping up with the increased power of the running light. But there is nothing to worry. My KLR just passed the WoF this week with flying colours, and the inspector assured me not just everything are within the legal limits but definitely bright and safe.


Next round of the revamp of the lighting would be the indicators, but I did not get into this trouble.

The indicator flasher unit is sensitive to the resistance of the light bulbs and changing the lights to LED means, you need to change the flasher unit as well. It is further complicated on the KLR, because the resistance of the indicator light bulbs are counted in into the indicator feedback light operation as well.

The LED bulbs are passing through not just too much current, but can operate on a way less power. It means, the original idea to separate the two indicator circuit with the help of the resistance of the light bulbs is eliminated, and does not matter which direction do you indicating, all four indicator will flash. You will need to fit two diodes into the wiring to make sure, stray electricity does not go into the wrong direction. This is way too much hacking for me, and decided to leave the indicators alone for now.

The below diagram suggest a solution to this four ways indicator light problem.