The PacMule- North Carolina to Alaska

Bike Preparation

North America 2010
Bike Preparation
Trip Preparation
Trip Blog (and link to download)
Pictures and Video

Start with a stock 2001 Kawasaki KLR650


Kawasaki began producing the KLR650 in 1987 and it remained virtually unchanged until 2007.  Twenty years of production and microscopic evolution resulted in a dual sport (on and off road), accessible, simple but tough, method of everyday transportation and a foundation for world travel.  The KLR has been the choice for many multi-continent trips on good roads, bad roads, and no roads.  The platform resulted in a cult following of aftermarket parts, home fabrication, and penny tech engineering for those customizing the bike for specific trips or outfitting for a sole means of transportation.
I have owned a KLR since 2003 and while it shares the garage with a BMW touring bike, the KLR is usually the steed of choice when the option of a fire road or single track trail might present itself.  While the loaded top speed on this bike is enough to stay out of the way of traffic, it's not a fast bike.  While it does everything OK, it does nothing great.  Some call it the "Swiss Army Knife" of motorcycles.


The process to prepare the KLR for a long and arduous trip  includes replacing most of the front of the bike with bigger brighter lights and a more effective windscreen.  The lights come from a Honda Scooter and are driven by PIAA high intensity bulbs.  The mount was fabricated with steel and aluminum parts from Lowes and the junk pile in the basement.


Stripping the bike down to it's engine and frame and starting fresh.  Replacing the seat with a Corbin Flat unit topped with a sheepskin cover should keep my backside from total rebellion.  An exoskeleton of steel tubing will protect the vital organs of the beast during the inevitable get-off.  Redundant heavy duty wiring was delivered through a new fuse panel and a spare clutch cable was co-located next to the functional one.


Five coats of satin black fusion paint on all plastics.  Three coats satin black on tank.  Two waterproof plastic tubes were mounted on the crash bars.  These tubes are holders for equipment manuals on tractors.  Perfect for an extra liter of fuel (works in camp stove too) in one and tools, tire change kits, and extra inner tubes.   Keeping this heavy stuff forward and low is crucial for handling.


After the re-wire, a custom dash was fabricated to allow placement for switches to control the running lamps, heated hand grips, dash lights, etc.  It also includes a modified ammeter to keep an eye on the limited electrical output of the KLR, and a 12v powerlet for GPS (not shown), heated vest, or charging the camera or laptop.


After adding a rear pannier mount, bolted to the subframe, I fabricated connectors to mount two SeaHorse cases typically used for military electronics or scuba equipment.  These cases are extremely rugged, dust and waterproof, lockable, and removeable.
A couple of test trips before the June 4 launch date will ensure this configuration is balanced and capable of packing the growing list of necessities. 

Modifications to stock bike.....
Corbin Seat
Moose aluminum handle bars
Moose aluminum hand guards
Moose hand guard deflectors
Home made headlight/windscreen
Doohicky done
16t 43t sprocket/ o-ring chain
Baja nerf bars
Progressive springs
Carb mod-
Redundant wiring
Relocated fuse-blade-side access
Serrated off-road pegs
SeaLion equipment cases mounted as luggage
Pelican top case
Aluminum heavy duty skid plate
Heated hand grips
Modified "Duchin Dash" dashboard/trip computer/ electrical hub
Subframe bolts upgraded to support luggage
Replaced most hardware with g8-10
Fender brace
Foam air cleaner
Magnetic drain plug
Shinko 705 front and rear (extra set mailed to the Yukon)
Heavy duty 4mm inner tubes