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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Bought a KLE 500 (Read 2754 times)
Tony Smith
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Bought a KLE 500
05/06/14 at 21:06:44
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The gods of eBay smiled and I am the proud owner of a Kawasaki KLE 500, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have only parted with $117.00 to buy it. Every once in a while the remoteness of Far North Queensland works in our favour and nobody else bid on it as it would have cost a further $500 to have it shipped anywhere.

The seller was a towing company who collected the KLE at an accident scene several years ago, the owner has made numerous promises to pay the towing fee but has never fronted with cash and as the towing company was relocating they decided to get rid of a number of cars and motorcycles whose owners had not paid them.

Initial assessment once I got it home was a little disappointing, itis as if a giant has put the bike in a big sack and shaken it hard - everything is there, but every piece of plastic is broken in at least one place and the engine has seized from standing. It is also fair to say that being stored outside for several years has not been kind to the general finish.

But, the good side is that after putting a bore-scope camera down a plug hole there is not too much corrosion so the old "fill the cylinders with coca cola" may well free it up, if not it doesn't seem a complex job to get the engine out for deeper investigation.

I have all the plastic off and will be taking it to a plastic welder in the next few weeks (got the small matter of a still not running R65 resurrection to deal with first). After which it will look a lot more presentable. I am going to need to purchase a seat and a set of blinkers (when it went down the road it must have flipped as it is scraped on both sides), a front master cylinder and get the seat recovered. Sadly I am also going to need to buy a fuel tank as the existing one has a rust hole I can fit three fingers into.

Only two things have gone "missing" in the time it has been in the holding yard - the start relay and the fuel tank cap and tap. The start relay has already been bought for $10, after searching for a second hand tank with fittings I understand why someone stole them, they are worth more than gold.

The good news is that the forks are straight, as is the rear suspension so with a bit of luck I've scored myself a very cheap adventure bike. To which end I have been eying off the various luscious goodies sold by Messrs Hepco and Becker that fit it.

Of course in my heart of hearts I would have liked it to be a R65/80 GS or even a F800GS, but the plus side is that I can probably repair it, make it look half decent and fit it out with crash bars and a luggage system for about one third of the cost of a BMW option.

I am chuffed to get a KLE as I have been sort of watching for one for a long time, they have some limitations such as being a bit underpowered and insufficient fuel range, but the price I've paid for this one gives me a fair bit of "headroom" to resolve those matters.

I shall occasionally post progress notes here
  

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1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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steve hawkins
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #1 - 05/08/14 at 04:59:47
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Good luck with it, but do not let it pull you from the 'true path' my son.

It looks like you are going to try and put it back to standard.  Why not have some fun with it.....

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Steve Hawkins R100 (that wants to be an R65)
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montmil
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #2 - 05/08/14 at 13:20:21
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Believe this KLE, according to a Kawasaki model timeline, segued into the current Kawa Versys.

Should be a nice bike suitable for medium duty ADV rides. Smiley

Soldier Son just picked up a 1984 Honda XR500R at an estate sale for $375.00 USD. Currently plans to shape it into a Big Bend runner.
  

Monte Miller
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1978 BMW R100S
1981 BMW R65
1983 BMW R65
1995 Triumph Trophy
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Tony Smith
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #3 - 05/08/14 at 17:41:43
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steve hawkins wrote on 05/08/14 at 04:59:47:
Good luck with it, but do not let it pull you from the 'true path' my son.

It looks like you are going to try and put it back to standard.  Why not have some fun with it.....

Rev. Light



There are whole vistas of unexplored old mining areas, ghost rtowns and old railway lines that I have been exploring for more than 20 years. Up to now I've been using a Yamaha XT350 with an Acerbis 25lt tank and a home made luggage system.

The XT is now 30 years old and the areas I'm going to now involve a few hundred kilometers of bitumen transit. Have a look at Hepco & Becker - the luggage possiblities for the KLE are endless.

Someone at the restorer's club meeting last weekend pointed out that my XY has been elligible for club membership for 10 years (limit is 20 years old). I've decided that seeing as if it fails it might be a bloody long walk to civilization, it's time to give it an honourable retirement. I'll post photos shortly but say in advance I do not intend to "restore" the XT, it can wear it's battle scars proudly.
s
  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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Tony Smith
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #4 - 01/28/15 at 20:35:31
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I did say when I first bought the KLE that I would occasionally post regarding its progress.

Well, after getting a quote or two to repair the plastic I bought a plastic welder and after visiting the local motorcycle wrecker to obtain a few broken bits and pieces I have taught myself to weld plastic. 
I have also invested in a number of plastic repair kits, far and away the best of them is from Plastex,  http://www.plastex.net. You can do simply amazing things with Plastex, as a result I have "retired" the plastic welder.

Most of the plastic is now repaired, the only items still not done is the instrument binnacle and rear carrier. As I am buying a complete set of serviceable instruments and a rear carrier from Germany I am not bothering with these but will keep them "in case".

Engine wise, I have the carbs off and will soak them in Coke in the next week or so to free them up, I have bought new float bowl needles and seats for them and am hoping that is all that will be required.

I managed to free the rear master cylinder (there was nothing wrong with it actually, the "jamming" was caused by a bent brake lever pivot. I've bought a new front master cylinder from China as that was cheaper than buying a seal kit from Kawasaki (and I would probably have had to sleeve the original anyway). I am sufficiently confident of the rear caliper to leave it alone but have bought a seal kit for the front and am hoping not to have to make new pistons for it (have not taken it apart yet). Both discs are rusty but straight, a dip in "rust begone" and a repaint of the non-friction areas will see them done.

The engine has been a vexing problem. When I started to pull it apart I discovered that the engine was full of water. To get the cylinders off I had to split the cases to undo the big ends as the pistons are well seized to the bore - I suspect that I will be using blocks of timber and my BIG sledge hammer to get them out so I can re-use the conrods.

The crank is fine as the plain bearings protected it from the water, the gearbox would need new bearings and one shaft replaced - Instead I have bought a complete gearbox from an EX-500 and will fit that when it arrives.

I bought 2nd hand barrels and pistons from a seller in the USA and more recently a complete cylinder head. The Cylinder head is currently with the engineering firm having the valves ground.

I currently estimate that it will be back together in a couple of months and will at that time owe me around $1,500 including the original $117 purchase price. Given that similar vintage KLE500s are trading at $3,000 to $4,000 I am happy that I have a "bargain".

Next update I'll throw in some photos of the ghastly mess when I split the cases and some of the repaired plastic.
  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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Tony Smith
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KLE 500 parts prices.
Reply #5 - 02/22/15 at 16:41:57
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I will NEVER complain about BMW parts prices again. Bought a handful of seals (all OEM not catalogue), one gearbox bearing (which may or may not need replacing, but after the engine cases are back together and the engine is in the frame is not a good time to find out that it was not OK) and a starter clutch rebuild kit.

No change out of $200 South pacific pesos. And I mean literally no change - the final bill was $200.91 and did not have any coins on me.

The gasket kit I thought I was buying as well is $125 all on its own, I can however buy that a little cheaper online.

The fuel tank I bought isn't coming, apparently air freight operators will not accept fuel tanks, even if they have no cap or taps and have been blown out with air for 12 hours. Locally the wreckers in Australia all seem to want around $350 for their tanks (with no tap or cap), a brand new one is $450, I'm thinking the extra $100 might be worth the avoidance of hassle.

  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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Tony Smith
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #6 - 05/26/15 at 06:27:03
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Not a whole lot of progress, however my wife foolishly offered to repaint the frame if I finish stripping it.

I've asked for air-sea rescue orange, but i think I am getting dull aluminium or plain black.

Women can be so unco-operative.


  

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1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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steve hawkins
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #7 - 05/26/15 at 12:04:48
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Get her to polish the wheels instead......If she's not going to do as she's told.... Roll Eyes

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Steve Hawkins R100 (that wants to be an R65)
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Tony Smith
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #8 - 05/26/15 at 15:36:57
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steve hawkins wrote on 05/26/15 at 12:04:48:
Get her to polish the wheels instead......If she's not going to do as she's told.... Roll Eyes

Rev Light


I'd like to live long enough to finish the project.

Some observations on the KLE.
Kawasaki must have thought there was a grand future for the KLE, it has about the heaviest, toughest frame I have ever seen on a mid sized motorcycle, the engine certainly proved to have "growth potential" as it ultimately topped out as a 750 in the Versys, I reckon the KLE frame  could comfortably handle more than twice the horsepower. And, that frame is so solid that fitted with a BMW type bull-bar you could be confident that 99% of things you ran into would come off second best.

Course the problem with that is that it is also as heavy as lead. Not hard to see where the weight is - look at the size of the swing-arm and that is thick section steel, likewise all the rear suspension pivots, arms and levers that are alloy on every rising rate rear suspension of my experience, are all steel (well actually malleable cast iron).

I once had reason to weigh the frame (less suspension components) of a Ducati 250cc racer, it weighed 8 kilos. The removable frame downtube on the KLE (to get the engine out) weighs nearly that on its own.

Long and short - it is bloody heavy! Been reading up on the NC750, what an interesting motorcycle!

  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #9 - 05/26/15 at 20:12:23
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Certainly a bike built to last!   I'm sure it is a sturdy platform for  many ADV-styled adventures.   It think the Green K made it with stout steel instead of fancy expensive aluminum alloys to keep the price down.   IT also means any modifications or welding doesn't require fancy TIG aluminum setups - get a farmer's rod and go at it!
  

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Tony Smith
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #10 - 05/26/15 at 21:25:27
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nhmaf wrote on 05/26/15 at 20:12:23:
Certainly a bike built to last!  


I hope so as I have "plans" for this motorcycle. My friend who used to be a Kawasaki dealer tells me that the engine is near unbreakable, the one weak link being that early models, like mine, have an alternator rotor that sheds magnets and causes significant harm. I got an awful shock when I discovered that the later part is nearly $AU400 from Kawasaki (all they did was crimp a stainless steel "liner" to the rotor to keep the magnets in place). but happily I have discovered http://www.electrexworld.co.uk/acatalog/RO5.html who will sell me one fr about $AU240, and they have an excellent reputation.

The engine is almost as easy as a boxer to work on, or at least it would have been but for one small problem. The pistons were corroded very solidly to the barrels which meant I had to split the cases to release the conrods from "underneath". Whilst I had it apart, and with the aid of the factory service manual I was able to graft from somewhere I decided to replace most of the gearbox, a few roller bearings and all seals.

A nearly new gearbox from an EX-500 cost $AU60 from the USA with reasonable (for once coming out of the USA) eBay flat rate postage. The KLE has the same engine as the 500 Ninja, GPZ500, ER5-N and EX-500, in continuous use by Kawasaki from around 1987 to present date. As they are long lived and hard to break there is a bit of a glut of them in wreckers - I bought a serviceable cylinder head, replacement barrels and pistons for less than $AU150 including delivery.

It is the little things that cost, non-catalog bearings and seals are eye-wateringly expensive, in fact the gasket set, bearings and seals have now cost me more than buying the bike in the first place, plus the head, pistons, barrels and gearbox!

Stuff like brake master cylinder seal kits are around $AU50 and caliper kits around $AU60, all of which makes me pine for BMW prices....

Target is to have it running by the end of our winter, August more or less and registered by Christmas. One big spending item I still need is a serviceable fuel tank, they come up occasionally overseas, but I cannot find a freight carrier that will load a second hand fuel tank, which means I have to pay and Australian wrecker's early retirement fund price for one.
  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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Tony Smith
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Re: Bought a KLE 500 - it lives
Reply #11 - 07/12/15 at 03:49:16
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Got it running today, albeit with a 2nd hand engine I was offered at a price too good to refuse - the engine has 120,000km on it but runs well and burns little oil and doesn't rattle. This means I can go ahead and register it and change engines over when I rebuild the original.

I also scored a set of plastic, some of which is in better nick than mine, also a set of instruments and a headlight. And best of all, it is the same year/model and colour as mine.

It runs but I have multiple electrical issues to sort - in the main corroded cable joiners, bulb sockets and the like. The seller thinks he has the complete wiring harness somewhere and if he finds it, it is mine. Spare ignition ignitor and control switches would be nice to have.

Oh, I also got the clutch/speedo/throttle and choke cables from his bike as well as his unused spares. Sad story, he stripped his bike and was taking it to a powder coater and it "escaped".

photos soon.
  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #12 - 07/12/15 at 07:01:25
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"escaped".


What as in fell off the truck ?
  

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Tony Smith
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #13 - 07/12/15 at 22:08:09
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Barry wrote on 07/12/15 at 07:01:25:
"escaped".


What as in fell off the truck ?



Was in back of truck when he left home, made a couple of calls and got to powder coating place and it wasn't there. Very unlikely that it could have fallen out of a deep well-back but difficult to understand why anyone would steal a bare rolling frame - for the wheels maybe. Anyway, his loss my gain.
  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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Tony Smith
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Re: Bought a KLE 500
Reply #14 - 08/17/15 at 00:21:28
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Back together and ridden 35km today.

Unlike my usual sloth the delay on this occasion was not down to me. I discovered that all of the brake pistons were ruined - apparently someone thought it was a good idea to use polished bright mild steel for pistons on single sided sliding calipers.

I sincerely hope that the engineer at Tokico who designed the useless bloody things and the engineer at Kawasaki who decided to actually fit them to a motorcycle bot apologized to the Emperor using blunt knives!

For a while I seriously contemplated making adaptors and using a pair of FO8 Brembos, but the master cylinders would have been wrong as well so i scrapped that idea. In the end on made up a set of brakes using the least worst calipers and pistons, I've sent the second set to a Friend who lives several hundred kilometers away, he is going to turn me up a set of alloy pistons, anodize and polish them and sent them back.

I hate single sided calipers and I hate these particular ones with a passion......


Anyway, that aside, I went for a 35km ride this morning. In retrospect I probably shouldn't have washed it first, as this caused it to run on one cylinder for the first 7 or 8 km. After that however not too bad I have to say.

I need to:-

1. Service the front forks and then see is air can be used to offset the inadequate spring rate - if not then buy new springs.

2. Have the rear shockie rebuilt with about twice as much damping as stock (or buy a quality replacement) and replace the rear spring with something a lot firmer.

3/. I currently have stock "dogbones" fitted, the bike rides too low. I have a set of short dogbones that came with the bike, but they make it so tall it is an effort to get on and off and the side stand is unsafe. I will need to make new dogbones that are halfway between the stock ones and the extremely short ones.

4/. The seat has to go!

5/. 15lt fuel is absurd.

Obligatory photos are here

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMZRjzX3-FEtUX8cvQhZluyPMFjg8dwLqxxK1Vn

https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipP9wQ-kNgAPqPjYAFYt1ffRHVJilmF2wqrhAurT

  

1978 R100RS| 1984 R65 | 1984 XT350 | 1992 KLE500 | 2002 R1150GSA
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