Q: I found the article on Jamie Elvidge's long-term 2008 Kawasaki KLR650 in the October issue very interesting. I read this article after returning home from a nice weekend ride, where I discovered my KLR is burning a quart of oil every 200 miles. My unit was ridden very easy for the first year and was broken-in by the book, but when I started to push the bike at highway speeds after 3000 miles, it started burning oil. After some research on the Internet, I found there are many '08 KLR owners with the same issue.
Kawasaki told me this is normal and they have no plans to fix the issue by recall. Since this seems to be a widespread issue among '08 KLR owners, do you have any suggestions on how to get Kawasaki to stand behind its product? There's nothing like pulling into a gas station to check your gas and fill it up with oil!
A: Jamie's long-term KLR was downing a quart of 10w/40 every 800-900 miles-a teetotaler compared to yours, but excessive for anything but extended play at or near redline. When another KLR in our extended family came back from the local dealer with a material defect diagnosis, a new oil-control ring put things right. Kawasaki is advising owners with oil-consumption issues to contact their local dealer, who will determine the proper fix. There's evidently an alternative set of rings for overly thirsty models.
Andy Charles at Power Edge Porting (www.poweredgeporting.com) was adding a quart every 300-400 miles to his '08 KLR, which was subsequently rebuilt by the local dealer. "My bike got new rings, a new piston, new cylinder and new valve stem seals," he says. "It made no difference at all.
A little research revealed various potential causes. Piston/cylinder clearances may not be up to spec, or the cylinder may be out of round. He thinks the main causes of oil burning are the low-tension rings, particularly the three-part oil ring, made up of two rails and one spacer. The spacer determines oil ring tension. Rail thickness has increased from 0.016-inch to 0.018 in the latest KLR650 oil rings.
"This should help," Andy says. "In my opinion this is a quality control problem and I fully expect Kawasaki to solve it, if they have not done so already. In Steve's case, I would have the piston-to-cylinder clearance checked by a good shop to see if it is within specs. I would also have the cylinder checked to see if it is out of round. Kawasaki offers an oversize piston for the KLR and this could be used if the cylinder needs to be honed or rebored. They offer a 0.5mm and a 1mm oversize piston for use with rebored factory cylinders."