Doing the KLR650 valve check
for pre-2008 KLRs
This is NOT a detailed guide—it is intended only as a reminder for those
who have done this procedure before, who have seen it done and understand
the basics, or those who are experienced wrenchers and don’t need all the details.
This guide comes with no guarantees of accuracy or correctness at all, so there.
Also, these images are from the Clymer manual, and from Kawasaki microfiche, not my artwork.
It’s best to have the engine cold, but no more than 95o F is okay.
Make sure the bike is clean and no debris will fall into the engine.
Remove the side covers, seat, and gas tank shrouds.
Shut the petcock off, remove the two hoses, and the
gas tank vent hose at the rear of the tank (CA models
have two hoses). Remove the gas tank. Remove (no need
to unplug the wire) the radiator fan and secure it out of
the way. Remove the spark plug wire (leave the spark plug in
place) and the other sensor wire next to it. Also unbolt
and secure aside the coil unit on the spark plug wire.
Remove the four valve cover screws, two different types (shown above).
Ease off the valve cover, and remove it to the left side of the bike. It’s a
tight fit, but it will come out. You will likely have to move aside various wires and hoses.
Put the engine at TDC (top dead center): remove the two plastic plugs on left side of the engine and use a socket wrench to turn the rotor COUNTER-CLOCKWISE ONLY until the overlined T mark appears in the upper port. The overline gets aligned with the mark at the bottom of the viewport. If you go too far, go around again--don't turn clockwise.
Make sure the cam chain
sprockets have their arrows
pointed forward (you might
be a rotation off TDC, otherwise).
Also, if you are in the correct position, the cam lobes
will be pointed AWAY from each other.
Check the valve clearances and document what they are.
intake - 0.10 - 0.20mm 0.004 - 0.008”
exhaust - 0.15 - 0.25mm 0.006 - 0.010”
Over time, these gaps will close in, so for longer service time
(and slappy, happy valves), set these gaps to the looser (wider) range.
If all is okay, put everything back together, cleaning the valve cover
gasket (and using a sealant if you choose) before reassembly.
If you need to replace one or more valve shims, first REMOVE the
cam chain tensioner assembly from the left side of the engine.
Remove the center spring-loaded plunger first, then the other two screws.
(It’s safest to remove and later reset this tensioner before reinstalling it later.)
Since things can fall down into the engine,
consider stuffing clean towels down around
the cam chain to block off that serious risk.
Remove the cam caps for the cams over any shims that
you need to replace. (If you haven’t done it before, I
recommend removing and documenting all four shims at this
time.) The two left cam caps are connected by an oil tube and
should be removed together. There are two hollow alignment
pins under each cam cap (through which each screw passes),
and these will often fall into the engine. They may stick briefly,
fooling you, then fall away at the worst time.
BE CAUTIOUS OF THESE ALIGNMENT PINS FALLING INTO THE ENGINE.
The camshafts can then be lifted at the right end to allow access to the shims.
Be careful not to rotate the cams or dislocate the cam chain.
The shims are in buckets that can be rotated to provide access to a notch.
Through this notch, pry or lift out the shim (I use a dental pick), document
what size it is, and return or replace it, printed side down. Shims can be replaced
or relocated, and they can be reused. Install the shims with the laser-etched
A shim marked 255 has a thickness of 2.55mm, for example.
Do not assemble anything dry—ensure that everything has a very light coat of oil.
Put the cam cap alignment tubes in their holes in the cylinder head,
then put the cam caps back in. Tighten then torque the cam cap screws to
104 inch-pounds, starting with left exhaust, then right exhaust. The left
intake, finally right intake. Once everything is secure, remove the rags
if you used them to block off the engine abyss.
Reset the cam chain tensioner and replace the cam chain tensioner body,
then the spring—you’ll hear it click as the spring applies tension.
If you want to check your clearances again, rotate the engine counter-clockwise a
couple times (back to TDC) and re-check the valve clearances.
Clean the gasket and metal surfaces, and apply a clear non-drying silicone if
you want, then carefully put the valve cover back on from the left side and tighten
the screws to ~70 inch-pounds. Don’t over-tighten these screws; they often break
or strip out the aluminum threads. Some gurus tighten them to only about 65 inch-pounds.
Reattach the coil, spark plug wire, sensor wire, radiator fan, etc. Connect the
vent hose(s) to the tank and two hoses to the carb. The other reassembly is
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