Rocket vs KLR 650


Mar 5, 2006
Northern California
2005 Rocket III
A week ago I bought an 08 Kawi KLR 650, its a much improved version over the previous years mostly on the streetability side. On the same day and with less than 30 miles on the bike I get a sudden flat in the rear tire (tube tires) at about 60 mph and its all I can do to keep the bike upright with the rear swinging around like crazy. But fortunately I stay up and bring it to a stop on the side of the road. Turned out to be a nail.

This morning I am on my way to work on the KLR at about 40 mph and I see in front of my what I think is a long streak of water and so I make no attempt to avoid it......ahem.....the front wheel begins a long slide on what turned out to be oil and I end up going lock to lock on the front wheel four times before it stabilizes.....the bike stays upright and I continue with pea size cajones and dirty underwear.

Neither of these incidents is the KLR's fault but I can't help wonder if the Rocket would have been much less scary in both those situations. Looking at the skinny dual sport tires on the KLR and comparing to the Rocket's, the contact patch on the KLR must be about 1/3 of the Rocket's. The margin of useful traction is so much less it seems to me now, after having the sh**t scared out me twice in a week, that I must be nuts for asking this bike to do the same duty as the Rocket. I bought it because there are roads I want to ride that I do not want to take the Rocket on. These roads are often hundreds of miles from my home and so the bike has to do the freeway romp to get there within a reasonable period of time.

Right now I sit here scared of the little green monster after just 600 miles, and its not its fault, the bike is everything kawi designed it to be and it does its thing very well, on and off the road. But, I guess I have been spoiled by the stability and enormous contact patch of the Rocket. At work today I contemplated giving up on riding altogether.....I hate pain, I hate hospitals, and I hate disabling injuries. And worse yet, I have many motorcycle hating friends and relatives just waiting to lay on the implied righteous "I told you so's" while I lie suffering in a hospital bed......yuck!

Needless to say I am taking the Rocket in to work tomorrow.
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Those KLR's are great bikes. They have a pretty large following. And they are one of the best bargins out there for a new bike.

Glad you were able to recover from both instances. But who's to say that the Rocket would not of went down, especially riding through the oil, big contact patch on oil equals bigger slide.:eek:

Best thing to do is put more miles on both bikes and put the incidents behind you. Less experienced riders probably would have went down, plus you are a better rider now after recovering from both episodes.
Thanks for the encouragement Pig9r. I think the fact that I have 52,000 miles on the Rocket with no scary incidents, and 600 on the KLR with the two worst I've had in riding has given me a psychological bias against the KLR, unfair to the KLR as that is. But now that I've vented and slept on it I feel a little better about it and of course, much wiser. No more riding in t-shirts, check tire inflation every day, stay away from all stains on the road even if they look innocent.:eek:.

In the same week on the KLR I nearly hit a large dog and got trapped between two oncoming water spraying trucks on a local dirt farm road. I think this particular KLR just wants to live up to the adventure bike label, either that or its possessed. I am going to name it "Chuckie" after that movie horror doll.
Glad you are ok, Ugarte. Sounds like you did an admirable job of riding in both instances! :bch: Hopefully you won't have to put the KLR through the wringer like that again. Ride safe!
A blow out at speed is something you cannot explain to someone who hasn't had one. I had a front blowout in Mitchel, SD, at freeway speeds, riding two up, about a 2" cut that went down faster than you could blink. I managed to keep it upright. But spent the next two days with a white nuckle grip on those bars. That fear will brown your jeans.:eek:
I am going to name it "Chuckie" after that movie horror doll.
That is truly funny Ugarte! If that bike was redesigned to make it more steetable for 2007 I would hate to ride an earlier one. That bike needs to redeem itself by doing some good things :D....
That is truly funny Ugarte! If that bike was redesigned to make it more steetable for 2007 I would hate to ride an earlier one. That bike needs to redeem itself by doing some good things :D....

Well its not the bikes fault, its just that bad things happened to happen on it and now its associated with bad things. It actually handles street duties quite well but it ain't no rock solid rocket, then again, the Rocket is not going up a fire trail......not with me on it anyway!

I am going to go out and take an evening ride on Chucky now....I hope I come back...:D

Made it back after 50 miles, and it was quite enjoyable, speeds up to 80 mph and passing semi's with only a little bit of wiggling........redemption in process.
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Oh it be Ugarte and redemption is revoked. Chucky is history.

I take the little creep to work today and do the long way home. I get on a freeway on-ramp behind a semi and the truck starts dropping a big load of fluid and it doesn't look like water and it does look like oil, but I ain't about to find out for sure. I can't stop and turn around I have to follow him and its just one endless streak of oil, or whatever, in front me. I ride off to the right side and then finally there is a break in the oil streak, guess it ran out, and I can cross over and pass him.

That's enough for me. I am still gonna ride, just not on Chucky. I cannot believe what bad luck that bike brings. I was so happy about the good ride last night I failed to mention that I got smacked hard in the face by a June bug, or something of similar size.

I am glad I am still in one piece, and I am glad that the KLR is such a popular bike cuz I should be able to sell it fairly quickly. God help whoever buys it.