View Full Version : Looking for ideas, and comments on a KLR650 conversion

03 December 2011, 2039
This is my winter project. I want a bike to do my short trips – to work, to town, to neighbors, etc. My commute, if I go the short way, is 12 miles of dirt and 10 miles of pavement a day or 44 miles of pavement the long way. My normal ride is a K1200RS, so I have the trips pretty well covered. I decided I wanted something that would be better in the wet dirt and my thinking was that a KLR650 would be good – there are a number of them out there, they are rugged, and there are plenty of accessories available. A guy called me up a month ago with a 2008 with a blown engine and we made a deal – so I have a donor.

I want it to be a fun ride; I do not want to compromise too much… I want it to be close to stock looking, and I want the ride position to be pretty standard. I do not see this bike doing heavy duty dirt work.

I have pulled the engine (130 lbs). Carb, exhaust, airbox, battery, radiator and 6.1 gal gas tank (85 lbs max maybe).

My current thinking:

72 v, 60 Ah GBS package
AC 20 motor
– mounted forward on the bottom to give foot room
– shifted to the left to drive a jack shaft
– I have roughly located the final drive gear on the small board
Curtis Controller
DC to DC – thinking about that
Charger – ideally (small)

I have a paint can motor and cardboard boxes (with foam extensions) for models in the photos – pretty crude but still at that stage.

I welcome comments, ideas or opinions!

1. Is the AC 20 overkill? If so, how will it hurt me? For the long run is it more flexible?
2. The 6th battery, if it ends up on the rear subframe, would sit at an angle. Is that a problem and if so why – the vents get blocked???
3. I was thinking the Curtis controller, depending on the model, would be good for either 550 or 650 amps – is it worth the extra? Again the 650 might position me better in the future.


04 December 2011, 0530
My only comment is that was my first choice for conversion, but in 6 months of looking I didn't find a bargain priced donor :-(

05 December 2011, 1537

I found the same issue - they are hard to find. I ran into this one locally - the guy wanted way, way too much for it and I pretty much dismissed it. I then started looking over a 3 state area - not finding anything. I moved to earlier dirt and dual sports but did not really find anything. I did find bits and pieces of KLR600's, but not cheap. A month or two later, out of the blue the guy decided to get an estimate on getting the motor fixed - it was more than he wanted to spend - he called me up and we made a deal. I probably paid a little too much for a donor, but I was really looking to break even if I decided to not go electric. I did some rationalizing and felt it was worth it - a 2008 with everything else in good shape - not rusty , etc.

I was lucky.

How were you going to do it? Are you planning to make it more dirt or more street oriented?


05 December 2011, 1605
I was talking to a fellow who had recently bought a 2008 KLR this weekend for $2800. He had ridden the bike all over the West Coast and was loving it. One chassis weak area on the KLR is the front brake. It is not up to safely stopping the bike at its current weight on the street. It might work fine though if your conversion would be about 100 pounds lighter than the fully-fueled gasser. Also, I am pretty sure that HH brake pads would help slow the bike down better.

06 December 2011, 0622
How were you going to do it? Are you planning to make it more dirt or more street oriented?

At that point I was still looking at going with lead acid to keep the price down. But... the price of lead went up, and lithium batteries came down, to the point that lithium was less than 2x the cost of lead but should last more than 3x as long, so I went lithium.

Here's what I was initially considering:
For the mock-up, I just scaled a photo of a KLR, and asked on KLR650.net to get the width of the frame at the "Y" near the swing-arm, so I could see where the motor and batteries would fit.