33,000+ Miles | 17 Countries | Reliable Gear
IMS 10gal Tank Upgrade + IMS ADV II Pegs
IMS has solid products to extend off-road adventures. While they primarily focus on motocross bikes, they have a few key items for the KLR650. The stock gas tank for a KLR 650 is 6.1 gallons, in which the IMS extends the range by 3.9 gallons. With a full 10 gallon IMS tank I can manage 400+ miles before running out of fuel (on average the reserve tank is used after 340 miles). The design of the tank does not alter the airflow and the plastic is highly durable, however modifications might be required for engine guards. Additionally, the entire gas tank needs to be removed for most maintenance tasks that typically only require the fairings to be removed. Overall, the upgrade is worthwhile for long distances in areas where gasoline is scarce or of poor quality. No balance issues were noticed with the increase of fuel.
The IMS ADV II foot pegs fit to my preference for a large platform for my feet. This has given me secure grip through sand, mud, and rivers without becoming uncomfortable on long highway rides. With many options to choose, there is an option for everyone’s needs.
Happy-Trail Storage Cases and SU Frame
There are several options for ADV bikes when it comes to panniers and top boxes. After lengthy research, I found the Happy Trail products to be the most economical and secure cases on the market. The Cascade Panniers provide 35.8L of storage each without compromising the width of the bike, leaving the handlebars to be the widest portion. Like all panniers, riders must be aware of a wider end and restrictive depth into ditches. These cases are best mounted with the SU Frame Rack, although it is possible to modify the cases to attach to 3rd party racks. Experience has shown that the top support bracket of the SU Frame can break under stress. While riding, be sure to routinely inspect all joints. Both sides, for me and other riders I have met, required reinforced welding.
To provide my final space of secure storage I am using the Happy-Trails 43L Top Case. Depending on panniers utilized, you might be restricted on top case size. This case is compatible with the Cascade Panniers. Installation is easy, but it prevents easy access to the stock toolkit of the KLR. Ensure this is relocated in order to alleviate issues in the future. Safety dynamics of the bike should be considered when filling cases, in which the top case should remain as empty as possible with proper weight distribution between the panniers.
All cases come with a top lock and the ability to add locks on the outside levers (highly recommended). They also contain weather stripping within the lids to ensure a waterproof seal, however it is possible for water to enter from the screw holes only if the bike is submerged. No water has entered from torrential rain or river crossings.
Happy-Trail Skid Plate + Center Stand + PD Nerf Engine Guards
These three upgrades are the primary requirements to turn a stock KLR into a proper ADV motorcycle. The stock skid plate is made of strong plastic that would not withstand the amount of rocks and deep ruts I have hit. The Happy-Trail Skid Plate has been created through customer feedback to provide perfect protection and usability for any KLR (It even has a built-in bottle opener). This plate has been tested by me in all environments and barely has a scratch from the hard impacts it has faced.
It truly is disappointing that a KLR does not come stock with a center stand, which is essential for easy maintenance, tire change, and parking the bike in situations where the side stand would fail. The HT Center Stand is a durable product that is easy to install without interference of the HT skid plate. Depending on the weight load and height, the stand can be easily adjusted to properly support the bike.
Lastly, the PD Nerf Engine Guards are the first line in protection when a motorcycle is dropped and protect to most vital components of the bike, aside from the rider, the engine and gas tank. Installation is easy, however I was required to install 4 metal braces to extend the guard outwards for compatibility with the IMS 10gal tank. I have dropped and crashed the bike multiple times and all damage sustained was minimal due to the engine guards. Without these my trip would have ended within weeks.
Quadboss Pod Lights
While pod lights such as Quad Boss are typically used for nighttime travel, I have found them more valuable during the daytime as 95% of my travel time is during the day. These bright lights act as a beacon for oncoming traffic to clearly see a motorcycle regardless of the bright scenery behind the rider. In countries where it is common for drivers to constantly overtake cars in dangerous road conditions, being seen is the utmost importance. As expected, these lights turn night into day when required. Their installation was easy as I integrated them into my engine guards and the amp consumption is unnoticeable.
Shoei Hornet X2 Helmet + Sena 10C Headset
Shoei’s dual-sport adventure helmet has been perfected with the Hornet X2. While aesthetics and comfort are obviously improved, they have also capitalized on functionality as well. Within moments the face shield can be removed to apply goggles. With the same ease, the peak can be removed for highway travel in order to reduce wind noise or resistance — although there is hardly any with it on.
It is a well rounded helmet for all environments and weather conditions. DOT and SNELL certification bring confidence that, should the helmet need to be fully utilized, your head will be fully protected.
As much as I do not want to spend a lot of money for this trip, nor look like I have valuables on me, I will make an exception for this headset. The Sena 10C is a camera and communicator all-in-one that mounts to your helmet. It seamlessly integrates audio and video together and can easily be controlled. With audible feedback, you never have to worry about whether you are recording or not.
Battery life, when using the camera, isn’t the greatest but it has the ability to connect up to a USB charger so it can charge while in use (music only can last 13+ hours). Its water-resistant design will come in handy throughout the many rainy environments. Camera quality will be improved in future models, but for the ease of use I think this device is perfect for my trip.
REV’IT Dominator GTX Jacket
Throughout this adventure I will experience all four seasons, but the vast majority will be rain and heat. With this concern I researched the best option for me and, unfortunately it was one of the more expensive options, I found the REV’IT Dominator GTX jacket to be the best fit. The Klim jackets rank right up there with this one, but personally I am biased towards REV’IT for there excellent gear that I have owned in the past.
This jacket utilizes GORTEX Pro to allow for reliable waterproof lining that is also breathable. It seamlessly integrates Kevlar stretch and textile material throughout to ensure strong material in the event of a crash. The armor is upgraded and designed to conform perfectly while providing CE level 2 protection. REV’IT takes a ‘bring your own layer’ approach, so for the most part this jacket is a shell. This is perfect to allow for direct airflow in the hot environments and the ability to use my base layers (or all my clothes) should I get too cold.
BMW Motorrad Summer 3 Pants
Having a pair of BMW riding pants might seem out of place, but adventures such as this require use of the best, and most comfortable, gear regardless of brand. I originally brought the REV’IT Dominator pants, but they were too hot and stiff to wear daily. Because of this I compromised safety by wearing only jeans until I found the pants at a BMW dealership. The Summer 3 Pants are loose, yet snug, with soft padding on the knees and hips. I can live in these pants without feeling uncomfortable or hot. BMW takes it one step further by allowing the pants to zip off above the knee pads in case its too hot off the bike. In order to deal with rain conditions, I carry a standard waterproof over-pant to wear.
Continental TKC 70 Tires
Tires are always a difficult choice as there are multiple options and types to choose from. Starting out my journey I was well aware that most of my riding will be on asphalt roads until I reached South America. There would be a few great opportunities to get off road in the mean time, so I needed a dual purpose tire to match these projected riding conditions. I would consider the Continental TKC 70 tires 80/20 and they have exceptional grip in wet conditions. They are not efficient in mud or sandy conditions, so upgrades will be required in harsher environments.
Slime 12v Portable Pump + Oxford 12V Socket
The Slime Portable Pump is a must for any adventure rider. I have used it on countless occasions in the middle of no where with a flat tire. With multiple connection options, riders can power the pump through a 12v socket, battery tender cable, or directly to the battery. The size is similar of a 1000+ page book, but the emergency use of this tool outweighs any space consumption.
The Oxford 12v Socket is simple to install and provides 100% waterproof protection (when the cover is in place). Of it’s many uses, I typically find myself charging USB devices without strong draw from the battery.
BarkBuster Handguards + Heat Demon Heated Grips
In an effort to combat the elements and nature, these two upgrades have proven to be extremely useful. The BarkBuster Handguards not only protect your hands from rain, trees, and debris, but also provide an extra brace for the handlebars in the event that the bike is dropped. I selected the Storm model which provides the most protection without overheating the hands.
I have traveled through every environment with only summer gloves, thanks to the Heat Demon Heated Grips. They install easily under the grips and can quickly heat hands without needing to stop the bike. I installed these directly into the ignition system to ensure that they are not left on when the bike is powered down, therefore preventing the battery being drained.