TechTips

(These tips are sent in by individual members, and LittleInsect Productions accept no responsibility should you decide to follow the advice given)

If you have any tips you would like to share with other members, then please:

A Report on the Lower Handlebar Kit - by Jon Haddock 2-5-01

The 2000 model W650 has suffered from criticism in some corners for it's rather imprecise handling, it's seat, poor rear suspension, and soft, dive prone forks. Well, all these little 'foibles' are the result of the Japanese exporters playing a nasty little trick on us and sending us a bike with U.S. style 'cowhorn' bars instead of proper 'English Flats'. Fortunately they realised the error of their ways and the 2001 model has the right bars fitted. If the optional 'Low Bar Kit', U.K. & Europe part No. :- 99985-177 is fitted, and it comes with the corrected length cables and mirrors, the rider is placed further forward on the bike. This pre-loads the fork, so excessive dive is eliminated, leans the rider against the seat so he/she no longer slides into the tank, relieves the weight on the rider's spine so the padding of the seat is now sufficient, takes the excess weight off the shocks, and loads up the front wheel. The end result is a bike that steers beautifully, is comfortable for hundreds of miles at a time (even if the tank capacity isn't!) cruises at the ton, and copes with the poor surfacing of rough country roads at speed without even hinting about getting out of shape. .

Home-Made Low Bars - by Matthew Cross 14-8-01

I decided I'd like to try some low bars, after I felt the front of my W becoming disconcertingly 'light' on the highway during a recent longish trip through the Australian countryside. Speeds ranged from 110kph (61mph) to 180kph (100mph). To me, it felt like the combination of high bars and windblast were taking the weight off the front end at speed. As I'm planning to do some more touring in the future, I checked with Z-Power on the cost of shipping a low bar kit (see 'Bitz' page), but decided I couldn't justify (to the starving family) the AUD$425 (£155) for the low bar kit.

Instead, I bought some 25mm (1") diameter x 1.5mm (1/16") thick aluminium pipe, cut some shims, and bought several different types of bars from the wreckers to experiment with. After several setbacks, including a stainless steel pipe, which, even though it was perfectly straight, felt like it was bent away from me, I finally found a set I liked, which were very similar to the pictures of the Z-Power bars.

With some re-arrangement and re-routing of the original cables and hose, you can try quite a few different types of bars, without irreversibly changing anything, until you're happy, and want to tidy up, or revert to the originals. The trickiest cables were the throttle cables - which will not stick, if freely routed. I also found it useful to remove the headlight when trying to find a position for the cables with a new bar.

After a recent 70km night ride, and extended test, the new bars and position feel much better, letting me lean into the windblast at speed, and put more weight over the front wheel whilst cornering.

A Cheap Low-Bar Kit - by John Chance-Read 14-10-03

I sourced a 1" bar having similar curves to the Kawasaki low bar, from Armours of Bournemouth, UK. It was from a pre-war Norton. I had to cut 6 3/4" from each end and replace them with 9 3/4" of aluminium solid bar (3" of which was turned to be a good fit in the 1" Norton bar, and the remaining 6 3/4" turned to 7/8" diameter). I actually also took a further 1" off each end of the 1" bar to provide an even narrower low bar. The Norton bar is flat. I also drilled out a load of aluminium from the end to get the total weight to be the same as the original Kawasaki bar. By running the clutch cable to the right of the head stock and the carburettor cable to the left, I obtained satisfactory cable runs. Total cost £34

A Change in Tyres - by Jon Haddock updated 9-4-03

The W650 can suffer from some high-speed instability when ridden by heavier riders. This is due to the machine being fitted with rear springs which are too soft for heavier Western riders. The upshot of this is that as wind pressure on the rider increases at high speeds, the rear of the bike squats, putting the frame geometry out and instigating a weave. There are several ways to minimise or eliminate this effect.
A large fairing or screen will take the pressure off the rider's chest, instead putting the force onto the front of the bike where it does not push the rear down nearly as much. This solution does however impact on the look of the bike.
Raising the rear of the machine also has the same effect, and although the obvious and complete cure is to fit springs rated for a heavier rider (Hagon make some excellent units that really complement the look of the bike, as well as performing superbly), simply fitting a taller rear tyre can also work wonders.
I tried the tyre approach first…


After much research into the tyres optimised for machines of similar weight, performance and frame design, which included the Norton Commando and various incarnations of the Triumph theme, I fitted an old fashioned Imperial sized 4.10 Dunlop K81 TT100. This tyre is slimmer but taller than the stock production tyre, and is about the same size as the original 1998 German show bike had. I suspect that the German show had been used to 'clinic' the bike and as a result the larger tyre was considered better for sales.
The tyre change was nearly as much a revelation as fitting the low bars had been. The bike is now rock solid and feels totally 'planted' at any speed and/or angle of lean. The TT100 works well with the ribbed front, and its slightly higher profile restores some of the optimism enjoyed by the gearbox driven speedometer, which was evidently calibrated with a smaller front sprocket, smaller rear sprocket, or a taller tyre than the equipment finally fitted to the production bikes.
Unfortunately the semi-triangular profile of the TT100 wore down fast, and it was not long before I needed to replace it. I made the mistake of fitting a low profile Continental, and the resulting lower rear ride height translated into some very unpleasant high-speed handling. I have subsequently ridden a W650 with Bridgestone BT45's on, and that machine was far more stable at all speeds and in all road conditions than the Conti, so it looks like Bridgestones and Hagons are the ticket for the faster heavier rider who prefers the 'naked' look…

Front Fork Solution - RetroRob 2-11-01

After my front forks had bottomed, and the Kawasaki crash bars had dented the front mudguard, I purchased a set of progressive fork springs from Hagons, complete with oil. I removed the legs, emptied them of oil and reassembled, using the stuff from Hagons. Result - no more bottoming out, just a nice progressive feel to the front, especially under braking. Cost - a moderate £55, approximately.

I've also removed my mudguards, cleaned them, and given them a coat of silver spray Hammerite underneath, to prevent rusting.

Suspension Advice - Michael Tatkow 26/9/02

It appears that I am not the only one who has been disappointed by the handling of the 2000. Being a rather "frugal" fellow, with a shop of parts from many years of riding, the following solution solved many issues. I am an agressive rider, about 100Kg, so the following settings are the result of much trial and error on my part. First, the front end is both very under-sprung and under-dampened. My solution was the installation of progressive springs, 40/70lb, as listed for the '83 Yamaha Venture, cut about 1.25" at the open wound end and re-machined for proper flat. 1.25" flat washers are installed above for final preload adjustment, I use four. Dampening fluid is Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF. Resulting sag sitting still is at 1.5", with great progressive. Kawasaki replicated the original over-sprung, under damped feel of the old bikes, like a pogo stick. The rear shocks I am using are from a mid-'80's Yamaha 1100 Virago. They are 1" shorter than stock, lowering the seat to a more comfortable height, and have adjustable springs and dampening. I use mid spring (3 of 5) and dampening setting 2 of 4. The bike rides like a Cadillac, but is tight through rough pavement and corners beautifully. Removed the center stand, as the lowered rear restricts the clearance here. but will sort that out shortly. The side stand continues to work fine.

Curing Backfires - Rocky 13-1-02

The guy who had my 2000 W650 before me had punched holes in the mufflers. It's louder than I like but what was worse, and why he sold it, was that it sounded like a sub machine gun when it decelerated (the backfires) pop pop pop pop incessantly!

So I found the clean air hose which puts clean air into the exhaust system and shoved a bullet (cone shaped) licence plate fastener in there, and voila, barely a pop or two now!

Curing backfires - Brian Flannery 15/8/02

To stop popping and backfiring under deacceleration remove the two ally castings just above and between the exhausts held by four allen screws they are only pushed onto the chrome pipe so completely removing them is easy then find the two ally plates with the titanium reeds vales sometimes they are stuck to the head sometimes they are stuck to the ally castings but easily separated from on or the other then using the casting as templates make two ally plate the same thickness as the ones holding the titanium reed valves, reassemble the plates you have just made and the ally castings but leave the plates with the reed valves off the bike the bike then looks standard but the cold air injection will not occur I have seen this mod done by completely removing all the system and blanking the head but this looks poor, this cold injection was only fitted to pass the very strict California emission controls and serves no purpose only to induce a popping or backfire the scavenging effect is not effected and you should notice a smother idle speed and you may well be able to reduce the idle speed thus making the motor cycle more economical I have done this mod on three Kawasaki's one for 12months and it's not till you ride one with the reed valves still in do you realise the difference especially at idle

Curing Cold Start/Lean Mid-Range problems - PapaJames 10/4/02

1) Open the idle air/fuel screws to 3.5 turns or better

2) Install 0.050" shims under the retainers of the carb slide needles

3) Relocate tool kit to avoid air restriction to intake

Petrol Tips for U.K. Riders - Martin Halsall 7/9/02

Having seen a lot of hard work go into making the bike run smootly on unleaded, I came across a simpler solution. My W650 was running OK in the morning (from cold), but in the afternoon would have huge flat spots, backfire, and generally buck about just when you didn't need it. Having finally lost patience when it wouldn't restart after fuelling up one hot summer day, I asked around and found other owners have given up on unleaded, and are using lead replacement petrol (LRP). Apparently, on normal unleaded, the fuel is vapourising before it gets a chance to ignite - not an uncommon problem to owners of classic bikes trying to live with modern fuel. I have tried LRP for about a month now, and it runs just fine. No flat spots and no backfire. When it comes to MoT time and the emissions check, I might revert back to unleaded, and in colder weather I might try super unleaded again.

And more along the same lines - Jim Tayman 26/9/02

Soon after purchasing my W650 ( us model 2001 ) I started having problems getting the bike started and keeping it running. This only occurred on hot days, usually in the afternoon. I took the bike back to the dealer who had the carbs balanced and declared the problem solved, yeah right. On the ride home the bike was up to the same old tricks. So much for the dealer. I started checking things out myself, here is what I found. When this problem would occur I could smell gasoline so I figured it was flooding. I removed the plastic plugs from the airbox drains and found them and the lower half of the air box full of gas. NOT GOOD. I know that the petcock is vacuum operated so I thought I might have a vacuum leak. The leak was caused by the sparkplugs being installed only half way into the head.You must remove the fuel tank to get to the plugs so I figured the dealer didn't do this so I assume it must have been a factory botch. In any case when I ran the plugs in all the way the problem went away. I know that this sounds a lot like the running problems that allot of people complain about but, I still need to richen up the carbs a bit to make it perfect.

Mounting a backrest - Philip Stoffel 26/8/02

These pictures are of Philip's own bike. He made the side plates from stainless steel, which he then highly polished. The back bar is from a Sportster. A simple, but very effective, idea.

Buell Blast Flyscreen - Ken Hudson 24/11/02

Ken has fitted this to his W650, and says he really likes it. It really seems to offer a bit more stability. He says: 'I found I was running down the freeway around 85 and 90, which is a bit faster than I normally ride. Maybe it was just because I thought I 'looked' faster! It's just a small screen after all, but now another step closer to W650 perfection for me.'

Rear Brake and Gear Levers converted to the 'British' side - Alan Jacobs 1/11/02

Alan says: 'These modifications are purely due to my inability to adapt, rather than any shortcomings of the W650. The aluminium cover behind the brake lever (Matchless), houses a reverse linkage that ensures the gear operation is the same on all four of my bikes, i.e. 1 up and 4 down. Technical details can be added if anybody is interested.' An excellent conversion, if, like Alan, you have older bikes as well, and find swapping sides difficult.

Seat Alterations - Tim Kinsey 27/11/02

Tim has sent this in for anybody who does not like the seat on the older W650s. The fix is very simple. Pull the seat off. Remove the staples with a small screwdriver and remove the cover. Take a straight edge, flip the seat on its' side, and make a line along the side of the seatby lining the straight edge up with the flat part of the seat in the front. Now, rest the seat back on the bike, and mark a line on the foam along the back side of your butt.You will need a band saw. Again, flip the seat on its' side and hold it against something square. Now use the band saw to cut along the line you have made on the side of the seat. This will take the unusual rise that slides you forward. Continue to cut along the line, then blend into the line you have made on the top of the seat. This will leave a small step in the seat, kind of like a half U. Now what you have is a flat wide seat that has a little step in it right where you need it, not where some after market person thinks you need it. The step gives support to the back as you are accelerating, and in the wind, and the flat part distributes weight more evenly. Also, you get a definite feeling you are sitting in the bike rather than on top of it.

Have a friend help you staple the cover back on, being careful to line up the welts so they are even, and simply staple the cover back into place.I used an air operated staple gun, but any good quality gun will work on the plastic. Make sure you use the same length staples as the ones you took out.

A rider to this from David Gaudillere 29/11/02

To manage cutting the foam easier than with a band saw: This technique is used for windsurfer shaping. You need a 12v battery and a little electric cable. You attach the cable to the battery and it will get warm. Then you can shape the seat foam with the hot cable.

A useful gadget found by Kevin

He bought this about a year ago, and writes:

'I have a bad back and to get the car, bike, pushbike, me, the cat, tools, tents etc. etc. into a small garage was getting a bit mental and the Suzuki felt heavier than it really was. I had to ride it on then turn it round and push it right into a corner. I'd seen a turntable but was not impressed, then found this at a BMW spares shop. Busters spares do a similar one.

The brand name is Telefix. Anyway, I find it a boon all the time, because, if you're working on the bike, it can be pushed all ways very easily. It is well-made, and costs about £80, including delivery. Telefix is a German company.