Previous installment of our KLR650 project bike have focused on bolstering its adventure-touring capabilities. This time we upgrade performance with aftermarket products from LeoVince and Progressive Suspension.
Fitting an aftermarket slip-on exhaust is a fast and easy solution to boost engine power, and the Italian firm sent its X-3 Slip-on for evaluation.
Installation is simple, with the X3 sliding onto the stock header pipe. Fit is precise, with the only casualty a slight melting of the rear mudguard.
The aluminum silencer and stainless steel connector pipe greatly enhance the look of the KLR, and at seven pounds 12 ounces they shave almost four pounds from the bulky stock unit.
Fire up the KLR and the LeoVince pipe delivers a richer bark than the subdued stock system. Thankfully, its loud without being obnoxious, measuring a decibel reading of 87 at idle and 93 at half redline.
The X-3 slipon delivers a livelier throttle feel, with crisper response. Performance gains are noticeable from the saddle, with the mid- and top-end seeing the most improvement.
Runs on the dyno confirm the impression, as the KLR enjoys an extra 2-3 ponies throughout the rev range. Peek horsepower jumps from 35 to 38, a modest increase, but almost a 10% gain over stock.
The performance gains are appreciated, but it’s the improved exhaust tones and aesthetic enhancements that justify the X-3’s $349 MSRP. The LeoVince pipe looks good and sounds great, giving the bland KLR an accent of aftermarket flair.
While the KLR’s stock suspension is a fair compromise of street and dirt versatility, the Kawasaki can benefit from stiffer components. Progressive stepped up with its Monotube Fork Kit and 465 Series Shock.
We called in our standby wrenching pro, who happens to be a certified suspension tech, for the Progressive install. And he got the job done in a couple hours, a good portion of which was spent fabricating a custom bracket for the shock’s remote preload adjuster, as the stock mounting point was blocked by the Givi engine guards from a previous project bike installation.
Hopping on the bike with Progressive components and the change is dramatic. No, the KLR doesn’t magically transform into a canyon carver, per se, but its hustles along in a far more composed manner. The Progressive components feel more taut, without being overly stiff, and they deliver more precise damping.
The front end, in particular, benefits from the upgrades. The $339.95 fork inserts eliminate front end dive and the spongy feel of the stock unit. The rear shock retails for $745.95 and like the fork it delivers a more refined feel. The biggest convenience upgrade is the remote adjustable preload hand knob. It proves quite convenient when accounting for weight changes, from a passenger, or in our case touring luggage and camping gear.
The performance enhancements represent a sizable investment, but our KLR650 project greatly benefits from the upgrades.