As you all know from my previous post, I have started a little project on my bike and that is changing the OEM forks with some WP4357 forks. This will not be a “How-To” post but I will only show you how much work it is and what it takes to make a swap. If you chose to do the same on your bike, you do it at your own risk!
After over a month of work and solving problems with the change, I have finally finished my project. Before I go into any detail about it, here is the finished product:
For me, this project began around December last year. It was a cold and snowy winter here and I had nothing better to do than read different forums. But not the ride report ones, but the wrenching sections. And after seeing how many people on Africa Twins, KLR’s, XR’s,… change the front suspension I thought it would be a good idea to swap the front end on my KLE. After reading a lot of these threads I was sold on the idea of better suspension on KLE. With my mind set on this project I now needed to find a suitable set of forks. The key thing is to do your research good and chose a set that would suit your riding style.
There is a lot of options out there, KLX, DRZ, CFR, YZ, WP,… Looking around eBay for months and losing a few actions, I finally got lucky and scored a nice set of WP43 forks.
I got the forks, but now I need a set of triple clamps. It was hard to find a good set of clamps for those forks, as all the newer bikes use the WP48 forks. After a week I finally found some. They are a Applied Racing billet aluminium clamps. Those clamps were still in factory packing and newer on the bike at all.
It took a while to get everything as I was ordering from UK. After receiving everything I checked the parts out to see if they are as described. And they were all good.
Now with these parts at home, it was time to start thinking of what it will take to fit them on the bike. I didn’t have the money for a KTM front wheel and new speedometer unit and KLE wheel is in great shape, so I decided to make use of the KLE components, wheel, axle, brake caliper and speedo unit. This also meant more machining of custom parts was necessary.
First thing to sort out was a new stem that would fit KTM clamps and KLE barrings. It would be easy to addapt a KTM stem to KLE barrings if I had it, but since I didn’t I had to make the whole thing. With some help from people on differant forums I had a drawing in CAD quite quickly. Next on the list was material for it. Some factories use 7075-T6 alu, some C40 steel, some people suggested stainless steel. But I wasn’t convinced by all this inthernet info, so I turned to the best metalurgist at the company, where I had a summer job. I explained him what I need and he said I should use a tempered steel (VCMO 140) that has been normalised, in efect this would produce a tesile strength of 1000-1200 N/mm², for reference 7075-T6 aluminium mas a tensile strength around 524N/mm². A co-worker on a lathe was also kind enough to make the stem for me during a brake.
I have also got a set of brand new barrings. I didn’t go with Kawasaki OEM barrings as they were to expensive, just over 60€ for a set. Instead I went to a local engineering supplies shop and got a set of FAG barrings that were the same specs as OEM.
With that part under the roof, next thing was to tackle the axle diameter problem. KLE has a 15mm axle, but KTM uses a 20mm axle with one side expansion to 24mm. I had to draw up a few inserts to convert KTM axle hole for KLE axle.
I also had to make a insert for top triple clamp as the hole was bigger than the stem, I used the same diameter as stock KLE stem.
Now with all the parts at hand, it was time to take the bike apart.
I didn’t have to take the dash and handlebars off, which was a real time saver. Here is a quick comparion of the OEM and WP forks, I have aligned the axle holes.
First on were the clamps, I really like the looks of them on the bike without a fairing on. Maybe one day I will put a EXC front mask on the bike.
Finally the forks went on, followed by the front wheel. And for photo purposes only, the headlight assembly.
I had a bit of a problem with front wheel not being centred, I even asked around a few forums. But after careful check of the bike I found out one of the inserts wasn’t completely seated. After seating it, the front wheel fitted in the forks without any spacer needed to align it. It was dead centre.
Next on the list was a brake calliper adapter. I was hoping it would align with KTM calliper holes, but unfortunately it didn’t. So I had to make some measurements to draw it up and have it lase cut. Later I decided do just make a cardboard part, throw it in a scanner outline it and print it to see if it fits. After a few try’s I had my CAD design done. I had it laser cut out of 8mm mild steel as they didn’t have any stainless steel in stock, so over the winter I will have to pain it.
After this all that was left to do was bolt on some fork guards, route the cables, check for clearances and go for a test ride.
All the stock cables were long enough for this conversion. It is 99% done, the only thing missing is a ignition switch mounting plate. At the moment I have it zip-tied to the handlebars.
After a quick 30km test ride, on some backboards without traffic, I can’t be more pleased with the new suspension. KLE became a completely different bike to ride and handle. I am wondering why I didn’t do this at the beginning of the season. I can’t even put it in words how good it got. A few pictures after a second ride for the end.
What can I say about this project. It was longer, harder and more complex that what you usually read on forums, but it the end it was really satisfying and rewarding. If anyone is wondering if a conversion like this is worth the trouble and cash I can, without a doubt, say that it was well worth it.
Stay safe everyone!
P.S.: A quick “step-by-step” guide for those who want it:
1. Find a set of suitable forks.
2. Disassemble the bike
3. Take measurements and get the parts machined, also order all the OEM parts you might need
4. Reassemble the bike
5. HAVE FUN!