WP43 forks on KLE

Posted: 20/10/2013 in Modifications archives
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hey all!

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:
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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.
ebay-wp4357-vilce

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Now with all the parts at hand, it was time to take the bike apart.
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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.
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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.
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Finally the forks went on, followed by the front wheel. And for photo purposes only, the headlight assembly.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!

—————————–
Update 17.5.2014

Well, last weekend I have put the forks through some hard terrain and diverse riding conditions when attending a Croatian enduro event called Benduro 4. The front suspension handled really well, and soaked up the bumps without throwing me off course. At the end of the day there was still some room left to move on the forks and the wheel never hit the front fairing. Overall I couldn’t be more happy with the front end of the bike, it was really worth all the work and money spent on it. There was approximately 40-50 mm of unused travel, which translates to around 250-260 mm of the 310 mm travel was used.

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Comments
  1. Andy says:

    awesome work mate! Well done.

    Now put that supermoto front fender back on and you’ll be good to go!

    • Ghosty_SLO says:

      Thanks!

      I am working on a fender problem, I am a bit afraid that the wheel will come up to fat and hit the fender. I have 100mm more wheel travel than OEM forks.

      • L0cky says:

        Can the front wheel hit the radiator on full fork compression?

      • Ghosty_SLO says:

        Hey!

        So far I haven’t been able to make the wheel hit the fender. A few times I tested this out so that I rode down a steep asphalt hill, leaned forward as much as I could and grabbed the brakes so that the wheel locked up. The bike dived down quite far, fork guards came up to to lower triple clamp, but I haven’t felt any contact with the radiator. Unfortunately I don’t have a ground anchor so that I could strap the bike down and see how far it actually goes. There are also stiffer spring in those forks than ones in the OEM forks, so I doubt I will be able to fully compress them without jumping or something like that.

  2. I have been following your posts with great interest and what a professional standard your work has been. Excellent ***** 5 stars. I have finally bought a 07 KLE last April. I knew it had potential as a friend bought one new in 07. The forks and brakes and 15 lt tank are the weak points as you know better than me. I will add heavier springs, new pads and when funds permit a new shock, Maybe a Cogent but they are around $600 US. or perhaps an Elka if they make one to suit. I have added a KTM silencer (muffler) and it now revs cleanly although I have yet to change Jets and needles Probably 120’s will do just fine.
    I will be following your future posts. I’m sure you have a good following now.

    • Ghosty_SLO says:

      Hey!

      Thanks for your kind words mate! With the new forks I found out that the KLE brakes aren’t that bad, it’s just that they feel bad with so much dive in the stock suspension. Though, I have changed the front brake pads to sintered pads (EBC Sintered HH pads; part nr.: FA129HH) which bite a lot harder than stock ones. I also have a braided brake line on order which should improve the braking even further. But these pads are hard on the disc, I have noticed a little groove making on it. Rear shock is my next big investment as soon as the funds arrive (I am doing all my mods on a college student budget). As for the fuel, 15l is enough here in Europe, but if you ride somewhere really remote, you could mount a Rotopax can to the bike.

      Thanks for following and safe riding!

  3. swis2k says:

    Just plain awesome!!! The bike is almost ideal! The only problem in my opinion is the engine. Its a great engine, but need more hp and torq.

    • Ghosty_SLO says:

      Thanks mate! The bike is great, it could use more hp and torque on road but it has all the power needed for off road in my opinion 🙂

      • swis2k says:

        any thoughts or plans on how to add hp?

      • Ghosty_SLO says:

        There are a few ways. You could get the cam shaft for GPZ and some other bits(don’t know exactly what) and get KLE up to 60hp same as GPZ engine, but you would sacrifice the low and mid range power as with this mod power band gose up the rev range.

        The other thing is that you can get a cylinder re-sleeved and get bigger pistons (some shops offer kits), but I would question the reliability of such kits.

        The final thing, which in long term I will try to make it happen, is to get a exhaust with same header length, get same jets and needles in both cylinders (as in OEM specs the left hand cylinder has smaller jets to compensate for 15 cm longer exhaust pipe) and open up the air box.

        And also to see if there has been any improvement, the bike needs to be dyno tested before and after the mods.

  4. swis2k says:

    Tried some of those. Installed bigger jets of the same size. Opened up the air box by changing the intake tube. And i’ve changed the muffler, so there would be no resistance for the ex.gases. Cant say that i’ve felt some major changes.
    I have a spare engine frome the gpz that i could use for parts, and i’m thinking to change the pistons to bigger ones. Getting maybe 550cc or 600 ideel and rasing the compression ratio by making the combustion chamber smaller.
    About the exhaust pipes… what do you have in mind? Making your own or taking them from ER5?

  5. Subramanyam says:

    Hello Ghostly_SLO,

    Excellent work there. Very much appreciate it. I’m trying something similar on the KTM duke 390. I’m happy with the rigid frame and 44HP (to start with). I’ve also checked on the steering head angle, triple clamp offset and they are pretty much similar to what is found in other dual sport bikes. All I have to do is make the forks taller by using WP4357 from an old KTM Enduro and hopefully would be good to go (Of course there will be a lot more hiccups along the way, for which I’m prepared for :)).

    Since you are using a WP4357, I needed some information on them, before I go shopping for the forks. I need to know the outer diameters of the outer tube where top triple clamp, bottom triple clamp mounts and distance between the triple clamps. I know it is a lot of questions, but it helps me save some money by not importing the wrong parts. Thanks for your time. Would appreciate any help!

    PS: I’ve posted a pictorial representation of my question below marking on one of your photos, for clear understanding.

    Have a great day!

  6. Subramanyam says:

    Thank you so much! Exactly what I needed.

  7. tugrul karatas says:

    very nice. good work

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