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KLX250S Adventure Make-over - Phase 2

The craziness continues! This phase of the work commenced early afternoon on Super Bowl Sunday. What I thought would take just a couple hours kept me garage-bound for the entire afternoon. There's no such thing as an easy project sometimes.

Sunday's activities focused on bolting up a set of pannier mounts from the folks at Happy Trails. Because I intend to eventually bolt up a set of Pelican cases, I went for the SU Side Rack vs. the SL Side Rack. The SU adds a horizontal support between the left and right side racks. It's designed for mounting real panniers vs. just providing support for soft luggage. In this case, I'm sure it keeps the panniers from sagging if fully loaded and takes some pressure off the three frame mount points per side, especially if there's an unfortunate tip-over. The SU Side Rack kit sells direct for $279, $80 more than the SU version.

Here's a photo of the left-side rack from Happy Trails. I was impressed with the quality, especially the welds and powder coating. I don't "really" intend to abuse my bike, but I think these will hold up pretty well with anything I might throw at them.

Documentation? Slim. One sheet and it appeared to be for the newer '08-'11 KLX250S models which don't have a rear rack from the factory. Besides the left and right side racks and the horizontal support bar, stainless metric bolts were included (6 total) for attaching the side racks to the bike.

  • 2 M6x25mm SHCS for the front mount attach point
  • 2 M6x35mm SHCS for the middle mount attach point
  • 2 M8x30mm SHCS for the rear mount attach point

Surprise! No hardware was included for attaching the horizontal support bar to the left and right side racks. I didn't call the folks at Happy Trails on this because it was Sunday, because I wanted to finish the project that day(!) and I have a hardware store just down the road. The documentation "sheet" didn't mention the required hardware either.

On to the fun. Since the '06 (and '07) have an OEM rear rack and I was pretty sure that the Happy Trails engineers knew that, I simply thought I had to remove the 3 bolts that hold each plastic side cover on the bike and bolt the side racks up "through" the side covers using the supplied longer bolts. I was off the the races... This was going to be easy.

After some fiddling to get the bolts to thread into place (one must be careful with this!), I had the right side rack on and looking real good. Note the rear-most bolt passes through where the right side of the OEM rear rack attaches to the frame.

The left-side went on pretty much like the right. Wow, this shouldn't take long at all! Or so I thought.

I then proceeded to bolt on the horizontal support bar between the left and right side racks. Oh no. It's not wide enough. WTF.

Was it time to bend the bar? Get a bigger hammer? Hmm. I started to think about the difference between the '06-'07 KLX and '08-'11. No OEM rear rack!! I took a couple of quick measurements and decided the IF this was going to work, I had to give up the rear rack that Kawasaki was so nice to include. Bummer. My LED turn signals had a home on that rack too. I was starting to see my afternoon slip away.

Everything was unbolted, including the two additional mounts for the rear rack. With the rack loose, I lifted it up a bit to keep it out of my way while starting over with the attachment of the side racks.

Because it's a bit tricky to get the bolts through the plastic side covers and properly lined up, I decided this time, I would bolt everything up to the bike without the side covers. I rationalized that if there was still an alignment problem, I'd be able to see the problem much better. As the pictures show below (no plastic), with everything bolted up, things did align better and the horizontal support was the right width to bolt up properly!

A keen eye will spot one of the other problems I was going to have to fix at some point. Hint: Check out where the horizontal support passes behind the fender.

With things lining up as they should, everything was unbolted again. Before simply rebolting everything back up with the side cover plastic bits in place, I knew I had to do something with those turn signals I had permanently soldered up to those big resisters I mentioned in an earlier post. Off came all that electrical tape and out came my trusty wire cutter. I knew I should have used some bullet connectors in the first place to make removal of the turn signals as simple as unplugging the connectors.

I found a convenient place to cut the wires and removed each turn signal, and finally the rear rack that was floating there. One can never find pieces and parts when you need them and last Sunday was no different. I knew I "had" some male and female bullet connectors, but couldn't find them. Off to the auto parts store down the road. Did I mention that I'd already made a run to the hardware store for the bolts needed for that horizontal support?

The picture above was taken after the removal of the electrical tape and before the turn signal wires were cut. Before you ask why I had to cut any wires anyway, since clearly there are already bullet connectors shown in the picture, I'll answer by saying that big resistor doesn't fit through anywhere it would need to in order to remove the turn signal.

With turn signals removed and wires cut, it was a pretty easy matter of crimping on the waterproof female bullet connects as shown below and using a butane charcoal grill lighter to heatshrink the appropriate part of each connector housing.

The same was done on the ends of the turn signal wires, this time using male bullets connectors. Purists will note that I made a mistake here. I used two female connectors on the bike wiring end of things and two male connectors on the turn signal side of things. If I had mixed this up with one male and female connector on both ends of the equation, I wouldn't have to worry about checking the wire colors before plugging them in. No, I didn't think of that while I was still in the garage. It just occurred to me while I was writing this. Grasshopper continues to learn.

With the wiring (re)done, I decided to postpone figuring out where to mount the turn signals to another day. Besides, I was missing the pre-game on the tube. I finished the day by slipping the plastic side covers into place and rebolting and tightening the side racks. The pictures below show some of the detail with everything in place.

I can see where ANY bike maintenance requiring the removal of the side covers is going to be a chore. At least removing the seat only requires unbolting just two of the bolts that hold the side racks in place. Phase 3 will focus on mounting those turn signals and getting a rear rack back on the bike. Enjoy the rest of the pictures below!

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