This Rare Military Motorcycle Was Deemed Unfixable in All but the Right Hands

The U.S. military’s diesel KLR is a very easy bike to destroy, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

byLewin Day|
This Rare Military Motorcycle Was Deemed Unfixable in All but the Right Hands
YouTube via The Bearded Mechanic
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The Kawasaki KLR650 is a competent dual-sport motorcycle capable of taking on any highway, dirt road, or mountain trail. When the U.S. military went bike shopping, the KLR650 proved the perfect base for a ruggedized version that could run on diesel or even jet fuel. The only catch is that it's extremely painful to maintain in civilian ownership, as an insightful video demonstrates.

In a new video from The Bearded Mechanic, we get a close and personal look at the military version of Kawasaki's dual-sport hero, developed by Hayes Diversified Technologies. Known as the HDT M1030-M2, the bike's engine was completely reworked to run on fuels more common in military use. The M1030-M2 can run on everything from diesel to jet fuels like Jet A1, JP5, and JP8. The bike also has typical military features like blackout lighting switches, an optional infrared headlight, and drab non-reflective paint. Just a few hundred examples were built, intended for special-forces use.

We're given a deep look at just how difficult it can be to own one of these bikes. The motorcycle is taken to a man only known as Rick, who formerly worked as an engineer at HDT. Rick confirms the bike has an earlier engine design that he's less familiar with, and notes that it runs a unique diesel pump not used on any other vehicle. With the reconfigured engine designed in-house at HDT, you're not going to find parts on the shelf at your local AutoZone.

Early attempts to start the bike hadn't gone so well. Using starter fluid had caused the engine to run backwards, shearing the mechanical connection to the starter. The cams were also out of time, and there was a hole burned in the precombustion changer which made it difficult or impossible for the engine to run. Thankfully, given his years of experience, Rick was able to quickly identify many of these problems on sight. It's hard to beat the value of having an ex-factory engineer work on your bike, after all.

Rick also notes there are a few ways to mess things up if you're not careful. The bike has a compression release which can be used to stop the engine, but it comes with a caveat. If activated heavily in a panic, such as when trying to stop a diesel runaway condition, it's possible to slam a valve into the piston. That seems like a major design flaw, but apparently that's just how it is. Regardless, to stop a runaway engine, Rick recommends putting the bike in second gear when running it on the bench. Then it can simply be stalled out by releasing the clutch.

After tackling everything from a gummed-up air filter to the critical fuel timing and priming process, the bike is finally ready to run. As a single-cylinder diesel, it clatters like a bag of angry hammers at its smoothest idle. The real tell is the clean and clear exhaust, which indicates the engine is running properly. A short run around the back lot shows us the ex-military bike is ready to ride once more.

Fundamentally, the video demonstrates the difficulty of working on a rare vehicle with a tiny community, no documentation, and virtually no parts support. Going to Rick's workshop solved all these problems, with the benefit of his knowledge and parts on hand. The Backyard Mechanic notes that in one day with Rick, he learned more than he could have done in months of his own research. The lesson is that if you're going to buy something this obscure and weird, you have to be prepared and know that fixing it will be an uphill battle.

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