Jun 02, 2023
10 Things To Know About The 2023 Kawasaki KLR650
Robust, simple and reliable, the KLR650 has earned its place as one of the most long-lasting adventure bikes on the market The Kawasaki KLR650 is the closest thing to a tank you will find in the
Robust, simple and reliable, the KLR650 has earned its place as one of the most long-lasting adventure bikes on the market
The Kawasaki KLR650 is the closest thing to a tank you will find in the motorcycle world. This dual-sport motorcycle has earned its stripes as a sturdy and loyal companion for many an adventure rider over the span of several decades. After a short production hiatus since 2018, a new and revised model came in 2022 with a reliable single-cylinder engine and much of the characteristics that helped create the admiration and respect the KLR650 enjoys among adventure riders all over.
This machine is built to empower riders to explore, making the most of its dual-purpose capabilities, allowing for journeys that go as far as the road does, and then some. The KLR650 retains its simple, no nonsense approach for added reliability and ease of maintenance. The bike features comfortable seats, a simple, five-speed transmission, a big fuel tank, and long travel suspensions, all of which favors long distance touring. The bike's ABS is tuned for off-road and the powerful LED headlights help turn the night into day when venturing out in the dark.
All technical specifications for the new KLR650 were provided by Kawasaki. Horsepower and torque at the rear wheel figures were sourced from a dyno run by Cycle World, with the video linked bellow. Fuel economy was sourced from fuelly.com.
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The KLR650 shies away from the huge 1,000+ cc adventure bikes out there that are a nightmare to handle off-road. That isn't to say it is the perfect motorcycle for it, but as far as a dual-purpose motorcycle goes, one is better off in an off-road scenario handling a medium-sized KLR650 than say a BMW GS 1250. The seat height is not the most approachable at 34.4 inches, but the wet weight for the ABS model is 460.6 pounds, which is more than 100 pounds less than the aforementioned BMW GS 1250 Adventure, is far more manageable and easy on the rider. The bike also features an electric starter and an all-digital multi function instrumentation.
Its single-cylinder engine is fuel injected and powerful enough to make it get off the line quickly, but not so much as to put an inexperienced rider in trouble. The engine is also fuel injected, and throttle response is predictable and easy to modulate. All these contribute to the fact that the KLR650 is a bike that can be considered as a beginner motorcycle for those looking into the adventure segment. It's not the best beginner motorcycle, but definitely one of the best in its segment.
The reign of the Kawasaki KLR 650 has been going on for decades. Introduced in 1987, it replaced the also iconic KLR600. Since then, it made a name for itself as one of the most versatile dual-sport motorcycles out there. The KLR650 improved on its predecessor in a number of ways. For instance, contrary to what the 600 name might imply, the KLR600 displacement was 564cc, while the KLR650's engine stayed close to its name with a displacement of 652cc.
But the simple and reliable single cylinder engine, a feature admired in the KLR600, remained, as well as the comfortable riding position and large fuel tank capacity. All these characteristics quickly made the KLR650 a favorite motorcycle among riders looking for an all-rounder, a bike that can do it all, precisely because it is not specifically build for one single type of riding alone. This is a relatively inexpensive adventure touring bike that has grit and lasting quality, a combination that is rare these days.
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The beating heart of this dual-purpose motorcycle is fuel injected for easy start up in any weather or altitude, as well as not wasting fuel, complying with emissions regulations, and delivering consistent power across the rev range. The engine is designed to be reliable and durable, able to meet the demands of the hardcore adventure rider. One could argue the old 'thumper' is a workhorse. Its four-stroke design requires less maintenance than a two-stroke engine, usually found on purpose built dirt bikes.
4-Stroke, single cylinder, DOHC
Bore x Stroke
100.0 x 83.0mm
DFI w/40mm Throttle Body
5-speed, return shift with wet multi-disc manual clutch
39.1 lb.-ft. @ 4,500rpm
Kawasaki didn't disclose horsepower figures for the new KLR650, but Cycle World ran a 2022 model on its Dyno for 34.6 wheel horsepower @ 5,910 rpm and 33.5 pound-feet of torque @ 4,700 rpm.
This is a low rpm engine with a larger bore than stroke, a combination that often equates to low stress and durability. Also, a five-speed transmission will have all the ratios one would need on most situations anyhow. Though, to be fair, some report the KLR650 top speed of about 90 MPH is actually limited by its gearing. Estimated 0-60 MPH time is sub 6 seconds.
After production halted in 2018, the old model gave way to the revised and improved 2022 model that we have today. When Kawasaki discontinued the KLR650 many fans were left disappointed. No one knew when and if the legendary dual-purpose from Kawasaki would return. When it did come back, the improvements such as fuel injection, new instrument panel, LED lights, and the new bodywork and graphics were welcome by most, even among its more hardcore fans. The KLR650 also came back in three different trims. The base model, the Traveler model, and the Adventure Model. The only major differences are the Traveler model comes with a rear carrier, and the Adventure trim comes with side carriers.
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According to Fuelly, the new Kawasaki KLR gets a combined average of 48.56 MPG. Since the bike features a big 6.1-gallon fuel tank, that is good for almost 300 miles of range between refueling. That's mighty impressive for a motorcycle and a very welcome feature on long adventures through low populated areas. And the tank is not only big, but also has an ergonomic design. It doesn't spread the rider's legs apart and doesn't get in the way of stand-up riding. In addition, it provides some extra protection against debris and rocks for the engine and radiator, as it covers them a bit from the sides.
A myriad of parts for customization is available directly from Kawasaki. But having a cult like following status means after market parts are also plenty for the KLR650. A few of the accessories the customer can get for the KLR650 are:
In addition to these, it's easy and inexpensive to buy directly from Kawasaki replacement parts such as oil and air filter, brake pads, among other parts.
Rider comfort is important for Kawasaki. If it weren't, then the Ergo Fit feature, which helps adjust the rider interfaces with the bike to fit his or her body style and riding preferences, would not be a thing. And the KLR650, being what it is, was designed with rider comfort in mind. The new windshield and fairings reduce wind buffeting and turbulence while cruising at highway speeds, ensuring a more calm ride. This windshield is not only taller than its predecessor, but also adjustable in two positions. The fairings also help direct airflow around the rider, also contributing to reduced turbulence.
Kawasaki's Ergo Fit is available, and other things were improved upon, such as rubber mounted hand and foot controls to dampen some of the vibrations coming from the big single cylinder engine. This lessens the fatigue on the rider on longer rides, especially at highway speeds where the engine is revving higher. The riding position is upright, as expected from the segment, and arguably the most comfortable riding stance available in motorcycling. All of these factors together with a comfortable seat and long travel suspensions make the KLR 650 a very comfortable bike.
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One of the usual problems found with big single cylinder engines, also known as 'thumpers' is the vibration they produce. Nevertheless, this too has been improved on the new Kawasaki KLR650. Its engine is equipped with dual balancing shafts, assisting, along with the rubber mounted handlebars and footpegs, in significantly reducing vibrations felt by the rider. The end result is a smoother and quieter ride, from idle speed all the way up to the rev limiter.
And make no mistake, a dual-sport it is. The KLR comes standard with all-terrain tires, it is not a huge and heavy adventure motorcycle that's almost impossible to manhandle off-road, and comes in at an accessible $6,899 MSRP for the non-ABS version and $7,199 for the ABS equipped one. Truly built for on and off-road riding, the KLR650 has earned a world traveler reputation for its ruggedness, strength and durability. At this price, it's an affordable entry point into the adventure riding world.
A car and motorcycle enthusiast, Bruno enjoys writing about and following up on what's happening in the industry. He's easy and friendly. Known to drop the bass on occasion.